It's been a rough month for my diet. Not for me, in general, so I'm baffled and confused at what is stopping me from achieving my goals. I think it began with my 14th year wedding anniversary (going strong baby!), then Mother's Day, which was soon followed by my daughter's birthday, a week long visit with my Dad, and now unexpected, but delightful house guests who may stay for the month. Both are fabulous chefs, so the quality of meals around this home have increased exponentially.
I remember celebrating Mother's Day at the farm with my mom and indulging a bit on cooked and sweet foods. As I was packing to return home to Chicago, she'd asked if I wanted to save any of it. "No, I'm jumping back on my diet tomorrow." She marveled openly at my tenacity. Yet, on my return home, my little slips had grown into big cheats. The big cheats were so consistent that I had completely fallen off the wagon, no longer participating in the supportive forums, shopping from the bi-weekly lists, or even checking the daily menu plan from The Garden Diet that I've been on. I've been binging for the first time in almost a year. Ugggh. How did I get here? The weight is sneaking back on. As I painfully stuff my body with food it no longer wants, I wonder if it is even possible to bottom out with food.
These words I use for floundering with my diet are similar to the ones common in the rooms of NA and AA. Yet, it still seems somewhat comical to me to relate overeating to that of alcoholism and drug addiction. A bag of potato chips, a super-sized soda, an entire pie just doesn't have the same romanticized self-destruction to that of a line of coke, shot of heroine or flask of scotch. Okay, let's get real, self-destruction is never romantic, unless you're in it... then that fix is highly romantic because boy, there is no human lover that could please you more than a chemical substitute. Yet, here I find myself looking at the line of cars at the fast food drive-thru, lying to myself that it's just for the kids when my will dissipates the moment I place the order.
Helpless? Hopeless? The destruction may be slower and takes longer, but I contend that compulsive eating can be the fiercest among all addictions. An addict can choose to avoid other addicts when trying to get clean. I mean, who really wants to hang out in those piss smelling, rat invested dark alleys trying to score a hit? A little trickier for alcoholics. Easy to empty out the cupboards, avoid the bars, but social events become challenging. But when can one ever truly avoid the temptation of eating? One must eat. Period. I can choose better food to populate my pantry shelves. I can learn about better nutrition. I can plan my meals ahead of time. All the while I am still eating. I cannot stop, or I will die.
At the same time that food is nourishing, whether it is junk or the best, organic healthy food available, it is also pleasing and challenging my addiction. Every morsel of food invokes my brain to respond, more. More. Feed me. More.
Our healthy bodies at birth are built with elegant mechanisms to ensure our survival. We feel hunger. We eat. The food triggers hormones that eliminate the hunger. The tiny stomach expands sending nerve messages to the brain to stop. In time, the addict abuses those systems, confusing the brain, destroying those mechanisms that help us remain sound. The stomach enlarges and needs more and more substance to feel full. Hormones become imbalanced. The brain having been ignored for so long, begins to have little command over the willfulness of the addict.
So how do I fix that which I broke?
I wish I knew. At the moment, I am feeling a little helpless and hopeless. It helps a little to write about it. It helps to tell my husband that I'm struggling. His hand in mine expresses his love and concern. It helps to tell my guests that I am dieting. Please don't plan on feeding me. And thank them for graciously sharing their delights with my family. It helps to join others with the same struggle. Participate in the forums. It helps to be honest and call out for help. Help.
I've learned a little trick from a good friend. When she slips up and eats unhealthy food, she tilts her head to the side to kiss her shoulder. This little affirmation shows that we can make mistakes, but still love ourselves. Perhaps that is what keeps me from the bottom.