honesty


Dave: I’m a food addict — powerless over the dual-addiction of overeating and underexercising — and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome back!

Yes, I have “un-lurked” after a few years and writing again in this space known as OveractiveFork! It is my blog, right?  🙂

<soap box mode = “ON”>
With the death of my mother in January 2009 I got away from working on this blog and got into working on a blog related to problems in the nursing home industry. I believe that pathetic nursing home care contributed to my mother’s death. Resentful? Yes. I’m also hopeful that as I carry the message of nursing home reform and work with others (sounds kind of 12 Step, huh?) involved in the fight that nursing home care can improve and that corporate greed will not have the last word. The battle to reform the nursing home industry is far from being over. My recovery from codependency and food addiction has taught me that all of these “outside issues” can be faced in a health way that doesn’t have to threaten my recovery.
<soap box mode = “OFF”>

So yeah, I’m still working a program of recovery for what I identify as my “double-sided addiction” of overeating and underexercising. I’m making progress — one day and one pound at a time — which is how we addicts recover, isn’t it?

As I’ve experienced recovery, and the weight loss that goes with it, I’ve gone through some changes involving my spirituality and sexuality. More about those changes in future blog entries…except to quote a male friend in Overeaters Anonymous who shared that he noticed a “connection” between his appetite for sex and his appetite for food. He created a couple of “art objects” to illustrate this realtionship. One item he came up with was a patchwork quit consisting of condom packages AND condiment packages. The name for his masterpiece was, “Some Days I Just Don’t Know What To Put On My Hot Dog!”  🙂 When I think of hot dogs of course I see two sexual references — one has to do with the MEAT and the other has to do with the BUN that goes with it! <blush>

I’ll be redesigning OveractiveFork over the next few weeks, adding some new pages and deleting at least one. You’ll also notice a new feature with each blog entry I call “Chew On This”, in which I share my thought on recovery reading that I’ve recently “consumed.” Wow. You mean we can take in knowledge and inspiration like we can food? What a concept!

CHEW ON THIS…

— It is said that “The newcomer is the most important person at any (12 Step) meeting.

— 12 Step meetings/groups exist in order to “Carry the Message” to the “still-suffering addict”, regardless of how long the one who is suffering has been around 12 Step fellowships (oldtimers, newcomers and everyone in-between can experience stuggles and pain. I want to be here for them…in giving to them of my experience, strength and hope, I’m renewed in my commitment to “keep coming back, one day at a time”.  That sounds great, but when it comes down to it, what is the “message” being carried by/presented to the still-suffering addict? If all they do not find hope and mostly find excuses and negativity they wont find a reason to keep coming back and the group/meeting will eventually go out of existence.

— “We carry the message, not the addict.” True. It isn’t my job to work their program and they have a Higher Power who is NOT me. I share my experience, strength and hope and then I LET IT GO! I do not nag or preach at my fellow addicts. Healthy, loving sharing is NOT the same as judging, preaching or nagging.

 

Dave: I’m a male food addict and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome!

I was just thinking of the lyrics of a Paul Simon song from many years ago, Still Crazy After All These Years, and decided to slightly modify it’s title for the purpose of the subject of this post. When it comes to being imperfect (not to mention crazy), some of us male food addicts have great difficulty accepting ourselves as the flawed individuals we are. The truth was, is and ever shall be: We are “imperfect”, yet we can recover. To some degree (especially when it comes to food and other aspects of self-care) we are definitely “crazy”, yet we can become more sane — one day at a time (I love the concept “going sane” as an alternative to “going crazy/crazier”).

An obsession/addiction to be “perfect” or “the best” has often sabotaged my recovery effort — and still can at times. I would think the most common manifestation of self-defeating perfectionism has to do with those times we eat “a little more” than allowed by our food plan and use that imperfection to say to ourselves, “The heck with it…I might as well eat everything in sight!”  What started out as a fairly insignificant event then becomes a self-destructive excuse to justify a much larger food intake disaster. Some addicts insist they don’t have “a self-esteem problem.” But I insist that someone who really loved themselves (or at least loved themselves more than they love food) wouldn’t use imperfection to beat themselves up and justify self-destructive behavior.

Here’s one way to “turn it (our imperfection) around.” When I eat “a little more” than the optimum amount of food on my food plan, it serves as a reminder than I use this “event” as a time to Pray (to God), Reflect (within myself) and Share (what happened with other addict) so I can LEARN from my imperfection. And yes, I can also love myself — imperfections and all.

