Friday, July 13, 2012

Trading One Addiction for Another

In searching for this picture I found a link to the Food Addiction Institute - serendipity?

This concept of trading one addiction for another is not new to me - I've been aware of it for years.  It started when I quit smoking - that's when the drinking picked up.  And now that I've quit drinking, I've become addicted to eating...for comfort, for pleasure, to fill the hole in my soul...whatthefuckever.  All I know is that it has to stop and I don't know how to make it stop - I HAVE to eat.

It's a problem heard from the overweight, obese and morbidly obese often - especially with the advent of reality TV that chronicles their suffering and, sometimes, their recovery.  I watch these shows often because I love it when they are successful.  The light in their eyes is a blessing to witness.  I am also aware of what happens when the cameras are gone as some continue on their new, healthy journey and others, sadly, fall back into bad habits and old patterns and regain the all of the weight.

I have also known several people who have undergone bypass surgery.  I love that this option is available and I know that countless lives have been saved because it exists.  I also know that unless the real reason that the patient reached that weight is uncovered and resolved there are a whole host of other issues and problems that result.

One of my friends who underwent bypass surgery about five years ago is so low on iron that she has to go in for iron infusions from time to time.  Why?  Because her best source of protein is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  When I asked her why she didn't eat other sources of iron like leafy green vegatables or chicken or even beef she said, "Because I don't like them as much as candy.  Candy makes me happy."  She is slowly but surely gaining back the weight.

The bottom line is that food addiction is as real and can be as deadly as any other addiction and it's harder from which to recover because, as I said before, we HAVE to eat.  AND because so much of this behavior is solidified in childhood.  Clean your plate, here's a cookie, eat your dinner and you can have ice cream, GIANT portion sizes, parents too poor or too busy to cook healthy dinners and pack healthy lunches and that's just the normal people.  Those kids from dysfunctional families experience that AND have the added benefit of raiding the fridge for comfort or love.

My own issues with addiction began in childhood as well.  I was a fat kid.  I ate for comfort although I didn't realize it until I was older.  I learned the behavior from my mother who had her own food issues and never overcame them.  As a young adult I began a program of exercise and dieting that let me maintain a healthy weight until my forties.  However the damage had been done.  My metabolism was shot and I struggled just to hold onto a weight that I thought I should be.  AND I still thought I was fat because poor body image is also something solidified in childhood.

So now I have to step up and admit that I'm addicted to eating for comfort and healing.  Not...good.  And in some ways this is much harder to admit that smoking or drinking was because society is so critical of overweight people.  I'M even critical of overweight people - what a hypocrite I am.

It has me depressed because I don't know what to do about it.  I'm hesitant to spend any more money on systems and products and plans because I've tried them all and have not been really successful on any of them (I've lost and gained the same frickin' ten pounds for the past five years).  Willpower works about as well as it did when I quit drinking...without the proper support it doesn't.  I could try Overeaters Anonymous but everytime I do research on it, it scares the living shit out of me!  Zealot comes to mind...but I'm likely wrong about that the way I was wrong about AA.

I would just like to learn to eat to live and not live to eat.  I would like to eat and be present and enjoy the food rather than trying to get enough.  Hmmmm...this is sounding very familiar. 

I would just like to be normal.

Okay - if I can't be normal then can I just be healthy?

Yes...I think I can do that.  I just have to figure out how.


"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way." 
~ Abraham Lincoln


  1. Hi. I too have struggled with this very topic. I have written about my struggle in my blog. It is tough because, you're right, you have to eat. I was always thin growing up; even after I had my second child, I was thin. I had two more kids and struggled with alcoholism and now my body is not hat it was. My eating habits have always been bad. My parents did the whole clean your plate thing, which I try not to do with mine. They loved sugary snacks, and so I. I yo-yo diet like crazy. I'll lose 20 pounds, gain back 30 and so on. I eat out of boredom, for comfort, anything. It is not easy, like any addiction. Probably harder. Being overweight is awful for me, because I never was until the last couple years. I just keep gaining. I guess everything I have done to my body has really damaged my metabolism. It is a good and real topic, I am keeping updates on my struggle in my blog. I wish you well on your journey. Hope to hear more.

    1. Tonya- thanks so much for your kind comments. Can't wait to read about your journey in your blog too!

  2. Hi Sherry, I stood in the playground this afternoon and wished that my addiction was food . . . I looked around and all but two or three of the mothers are well over weight, but they are all accepted, spoken to . . . hell even the teachers speak to them and laugh with them! yet they look at me like they want to spit at me. And I feel like screaming at them . . . I'm addicted, just as you are to your food. Sorry to rant here, maybe I should go write a post (another ranting post!).
    It is hard, I think beating any addiction is hard. I don't even think one addiction is harder than another. Maybe the amount of comfort we draw from our addictions makes some harder to stop than others . . . it's a very individual issue.
    I only recently (the last 3 yrs) put on 28lbs, half of which I just lost . . . hopefully the other half will follow. I only found it easy because I compared it to my other addiction and reasoned that if I can do clean time, I can go for days, even weeks, on cripsbread, fruit and alpen.
    You are strong Sherry, you don't need to throw money at this problem, you know the answers. I hope you can find a way to beat this . . . You beat the bottle, you can do this. With love.

    1. You are so right.

      And to those women in the playground...tell them to shut their whore mouths. They don't know you...only you do.

      As always...namaste.

  3. Well as you know, I so hear you! "just for today" is always helpful to me. Just for breakfast I'm going to eat a healthy meal to fuel my body for the day. Just for lunch..... You get it. I can't look at the whole of anything and be ok. It has to be a manageable increment that I can do. Bless your heart for being so honest.

  4. Well, I am a bit conflicted on how to give advice here as I am ... kind of a warrior on the weight issue on women.

    We airbrush every woman on every magazine cover. Oprah's weight is discussed to death (do I care?, no...i wish i had her money) Michelle's bum (it's true, admit it) Kirstie Alley, Bristol Palin can't even get a break...

    I think we should be more accepting of who we are. Feel good about yourself, try to be in reasonable physical shape (walk?) and say hello world!

  5. I definitely juggle addictions, and food is a tough one for all the reasons you describe. Yesterday I almost rewarded myself for something with lunch out, but a voice inside told me that was a bad idea. It's not that eating out is bad, but I wouldn't have made a smart choice on where/what to eat. I can't handle much temptation.

    I look forward to following your new blog.

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