Written by: Mel Tonken
I saddened myself when I saw a T.V. commercial recently that is currently airing. A middle aged man uses his cell phone to tell his wife that he is on his way home & just can’t wait to get there. He steps through the door. In anticipation, his wife is waiting for him, arms out, eyes closed, ready to be embraced.
The husband rushes through the door, completely ignoring his wife, standing there with outstretched arms & runs straight into the kitchen, stopping in front of the table laden with food, saying something like, “I can now eat whatever & however much I want, because I have this antacid pill that will last for 12 hours.”
I felt revolted at the entire premise of this ad. Forget about the misogynistic implications of this scenario – that is fodder for a different web site. The ad promotes food addiction and illustrates so very clearly where food stands in our hierarchy of choices, and actually glamorizes over eating, and the reliance on medication to support over indulgence and causing harm to our bodies.
I personally had no idea for much of my life that I, as the person in the ad, was addicted to food. Our kitchen table was always central to the family’s activities. Everyone ate a lot, talked about food a lot giving me the impression that how I thought about food & how I was eating was always within normal limits. What escaped my attention (what we call denial in the addiction community) is that I was always heavy, had limited energy, put food before relationships, cultural activities, making and interacting with friends (isolating) and giving myself a feeling of never fitting in. I often lied about how much I ate and hid my eating from others. Multiple failed attempts at dieting led me to believe that the timing of the diet was not right or that the diet was not appropriate for me in some way. Mostly I never gave any of these many failed attempts much thought. I assumed that the diet I had planned for the following Monday would be different – and of course it never was. I ate my way to 260 lbs. My relationship with food was definitely unhealthy, although I never really probed my relationship with food, which, of course, was the root of the problem, and very unhealthy. I never seemed really satisfied when I ate, always wanting more. I promised myself over & over again, that I would only eat a certain amount. Once the eating began, however, I was unable to stop, frequently feeling stuffed, and suffering with sever heartburn or abdominal cramps. I ate until my stomach pushed it’s way into my chest cavity, where it remains to this day.
I also happen to be a recovered drug addict, so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that food was remarkably similar to drugs when it came to the inability to stop when I knew I should, or the cravings I experienced in both cases. The symptoms and the insane thinking are identical. In spite of the fact that my weight exacerbated my arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, kidney failure, failed personal relationships; I was unable to stop eating. My self-esteem sunk to an all time low.
I FOUND A SOLUTION
One of the most gratifying moments of my life happened when I discovered that I was not weak willed, or morally corrupt, but that I had a disease, & better yet, there was a solution with a 12 step food program. I amazed myself at how simple the solution really was. Of course there was some self-discipline & uncomfortable feelings as my body cleared out the toxic sugar I had been consuming. After the first 2 or 3 weeks, I was delighted at how satisfied I was with the quantity & taste of the foods on my food plan.
My body quickly began to respond positively to the nutritious, balanced, healthy way of eating, and most of my cravings vanished.
The medical establishment largely persists in the belief that obesity is caused solely by consuming more calories than we expend. Surely if this was the only problem, there would not be an epidemic of obesity in North America, where it is estimated that by 1030, 50% of the population will be obese. There are ways that work, when dealing with obesity & other forms of compulsive eating which are safe, easily followed & which brings extraordinary health into our lives.