January 2008

A Little DIET COKE Goes Great With A BIG Meal!!!

Persons involved in 12 Step recovery are quick to point out that if we don’t remember all the pain, misery and outright INsanity of the last time we acted out with our “drug(s) of choice” we probably will act out with them again. For me as a food addict, I translate this thought as follows: If I can’t remember my last food binge, I haven’t probably haven’t had it yet. In other words, I probably have at least one more binge inside of me just waiting to pop out and make a train wreck out of my recovery.

While it wasn’t my last binge, one of the most bizarre ones from around 1985, came to mind when I found the picture posted at the top of this entry while recently cruising the Internet.

Drinking a little Diet Coke makes our OVEReating all OK, right? Not hardly.

It certainly didn’t make it “OK” the night that I ate 19 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Biscuits, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and who knows whatever other “KFC sides” I inhaled along with the GALLONS of DIET COKE I had with my “dinner”.

BTW, real addicts might eat 20 pieces or more of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but I STOPPED AT ONLY 19!!! Such moderation is something to be truly admired!

No way that OVEReating is a form of INsanity. Right. <blush>

After all, drinking Diet Coke probably IS a little bit healthier than drinking regular sugary soft drinks, right? And drinking DIET Coke is an “incremental step” toward living a healthier lifestyle, right?

Heck I recall one Weight Watchers leader quoting a news article about “lifestyle changes” that claimed it was possible to lose nearly fifteen pounds over the course of one year if you just drink one less 12 ounce cain of sugary soft drinks each day (Do the math: 365 days X one 12 oz. can less per day = 15 pounds weight loss).

We food addicts are sooooo incredibly sane, aren’t we?!?

You see, drinking Diet Coke alone is not the same thing as following a balanced, moderate food plan and moderately exercising, one day at a time.

Just for today, I have a plan of recovery (food plan, exercise plan, support network and life philosphy) which includes/allows Diet Coke (and other sugar-free soft drinks) to be consumed. But Diet Coke alone is not what has allowed me to now lose nearly 81 pounds.

But I have to admit, Diet Coke does taste great with chocolate!!!


Some Codependents Don’t Mind A Little Mistreatment From OthersBack in the mid-1980’s, a friend of mine who had a 12 Step perspective on addiction recovery, shared his belief that underneath overeating and all other addictions exists the real addiction that needed to be treated: codependency. Overeating, underexercising, indeed addictive/compulsive behaviors of every sort can all be traced back to this one common denominator.

To this day I believe my friend was on target with his theory. Yes, most addictive behaviors do seem to have some underlying biological connection/cause (e.g., physical addictions to substance like booze, mood-altering drugs, sex, food, compulsive spending, etc.). Yet, pardon my codependent observation here (Isn’t it codependent of me to speak for others?), but aren’t most of us addicts “flamingly codependent” — even as we experience recovery from other addictions?

OK. Maybe it’s just me who should self-identify as being a flaming codpendent (sometimes less flamingly, other times more flamingly). Then again, if you’ve ever observed fellow 12 Steppers interactive with each other, you might be inclined to believe that I’m not the lone codependent in 12 Step recovery. 🙂

Here’s an example of codependency amongst 12 Steppers: Have you ever heard the saying that “The only requirements for starting a new A.A./O.A./N.A./etc.-A. meeting are two members, a coffee pot and a resentment”? My experience is that most resentments are caused when one 12 Steppers can’t control another — can’t have their way, can’t win a group conscious vote, can’t succeed at shoving their approach to recovery down the throats of other group members, etc.

If you’ve read Melody Beattie’s self-help bestseller, CoDependent No More, then you might be skeptical (as I used to be) about whether codependency really is a legitimate problem since (based on her book’s all-encompasing definition) surely 99% of ALL persons — not just us addicts — are codependent, while the other 1% must be in denial.

Beattie seems to suggest that viritually any imperfection in how we deal with others makes one a codependent. Yet who can honestly claim to act with perfect relationship skills all the time? Not moi.

If, on the other hand, I focus my definition of codependency on just the major relationship problems/issues, then codependency makes more sense and can explain most of the “triggers” for most of my addictive behaviors.

