When we hear the word addiction, we think of alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, cigarettes… We rarely think of food. The truth is, food can be an addiction, a deadly one. In fact, food is the only addiction that is blatantly thrown in our faces every second of the day. Everywhere we turn we are being sold the addiction that is food. Encouraged to indulge, practically given for free the foods that are worst for us, rewarded by convenience, comfort and cost. Unlike other addictions, we actually need food to survive. It’s not something that we can cut out of our lives. We can’t just avoid grocery stores and restaurants and vow never to eat again. We need to make a change. To make that change, a lasting change, we need to get to the root of the addiction.
For me, when I think about food, it’s like remembering an old friend. As stupid as this may sound, food has always been there for me. No matter what I was feeling, I could always count on food to make me feel better. If I was alone, depressed, happy, nervous, afraid, sick, angry, in love, sad, stressed, bored… I could always count on food to medicate my emotions, take away the edge of pain, reward myself for a job well done, distract myself from whatever was going on. Unlike people, food never judged me, never criticized me, never made me feel unwanted, never rejected me. It gave me exactly what I needed in that moment; a feeling of happiness, relief, and satisfaction. It gave me an excuse to ignore the issues going on inside, and cover them up with pounds and pounds of weight. I am currently 295 pounds, and it has been so hard to move away from that 300 pound mark. It’s like my body knows that there are things I have to deal with as the weight comes off and it doesn’t want to make itself vulnerable and give up the “security” of the weight. There are issues buried so deep inside that as they begin to poke their ugly little heads up, they’re things I had totally forgotten about, things I had pushed down; but they’re still there… and they still need to be dealt with. Part of my problem is that I don’t really know how to deal with those things. A friend of mine helped me realize that I am good at thinking it, acting like it, feeling it – but I have never truly vocalized it. I will get there, I think most of it is fighting through that fear of being vulnerable, of being stripped down to who I really am.
When we get to the root of the addiction, that is when we can really take control of it altogether. Food isn’t evil, but it isn’t a drug either. We can diet and exercise all we want, but until we deal with what is on the inside… it will never match what is on the outside.