I’m glad that I’ve found a flexible food plan that allows for “imperfect moments”. The days of rigid food plans that only encourage self-destructive actions went by the wayside for me back in 2001, when I re-joined Weight Watchers and began following their Points food plan. DISCLAIMER: I am not saying the W.W. Points food plan is the “only” acceptable food plan for addicts. I just know that with it’s help I’ve released around 140 pounds as of this writing. I would like to point out that due to guidance from two health care professionals I work with, I do not follow the current version of the Points plan, instead I follow a previous version where fruits were assigned a Point’s value and not counted as having “0 Points”. As a diabetic I have to count all carbohydrates I consume, so the idea that carb-rich bananas can be valued at 0 Points like 0 carb Green Beans, well that doesn’t work for me. Your results may vary. I do eat bananas since I do not demonize carbohyrdrates.

The W.W. concept of “FlexPoints” gives me a “Plan B” so if I don’t want it to be, imperfect eating doesn’t have to set me up for a disaster known as a “food binge”. If I want an excuse to go on a binge, that’s one thing. But if I want to “get back on track ASAP”, then FlexPoints become a valuable tool for my recovery. The challenge is to be able to “love myself enough” to CHOOSE to not use my imperfection as a ticket for self-sabotage. We male food addicts are powerless over food, but we are NOT powerless over our choices!

I came sooooo close to OVEReating last night! Thanks to God’s marvelous grace I was able to remain faithful to following my food plan — as written — during and beyond the “crisis” (e.g., the period of over 30 minutes when I wanted BADLY to eat more out of obsession than actual physical hunger).

The “crisis” involved my mental obsession to eat a medium size Ice Cream Cone dipped in Chocolate that I wanted to purchase at the Dairy Queen located around the block from the laundromat I was using. Because I ollow Weight Watchers POINTS Food Plan, NO food is “off limits”.So the three questions I pondered that helped to convince me to NOT eat the DQ treat were…

  • Do I have enough POINTS remaining for this day to “cover the cost” of the DQ item?

Since I didn’t know the POINTS value of the item I was obsessing about, I figured that (based on what I had already ate yesterday) I probably did NOT have enough remaining POINTS to cover the amount needed.

  • Was the likely amount of POINTS a “good investment” for a food item that has almost NO nutritional value?

Of course not! In general DQ food (both hot and cold) is pretty low in nutritional value and such is the case with the item I was craving last night.

  • For the number of POINTS I had remaining to consume yesterday, didn’t any other food appeal to me that wouldn’t cause me to spend more POINTS than I had?

YES!!!  It came to me what I could eat (a food I really liked, but wasn’t nuts-o about like I was the DQ item)…a Baked Potato topped with some 7/16 oz. of a fat-free sauce I had with me in my minivan was what I choose. The nutritional value of a potato is pretty impressive: they are a great source for Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron and Niacin, Thiamin and Folate! So yes, potatoes have carbohydrates, but what’s wrong with that? We ALL (even us diabetics) NEED carbohydrates to live. The DQ cone I was lusting after had lots of carbs, but NO significant nutritional value.

I  thank God for the ability to STOP AND THINK BEFORE I eat insanely. I was able to THINK SANELY last night, instead of acting out. I know that it was God’s grace that gave me the ability to both think and act sanely!

Carbohydrate phoics will disagree with my choice of eating a baked potato. My comment: Who cares! It’s a choice my food plan allows me to make AND I ended up STAYING on my food plan just fine yesterday.

Apart from the foods involved in last night’s “crisis”, the more significant issue for me is HOW EMOTIONAL I GET WHEN IT COMES TO  FOOD!

  • The mere though of consuming DQ treats gets me aroused to the point of making me feel (sorry, I don’t know any word to describe the power of the obsession for some foods) what I call “horny”!
  • Thinking about NOT eating some foods (like DQ foods) can cause me to feel deep sadness (almost like it becomes a grief issue).
  • The guilt and shame I’ve known over the years associated with OVEReating has (past tense, thankfully) been very intense at times.