Some of the relationship issues that appear to be legimate symptoms of codependency include: controlling behaviors (either we attempt to control others or we allow others to control us), distrust of ourselves and others, perfectionism, stuffling/avoidance of feelings, problems with emotional and sexual intimacy and excessive caretaking of others. We also tend to judge ourselves without mercy.

Many of the codependents in my life (including myself) end up experiencing megaloads of anxiety (and even panic attacks), depression and ftustration as those we care about often appear to be “spinning out of control” (Heck, no wonder they need us to contol them! HA!). A name for those individuals spinning out of control that I like is “crazymakers”.

We now interrupt this otherwise serious blog entry (some of us codependents overdose big time on being SERIOUS, so a hmor break is certainly in order!) for some Codependency Humor:

You might be a codependent if you refer to your friends as being a “caseload”.

— Am I a codependent? Depends what you think…Do you think I’m codependent?

— Why do codependents always flunk Geography class? Because they can’t distinguish any boundaries.

Now back to more serious blogging about codependency as the underlying cause for addictions.

Perhaps codependency is the underlying cause for the 12 Step reminder to “H.A.L.T.” — In our lack of caring for ourselves we too easily forget to keep from getting “toooooooo” Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired.

Perhaps codependency is at the cause for some of us having UNhealthy expectations of others. A member of Alcoholics Anonymous shares the how he overcomes the stress caused by his codependent thinking: “I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Perhaps codependency is addressed in the line from the Serenity Prayer that asks God to give us the “Serenity to accept the things we cannot change…”.

Agree or disagree with my friend’s theory that codependency is the addiction that exists underneath all other addictions (therefore is the ultimate trigger for other addictive behaviors), what I know for sure is that the pain caused by my codependent behaviors have lead me to acting out with food (and other substances and things as well). So I personally see a great value in working on my codependency issues along with my food and other addiction issues.

Happy H.O.W. Members

A visitor to my blog, identified as “deb3283”, posted the following comment/question regarding the H.O.W. Movement within the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship. Her comments were originally posted in a space that was intended for responses to the entry 8 Calls Within 21 Hours.

So as to not confuse the topic of the subject matter (which has nothing directly to do with Weight Watchers), I’ve moved her comments to the body of this entry. My response will follow.

deb3283 writes…

I recently read your writing(s) regarding H.O.W. and the rules and regulations imposed by this “cult”. I am very interested in your thoughts here, as I just finished speaking with my therapist re “O.A. vs. H.O.W.”

Though I have been able to give up sugar (such an addiction for me) and white flour, I am just not able to feel one bit healthy on their food plan. I don’t feel comfortable in the meetings either, though I am a long term member of AA. I have gained weight in the 2 years of attending my weekly HOW meetings. They seem to focus more on the rules/regulations/stringent food plan and “positive 3 minute pitches” then the root problems of compulsive eaters (shame/body image/prior eating disorder behavior, etc). I just wanted to get your further thoughts on this as I am attempting to make a decision whether to continue (and edging toward O.A., frankly). Thanks so much. — Deborah

Dave (a/k/a OveractiveFork) responds…

What I believe you are referring to is something that I shared on my One Bite Fellowship website (www.onebite.net). I’m glad you’ve asked my thoughts, because at some point I should definitely post that information here on OveractiveFork.My four cents worth (as adjusted for inflation) on this topic goes like this…

The so-called “H.O.W. movement”, as found within Overeaters Anonymous as well as the basis for several other 12 Step fellowships, is DANGEROUS on many levels.

Nutritional Danger: Food plans, IMHO, should never be written/prescribed by fellow addicts. Yet H.O.W., in it’s various incarnations, continues to offer a food plan that was originally written by someone other than a nutritionist.

Over the decades since it was first written, it has been re-written by dozens of other addicts — so when they push their so-called “perfect food plan” down our throats, it is only fair to point out that what they have is probably NOT the original Grey Sheet food plan written by an Overeaters Anonymous member back in the early 1960’s. So how do they know that their version is the most perfect, let alone ONLY food plan appropriate for all addicts? Where is the logic?

IMHO, no addict has any business  to write or promote a food plan. Food plans should ONLY be written by a medical profesional. While we trust professionals to assist us with our recovery, we addicts should remain focused on living and working the 12 Steps, one day at a time.

