The Life and Times of a Food Addict

It’s a tough life for one who is addicted to food.  It is not like alcohol or illicit drugs.  You cannot quit eating, if you value your life.  You are forced to co-exist with your addiction.  Like I said, it’s a tough life for one who is addicted to food.

Oh, hi.  If you don’t know me, I’m Kellie.  And I’m addicted to food.  (Insert “Hi Kellie” here.)  It has been 20 minutes approximately since my last meal.  I expect to eat again in about five to six hours, but I’ll be thinking about it long before then.

I’m not sure exactly when my food addiction began, but I do know that I eat out of boredom, sadness, anger, gladness.  Just about any emotion will do.  I am guessing this began in my awkward-looking (AKA fugly) stage.  So between 8 to 16.  The great part about being an emotional eater as a child, though, was that I still had that thing called a metabolism, so it was all good.  I was never skinny, but I didn’t have a weight problem.

I remember being at home during the summer while my parents were at work, and I would case the kitchen several times daily looking for yummy food to miraculously appear.  My parents didn’t buy a lot of junk food, the stuff that I wanted.  We had food in the house, but it was food that I had to actually MAKE.  I wanted Hot Pockets and frozen burritos.  I would look in the freezer at the lonely bag of frozen peas about 50 times, trying to make it turn into a pizza.  What is the definition of insanity again?  That’s me!

It wasn’t until after I had my dear children that my eating habits caught up with me.  But after my first son was born, I was still in my early 20s, and ephedra was still legal, so I lost all of my weight from him, and then some.  I was working out too.  It was the one and only time in my life, other than the fifth grade, that I can say I was a size 6.  According to Old Navy.  So probably more like an 8, because their sizes are jacked up most of the time.  But I digress…

Once we decided to try for another baby, which I said I wouldn’t do until I lost the weight from the first one, I had to wean myself off the ephedra.  That resulted in a few days of not being able to hold a conversation with anyone and a splitting headache.  The good news is that the paranoia about strange people following me in parking lots went away. (This is the stuff that they use to make meth.  Go figure.)

Because I’m Fertile Myrtle, I became pregnant with my second boy after one month of trying.  And naturally, because I was eating for two and had cravings for Arby’s beef and cheddar sandwiches every day, I used my pregnancy as an excuse to binge, and binge some more.  I gained 80 pounds by the time I gave birth, and my little 7 lb, 6 oz baby didn’t help much with that weight loss.  In fact, that baby will be 10 in November and I’m STILL saying that I’m losing my baby weight.  The truth is, I’ve lost it and regained it about five times in 10 years.

Now, let me say this:  I am a foodie.  I love food.  What food addict doesn’t, right?  I tried South Beach Diet way back when.  I lost about 14 pounds before I had a piece of bread accidentally (right).  If you give up something you are addicted to and then go back to it, isn’t the addiction always twice as strong, if not more?  So that was me.  And I’ve never been able to go on a low-carb diet again.  No bread?  No pasta?  Get lost.

In 2005, however, I was introduced to a faith-based weight loss program.  I’m not going to give the name.  I lost the most weight ever doing this program, and guess what?  No food restrictions.  At all.  What’s the catch?  You wait for your stomach to growl, to signal true hunger, stomach hunger.  Then what?  You eat.  Whatever. You. Want.  Until you are full.  I’m not talking, Thanksgiving Day, gotta-unbutton-your-pants-and-lie-down-from-gluttony full.  It’s more like, satisfied.  Your stomach isn’t growling anymore, you can breathe and walk.  Life is good.  The trick is getting over head hunger.  Head hunger is that problem that emotional eaters like myself struggle with.  The TV is on.  We’d better eat something.  It’s breakfast time, lunchtime, dinnertime.  We should eat.  Even if we’re not hungry.  Those are the times when the program says you need to go to God to fill up on Him.  Whether it be praying, reading the Bible, or just asking to be redirected, like a child, to something else, anything to keep you from eating to fill that void in your heart. 

It makes sense if you think about it.  When you were a baby, I bet you couldn’t be forced to keep eating after you were full.  Sometime during our childhoods, most of us were programmed to not be able to recognize our physiological signals of hunger and fullness any longer, what with having to sit at a table and clean our plates.  I’ve been there for sure.  When a child says, “I’m not hungry,” because they’re more interested in what they’re doing, we say, “No, you must eat now.”  We have the best intentions as parents, don’t we?  Of course we do. 

As a food addict, unlike drug or alcohol addicts, I can’t change who I hang around with in the hopes of avoiding my drug of choice.  It’s not as if my friends pressure me to eat.  I can’t think of one time where any friend of mine has said, “Come on, Kellie…have another piece of pizza.  You know you want one.  Come on.  Everyone’s doing it.”  My battle is with me, myself, and I.

Now, if this program I found works so great, then why haven’t I always continued to do it, and why am I so fat right now?  Well, good question.  This program, which shall remain nameless, is a GREAT program, and I sincerely loved it.  If only it had remained just a weight loss program.  However, this program has branched out into a whole church, religion if you will, and I joined it several years ago.  However, after being scolded for not checking with another woman’s husband (my authority apparently) before I hosted a gathering at my home where I would serve chili and cornbread, I decided that this was not the place for me.  And though I still believed wholeheartedly in the program and the results, my pride was hurt, and the weight came back.

But six years later, after many, many failed attempts at diets (diets don’t work), pills (yep, nada), I keep coming back to this method.  Weight Watchers is a GREAT program.  I really loved it.  I lost almost 20 pounds with it.  But then if you are trying to STOP thinking about food and focus on something greater, you are doing nothing but thinking about food on Weight Watchers.  For me anyway.  I spent more time worrying about what I was going to eat for dinner with my last 7 points, and it distressed me.

So here I sit, about nine months later, after Weight Watchers, having gained almost all of that weight back.  And I’m left, again, realized that there really is only one method that works for me.  It gets me closer to God, gets my focus off the food, I have my cake and eat it too.  Win-win, right? 

It is a fabulous feeling when you get to order Chinese food at work, you are starving when it comes, but you eat slowly, tasting your food.  Let a few minutes go in between bites.  Read a little of your book.  Repeat.  And you’re satisfied with less food.  And you have lunch leftovers for tomorrow.  Life is good.  Eat, pray, love.  For real. 🙂