“Earth people” (= non-addicts) surely don’t experience this broad range of INTENSE emotions when it comes to food that we addicts experience! To the “earth people” food is JUST food. To we addicts who’s drug of choice is food, you would think food was our lover and best friend!  It isn’t?  😀

In any case,  Once again I want to thank God for the grace to eat sanely — despite the “intense crisis” I faced (and survived) last night. Here’s a video clip that expresses my gratitude for God’s grace that “carry’s me” when my own strength is weak (or even non-existent). As Alcoholics Anonymous literature reminds us, “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

Occasionally I receive comments from readers of OveractiveFork that suggest I really have an “anger problem” based on the content of some of my posts.  Really…a food addict with “anger issues”?  How could that be? During the time I’ve spent in active addiction I’ve done my best to swallow my anger and faked being a “nice guy” (“Nice” = No Boundaries = People Pleaser = Doormat To Be Walked On). After all, doesn’t EVERYbody just love (not to mention) like anger-free people?  And surely in my active addiction I’ve been as hungry for love as I have been for Onion Rings!

So YES, in recovery, I darn well DO have anger. In recovery I experience a whole set of feelings that were numbed out during active addiction. So yes, I feel anger today.

I say GOOD for me having anger. Sometimes anger is a VERY APPROPRIATE emotion to have. I happen to believe that ALL people with any degree of SANE recovery will feel anger from time to time. How dare you (or me) expect me to be anything less than fully human? Yes, being angry IS part of the human experience!

Just for today my recovery allows me to have enough clarity so that I no longer confuse anger with other issues and emotions…

  • Anger is not the same thing as resentment. Feeling anger is therefore NOT the same thing as “re-feeling” it.
  • Anger is not always accompanied by hatred for the object of one’s anger.
  • I can feel BOTH anger AND love at the SAME time for the object of my anger.

Even Jesus Christ was known to get angry. Even the BIble says, “Be angry but sin not…” (Ephesians 4:26)…which, it seems to me, infers that it IS possible to be angry and NOT sin.  The same passage of Scripture also adds, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”, which tells me that healthy anger does not last forever.

Anger is not a bad thing, despite what one co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote about it in one sentence of the thousands of sentences he wrote in that fellowship’s literature. I’ have much respect for the wisdom found in the writing of Bill W., but he is not God and his opinion (speaking for myself as a Christian) is not a higher authority than Sacred Scripture.

Just for today, I refuse to be shamed for my anger. Just for today, I refused to allow other addicts shame me into silence about what I’m feeling angry about. Just for today, I respect my right to feel and constructively express my anger.

I don’t to speak on behalf of other addicts, but I believe that if I don’t “face my stuff, I’m going to stuff my face”.  So facing and expressing and  working on my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess food, let alone a whole lot wiser than trying to “numb” my anger though avoiding doing physical movement.

It takes courage for me to face and feel my anger. It takes discipline to use the 12 Steps to work through my anger (working  through it sure beats “overeating over it”!) so I don’t remain stuck in it.

It’s been around seven months since I’ve posted to OveractiveFork. I would not be surprised if the judgmental types — especially the carbohydrate-phobic addicts — who read my blog have assumed that I’ve been in relapse during my silence.  I’m pleased to disappoint them: thanks for your “concern”, but I’ve been doing great.

In fact, I’ve released 9 more pounds since my most recent previous entry! Some self-hating food addicts would put down my “rate of weight loss” over the past seven months, but the fact is, was and will forever be: my rate of weight loss is NONE of their business.  🙂  I’ve noticed many times that the addicts with the most negative attitudes toward my recovery effort either have little or no recovery to show for themselves. Yet they never miss an opportunity to criticize those of us who DO have some degree of recovery.

With 110 pounds now released, I feel more than a little overwhelmed when I think about the remaining ### pounds that I still have to release before reaching an ideal body weight. How does my “recovery process” help me deal with “the numbers” that on many occasions have driven me crazy?

  • I really only have ONE pound to loose at any given time. One Pound At A Time (O.P.A.A.T.) then is how I release my excess body weight. Therefore I will keep my focus on JUST THE NEXT ONE POUND that I want to loose. Thankfully one pound is not overwhelming!
  • I now see my weight loss as the “fruit” of my recovery effort/journey INSTEAD OF the REASON WHY I’m addressing this aspect of my health and well-being in the first place. In other words, I’m NOT loosing weight in order to “be acceptable”. Instead I’m loosing weight BECAUSE I ALREADY AM acceptable, loving and worthwhile as a person. So whatever my weight does (increase or decrease) is NOT the sum total of my value as a precious child of God.
  • Now that I’ve reached the milestone of having released 110 pounds, Weight Watchers encourages me to set my next weight release goal — this means I don’t have to be concerned about loosing another XXX pounds (which I can choose to make my ultimate goal). Instead I can have an “interim goal”, which feels much less overwhelming than my ultimate goal. Interim weight loss goals remind me that I still have “work to do”, but NOT so much that the thought of it leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

So my current “interim goal” is to release 35 pounds. How will I release this excess weight?  Just O.P.A.A.T.. while I work my program of recovery just O.D.A.A.T. (One Day At A Time)!  🙂

As always, the rate of my weight loss is NONE of my business or your business (as a fellow addict). Only the opinions of God and the health care professionals who care for me count on any of the issues involved in my recovery.