Emotional Danger: Everything that has originated within the H.O.W. movement is emotionally toxic!!! Just two examples:

1) H.O.W. oldtimers tell newcomers all the time that they should take the H.O.W. food plan to a “health care PROFESSIONAL” and abide by that person’s guidance — yet they shun, verbally abuse and even outright harrass members who were told by the professional that they consulted to NOT follow such a rigid, low-carbohydrate food plan. This is abusive…No addict deserves to be treated inappropriately just because another addict (= fellow insane person) does not approve of her/his food plan!

2) To insist on “positive pitches” is just another way to say to us that we need to “stuff our (authentic) feelings” — Wasn’t that what we were already doing (e.g., stuffing down our pain) with excessive amounts of food?!? Thanks, but I don’t think that the “face of a person in recovery” should go around with a fake smile plastered on his/her face!

We only begin to change when we have the ability/freedom to get REAL about our feelings. “Positive pitches” aren’t about being real. Insisting on “positive pitches” is a way of shaming others for their very REAL feelings.

Spiritual Danger: Nearly EVERYthing that the H.O.W. movement REALLY believes and stands for is in direct contradiction to the principles found within the 12 Traditions. Coercion, control (a/k/a rules and regulations) and abuse don’t mix well with spiritually-sane recovery.

I hope you RUN far away from the drama and insanity that the H.O.W. movement offers in the name of recovery and stick with traditional OA! OA may have its problems (perhaps it doesn’t offer enough structure that most of us need?), but what it offers seems to be MUCH saner than anything the H.O.W. extremists have to offer.

Tanslation to non-12-Steppers: “H.O.W.” is a reference to the 12 Step approach to recovery known as Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. I’ve always found it rather arrogant that this movement makes use of a name that would infer that they have the corner on these virtues! Isn’t grandiositycharacter defect?

Maybe my “Weight Loss Buddy” would feel more at home in a H.O.W. group that she does in Weight Watchers? <big evil grin>

Control Freak HotlineI really should trust my gut more often.

I just knew that this friend who wanted  me to be her “Weight Loss Buddy” wasn’t playing with a “Regulation 52 Deck” (a/k/a “She was an order of French Fries short of a Happy Meal”). I could sense that it was a “co-dependent clingfest” just waiting to happen.

Not to gloat, but I was right about her!

This evening (Monday, January 7, 2008) was to be the first time we were to attend a Weight Watchers meeting together…so SHE had dictiated to me. But the relationship was over even before it began, thanks to her calling me EIGHT TIMES WITHIN 21 HOURS — just to make sure that I was going to be at the meeting! Talk about “control issues”! 

Thanks, but I don’t need a nag, a cop or a stalker to be my Weight Loss Buddy!!!

I sent her an e-mail message late this afternoon stating that I’m not willing to attend Weight Watchers meetings with her at this time. I didn’t offer her a lengthy explanation about my decision since I figured that it would likely just end up in an argument. (Have you ever tried to argue with a person who is drunk on the need to control others? Talk about stressful conversations!)

IMHO, from a spiritual and mental health point of view, a relationship such as a “Weight Loss Buddy” should be more about trust than control. It should be about giving each other SPACE to ask for help, instead of one buddy assuming that s/he has ALL the answers for the other buddy. Each buddy should be responsible for making his own decisions, instead of one buddy acting as a dictator by announcing decisions they’ve made for the other person.

I come from a pretty dysfunctional alcoholic family, so returning to one isn’t one of the things I long for.

The relationship dynamics my friend had insisted on were majorly dysfunctional. Ya’ think!

To the best of my knowledge, my friend is not an alcoholic. But her behavior smacks of alcoholic personality issues (“Alcoholics don’t form relationships — They take hostages.”). Perhaps one (or both) of her parent(s) or her ex-husband were alcoholics — since we codependents seem to take on many characteristics of the addicts and otherwise out-of-control individuals who cross our path.

Over the course of many years of working on my recovery journey, I’ve seen this unhealthy relationship pattern repeated many times (e.g., control vs. trust). I too have been guilty of being a control freak, hence my ongoing membership in Al-Anon and the decision to work my 12 Step program of recovery on my codependency issues.

I certainly wish my friend well with her re-entry into the Weight Watchers fellowship. I just don’t care to be her Weight Loss Buddy, just for today! 🙂