It’s Not “Just” a Food Addiction

Recovery & Weight Loss Endeavors No. 6

The past two days have been dismal for me. I binged, and binged again, on junk food — cheeseballs and crackers, cookies, Krispy treats, candy, etc.

This problem isn’t a simple one. It isn’t a matter of will-power alone. It also doesn’t come down to it “just” being an addiction.

I’m on medication for night terrors (that I get absolutely zero sleep without) that has an “increased appetite” side effect. Between my two doses (one at six in the evening, and one around eight in the evening), it’s as if I’m stoned on weed and have a terrible case of the proverbial munchies.

I also have IBS; so I avoid eating during the day (especially if I have plans) in order to mitigate the chances of having an attack. Thus, by early evening, I’m famished; and I eat much faster than I should (and crave sugar and fats due to low blood glucose).

Mitch and I do not have healthy eating habits, either. We’re both procrastinators and rather poor planners… which leaves our evening meal on hiatus until we’re both starving, and more likely to run out for fast food.

What Hasn’t Worked

Stocking the Fridge

We have tried filling the refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables (things that by and large Mitchell does not eat); but often, they end up spoiling instead of getting eaten.

Why? Because I hate preparing food; so if Mitch doesn’t take the initiative to cut things up and portion them out, I tend to ignore what’s in the kitchen. (I also have an essential tremor that makes handling knives a difficult feat.)

That isn’t to say that my husband is at fault. On the contrary, I need to take some initiative in this department. I should take more responsibility for my own dietary habits; but Mitch has been in control of this for so long, that it’s become a (somewhat necessary — see the tremor explanation above) habit that’s hard to break.

Making Vows

I have tried writing out my intentions — hoping to make them harder to break — to no avail.

It’s all well and good to type “I will limit myself to one sugary item after our evening meal.” (As I did in Thursday’s post.) But by the time seven o’clock rolls around, I’m frustrated with myself for not having eaten better during the day, and that “the house is on fire, might as well let it burn to the ground” mentality sets in.

Counting Calories

I shared in an earlier post on the blog why this particular tactic doesn’t work for me.

The F*cking Endless Cycle

I’m extremely agitated by my inability to reign-in my binge-eating habits.

I cannot fathom how I found the strength to give up booze and narcotics, yet can’t manage to put down the donuts and potato chips through my will alone.

After a binge, I wake up feeling ashamed and disgusting. Often, I also feel physically taxed and sluggish; which is exactly how I felt when plagued with a hangover.

You would think that wanting those feelings to go away would be enough to prevent the actions that precede them; but instead, I find myself stuck in the hellish cycle of addiction (albeit, a less nefarious addiction than the ones I’ve managed to keep in check this past few years): eat irresponsibly, it takes an emotional/physical toll, feelings of shame fuel negative self-image, there is a loss of hope and some self-flagellation, reach for (false) comfort in the very thing causing you distress. Rinse and repeat.

Not “Just” an Addiction is Still an Addiction

One of the hardest things about overcoming addictions is that they mutate. Why? Because “addiction” is born of maladapted coping mechanisms. It’s a (somewhat “diseased”) way of thinking… and changing one’s way of thinking can be an extremely difficult thing to do.

In addicts, negative underlying emotions fuel the desire to rid oneself of them through any means necessary… to feel something different.

In my case, I’m trying to “outrun” feeling undesirable — to fill the one missing piece (i.e. a sexually intimate connection with my husband) in the puzzle of my life.

I couldn’t fill it with alcohol. I couldn’t fill it with opiates. I couldn’t fill it with affairs. And now? Now, I cannot fill it with food.

I Should Know Better By Now

After years of self-reflection in the Anonymous programs, you would think I had better tools to cope with feelings of self-destruction; and I do… sort-of.

I have friends that I can call when I’m feeling “restless, irritable, and discontent” — but I still struggle with actually doing so. (Mostly, because I’d rather listen to their problems, than to bleed all over them with mine.)

I know that writing helps me to sort out negative emotions, and leads to finding the flecks of glitter among the ashes of darker thoughts… and that I can do (as I am now).

It seems to me that I must start treating my binge-eating as an addiction (rather than just a bad habit) — even when there are other factors at play; and for me, unfortunately, that means finding a healthier addiction to replace it.

