October 2009: I have been a compulsive overeater since I was about 9 or 10 years old. I’m writing this blog as therapy for myself and to perhaps help others who read it, as I have now come to understand how helpful it is to be able to share and identify with people who have the same addiction that I suffer from. I would like to keep this blog anonymous as I’m not ready to shout from the rooftops about this sickness of mine just yet.
First off, I am in my low 40’s and I am very happily married with two children. As an adult I have weighed anywhere between 106 – 172 lbs. I’m about 5’3″. Fortunately, I’ve been at the low end of that range for the past year, which simply means you wouldn’t know by looking at me how badly I struggle with food issues every day of my life.
It wasn’t until I was close to turning 40 that the idea of “compulsive overeater” somehow popped into my head and I devoured the Internet to find out what it all meant. I ended up finding the Overeaters Anonymous website and read their list of questions that asked if you were a compulsive overeater. I was able to answer yes to most of the questions. Though it made me sad to realize that I had an addiction like an alcoholic or drug addict, at the same time it was kind of freeing for I finally had a little compartment to put this side of my personality into. It gave me a label to put on my problem, which in turn gave me direction on how to deal with the problem.
I did some further research on the OA site and found a few meetings near where I lived. I started going to meetings right away. I found it unbelievable that there were other people out there who had the same food issues I had. To sit in those meetings surrounded by people who all know where you are coming from is just amazing. It was a community that I never knew existed. (Note: this is not going to be a blog promoting OA and Twelve Steps.) I have stopped going to meetings at this point, but I always know they are there for me if/when I need one.
I also found myself a therapist, because I was determined to find out why I became a compulsive overeater over 30 years ago. The therapist was wonderful and helped me to discover how my overeating probably came to be. I saw the therapist for a few months and learned a lot about myself. A year later, I went through a hypnotherapy session which was fabulous, but it only helped me for a few weeks. Recently, I started seeing another therapist. This therapist is recovering compulsive overeater himself, so I know he can totally relate to where I’m coming from. He has opened my eyes to a lot of things about myself.
I am now 2-1/2 of being what OAers call abstinent, or binge-free. However, every day is a struggle. My whole world is centered around food – what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat it and when can I eat again. Eating at someones house, going to a function or a restaurant always causes me some degree of panic. It’s a brutal way to live, especially knowing that most people do not give food a second thought. I wish I had a normal relationship with food, but I don’t. I live to eat, though I wish i could say that I eat to live.
Thank goodness that I work out four days a week. It gives me stress relief (my sanity!) and helps to maintain the weight loss.
July 2010 UPDATE: Wow, I just read this and saw that it’s slightly outdated. This past March, I made the giant leap of faith to Intuitive Eating. I stopped weighing/measuring food portions, stopped counting calories obsessively, and stopped weighing myself every day and it has been incredibly empowering and freeing for me to stop those controlling behaviors. I am recovering, or maybe it’s recovered, I’m not quite sure. I am in a place where food and eating is no longer an obsession. It is not the center of my world anymore.
I have found trust in myself and I listen to my body now. I trust body to tell me when it’s hungry and when it’s full. Foods are no longer deemed “bad” or “forbidden”. I do not deprive myself. Everything is fair game, in moderation. I eat to live now, instead of living to eat. I haven’t been able to say that for over 30 years. It feels wonderful to actually feel that way! Who knew!?!?!?
I know now that ‘normal’ eaters over indulge sometimes, it’s a normal behavior. The difference is that ‘normal’ eaters don’t beat themselves up about eating too much of something for one meal or one night. They just listen to their bodies when the next mealtime rolls around.