You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
I recently did something I stopped doing. Years ago I stopped reading health and nutrition articles. And this week I read one.
When I was fat and thought my body was broken, I never read those articles either. Because in my head, they were for people who could be thin. And healthy. But let’s face it, mostly thin.
But when I was thin but plagued by eating disorders, I read them a lot.
For one, I was looking for that magical food experience. The one that would let me “eat like a normal person”. That would make me want to eat normally. That it wouldn’t take anything on my part. No commitment or effort. It would just happen with some diet or food combination.
For example, I read once that when one has a sugar craving, one should quench it. But with naturally high sugar or starch fruits and vegetables. That to deny oneself all sugar would make one feel deprived. I wanted a high sugar fruit or vegetable to stop me from wanting to binge eat. So I started eating a roasted sweet potato for a snack. Well, it started out as a roasted sweet potato. Within a week I was eating 4 or 5. I would finish one and put another into the oven immediately. Or eventually just cook 2 at a time.
It happened with bananas too.
Those are both foods that I no longer eat. It doesn’t matter that they are natural. They are sugar. Pure and simple. And I can’t handle them.
I also read those health and nutrition articles looking for excuses to continue my bad eating behavior. “Chocolate is good for you,” comes to mind. Um yeah…but not in the quantity I ate it…
So I don’t read articles touting the newest thing in eating. Definitely no fad diets. But not even scientific studies. I have a solution that works for me. It does not matter that dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants. I am addicted to it. It cannot do me any good. It will only make me crazy and miserable. Insane and fat.
So the other day, I read one of the kinds of articles I don’t read. It was posted on Facebook by a few people who I really respect. And I was curious. Not to learn something for myself. Like I said, I have a solution to my eating disorders and body image problems. But to see what they were giving a nod to.
What I read made a lot of sense. It was not exactly the same as the way I eat, but it was very similar. And it did not seem like a fad or a ridiculous way of eating. It seemed like good, sane, quality food advice. But there was a part of it that bothered me. It was how to “end sugar addiction in 10 days”.
My problem is with the idea of addiction. And ending it. And 10 days.
Because I am an honest-to-goodness sugar addict. That is not a euphemism for liking to eat. When I put sugar in my body it sets off a physical craving and a mental obsession. I was eating 4-5 sweet potatoes in a row as quickly as I could cook them. I am sick with food. And it took a year and a half of no sugar grains or starch just to come out of the fog that was getting sober from sugar. (Yes, I was high getting sober. It was as disorienting and bizarre as being drunk or high on drugs. Or high on sugar itself.) And that sure as hell doesn’t mean that I can eat it in moderation now because I am fixed.
Not fixed. Still addicted. Eternally.
It’s not the first time it has occurred to me that the word addict gets bandied about. Especially around food. Or maybe I just notice it about food because it’s a tender subject for me. But if you are an actual addict, someone with a physical allergy with an accompanying mental obsession, then I don’t think 10 days is gonna save you. I think you are headed for a life of constant vigilance. Or continual shame and misery.
I’m not saying that it is not possible for people to change the way they eat. Or that a person wouldn’t look and feel better by following this diet I read about. If you haven’t found a solution to your food issues, I say yes! Try one of the eating lifestyle movements out there. And maybe it will work. I found the thing that brought me peace around my food. I hope you find peace around your food too. I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s so simple if someone is an honest-to-goodness addict.
I guess what I am really asking is can we stop calling bad habits addiction? Please? It is too serious. It takes too much. Work, and hope and surrender. It’s not a 10 day fix. It’s a total alteration of the way you live your life. One day at a time. But forever. It’s treatment. It’s recovery. From a disease. And it totally sucks ( in the beginning. – Now it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But that’s after years of being sober from sugar grains and starch.) It’s not something one does half-assed. I don’t know any addict who had sobriety just happen to them. And I know a lot of addicts.
Kate, I love how you term your deliverance from active food addiction “the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” What a gratitude pill, a way to at least salve disappointments with the reminder that, wait, hello? The hell that was food addiction has now been subjected to successful treatment. Oh, yeah. Extraordinary. So, maybe other situations can get better too, through similar means? Worth a shot.
Glad you present this process as the immense undertaking it is — those magazine diets do work for normal people. Like you, I had given up looking into solutions offered to the general public by the time I was slowly shown a solution.
blessings and thanks
… and that description of the multiple sweet potatoes said it all — so evocative. Who wants more than one sweet potato? People who think that sweetness will save their souls. People like me.