I’m working on it…

Soundtrack: “Recovery” by James Arthur

8 thoughts on “It’s Not “Just” a Food Addiction

  1. It sounds like changing this pattern/addiction requires focusing first on behaviour change early in the day rather than in the evening when the house is already on fire. I wonder if it might work to plan low-prep lunches and shop accordingly for stuff like pre-washed lettuce, pre-grated cheese, or whatever. I’m not very motivated to do meal prep, but since I don’t mind eating the same thing repeatedly, I like to make a big batch of something-or-other and then have multiple meals’ worth of leftovers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is definitely a thought! I know that Mitch would be down to help me with that… but then I also have to follow through by actually eating, and I’m so bad at that. 🤦🏻‍♀️

      Changing a decades-long habit of not eating during the day has proven way more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. I absolutely loathe self-maintenance. I would rather being doing anything else versus taking a shower, eating, etc.

      I really just need to find the internal motivation that I was able to harness against my other addictions… but it seems to have abandoned me as of late. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry. My heart hurts for you. Being trapped in the binge cycle is brutal. Have you read any Geneen Roth? I found her first two (Feeding the Hungry Heart, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating) especially helpful.

    The tricky thing with an eating disorder is that while it has some components in common with addiction, it’s not only that. It’s mental health. It’s anxiety and depression. It’s being unkind to ourselves.

    I notice a great many “shoulds” in your post. It’s a hard word, demanding and judgmental. I used to use it all the time, but my therapist helped me work on replacing it. Even “could” is better. And then, of course, there’s the eleventh commandment: thou shalt not should on thyself.

    People with eating disorder are often starving and often, often protein deficient. Protein and fat, which we also reject, have legs so we don’t end up starving and susceptible in the evening. And I find simple carbs to be compulsive once a binge starts: you have some, you want more. Until you hate yourself. Self-punishment, followed by abuse, followed by more self-punishment.

    How do you feel about hard-boiled eggs? Does that work with IBS? Because they’re protein bombs. Ditto a handful of raw almonds. I think nuts, however, are probably a no-go.

    Here’s what I know about my eating disorder. It was always hard to get my hands on the reins if mentally, things were worse than usual.

    I’m sending energy and support. Be nice to yourself. It’s hard for those of us with eating disorder -we’re more comfortable with self-abuse. Try anyhow. It gets easier with practice. I’m mad for sheet masks now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Ms. Michelle! I know you understand this stuff more than most (and definitely more than me).

      I like the “eleventh commandment”. It made me laugh. I’m going to write it down and stick it to my laptop.

      I do like hard-boiled eggs in my salads, but haven’t tried them on their own. My IBS isn’t food-specific; so I’m willing to give it a shot! I do like nuts — especially almonds — but I tend to binge on those as well. 🤦🏻‍♀️

      And yes, all of my addictions are worsened by mental health disorders; and lately, I’ve been in a constant state of meh.

      I forgot that eating disorders are classified as mental health disorders (I feel like I knew that once, but lost sight of it in my self-flagellation.) I’m seeing my psychiatrist today, so I’ll definitely speak to him about it. I will also look up those titles by Roth.

      I will gladly accept your energy and support, and promise to work on being nicer to myself… if only in my words at first. Much love to you, Girlie! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think treating as an addiction and with that same mentality is probably a good start. Recognizing that you’re trying to fill the holes in the same ways you did with other addictive behaviors….and that it ultimately won’t help.
    I have the same problem, where I’ll basically starve myself all day and then feel like I can, or should, or “deserve” to eat at night. It is a hard mentality to break. But I think Ashley has a good point, breaking the cycle earlier in the day may help to combat some of this. Making it as easy on yourself as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish that addictions and mental health disorders were easier to combat. The complexity involved in combatting them — from finding the right medications, to changing our thought processes, to dealing with stigma (even in our own households) — is just a bitch. 😪


  4. As a recovering addict and alcoholic I see the same train of thought in you. We know we can’t run from our pain but we keep trying and wonder why we do the same thing again and again. Its an old train and rides are free but it tends to fall off the track every single time. I have no advice at all, I just wanted to thank you for being honest and sharing your story. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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