Searching for Abstinence from Food Addiction
| Are you searching for a real definition of abstinence from compulsive eating? I
know I am. I believe that food/exercise addictions are among the most difficult addictions
to overcome. I think it is due to the fact that "abstinence" is difficult to
define. However, after 13 years of trying many approaches I would like to share some
Overeaters Anonymous has helped thousands of food addicts. Yet many OA [Overeaters Anonymous] members struggle with "abstinence." Food is a different species! In AA, CA, NA. etc., you clearly know when you have broken your sobriety. You drank... you had a pill... etc. But what about food. How do you really know if you broke your abstinence in OA'? Some people say they broke their abstinence because they binged. Others say they binged, but are abstinent. Who is right? How can a person say, "I'm abstinent" and really feel it in his/her heart?
I believe that the solution lies in this first tool of OA's "Eight Tools of OA Recovery." OA states that its purpose is to help overeaters stop eating compulsively and provides these eight tools. The first tool is a "Plan of Eating." It states that OA does not endorse any "specific plan of eating" and that "only you, with proper guidance, can honestly appraise your own eating habits."
Some people underestimate the importance of finding and following a plan of eating. I did. For years. I would do my OA inventories, find my character defects and not "compulsively eat." I thought I was abstinent. I used to be an anorexic binge eater: I had stopped starving and overeating. But something felt disharmonious in my body and soul. So, I searched for answers. I then found a sponsor who provided a key; I needed to design, with the approval of an outside source - a definite Plan of Eating - and exercise. I had never really examined the fact that I had never designed and committed absolutely to a very specific plan.
If you are struggling with food abstinence, I suggest re-examining your adherence to this first tool. It is crucial. In AA!s Twelve and Twelve, it states that sobriety must come before anything else. Before finance or romance. Now that I provide therapy for eating disorder clients, I see this fact over and over again. Anytime that a client deviates from his/her food plan, he/she is in a state of emotional pain. The bottom line: he/she is not sober. I see many people who are still emotionally "drunk" because they are not truly abstinent.
So how do you find your Plan of Eating? Each human being has his/her spiritual/mental/physical laws. If any are violated, he/she will suffer. For example, some people need eight hours of sleep while others need five. Likewise, each food/exercise addict must look deep within his/her Soul and be honest. (Chapter 5 of the Big Book states that honesty is the key to recovery.) I'll share my path as an example. I admitted that I could not cat sugar or wheat and needed a very structured plan. (Note: some addicts don't; some of my clients have found that their eating plan allows a lot of flexibility.. but they have a plan!) I found Weight Watchers. It provides structure, but allows me to select my food. So everyday, I eat 30 points of food and exercise for 30 minutes (no more, no less). No deviation. None. If I deviate from any of these personal laws, I am not abstinent. I can feel the disharmony in my body if I even slightly deviate from eating times. This means that I must tailor my day around keeping sober at all costs. So, I won't give a lecture if I am asked to do it at 5:00 P.M. Why? Because if I don't eat dinner by 5:30, my entire system goes into absolute chaos. I have found my Truth. What is yours? And are you willing to follow it at all costs? I think that true sobriety for a food addict is: Total surrender to a food/exercise plan-one day at a time. Otherwise, one's will takes over in small and subtle ways. God dies in one's soul, then the body expresses this separation from God and the chaos with food begins.
As the Big Book says, "Half measures avail us nothing." I believe that abstinence is attainable to all compulsive eaters. And you can truly have the Promises: a peace and serenity that you have never felt before.
Article Contributed by Steps For Recovery Magazine
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