Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Food Becomes Addictive

So this is not a clinical diatribe.  I am not a doctor.  But I have to admit that weight issues have plagued me much of my life and I've spent at least 30 of my 40 years worried about every bite of food I took, and every muscle movement I've made, so I think I've been learning a little bit about myself and my addictions along the way...enough at least to share with you, and enable you to either connect and feel a little less alone in your own sufferings, or to help you find something you resonate with, enough to better understand something you're dealing with...and most importantly so that I can break things down to biteable and learnable chunks for my own learnings.

So, I have an addiction to food.  Food for me is so much more than simply a means of fueling the fun stuff you see in crazy ass photos they mass produce to sell you a frame at Christmas.

Food for me is all of these things:

  1. It's fuel
  2. It's yummy
  3. It's memories
  4. It's family
  5. It's celebration
  6. It's comfort
  7. It's love I give to others
  8. It's love they give to me
  9. It's love I provide myself
  10. It's a mask
  11. It's a mute button
  12. It's a thinking tool
  13. It's a good day
  14. It's a bad day
  15. It's art
  16. It's a coping mechanism for stress

Food is how I deal with life.  It's how life is represented for me.  It's what I do, it's what I consume, it's what I give of myself to the people that matter.

So just as it would be with any crack addict, smoker, or alcoholic, when you take that source of the addiction away, it hurts.  Viscerally.  But more than what I imagine it would be with any other type of addict, it's laced with fat shaming, competence shaming and very little of it is the same kind of "awe inspiring" concern or compassion or even tough love for the addict.  Moreover, bullet number one there, is "fuel".

You can't simply take food away.  You can take yummy food away, but the replacement is often tantamount to taking it all away and thus begins a terrifying out of control spiral into any number of other food related anxieties and disorders that are even more health and life threatening than obesity.

And finally when memories, and family and the love of the most important people in your lives is also then thrown into the mix, the psychological damages of removing those very comforting things that food provides, well, puts everything else out of balance.  And if you were to take the brush out of an artist's hands they would struggle emotionally with how to express their innermost thoughts and feelings, and the same is true for someone who's day revolves around meal planning, preparation, and execution...even if they never partook in the results removing the ingredients that invoke all those inspired memories, thoughts, feelings and communications all need some other form of balance.

A smoker who quits the cigarette finds comfort in replacing their addiction with something less traumatizing like cooking/eating.  A crack addict finds something to replace their demons with in crochet or art...when you take someones canvas away - how do you replace it?  With what?  Find a new canvas you say?  Like needle point?  Not nearly as satisfying.  With cigarettes, well after a certain point of time, you're right, that would be equally satisfying for many more of the items on my list - I know because I smoked once for a lot of years, and food was my cigarette replacement.

There's not much in this world that will replace food for an addict.  Anything else that replaces food in the same volume, velocity and intensity will never, ever, ever, be healthy in the same measure.

So I ask you the great void of the blogiverse, what singular thing can we replace food with that will deliver all of these 16 things for me in equal measure?  I'm really hoping to find a good answer in this.