We all know about addiction of one kind or another. Alcohol, drugs, shopping and sex are the familiar ones. Food however is just considered to be about lack of will power, greed and gluttony. Rarely is obesity linked to an addiction. I have spent my life on one diet or another, sometimes not dieting but thinking about it. No one need mention the word diet because I have tried them all from starvation rations for 10 weeks. Atkins for another 10 weeks and Lipotrim liquid diet plus so many other’s, each having their own tolerance level which for me is about 10 weeks. One of the first and most painful diet was the Mayo clinic which consisted of eggs and salad. Hard boiled eggs in at one end only to escape in the form of gas at the other for 2 weeks, lost stone and half . Fainting, nausea, constipation, hunger and terrible headaches go hand in hand with this one but at the time being slim for a special outing with my boyfriend made it worth the agony..
Granted one does lose weight in this system but that time scale for me means I have reached my tolerance level where I tentatively return to, ‘normal food’. So whatever it was I was doing to gain weight before becomes the call for weight to throw itself on faster than it went off. Gravity pulls it back and for a time we are lost again in the dark place of being ‘out of control’. It is here where we thrash around for a few weeks in a deep well of helplessness and shame. In this place we project onto others, imagine what others are thinking about us which is reinforced with the occasional murmur of ‘are you not on the diet any more’ which pushes against the button we serial dieters protect inside. I wonder why others feel they can judge and advise a fat person as if they have personal incite into the inner workings of the person they are advising .However the over weight person is locked in to shame and guilt about being fat, defenseless against so-called well-meaning comments and opinions of slim people. We sometimes laugh it off with gallows joke or pretend we are not bothered about weight any more. the addict knows what the substance is bad for them and indeed can kill, they continue to struggle, striving to satisfy the craving. They are in a cycle of addiction frustration, high levels of internal anxiety and physical discomfort. I have never smoked or drank too much and seem to do most other things in moderation but food and my relationship with it is very different.
When the compulsive yo-yo dieter makes the promise to themselves every day. ‘I will lose weight, they mean it and live through that same day with food constantly in mind. What they should and shouldn’t eat. Carrying a preoccupation with the next meal but generally by the end of each day they are talking themselves out of it with thoughts and words of ‘it doesn’t matter’. Which in reality means ‘I don’t matter’. Which in some part is down to low self-esteem. When you spent a lifetime thinking about weight and food it takes a lot of emotional energy. It is an ominous shadow in the corner of the room watching and overseeing every move you make. Watching oneself through the eyes of others.
I believe that over eating is an addiction but one cannot cure this addiction with removing the tempation because we all need food. One can remove alcohol, drugs etc and detox but that isn’t possible with food. So what is the answer?
Changing habits is one way, cutting out certain foods another. Portion size can be a difficult one because of the fear of hunger which plays a big part for many over weight people. Not having food in the house is one way. Don’t want to eat it don’t buy it but of course the rest of the family don’t have to do without.