Recovery from Food Insanity

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Abstinence Re-defined (again) July 31, 2010

Filed under: Physical Recovery — gohopchick @ 10:04 pm

I rammed the lettuce into the measuring cup.  Added some cucumbers, radishes, and carrots, and packed it down as far is it would go.  Before me and behind me in the line, my fellow inmates were doing the same.  Here at the treatment centre we were permitted 2 cups of salad with dinner, and we were all determined to make each cup count.

My first abstinence, twenty some odd years ago, was defined by the eating disorders unit.  No sugar, wheat or flour.  Three meals and one snack, which we called it a “metablolic”, each day.  We were taught to be assertive with restaurant waitresses, to examine food labels closely, and to make our own ketchup and barbecue sauce without sugar.

When I exited the hospital and joined meetings back at home, I found that many others shared the same abstinence definition.  Others, who we secretly thought were food slackers, simply did three meals – three plates a day, nothing in between.  The only rule was you had to be able to lift the plate after you loaded it up.

After a fifteen year relapse (that’s a whole other blog entry), I re-entered OA.  This time in program I wanted to avoid rigidity and perfectionism, but also not be loosey goosey with my food.  In the last two years I’ve tried various abstinence definitions, to see which one would work for me.  I needed something simple, to combat my tendency to obscure and overcomplicate.  I needed something clear and defined, to combat my tendency to slither and slide around the edges, seeing what I could get away with.  Often I would “try on” an abstinence definition for a month, giving myself permission to change it if I found it wasn’t helping eliminate the compulsion.

Sugar I know I cannot eat.  Period.  Wheat and flour are kind of iffy – some things trigger me, some things don’t.  I can’t do bagels.  Spaghetti makes me sleepy, but thintini style hamburger buns don’t seem to give me problems.

After trial and error, I think I’ve finally got something that is going to work for me.  Eliminating the foods that trigger craving.  Eliminating the behaviour that is clearly compulsive.  I realized that I cannot have second helpings.  As soon as I reach for more, I’m not feeding my body anymore but rather attempting to assuage other hungers.

At the treatment centre, they taught me there is no failure, just new information.  That’s given me the freedom to fumble my way forward, knowing that everything is win-win for me, and that I will learn as much, if not more, from what doesn’t work, as what does.


PGH July 30, 2010

Filed under: Body Image,Physical Recovery — gohopchick @ 11:45 am

I had the perfect program.

Really perfect.  I mean really.  Fine tuned.  Tweaked and adjusted.

I knew how to combine carbs, proteins and fats for maximum benefit and minimum weight impact.  If I didn’t get the results I wanted, I adjusted, and then adjusted some more, micromanaging each bite.

I had the perfect exercise plan – weight lifting three times a week, cardio five times a week, yoga whenever I could fit it in.  I was on a first name basis with all the staff at the gym.  The fitness club was my sanctuary, and I revelled in it a couple hours every day.

I was the perfect size- finally.  Well almost perfect.  Maybe if I lost just another five pounds it would be perfect.

I knew how much I weighed.   At different times of day.  I knew how much you weighed, or could give it a pretty good guess, just by looking.  I would have made a killing as a weight guesser at a carnival.  Size six, right?  One hundred thirty six or therabouts?

I knew where all the mirrors were at home, work, on the way to work, out shopping, so I could look at myself, make sure I still looked perfect, marvel at the changes, congradulate myself, compare how I looked, size wise, with everyone else.

Perfect program, perfect size, perfect health.

And I had no idea how I was going to maintain it.  It felt like trying to hold a beachball under the water – everything was okay so long as I applied consistent pressure, but the minute I let go – BOOOOF!

I found myself wondering if this is what happy, joyous and free was supposed to feel like.  Maybe not.

And then God spoke to me on the radio.  Well actually, some health professional spoke, but God just used his voice.

“We’re obsessed in our culture with perfect diet and perfect health.  What on earth is the matter with pretty good health?”

Pretty good health – PGH, eh?  Instead of perfect?  I don’t have to the the thinnest, the fittest, the shining example of health and recovery?   What a concept!

Maybe I’ll put that concept into practice.  Perfectly, of course.


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