When I use the phrase (as in the subject line of this message) “Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis”, I am NOT (repeat: NOT) — in any way, shape or form — talking about members of the Nazi organization, skinheads or other racist groups. Understood?

Instead the phrase in the subject line of this post refers to food addicts for whom ONLY ONE food plan exists (which is ALWAYS the one they are following — how convenient!) that the rest of us food addicts MUST be following if we are “really serious” about our recovery.  These nut jobs are not above shaming, shunning and degrading anyone who would dare to disagree with them. If they were not so extreme in their tactics and insane in their beliefs I doubt I would feel the level of anger I do about them.  I also realize that FEAR of these people also tiggers my anger toward them. I mostly fear the physical, emotional and spiritual damage they do to newcomers to 12 Step recovery.

These “craziest-of-the-crazies” food addicts can be found within the meetings of Overeaters Anonymous and many other so-called 12 Step fellowships. At least in the case of OA, they do NOT represent the official (let alone the best) thinking of that fellowship. These extremists are (at the most) a “cult” within OA, far removed from the mainstream of OA thought and practice.

Many of these carb-phobic folks identify themselves as being part of the “H.O.W. Movement”, which is an outrageous abuse  of the 12 Step acronym “H.O.W.”, which stands for the three foundations of authentic recovery: Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. The inference the control freaks are making is that ONLY THEY are “honest, openminded and willing” and rest of us are just deluding ourselves because we don’t follow their sicko food plan. Talk about elitist nonsense!

Other than the issues identified above, why do these Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis upset me so much? Probably because they prey on the vulnerability of newcomers to OA and other 12 Step fellowships. Newcomers desperate to find answers and hope to overcome their addiction.

They also make me angry because I’ve found out their food plan(s) (it comes in various versions, but virtually all can be traced back to the original Gray Sheet Food Plan that came from an OA member around 1962) is UNhealthy and can even be harmful to one’s physical health if followed for any significant period of time. Their food plan is RIGID and NOT scientifically or medically sound for most individuals. It is based on, at best, superstition. Remember that superstition is “an irrational belief or practice resulting from ignorance”!

Thankfully I’m following a food plan today that has been designed by health care professionals (not irrational addicts determined to control my food intake, who can’t keep their own food intake under control) based on my unique medical history and health concerns. At the same time, I don’t demand any other addict follow my food plan. I know their is a God and it is not me! Thankfully I’m part of Weight Watchers, as imperfect as that organization is, they at least strive to be on top of the latest medical research when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

The idea that a fellow food addict would attempt to dictate to another adherance to a particular food plan is just plain NUTS! I would trust another food addict to tell me how much and what (and what not) to eat as I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a firefighter! Food addicts in control of other food addicts food intake is dangerous, scary and even has the potential of being deadly!

So yes, I’m going to speak out against the dangerous insanity of Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis! I’m going to proclaim “freedom to those held captive” by the superstition of cabrohydrate phobia and to indiviudals who have been emotinoally and spiritually abused by the people who promote one or another version of the dangerous Gray Sheet Food Plan (regardless of the name it goes by in a particular fellowship or 12 Step group).

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I don’t like to give public feedback to what folks publicly write in response to my blog. I’d rather respond privately for fear of embarrassing anyone. But embarrass or not, I just gotta’ respond to the dear lady who shared about being part of Compulsive Eaters Anonymous – H.O.W. fellowship (her comments are posted elsewhere on OveractiveFork) and trying to avoid foods with refined carbohydrates (as is required by this and some other 12 Step groups that deal with food addiction).

We Don't Need Judgmental 12 Steppers Any More Than We Need Judgmental "Earth People"

"People Who Judge Don't Matter. People Who Matter Don't Judge."

First, I beg you to GET AWAY FROM (and get away from) AS FAST AS YOU CAN) any 12 Step group that would attempt to dictate your food plan!!! This should ONLY be done by a health care professional and NEVER done by a fellow addict, a groups of fellow addicts or even a whole fellowship of fellow addicts!!!

When it comes to 12 Step groups that demand you ONLY share “positive thoughts”? What a crock! In authentic 12 Step recovery we get honest about/face/embrace and then release our pain and suffering. Sharing ONLY “positive” things in meetings is NOT being REAL about the anguish that our disease causes us! The reality is that many moments during our recovery process will be less than “positive”! Authentic recovery requires CHANGE and change can be PAINFUL (though it is usually far LESS painful than our addiction).

We abused ourselves enough through acting out our food addiction (and for some of us, also through acting out our exercise avoidance addiction). I do not need any 12 Step group (or group member[s]) to abuse me anymore than I’ve already abused myself!  IMHO, these carbohydrate-phobic groups (and the individuals who can’t seem to find recovery without them) are DANGEROUS to our wellbeing. They are BAD news, through and through!

I could go on and on about the dangers of these groups and the harm that their approach to recovery poses to those who adhere to their brand of insanity. But to “cut to the chase”, let me just say that if you can’t find someone in one of these groups that has long-lasting recovery (e.g., two years or more of consecutive recovery), that alone should serve as a testimony to the FACT that what they offer is bogus, toxic and totally BAD news!

My experience around these carb-phobic folks is that it is rare to find anyone who has more than three to six months continuous recovery in these groups. You might find some impressive weight loss among some of these individuals, but the majority maintain any weiight loss for only a short amount of time — just like we experienced with dieting.  I don’t know about you, but I’m wanting a substantially BETTER result than I had with dieting!  Dieting is NO way to have to live.