Dave Begins: “I’m an addict, my problem is Dave and my drugs of choice are excessive food intake and exercise avoidance!!!”

Reader Responds: “Hi Dave and welcome!!!”

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!  May your Christmas be full of joy and serenity and hope!

If you’ve read any of my journal entries from 2009, you know that it has been a really rough year for me and one that can’t end soon enough — one day at a time!  My mother died at 6:00am on New Year’s Day.  My closest female friend died on April 16th.  I nearly died of an allergic reaction that sent me into kidney failure in late June.  Then in mid-August I came down with the painful condition known as sciatica (on my left side).  I guess after a year like 2009 I at least deserve to be referred to as a “survivor”, huh?  😀

I thank God for the grace I’ve needed to cope with the drama of 2009 — one day at a time.  God’s grace is always a precious gift and I hope that I always feel gratitude when I experience it (not to mention always realize when God is pouring out His grace on me to begin with — rather than assuming I’m “making it” on my own, when indeed I’m not).

Because I’m afraid that the grief of my mother’s loss will be overwhelming on Christmas day, I’m going to PLAN (in writing) my food choices for tomorrow ahead of time.  I may need to revise my plan, but AT LEAST I’LL HAVE A PLAN. WHY is PLANNING IMPORTANT (especially at stressful times)?  Because “those who (consciously) fail to plan are actually (subconsciously) planning to fail” and (the bottom line is) I don’t think nearly as  clearly when I’m under stress (Who does?), especially when it comes to anything to do with food.

I love my momma and I miss her more than words can even begin to express!  But NO amount of insane eating will ever bring her back to life in this world.  She suffered much in the several years leading up to her death and I can find at least some sense of peace believing that my momma is no longer suffering.

As I’ve written on this blog previously, I believe the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (these day marketed under the name “Momentum”) is the most wonderful food plan I’ve ever followed — bar none.  It may not work for you, but it IS the food plan for me.

While I could go on and on about what I like about the WW food plan, the balance of this journal entry will focus on what I do NOT like about the organization/business behind the food plan. Please note that NONE of the concerns I’m about to share are keeping me from attending WW meetings or are giving me an excuse to not eat sanely with the guidance of the organization’s food plan.  These are issues that simply irritate me about WW.  Hopefully I’d rather write about these things instead of using them as an excuse to abandon my recovery effort.

These are the issues that bother me the most about Weight Watchers…

Nutritional Hypocrisy/Inconsistency. In the current version of WW program literature, including the literature pertaining to the WW food plan, time and again members are directed to choose  “filling foods” — including whole grains.  Yet NONE of the Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) frozen food items that I’ve purchased contain whole grains!  Every single item that contains grains of any sort contain bleached flour, which is less filling and far less nutritious than the whole grain alternative.  If you have found a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) item t hat includes whole grains, please let me know so I can purchase such an item!

True, whole grains cost more than bleached flour. So is this a matter of WW trying to maximize profit by including cheap ingredients, thus minimizing nutritional quality?  If so, I say SHAME on Weight Watchers!

I want to acknowledge the folks who produce Healthy Choice frozen food for finally including whole grains in some of their products.  If Healthy Choice can afford to make this change, then so can Weight Watchers!

Some Weight Watchers foods are barely healthier than junk foods. Apart from the WW Smart Ones (TM) foods that you can buy at the grocery store, WW sells several food items — NOT labeled as “Smart Ones” (TM) — at their meeting locations.  Yes, many of these foods that carry the Weight Watchers name do contain lots of vitamins and minerals.  This is a good thing.  The bad thing is that many/most of them also contain high levels of refined sugar, making them slightly healthier than their junk food counterpart.

An example of a WW food item that must be loaded with refined sugar is their Smoothies.  I just love the taste of their Creamy Chocolate flavored Smoothie.  Yet I was horrified to learn a month ago that this item (made with water, instead of milk) caused my blood sugar to go sky high (310) and remain extremely high (over 250) for nearly four hours!  Being a diabetic food addict, this IS a cause for concern! 3 Musketeers candy bars don’t cause my sugar to go that high!

