Saturday, August 25, 2007

Addiction

Angela at Eclectic Recovery visited and commented on Friday's post, The Last Diet, which caused me to visit her and read It's Your Choice, about different roads to recovery from addiction.
Addiction is bondage. Whether we're addicted to drugs, alcohol, a person, food, sex or the internet , the most precious thing we lose is our freedom. Living in a self-made prison is like being a hamster on a wheel, running and running and never getting anywhere, always looking for the way out through the same door that got us in. If we're lucky, we begin to realize that we've caged ourselves into a cycle of destruction that will eventually lead to our demise. If we're lucky, we'll take the steps necessary, whatever they are, to free ourselves from the hell that has become our life.
As I commented on Angela's post, I really centered on the fact that, for me and many others, the addiction is not, as conventional wisdom has it, to any kind or amount of food, but instead to dieting. It was when I gave up dieting that I began to recover. I didn't get thin, I'm not genetically programed to be thin, and 46 years of messing with my metabolism has left it unable to return me to my original genetic programming, which was probably to be curvy and get more so as I aged. But, I have not gotten fatter. All of my life, except for an eight year stretch when I realized that dieting wasn't working but not why and gave it up, I had been yo-yoing. Weight did seem to be, just like other addictions, a "progressive disease" that increased even when I wasn't "overeating." Later I realized, after I had tried to get thin again for a number of years, that I had stayed the same weight for those eight years. I mean, I knew it at the time, and I attributed it to not dieting, but I didn't know it in my bones. I didn't focus on the fact that not only did I weigh the same at the end of that time, my weight had been steady for the entire time. No yo-yo. I didn't really know that it wasn't just that I wasn't one of the 2% - 5% of the population who can diet weight off and keep it off, dieting was the addiction. That was the truly freeing realization. The amazing recognition that what I had been doing to cure the problem had been the problem. The clarity to see that between that first rather innocent diet at 12, which had consisted of eating 900 calories a day of healthful food and nothing else for nine days, and considering living on fruit juice and water for six months, the dieting had become much more bizarre, and that was what Angela refers to as
like being a hamster on a wheel, running and running and never getting anywhere, always looking for the way out through the same door that got us in
At the time I had my Aha! moment with the grapefruit juice, I had been attending Overeaters Anonymous for several months. Shortly after I came to my realization, just after I had read "Overcoming Overeating" by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter, one of the stars of our OA meeting told a story about how she had been abstinent, which for her meant no sugar and no white flour and less than 20% of her daily calories from fat, for 25 years. And one day she ate a candy bar. And within a week, she was buying candy by the bags full and purging, a thing she had never done before. And she realized that although she hadn't been practicing her addiction for 25 years, it had, indeed, progressed. And I had another Aha! She had been practicing her addiction very hard indeed for that 25 years -- no sugar, no white flour and less than 20% fat. And when she strayed from her addiction, she returned to it with severely increased rigor. From deprivation to purging. The thing that had frightened her was the purging, but she hadn't put the pieces together the same way many nutritionists and obesity researchers do.

2 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

It's all about eating right and being smart. Of course, I often eat dumb and am dumb.

Deja Pseu said...

I totally agree that for most of us, "food addiction" is really about the addiction to obsessing about food and weight. It's amazing that when you stop restricting, you eventually get to a place where you have to throw out cookies and ice cream that have gone bad.