October 2008


healthychoice-package

My most recent additions to OveractiveFork have focused on some emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery from food addiction.  So this time I want to focus on a practical “physical” aspect of recovery, namely discussing foods that I’ve found to both taste great and be nutritionally sound.  Yes, it IS possible to find something that I love to eat that is actually good for me!

If y’all look through this blog, you will soon discover that I have a strong preference for Weight Watchers, when it comes to their POINTS food plan and their approach to many non-spiritual aspects of recovery from food addiction.  Yet when it comes to pre-packaged food, my preference is for the Healthy Choice brand. I like some of the WW meals and ice cream treats, but Healhy Choice is by far my favorite in terms of taste and value for the money.  However, as one who follows the WW POINTS food plan, I definitely appreciate that the Healthy Choice packaging usually includes the WW POINTS value for their meals.

Allow me to recommend two of my favorite Healthy Choices meal items.  NOTE: This is an unsolicited product recommendation. I have NOT been financially compensated (nor will I be) for offering my thoughts on the following products.  Shucks!!! 😀

Part of Healthy Choice’s Cafe’ Steamers line of products, I really enjoy the Grilled Chicken w/Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce, Linguini Pasta and Broccoli Florets! The taste is anything but bland — Very tasty!  And each meal contains approximately 20% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of grains, 30% of the RDA of vegetables and 25% of the RDA of meat. This meal offers great nurtioinal balance!  Calories: 270.

For a regular pre-pacaged Healthy Choice meal, I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken w/BBQ Sauce, Caramel Apple Crisp, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli.  Total fat for this item is just 3 grams and it provides nearly 1/4 of the RDA of fiber. Calories: 280.

Got a Healthy Choice product that you would like to recommend? Click on the COMMENTS link above this entry!

I dedicate this journal entry to a bulimic friend I’ll refer to simply as “E.”. I haven’t seen or heard from her in many years. I met her through Overeaters Anonymous sometime in the mid-1990’s. She was a true inspiration to me with her determination, wit and zeal to carry the message of recovery to all who struggle with food addiction in all of it’s various flavors: overeating, bulimia and anorexia.

Your value as a precious child of God should be measured by something far more substantial than a measuring tape, scales or even your clothing sizes.

Your value as a precious child of God should be measured by something far more substantial than a measuring tape, scales or even your clothing sizes.

Because I found her recovery effort so uplifting, I was sure to encourage “E.” to write for our local O.A. newsletter during the time I served as it’s editor.  One of her missives that I published was a poem — I would love to find the text, but alas it has long since disappeared into the mess that it my cluttered apartment. So please forgive my forgetfulness as I don’t recall if the following phrase was the title or a particular line that I have managed to hang on to all of these years — and stick with me it has: I’m a perfect size me.

One thing that “E.” discovered through working the 12 Steps, was that her body image, indeed her very clothing sizes were NOT the sum total of her worth and value as a human being.  Indeed, regardless of her weight, waistline size and even the number of fat cells in her body, she worked hard to ACCEPT herself in all sorts of sizes, shapes and measures.

For us addicts to believe (really believe) that we are MORE than just the sum total of our “numbers” requires confronting our diminshed self-esteem and deep down feelings of toxic shame. I’ve found that the 12 Step recovery process offers me the tools to face, confront and transform my body shame.

Yes, what my weight does and what my body is doing IS one way to judge the progress (or lack thereof) of my recovery effort. But whatever my size or weight is NOT the sole measure of my worth as a person. Many of us have struggled with NEVER feeling “quite good enough” — and our weight, our waistline and our muscle mass were ways we found to prolong and intensify our lack of self-worth.

So why am I journaling about being “A Perfect Size Me”? Because not too many weeks ago my own struggle with body image reared it’s dysfunctional head in the process of responding to an online personal ad.

I find it aggravating that many gay men (or at least many of the ones who write personal ads) are terrible “body bigots”!  “No fats” and “height-weight proportionate” are phrases in gay men’s personal ads that I have come to despise!

So back in early September I had an incredible “e-mail conversation” going with a guy who’s personal ad I had responded to. Based on my description of myself (minus my weight) “Jonathan” wrote: “Alrighty Mr. Dave.  you’ve got me interested!”, along with the encouraging line, “You sound like someone I’d love to get to know.”

Later the same day, my potential future boyfriend wrote: “Oddly enough, I’m anxiously watching my emails today in hopes of finding another note from you.” And yes, the whole day I was “anxiously” awaiting his next missive in my inbox.

And then Jonathan made a request that struck terror in my body-shamed heart: “So, do we exchange pictures at this point?” 

Jonathan sent his picture.  His picture was impressive. Indeed, by my standards, he was georgeous!

For fear of immediate and instant rejection, I hesitated to send my picture.  But I sent it anyway, with the resolve that my current size (remember that I’m over 80 pounds below my top weight — though dozens of pounds from my goal weight) was (to paraphrase “E.”) “A perfect size me — just for today.”

