According to Wikipedia, “A la carte” is a French expression meaning “from the (restaurant) menu”. Leave it to a food addict like moi to start a journal entry with a reference to restaurants! <blush> 🙂

A La Carte

The meaning of this phrase has been extended beyond the scope of dining to encompass the general option of purchasing only select items instead of a merchant’s entire list of offerings.

And so it is with my approach to recovery from food addiction and exercise avoidance: I am very selective about where my help comes from. This approach was probably influenced by my membership in various 12 Step fellowships over the years. That’s where I learned that I had a right to “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

So while I’m following the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (also known these days as the Flex plan), that does not mean that all of my direction, inspiration and support comes from that organization. 

Yes, without reservation, I recommend Weight Watchers to men looking for group support to help them lose weight (not to mention maintain their weight loss once they achieve it). But I would never pressure a fellow addict to join W.W. or tell them that they should limit themselves to participation in Weight Watchers.

Why am I even mentioning my “a la carte approach” to recovery in the first place? Because I’ve discovered what I consider to be a very disturbing habit in the weight loss industry whereby a particular company, author of a particular weight loss book or even fellow addicts have an unhealthy expectation that ONLY individuals working on recovery should get guidance from them. Nothing like “taking hostages”, eh? Nothing like thinking one has all the answers for the whole universe of obese persons!

So while I’m following the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (BTW, why does W.W. almost always print that name of that food plan in ALL CAPS? That bugs me, since I don’t think it’s an acronym), it is just one item on my “recovery menu”.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found to taking an a al carte approach to recovery is that it frees my up to support other addicts — regardless of what they do to make their recovery work. That doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and do what others do (I’m me and they’re them — and the wisdom to know the difference!), but I can offer and receive support from fellow addicts (and not the ones who think EXACTLY like me).

I probably will never be a fan of Nutri System, Richard Simmons’ food plan or any form of bariatric (e.g., weight loss) surgery. It just ain’t gonna’ happen. But I can offer support to addicts who have chosen to incorporate those approaches. Whatever our individual approach to recovery, we all can benefit from encouragement to stay true to the path we’ve chosen.

This approach doesn’t also applies to my relationship with physical exercise. I don’t have to follow a particular exercise plan someone else follows in order to accept their encouragement to stick to the particular plan designed to work best for me.

Several years ago I listened to a nationally syndicated radio talk show (I think the host’s name was Leigh Meribaugh — I’m not sure of that spelling) who regularly helped her callers “let go” of toxic persons that they had a hard time “detaching from”.

The show host would hold a pair of scissors near her microphone as she would  “cut the (imaginary, but very real) chord” between a caller and some person(s) who had caused them pain…and then she would pronounce them “detached” and declare a new found freedom for the caller.

How many times I’ve felt the need to “cut the chord” when it comes to other food addicts who just didn’t know when to detach from my stuff and work their own program of recovery! (Not that I’ve ever had this same struggle of “letting go” from other’s issues…HA!!!)

Yes indeed, the mouths (and other body parts as well) of food addicts are really not interconnected with each other after all!

For the longest time the “people pleaser” (a/k/a flaming codependent) in me was willing to do whatever other people wanted me to do — as if I needed their permission to make me an OK person. So if another addict said, “This ONE food plan is the ONLY one you should follow….that  you MUST follow!” I would do what they ordered, even if it was against my better judgment.

As a recovering addict I work hard to remain open-minded and teachable. At the same time I still have the right to think for myself and be responsible for my choices. It’s great to know that I can make new and different choices as needed — but not because it’s my job to make other persons happy (or, if they are selling weight loss books or other merchandise) richer. 🙂