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!

Occasionally I receive feedback from my readers that indicates they feel that I strongly dislike Overeaters Anonymous. So I want to take this opportunity to clarify my feelings about the OA fellowship.

I’m no stranger to Overeaters Anonymous, as I regularly attended meetings from 1978 until 2000. So for nearly half of my life I’ve been an active member of OA. When I write about OA I hopefully know a lot about my subject matter. Disagree with my opinions about OA all you like, but I hope y’all will at least acknowledge that I have done my in-person homework for more years than you have probably even known OA exists. 😀

Generally speaking, I am pro-Overeaters Anonymous, but with reservations. I have NO problem whatsoever with the pure, unpolluted message of OA.

However, where I can and do draw the line is with the anti-carbohydrate hysertia of the sub-set of Overeaters Anonymous members who believe that following their rigid food plan (with it’s dozens of insane rules) is the ONLY way to REALLY abstain from compulsive overeating (e.g., the only way to achieve food sobriety).

"Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" offers a wise and isightful history of the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship, as seen through the eyes of one of the fellowship's co-founders.

"Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" offers a wise and isightful history of the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship, as seen through the eyes of one of the fellowship's co-founders.

If you will read the wonderful book Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, written by one of OA’s co-founders, you will discover the REAL meaning of the concept known as “abstinence” and how it has NOTHING to do with which food plan is “better” than another. This book also does a fabulous job of tracing it’s bizarre beginnings the anti-carbohydrate idiocy of the so-called H.O.W. Movement.

I support the OA-compatible concept that each fellowship member is free to choose their own food plan (with the consultation of a health care professional). On the contrary, the anti-carb-obsessed elitists of the H.O.W. movement generally do not respect the right of OA members to make this choice. Their attitude toward choosing a food plan is best described as “My Way Or  The Highway!”…and that is NOT compatible with OA’s pure message of tolerance admist a diversity of food plans followed by it’s members.

Overeaters Anonymous? I love it’s simple, powerful and inclusive approach to recovery from food addiction.

On the other hand, The H.O.W. extremists I avoid. If I wanted to be emotionally abused, I sure wouldn’t seek it out in the form of their brand of so-called “12 Step recovery”. Their INtolerance is NOT compatoible with my understanding of OA’s message of inclusiveness.

If the OA meeting(s) you attend do not sell Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, you can order it from OA’s World Service Office (www.oa.org). If you find yourself as enthusiastic as I am about this volume, then I hope you’ll ask your local group(s) to order some so other members can familiarize themselves with OA’s history.