Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Food, unglorious food...Part 2

Addiction: the best definition I’ve seen is:

An irresistible compulsion to commit an irrational act.

On the ladder of addiction, each step upwards has an addiction listed, rising in the order of the difficulty of quitting. I saw an illustration one time of this but at the moment I can’t locate it.
The lower rungs were street drugs in their variants.
Next were the highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs, the percocets, the bennies, the oxycontins, etc.
Then there was alcohol in all its forms.
Up another rung to nicotine.
And the highest rung of all was food. The most difficult addiction of all to quit.
With all other substances, one can quit cold turkey as I have, or go to rehab, or a treatment centre or find a support group, turn one’s back on the addiction and not have to deal with it again, except with a ‘no thank you’ or an ‘I’m outta here’ if the going gets rough.
With food, of course, one is faced with decisions around ingesting this particular drug of choice three times a day. Moreover, food is served at nearly all social gatherings and calling relentlessly while in the car driving by the winking signs of convenience stores and fast food joints.
While the bombardment of food advertisements and promotions assault from one side, the other side has the fabulous bodies of models swanning about in magazines and television without an excess ounce of fat on them to taunt and tease.
It all can feel so bloody hopeless.
And knowing all the time that there is less than a 5% (some say even less than that) success ratio in Weight Watchers, in Jenny Craig, in all of the so-called Diet Clubs. They refuse to divulge their statistics as they are so dismal. They are in it for the money, of course - all made on the sad backs of the most wretched and hopeless. It is all about the numbers, the weight, the measurements, the calories in, the calories out, the cash leaving your pocket and hopping into theirs, and can we sell you some food while we’re at it? Weight Watchers is owned by the Heinz Corporation, an agri-business, pimping frankenfoods of all kinds.
I’ve tried it all of course. And had the dizzying ‘successes’ for a while. Even down to seeing a medical obesity specialist who subsisted me on a protein drink taken 3 times a day and a shot (horse urine, I believe) in my bum every day from his nurse. Tough going, but I graduated in 6 weeks with a 42lb weight loss and a size 9 dress. Of course in 6 months it was all packed on again and then some. Much to my bafflement. Meanwhile, I tried to find Dr. H., the magic diet doctor once more but he had run out of town to California with at least two deaths to his credit and was a person of interest to the local police department. I should add that even knowing this, I would have gone back to him. Rather a skinny corpse in a casket than a fat one any day.
So I had to move back to bennies which had me cleaning floors at midnight but never eating, losing the entire weight gain but also my mind from lack of sleep.
I’m not much into surgery, the gastric bands, the balloon, the shortening of the bowel, but I seriously considered them all. All stop gap measures as I know now, none dealing with the real underlying issues.
I was bounding from one diet to another, gobbling up the weight loss books, the magazines, the tapes, Richard Simmons, et al. One particular favourite, Woman’s World, always features a picture on the cover of a ‘weight loss winner’ holding her old size 54 jeans wrapped twice around her, while inside has the recipes for 10,000 calorie desserts. Yum and barf.
Every morning for years and years and years I woke up thinking today is the day I take charge, today I will fast, eat 300 calories and lose 50lbs by the end of September (or for the wedding, or for the trip).
Every night I went to bed thinking what a loser, what a pig. You just couldn’t do it, could you, eating 4 plates at that buffet and then getting the munchies later. It is obscene what you eat. If only people knew.
An intelligent person like me defeated by a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, a birthday cake?
I couldn’t make sense of it: I had let go of my bennies, my alcohol and my nicotine. Why in the name of all that was holy, could I not let go of food?

To be continued.


  1. It seems to me the key to a rational attitude to food is our upbringing. If we're encouraged to eat only what we really need and not eat when we're not hungry because something's tempting or because we're being polite, and if our bodies are accepted for what they are and not seen as imperfect, then we'll grow up with a healthy attitude to food.

    But that approach is undermined all the time by indulgent parents and friends and profit-seeking food companies. By the time we're adults, our attitudes to food are often permanently screwed-up.

    I'm aware I'm one of the lucky ones who eats only what I need. I'm physically incapable of eating too much.

  2. This is so profound, Webwisewoman.

    I didn't know until reading this that you had tried things as drastic as Dr Death with the horse injection.

    I'm looking forward to the rest of your posts about this subject (which is obviously my major concern).

  3. Also, Nick, which I'll explore in another post, food addicts exist in a constant state of unacknowledged anxiety. Often unrecognized.
    I'm where you are now, I should add,just eating what I need and completely free of compulsion.
    And having gotten to know you through your writing, I'd say that you are grateful for this gift.

  4. Hello again, Good.
    We go to any lengths to try to be thin, right?
    Some death-defying. Others drastic - I would get high on fasting.
    I've no trouble with that definition of my behaviour!

  5. Your experiences are a little more extreme than my own, WWW, but the pattern is the same.

    I lived on little else than apples at one time ! Then there was the diet chocolate period, and those nasty diet drinks. Daily visit to bathroom scales - before eating or drinking and no clothes or even a wristwatch to add weight! Slimming magazines ordered monthly, read cover to cover, then re-read.

    I'm not sure, now, what stopped it all for me. A mix of factors, I guess.

  6. I have a gastric band and lost 34 kilos, but I can't manage to lose the last 6 kilos that I ought to. making me still a bit of a porker. I don't fret about it much, because I know why I don't lose the last kilos. About once a week I go crazy and eat cookies until I am sick of them. It's all psychological, of course, but what isn't now a days? Maybe I like this round person. I dress well and always look good. I am 53 years old and don't need to look like a bombshell. I know that when it comes down to it, the last kilos will go when I am good and ready. In the meantime I have my weekly sin and look forward to it while it lasts. You wait, I'll be found out and made to stop when I tell all. Like I just did now.

  7. T:
    I'm with you all the way on the methodology! I remember eating just hardboiled eggs for a month and losing a lb a day. And of course the incessant weighing of the body at all hours of the day and night. Talking of consuming!! pun intended.

  8. Hi Irene:
    Everyone has their own journey to peace, I find. I just know that for me eating a bag of cookies would not be a peaceful thing to do. And I'd rather live, after many years of NOT, in the tranquility of my life rather than the turmoil.


Comments are welcome. Anonymous comments will be deleted unread.

Email me at wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom if you're having trouble.