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! 🙂

I’m an addict — excessive amounts of food and avoidance of physical exercise are my “drugs of choice” — and my problem is Dave!

<<< Group Responds: “Hi, Dave and welcome!!!” >>>

Several days ago I received a call from a friend who shares my struggle with food addiction and exercise avoidance. She called to inform me that SHE DECIDED…

— that WE were going to be “Weight Loss Buddies” beginning the first week of January 2008.

— that WE would be attending TOGETHER the Monday Weight Watchers meeting in my neighborhood that takes place barely one block from where I live.

…that WE were pretty much going to eat and exercise ALIKE.

…It even sounded as if she expected US to even think ALIKE (or, more like I would think JUST LIKE HER!).

Weight Loss Buddies Shold AVOID Screaming At Each Other!This ain’t a healthy relationship, people! What she proposes is more like a “codependent clingfest” where she is my Drill Sergeant! With a “friend” like her offering me “support” (as well meaning as she certainly is), I probably could easily cultivate TONS of resentments to lead me back to OVEReatomg and enough DEPRESSION to make me want to be even more lethargic than I already am! 🙂

I know: NO excuse will do for bad choices. I also know that my friend’s prouncements about this “weight loss buddy” thing sounds extremely co-dependent as evidenced by her DISrespect for my boundaries/choices.

If you read any of my other journal entries, you know that I believe it is a BIG NO NO for one addict to dictate to another addict about the choice of a food plan or exercise plan! I’ve found it best to leave to PROFESSIONALS (or at least Weight Watchers) decisions that should NEVER be made by a “fellow crazy person” (e.g., fellow addict — “When it comes to food, we are stragely INsane” = Don’t hire a pyromaniac to work as a fire fighter!).

The concept of a “weight loss buddy” is fine. In fact, it is a GOOD thing to have a friend in recovery to share experience, strength and hope with on a regular (if not daily basis).

But make decisions for their buddy?  Nope. Each addict is responsible for his own decisions. Smart decisions and dumb decisions. Healthy decisions and toxic decisions. Each of us addicts even have a right to make NO decision(s) — which is/are decision(s) in themselves!

In 12 Step recovery the concept that comes closest to what my friend calls a “weight loss buddy” is what is known as a “sponsor”. A sponsor is someone who usually has a longer term of recovery than their sponsee. My experience is that most people who work with a “buddy” usually have nearly the same length of recovery as the person they are working with (i.e., for overeaters this means that they both usually began their dieting effort at the same time).

Thanks, but I don’t “do diets” these days! I love the newest Weight Watchers slogan: “Stop dieting. Start living.” Amen!

For me, speaking as an addict, diets never really did work for me, don’t work for me now and NEVER will work for me. They make work for my friend and they may work for you (More power to y’all!), but they do NOT work for me.

What DOES work for me is experiencing a “spiritual awakening” followed by a “lifestyle change” and change of life philosophy — that, with God’s help and the support of other addicts — I work just ONE DAY AT A TIME. This is what is working for me NOW and what I’ve wittnessed working for countless other addicts over the years (regarless of their “drug of choice”).

I love the concept of sponsorship as it is taught and practiced within Narcotics Anonymous. My approach to working with my “Weight Loss Buddy” (Yes, I’m going to work with her — one meeting and one day at a time!) is influenced by the following quotes from N.A. literature…

“Over time, being a sponsor can help us learn how to listen without judgment, accept without conditions, and love without expectations. In many ways, sponsorship teaches us how to develop and maintain healthy relationships.”

Wow! “Listen withOUT judgment”, “accept withOUT conditions and love withOUT expectations — what concepts! Not only can this approach help me “develop and maintain healthy relationships” (with my Weight Loss Buddy and others), it also goes a long way to helping me overcome tendencies to become a “control freak” — Hey, I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, so I learned how to be a “control freak” at an early age (at least I got these tendencies “honestly”, huh?).

When I first laid eyes on a checklist of common characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics back in the mid-1980’s), I thought it was a PERFECT description of myself as well as MOST of the folks I’d met in the meeting of Overeaters Anonymous. Hence to this day I believe that the “primary addiction” most of us addicts have is the addiction to CONTROL others (which sounds a like codependency to moi!) and our “drug(s) of choice” is more of a “secondary issue”.

Back to Narcotics Anonymous literature as it discusses the concept of sponorship…

“A sponsor is a recovering addict in the program of Narcotics Anonymous; someone we can trust to share our life experiences with (both good and bad); a person to whom we can go with our problems that may be too personal to share with the group. It is suggested that a sponsor be someone who has practice in working the Twelve Steps and is involved in the program. Primarily, a sponsor is a guide through the Twelve Steps of recovery.”

It sounds like to me that a sponsor must have a gentle spirit — one that allows their sponsee to be honest/real/transparent.  without fear of recrimination. Could it be that a sponsee should never fear being scolded,  nagged or screamed at by their sponsor? Me thinks so.

Sponsors (and even Weight Loss Buddies) must keep their own recovery as their primary focus. Sponsors have a right to maintain their own boundaries (“We carry the message, not the addict.”) Sponsor then “are not reformers, preachers of the gospel, welfare workers, part-time social workers, marriage counselors, money lenders, employment counselors, or parole officers.”

I have this knot in the pit of my stomach accompanied by the intutitive sense that tells me that that sooner (rather than later) I’ll need to gently confront my Weight Loss Buddy about my boundaries and about what IS MY business and where she needs to let go of control.

I’ll let you know how this relationship works out.