I’ve never had a healthy relationship with food. It’s always been the one thing I’ve loved and I’ve hated. I love the taste of food. It comforted me when things were tough. It would console me. Then I would use it to punish myself; to find myself unworthy. I would withhold it from myself, like love from a misogynist. Yet, I never thought sugar is a drug and I never considered myself an addict. This is how I lived in this vicious cycle pursuing perfection that doesn’t exist. It was a controlling relationship wherein I was the victim and the abuser.
But then I had a revelation, food’s an addiction. Sugar is a drug and I was an addict.
Yes, food is a drug and I am an addict and it’s almost killed me twice. Anorexia in the ’90s and diabetes in 2019. I used to proudly proclaim, “I’d rather work out for 3 hours straight than give up my French fries!” I was also the same person who secretly high-fived myself when people started to tell me that I was getting “too skinny” and looked sickly. In my mind, I was winning. I was cheating the system and beating food. Really, I was killing myself.
Here we are, 20 years in recovery from starvation and purging. Nasty little fact, being an anorexic is like being an alcoholic, every day is choosing to not indulge in the bad behavior no matter how much you want to. I won’t lie, there have been slip-ups. I’ve had a big meal and thrown it up. I’ve skipped meals. I’ve worked out excessively. I’ve tried to cheat the system and lied to myself that it was, “Ok, just this once” knowing how slippery the road really was. But for the most part, for the past 20 years, I had to let go of the control.
The problem with me is that there is no in between. There is micromanage everything that goes in my mouth and purge, there is restrict and starve and there is eat all the things with wild abandoned and no worry of consequences.
Let me create a picture, so you all don’t think I was shoving whole sleeves of cookies down my throat. When I say wild abandon, I mean I ate food in moderate amounts but without worrying, caring or writing down anything. I had to do this because the alternative behaviors sent me right back into obsessive, controlling behavior that caused my anorexia in the first place. Basically, I was out of control for two decades to avoid being dead. Or at least, that is what I made myself believe.
Now, here I am. Last month, I told you all about my come to Jesus meeting with my doctor. It was eye-opening, if not traumatic. She told me some hard facts. I feel like, for years, my doctors have been coddling me. I went from 103 pounds and inched up over the years and through the pregnancies to a whopping ( gulp..I’m about to say it out loud) 259.9 pounds at my heaviest. On the day my doctor gave me the bad news, I was 249.9 pounds. I’m 5’7”. I am morbidly obese. You know morbid means deadly, right?
I went home that day, cried my eyes out, stayed in bed for a couple of days, quite frankly, terrified of food. After all, it was literally killing me. But really, it wasn’t the food at all. It was me. I needed to take ownership of that. It was always me from anorexia through to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
I took my 3 days to cry it out and feel sorry for myself and then I did what I always do, I put on my big girl panties and I figured it out. Not as easy as it sounds. I am still figuring it out.
Here’s where I began to break my food addiction.
I changed my thinking. I stopped thinking of it as a death sentence and began to think of it as a blessing. I was still alive. All I needed to do was change my behavior and learn how to eat.
I began to measure my food. You cannot imagine how off my portions were. Try it, you will be floored.
I began to count carbs. My doctor gave me grams per day; 45 per meal 3x a day, and 15 per snack 3x per day. The thing about counting carbs is first, carbs were not taken away. There is nothing that makes me want something more than making it forbidden.
I eliminated all pop and juice because they are nothing but sugar. Instead, I opted for fresh fruit and if I need a drink other than water or milk, I drink Bubly. Actually, I am obsessed with the cherry flavor.
I am learning to say no to things. I am learning that sometimes it is ok to say yes to a bite or a ½ of something you really want but always in moderation and always aware of the portion size and carb count. Through this process of cutting my carbs and portion control, I’m learning that I really don’t love some of the food that I thought I loved as much as I do.
Case in point, pizza. I can have one piece with a salad if I feel the need. However, wasting 27 carbs on one slice feels ridiculous and it just doesn’t taste the same to me anymore. Pizza, the food that I thought I couldn’t live without. I don’t even really like anymore. It tastes weird to me.
I’m eating real food. I’ve been focusing on lean meats, fresh vegetables, fruits and logging every single thing I put into my mouth. I’m not living on chicken broth or cabbage. This isn’t a diet. I also weigh myself every morning and check my blood pressure and my blood glucose every day. It feels a little bit like restricting and that terrifies me because I can’t slip back into those old behaviors but I can’t eat with wild abandon either because my life is at stake. For now, this is what is working for me.
So far, I’ve lost 20.5 pounds in 6 weeks. I’ve lost 17.5 inches since May 29th ( that was the first time I measured but by then I had already lost about 10 lbs. so I’m sure I’ve lost more than that). My blood pressure is completely normal. No more headaches. My blood glucose is completely in the normal range. No more insomnia. I’ve had insomnia my entire life. Now, I shut my eyes and go to bed on most nights by 10 p.m. I feel better than I’ve felt in years.
Maybe food’s an addiction. Maybe sugar is a drug and I was an addict but I’m changing all that and you can too. Do you think you’re a carb or sugar addict? Does your health say otherwise?