This blog post has been swirling around in my mind for SEVERAL days now and I am simply unable to contain it any longer.
I have something to say. Because I'm annoyed. I'm offended, in a way.
And it's hard to politely state my opinion on this subject at times because it's not something that's ever really brought to me or stated in general in a snarky way. Most people are really only trying to help, or offer encouragement when they say things like,
"One cheat meal won't ruin your progress."
"If you eat on plan 80% of the time you're good!"
"There is no way you can live without your favorite treats."
"Moderation is key." (I particularly hate this one)
"It's ok to have cake on your birthday!"
"If you don't allow yourself a treat every now and then you will binge."
"I eat bread every day and still lose weight!"
Again, I hear these statements mostly from those offering encouragement and comfort on a wildly frustrating journey.
But what I would like to say, is that none of those statements apply to someone who is addicted to food.
Addiction is different. There is no "one size fits all" approach. The rules are different.
Would you tell an alcoholic to have a drink every Saturday for a 'treat'? Or a crack addict to hit an 8-ball every once in a while because who can live without crack!? What about inviting a gambling addict to a casino for "just one game" of roulette?
No, you wouldn't do that. That would be pretty shitty.
I am a food addict, who is ESPECIALLY in love with sugar and sweets. For the past several months I have come to terms with this addiction AGAIN and am really working the steps toward gaining recovery. Although it makes me very sad, I know that I CAN NOT have certain foods. Ever. Again. Because my recovery from this addiction depends on that discipline and resolve. My approach to this journey has to change if I will ever achieve a successful body weight and overall sense of wellness and health.
Honestly, when I get sad about not having cake or donuts or candy, I really have to evaluate if those treats are worth the sickening, shameful, hurt that they cause me. And they are not. Ever. Worth. It.
On this journey, I have had the pleasure of hearing so many stories of people who have found recovery from food addiction. And they all agree that at one point they made the shift into recovery by eliminating the foods that made them miserable. The foods they ate in secret. The foods that caused them uncontrollable cravings. I've even blogged about my emotional response surrounding certain foods that are now "off limits" to me. It's not all about weight loss, but it's about having the freedom that is found from not being in food bondage anymore. And their freedom is so encouraging for someone like me.
Someone who is still trying to get it right. Who is in the first stages of 'getting clean' again. Who is just starting to feel the glory of not having intense cravings and the gift of increased energy and mental clarity.
Sugar (and refined white flour) was (is) killing me.
And all I want to do is live. And lose weight. And be healthy.
Now, before anyone comes back at me with the "well I eat sugar and flour and bread and fruit and I lose weight..." let me say this...
Everyone who is overweight does NOT suffer from food addiction.
Some people just overeat. Or don't practice portion control. Or don't know about nutrition and just need some guidance and a food plan.
Just this weekend I was helping a friend come up with foods that would help stabilize her blood sugar as she was recently diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. She had NO IDEA that rice, orange juice, or insane amounts of fruit were bad for her. She had no clue that white flour was pretty much the same as sugar in our bodies. Ignorance is bliss, right? But now she knows better, and hopefully will do better.
THIS is the reason I believe Weight Watchers and IIFYM and Veganism and 21-Day Fix and Shakeology and all the other popular plans on the market work for SO MANY PEOPLE.
Because they have the wonderful gift of just needing a plan. Some support. It's ok if they eat donuts after an intense workout. Or pasta once in a while. Or bananas in smoothies daily.
I envy those people. I've tried to FIT IN with that group of people. Hoping, wishing, PRAYING for success that would not exclude my favorite comfort foods. And I have achieved success on some of those plans!
But it didn't last. I always gained the weight back. And more.
Because those plans could not fix my problem. The ROOT of my problem is just too deep. I require a different intervention. And so do so many others who are tired of being given a 'one size fits all' solution to a problem that goes beyond JUST doing this or that.
So please understand, we are all on our own journeys. The route is not always the same. We all have some of the same detours and roadblocks (emotional eating, donuts in the employee workroom, bread on the table at a restaurant, unsupportive spouses). But at the end of the day, ONE perspective does not speak to the whole problem of obesity.
Food addiction (and addiction in general) has to be handled in different way. So don't feel sorry for me because I can't have cake, or think it's silly that I'm on such a restrictive "diet" when all I have to do is count my WW points to have my bread and be happy like Oprah.
I will be just fine without sugar. It's not a pre-requisite for living a wonderful life and enjoying a meal when I am at dinner with my man. I'll be ok... great even. Because with sobriety, I am feeling a sense of happiness and success that can't be bought with a cupcake or donut or a slice of bread. Eating a roll at dinner just might throw me off the wagon for days. ONE donut has the potential of unraveling my progress for over a year (and yes, this has happened).
It's not ok for me to cheat. Because then I have to start over. And for an addict, starting over is hard. Because our minds convince us to have "one last" treat, or one last drink, or we might as well do this or that or something else that feeds the disease. This sentiment is expressed in very close friends of mine who have recovered (or are recovering) from drug and alcohol addictions. And this is why AA and NA and OA are so similar. Because addiction is addiction.
And I've decided to fight mine. My life is worth it.