Dear Food Addiction,
At a very early age, you taught me you were always there for me. While I did not know what that meant, I later learned that you were there a few steps away. The moment I started to eat, I’d feel tension subside, and I would sink into a state in which I did not feel much anymore.
You and I started our relationship at a very early age, but it wasn’t always blissful. At age 8, I noticed it was best to keep our relationship secret. Even when food magically disappeared, I was not guilty. The moments of being caught red-handed and punished could not break us up. We were a unity.
A relationship with cracks
When I left home to live on my own, our relationship began to show cracks. I started to see that the overeating created physical harm, and I tried to fight you by purging and restricting. Eating in volume meant I could never eat just one serving; it was always so much more. Purging became my go-to remedy, but as in many bad relationships, the attraction was too big; we would always end up on the couch, back together.
Looking back on our relationship, I see that we have spent too much time together. You occupied me so much that it kept me from building healthy relationships, not only with myself but also with other people. Your attraction kept me focused on you so much that I have let opportunities go by because I did not see them or was afraid to act on them.
In a way, you were a two-headed monster: on one side, you were there to protect me when life became unmanageable, and on the other hand, I tried to get rid of you by fighting, restricting, and purging. I could not find my precious spot in the middle of it all, where I could be myself. I hated myself and loathed my body, and I did not know how to build a healthy relationship with you.
It was never healthy, not equal. You were always in the lead. Every time I tried to make changes, you counteracted with even more force. While my life spiraled down, my weight went up to an unhealthy level.
The first realization
Around my 33rd birthday, I found an online OA (Overeaters Anonymous) group that I attended for a while, but the realization that my problem with you was an addiction was too big for me to accept. I was not too fond of the label and could not see how my life would be better without you. You won that time.
Soon after that, my eating disorder took over control again, which was the worst time of my life. I spiraled down into a dark pit that I could not escape. At my most desperate moment, I asked for help and found a therapist who told me in black and white how my future would be if I did not do something about it.
Cured but not cured
Therapy “cured” my eating disorder; my relationship with you built on binging was still strong. I was sent home a cured woman because binge eating was not problematic. Especially since I had lost a lot of weight, found a great partner and stepdaughter, and told myself I could live a life of moderation and intuitive eating, I thought I was doing pretty well. But, Food, you brainwashed me well, for I could not. When it comes to you and me, there is no moderation. It is all or nothing. One bit is never enough.
The next diet
Until the moment when I got an email from one of my business coaches, who introduced me to Susan Peirce Thompson from Bright Line Eating, she talked about the susceptibility score to food. I did the quiz on her website and found out that I am a ten on the susceptibility scale, making it very hard for me to say no to food. In a way, I heard nothing new because I already knew of our intense relationship. I listened to some of her videos and thought (as the nutritionist as I am) that her science-based theory was good, so I stepped into her Bootcamp, thinking I was getting a diet to lose weight.
I was, but soon I also understood I had to break up with you. Was I ready? No. Was I willing to try? Yes, for a while (as I had done with all my diets). Did I see the light overnight? Hell no.
I thought I had ordered the next diet to lose weight. What I turned out to have ordered was a life-changing, heart-wrenching journey away from you. I mourned when I realized that sugar, flour, alcohol, volume eating, and snacking had to stop.
While I did not immediately understand that I had to go on that journey, my soul did. And so did you, Food. So did you.
While I tried to hold on to my diet-mentality for a long time and tried to be very strict and perfect about my program, it wore me out. It was so hard to withstand you, for you used all strategies you could find in the form of inner parts that helped me sabotage my desire to be independent of you. You also tried to send me back into isolation to hide and eat. You showed me food in the supermarket or whispered in my ears that it was okay to add more food to my plate or snack because I was so tired. You told me lies and stories. You often won the battle. I can still see your satisfied smile.
But in the meantime, I had also felt how calm and balanced my life became without your constant pull. I got back on track right away after each break. Even if it was the middle of the day, I got back on track and avenged you by preparing a bright-line meal at the next opportunity.
While others I had met online surrendered to the program quite fast, it took me longer to stop fighting and accept that I am not in my power when you are around.
It also took a long time to accept the label of being a food addict. I tried to give it other names by saying that I eat a lot or listened to all the other scientists who said no such thing as food addiction because you need food to survive. Denial is a river in Egypt.
But there is food, and there is food, and from studying nutrition, I know how much crap is used in products to make our brain believe that one bite is never enough.
For a long time in my program, I struggled because I tried to hang on to my nails’ plan. When you have eaten in volume for forty years, it is hard to trust you can survive on a regular well-composed meal suddenly. So I kept on snacking and feeling tremendously guilty over that.
But I kept on trying and starting over every day again. Starting over became a habit.
My surrender came when I realized that I was making it way too hard for myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to hold on to the program all day. Every time I didn’t manage to do so, I felt guilty, anxious, and self-defeated. Would I ever learn? I was not sure.
All I needed to do was trust the program that had helped so many people and follow the fucking plan to the letter. Sorry (not sorry) I needed to use the F-bomb here, but that is what I thought. What I remember most of that moment is how relieved this realization made me feel. I now see that this was a soul intervention because I felt so relieved to go back to simplicity.
Instead of adding yet another rule to the many to-do’s on my list, I decided to strike off all rules and keep it to these three:
- Follow the fucking Bright Line Eating program.
- Meditate every day.
- Take a walk every day.
Does that sound over-simplistic? Yeah, but I had no energy left to do more. I was so done with fighting and struggling and yearned for a simple and comfortable life where I could trust I follow these rules. By now, I know that a simple life is the most significant gift I can give myself, a life without a constant yearning for you.
So, my dear Food, this is my last letter to you. I am breaking up with you. We cannot have any form of relationship or spend any time alone anymore. This decision is where it ends. Writing this feels very sad, but it is the last definite step to fully surrender to the fact that this is just what it is. I am taking back my power.
I know that you may try to win me back at some point or stalk me until we are back together. As a food addict, I know that there will always be a pull toward you. Well, so be it. I’ll handle it when that moment comes.
Other people are there for me when I need love or solace. Now I see that you are not the right partner for that anymore.
As a result, I surrender to a better life for myself because the time has come to acknowledge that it is me who needs to take care of me.
What this means
Making this decision means a lot to my life. Food has played a role in my life for long enough. My dear Food, thank you for trying to help me, but I’m parting ways. Maybe we’ll meet again, hopefully on equal ground.
PS if you have any questions, then let me know.