Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Progress Report ... Regarding Food

This is an open letter progress report about some changes in my thinking and actions regarding food:

     I never wanted to write this sort of thing.  I always thought that the rehab exercises in which countless addicts are told to write a goodbye to drugs letter was rather corny.  I think the word "addict"-- like the word "addiction"-- is grossly over-used.  Addiction has a precise meaning yet even the professionals among us often use that word when the word "habituation" would serve better and more accurately.  

     Although I have resorted to some of the language I know best, I draw the line at labeling myself an "overeater" or a "food addict."  Those words do not begin to describe my relationship to food or my behavior adequately.  At times I have restricted my intake, especially when I was "dieting" in TOPS.  The numbers on the scale did not dictate my emotions so much as they dictated what my eating habits looked like for several days before each weigh-in.  At other times, I have eaten more than my share as if a great hunger had taken over my being.  At still other times, I ate too much junk and not enough nutritious food.  And sometimes, I have forgotten to eat.  My eating had range to it.  Sometimes too much.  Sometimes too little.  Sometimes an average amount.  

     Forget the disease concept.  I don't believe that addiction of any sort is a "disease."  The disease concept grew out of a need for insurance companies to foot the bill for all of those expensive treatment centers and rehabs that sprung up in the heyday of booming companies invested in making money from the hoards of people who needed to stop and from some folks who genuinely wanted to stop.  I am not a consistent over-eater.  I am not a food addict.  I don't have yet another politicized blasted disease.  I have some really bad dietary habits which have needed intense correction for some time.  I have a condition.  I've had an unhealthy and immature relationship with food.  I am a Foodie.

     The vast majority of people don't have problems when they drink socially or use socially [and yes, I believe that people can and do use socially] or when they fill a script.  But some people do have problems when they do these things.  If they catch themselves early enough, they are able to moderate or stop their habituation.  Those who don't continue on into genuine addiction.  Of those who are successful at quitting, they learn that they can live successful lives without using alcohol or street drugs and without abusing prescription drugs.  Food isn't exactly like that.  We cannot really do without it.

     Many years before I had heard of TOPS, I had tried O.A.  The people who attended the meetings that I'd gone to were all abstinent from certain foods.  Some eliminated-- or attempted to eliminate-- all sugars.  Some spoke about dumping all carbs.  Others added beef to that list.  Still others, salt.  And so on.  I had a sense that there was something about having a list of forbidden foods was not healthy in and of itself.  I knew that we need some carbs, some protein, a few fats, some dairy in our diets.  I went on my way and never looked back.  My food list at the time included a certain regular brown soda, sugar, chocolate, chinese beef brown broth, ice cream, bread in any form, salt.  That list was to change throughout the years.

     I've come to understand that the problem for me is more complex than any singular or multiple categories of food.  The problem isn't even food itself.  My problem is that I like to eat.  The recent diabetes scare was enough to motivate me to truly change my eating habits.  I was no longer interested in having a list of healthy foods and a list of foods to be avoided or to cut out completely.  I wanted to eliminate or at least mitigate my unhealthy eating-disordered behaviors.  And I've stuck with that.  My focus is not on "I can eat this, but not that."  In continuing to strive to change my relationship with food, I have discovered that it is my habits that need re-vamping.

     I eat breakfast and lunch now daily.  [Skipping dinner is not one of my problems].  I've upped my intake of green vegetables and fruits.  I don't restrict my eating anymore because I know that I will be weighed in a few days.  I endeavor to eat a protein whenever I reach for a carb.  I eat a tablespoon full of cottage cheese most nights before bedtime.  And I continue to exercise regularly, whether I want to or not.  My sweet tooth is very much alive although I have found that fruit satisfies it.  I don't treat myself with a sugary food or more on a daily basis.  

     In changing my eating behaviors, my relationship to food has changed.  I have re-learned that in order to change my thinking, I have to change my behavior.  Some folks report that they can do it the other way around.  I am not able to.  It is action that gives life, not just thoughts.  Here are my "ifs" that I live by:  

          If I could think myself into better circumstances I would      
  have done so long ago.
          If I want something different, I have to do something 
          If I wait until I "feel well enough" to do something, I'll be 
  waiting the rest of my life.

I don't identify thinking as positive or negative.  I have borrowed a bit of buddhist thought.  I refer to my thinking as right thinking and wrong thinking.  Right thinking can be positive or negative.  Wrong thinking is not practical or logical.  I continue to eliminate any remnants of magical thinking through any means necessary other than magical thinking.

     This isn't really a "goodbye to food" letter.  It is a progress report of sorts.  I made allowances the other day in my food plan to allow for a small treat.  The world did not fall over.  I did not go home and immediately consume hideous amounts of pastries or chocolate.  [The treat was a salted caramel tart with a chocolate shell.  It was delicious!].  I was not bothered by earth-shattering cravings.  I enjoyed my bit of dessert and then my life continued.

     There is something about moderation which calling myself an "over-eater" or a "food addict" would not have allowed for.  Moderation is possible when it comes to food and in fact is to be encouraged [unless a medical professional advises otherwise].  I am not interested in restricting my food intake for several days before the weekly weigh-ins at TOPS or in restricting myself from certain categories of food as is commonly done in the O.A. meetings that I have experienced.  I want the health benefits that are to be had by engaging in mindful eating.

sapphoq itching for a black coffee with no sugar or white stuff in it 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dietary Changes

After a routine urine test, the doctor came back into the examination room.  He frowned at the paper he held in his hand.  "Your urine came back with traces of glucose," he said.  "I want to send you for more bloods."  I took the paper and left.
The next morning found me [starving] at the blood drawing station.  Four tubes and one bruise later, I left.  The entire next week found me exclaiming at anyone who would listen, "I lost all of this weight and I might have diabetes anyway!"  I was angry.
Never mind that I had abused my physical body for many years via the ingestion of large quantities of sugary snacks, not eating breakfast or lunch consistently, several experiences with yo-yo dieting, and little attention to nutrition.  Even my aborted experience in TOPS and a "successful" maintenance of a 65 pound weight loss for more than a year did not result in consistent healthy eating habits.  And yes, in one year's time, I had gained back 24 pounds of the 65 pounds that I had lost.
I made a decision.  The night after my bloods were drawn, I decided to begin to follow a healthy eating plan regardless of whether or not I had diabetes.  And I did.  I have eaten breakfast every day since that night.  I have eaten lunch every day since that night.  I have eaten fruits and vegetables every day since that night.  I have concentrated on healthy snacks instead of garbage snacks. 
I went back to the doctor the following week.  I had lost two pounds.  "Your bloods came out normal," he said.  I told him that I had been talking with acquaintances who have diabetes type II and I have found no one that follows their prescribed food plans.  "That's why we have so many bad diabetics here," he told me.  "By 2050, one of every three Americans will have diabetes II."
It is now a week later.  I am still following a healthy eating plan.  I think I could get used to this.
cross-posted to several other places