I only receive a few more messages after I sent Jonathan my picture.  It hurt.  Then again, when doesn’t rejection hurt?  I wanted to overeat to “stuff the pain” of his rejection.  But I didn’t.  And I haven’t.  And I’m back to looking for love on the Internet.  And I’m committed to be totally up front about my weight — just for today.

Because of my experience with Jonathan, I no longer “wait” to OUT myself about my weight when I’m responding to other guy’s personal ads.  I mention my weight (without a silly humorous tone (which I have used to hide my fear of rejection) and with an explanation about my recovery process (e.g., “This weight loss of mine isn’t a diet. It is a way of life”).

From day one, this blog has offered a MALE perspective on recovery from food addiction.  So this journal entry is NOT about “politics”.  Plenty of other blogs deal with political matters…but NOT this blog.
I Have The Right To Come Out Of Shame

Being Gay Shouldn't Have To Hurt

In recovery most of us addicts have found that we have had to deal with shame. Much of the “shame baggage” that I have carried around during my life has had to do with my being gay. So for this reason alone, I feel it IS appropriate to (finally — approximately one year after beginning OveractiveFork) come out about my sexual orientation. I’m gay.

You may not approve (good for you!), but I’m still gay.  You may reject me for being honest about my sexual orientation (your choice, to be sure!), but I’m still gay. I sure hope that you don’t overeat over my being gay — because even if you chose to overeat over it, I’m still gonna’ be gay. 🙂

Clay Aiken was recently paid the obscene sum of $500,000 by People magazine to come out.  I’m coming out to you, dear readers, for FREE!!!  Such a deal! 🙂  More importantly, I’m coming out to set myself free from the fear of having this detail “leak out” at some point in a future journal entry.  I’d rather be direct and “come out”, rather than live in fear of being “found out”.

Acting out with my addiction has usually involved my being indirect and/or passive/agressive.  In recovery I’m learning to face my fears and be direct in dealing with “life on life’s terms”.  As with all aspects of my recovery process, this IS a “process” and I face it and move forward (or backward) just one day at a time.

I think my recovery process (yours too?) has been a constant stream of “coming out experiences”.  First, I came out to myself that I’m powerless over my addiction (NOT that I was “fat”, I knew THAT already — and so did most of the world for that matter).

Then, over the years, I’ve come out to myself and others about the extremes of my behaviors with food. I’ve also opened up about my sense of shame, the degree to which I’ll isolate while acting out my addiction and resentments and I’ve even come out about my sexuality to fellow addicts.  So coming out ony my blog is NOT the first time I’ve come out.  It is just the first time I’ve come out to you.

If you are a male food addict reading this journal entry, let me assure that my sexual orientation is NOT intended to be a reflection on you!  I hope you will be able to relate to what I write, even though our sexuality is not identical.  The sources of my emotional pain may be very differrent from your sources, but the bottom line is that our shared addiction is not a respecter of anyone’s sexual orientation: it causes pain to gays, straights, bisexuals and transgendered persons alike.  In that sense, it is an “equal opportunity addiction.”

While I could write volumes to describe the intense feelings of shame that I’ve felt because of my sexual orientation, a few lines from (of all places!) a song made popular many years ago by The Partridge Family offers some insight into the shame/pain of  feeling “different” that I have felt.  The spoken words part of the song Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted read:

You know, I’m no different from anybody else
Start and end each night…
It gets real lonely when you’re by yourself
Now where is love, and who is love?
I gotta know.

And then the words from the song’s chorus ask:

Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Where are you?
Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Just like me?

Like it or not. Believe it or not. Gay people like me are “NO different from anybody else”. And despite what some religious people teach and what some bigots believe, I do have a right to “want to be wanted”. Yes, someone “like me”…”Just like me.”

In my recovery journey I’m re-teaching myself that I am “lovable, loving and have a right to be loved” — which is totally opposite of the messages that I’ve been taught and what I’ve “caught” about myself over the years. I was taught that we “queers” are “different” and in a BAD way.  I was taught that our love — that my love — was vulgur, nasty and even sinful. So at the depth of my being I have felt toxic shame for whom I love.

In case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “Toxic Shame”, John Bradshaw and others within the 12 Step movement have identified this painful sense of oneself as the source and fuel for all (self-destructive) addictive behaviors.  People who truly love and care about themselves rarely self-destruct with food, booze and other substances and relationships like those do who have felt the anguish of toxic shame. Of course, non-gay people feel toxic shame and have been shamed just like us gay folks have been, so I don’t mean to diminish the intensity of the toxic shame that my straight readers have felt and are feeling to this very day.

I’m grateful that the 12 Steps point me towards God to heal me of the pain of toxic shame.  In the process of working Steps 4 – 12 I have found a wonderful framework to “face, trace and erase” (= heal) from my toxic shame, one day at a time.