I found out about the impact of the WW Smoothie on my blood sugar as the result of being tested by a Continuous Glucose Monitor, a device that checked my blood sugar every five minutes for nearly 96 hours.  The only major spike in my sugar level came immediately after drinking the WW Creamy Chocolate Smoothie, which I made with water.  (NOTE: When wearing one of these monitors, you write down what you had to eat and when you ate it, so blood sugar levels can be traced to what one had to eat at a particular time.)

While I’m NOT a “carbohydrate phobic”, as a diabetic it is wisest for me to severely limit my intake of refined sugar.  So I’m not looking for a fight to pick with WW, this IS a legitimate medical issue: WW food needs to be more nutritious, especially for diabetics!

Anti-Male Sexism.  While I salute WW for offering their “Weight Watchers for Men” material through the paid side of their corporate website (Yes: WW has FINALLY acknowledged that men exist and that we have unique needs!…and it only took ’em nearly 40 years to figure this out!), they are still marketing themselves almost exclusively to WOmen…even when it comes to printed material they are sending to their current members.

Evidence of WW sexism came in the form of an item they mailed to me both this past spring and again during the summer months.  Arriving with my monthly membership pass, the Meeting Ideas Card seemed to offer an excellent way to reinforce positive ideas taught at WW meetings: members are asked to write down the “best idea” they heard at a particular meeting for four consecutive weeks.  At the end of the fourth meeting members turn in their Meeting Ideas Card to WW staff and in exchange are sent a coupon for a 30% discount from Chadwicks. I’d never heard of Chadwicks (www.chadwicks.com). No wonder: Chadwicks sells ONLY WOmen’s clothing!  I would think a coupon for a men’s clothing store would be MUCH more appropriate for me…unless I’m a drag queen!?!

Another WW member actually suggested that I shouldn’t register a complaint about this matter, but should instead give my coupon to my wife (sorry, I’m gay — I don’t do drag, but I’m gay) or to my girlfriend (again: sorry, but I’m gay) or to a “female friend”.  Hmmm.  If WW were offering a 30% off coupon to say Casual Male XL (a big/tall men’s clothing store), I wonder how this female WW member would feel about giving her coupon to her husband, boyfriend or a “male friend”.  She would probably — and understandably — feel slighted.

Toxic Slogans. I recently discovered on the back of a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) food package the following slogan…

“Smart Ones.  Taste so good, you want to be good.”

Don’t get me started!  I’m NOT a “dieter” anymore and dieting mentality does NOT cut it with me!  WW material clearly (and repeatedly) puts down everything to do with dieting (Their slogan “Stop Dieting. Start Living.” is but one example of how WW bashes diets), yet their marketing slogan cited above is a textbook example of the self-defeating way dieters think!

I am NOT a”good person” at ONLY those times when I follow my food plan.  Rather I follow my food plan (i.e., which allows me to eat healthy) BECAUSE I”M ALREADY A GOOD PERSON who is DESERVING to eat in a healthy manner.  And when dieters (like I used to be) don’t “eat perfect” we often feel guilty…we feel like we are “bad” and such feelings/thought almost always lead us to act out with even more unhealthy eating behavior.  Thankfully my “goodness” and my “badness” (indeed my self-esteem) are NO LONGER dependent on what food (or how much food) I’m eating, let alone dependent on the number on the scale!

So I plead with WW to knock off the manipulative, self-defeating slogans that promote the thinking that all too often leads to self-sabotage!

Cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Once WW became listed on the stock market several years ago, I almost immediately noticed a decrease in the quality of the the program materials they print.  Two-color Membership Cards became one color.  Their booklets became smaller, which caused the print inside those booklets to became smaller.  Their recipe cards are no longer printed for distribution at meetings — but you can download them and print them (with your paper and your ink) from their website.  You get the picture.

Well WW latest act of cost cutting was do away with name tags at meetings!  Good grief, what do these cost?  One or two cents?  Please!

The name tags help facilitate discussion between the meeting leader and members during meetings and between members before and after meetings. Sure, discontinuing the use of name tags is a small thing.  But a disturbing thing to me as I see WW continue to offer less and less to their members — yet the cost of WW membership has not declined.

I’m not going to drop my WW membership because of the issues I’ve cited here.  I just needed to vent about them, rather than overeat over them. Not that we addicts ever needed an excuse to overeat.  😀

Next Page »