Addiction is seen by most people as a horrible, awful thing. It's, in most cases, immediately associated with things like drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, etc. Very rarely do people hear addiction and think "food". But I do. It's my addiction. Now some people may read that and laugh. "Ha...suck it up girl. Life could be worse. Be grateful you're not addicted to something that could kill you." Well to those people I say, "Last I checked, being morbidly obese, having high cholesterol, eating fried/fatty foods every day and thinking dessert is required after every meal....are all things that can kill you." Got ya thinking now, don't I :)
So what IS food addiction? Well like most any other addiction, your life revolves around it. You think about it 24/7. You plan your day around it. You look forward to your next "hit". You squirm and fidget and can't focus when you know it will be a while before you can eat. FOOD BECOMES YOUR LIFE. I still to this day...even down 123lbs...see food at the center of my day. That is one thing that has not changed. The makeup of my meals may be different than it used to be, but it is still very much my focus. I think about food more than men think about sex, I'm guessing lol. It's that bad!!
I have some very good friends in my life who have been affected by addiction whether through their own experience or through that of a spouse or loved one. And it has been a life-changing experience for them. I've watched them have various reactions to these experiences. They range from the positive changes of growing stronger and overcoming their addictions to the not so positive reactions that can come from dealing with addiction in your life. My heart breaks for those who struggle with addiction. It is a hard hard thing to endure and to overcome or move past.
I got lucky that my addiction didn't end my life, but some people might not appreciate me saying that in some ways, I lump myself in with those people who struggle with those other kinds of addiction. And in some ways...food addiction is one of the hardest of them all to deal with. Why would you say that Jill?? Your problems aren't any more special or difficult than someone else's! Of course they're not. But let me tell you why food addiction might be harder to overcome than say an addiction to smoking. (Now I will say here that I have never smoked or had to try and quit smoking so I cannot compare how the two feel, but hopefully you will still understand what I'm getting at here....and that I am in NO WAY trying to lessen the struggles of those who deal with tobacco, alcohol or any other addiction out there.) Most addictions are to things that you can cut completely out of your life and go on living without. Cigarettes? Bye bye, nice knowing you. Alcohol? You might miss your buzz and think about it 24/7 but if you went a month or a year or a decade without a single drop...you'd live. But food? No. Unfortunately for us food addicts, you cannot just cut the problem from your life. Food is necessary to keep us alive...to provide us nutrients and energy and to help us grow. Therein lies the added difficulty. And frankly...it sucks.
When it comes to food addiction, there is no "overcoming" or becoming "sober" or "moving past". There is only "learning to deal with it." There is learning to eat in moderation and to control portions or count calories. There is learning to say no to that second donut or that extra slice of pizza. And sure, you can cut certain KINDS of foods out of your every day diet and live a long, happy life...but it's a lot harder to do. The body runs on so many different chemical reactions that have us craving different things on different days and then deciding what parts it wants to burn and what parts it wants to turn into more jelly rolls sitting around my middle. It's like figuring out a puzzle on a daily basis. What does my body want today? If I eat that thing I'm craving so badly, will my body punish me for it later? Will my mind have the power to trust that the body knows what it needs?
My mind and body are CONSTANTLY at war and I don't think that war will ever end. My mind is slowly catching up to my body in learning what foods make it feel better and what foods will make me feel like death for 24 hours afterward. But my mind will never let go of certain things that it knows it enjoys. It's a true, real, certified, 100% serious addiction. And I have it. Maybe I should join a program, who knows. All I know is that the world's view of food addicts is not a kind one and it's hard to be in that club. And while I know I will never be completely free of my addiction, I am grateful to know that I have improved...vastly. I am grateful to know that my addiction is no longer killing me...and that because of that, I can give a better version of myself to my husband and my children and to those around me that I love.
In closing I wanted to post a link to one of my absolute favorite dances that was done on "So You Think You Can Dance." It was performed to the song "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles with a theme of addiction. The dance is so powerful that it still moves me years after it was performed. It speaks far more powerfully than any blog entry I could write.