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!

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So far I’m pleased to report that I’m having a GREAT day today! Specifically…

  • I’m not obsessing about food to the point of overeating, which means that following the POINTS food plan has been fairly easy.
  • I’ve already exercised for over 25 minutes (between walking and doing upper-body exercises with one of the Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos).
  • I attended my regular weekly Weight Watchers meeting today, which provided me with good information.
  • I also faced my fear and weighed-in twice today!  After church I weighed in at a local health club and then later at my WW meeting. The results of my two weigh-ins are none of my business. What is my business is that I faced my fear and weighed in twice today.
  • I’ve felt a really connection to God today. Having fairly few distractions in my life today has likely helped me find the grace to eat sanely and exercise moderately.
  • Outside of Weight Watchers I’ve connected with another addict to share (and receive) experience, strength and hope.

I don’t want to make it sound like I haven’t had any negative emotions, stress or unpleasantness in my life today. But where I have encountered these things, I’ve found the grace to NOT overeat over them and to NOT use them as an excuse to avoid physical exercise.

Carbohydrates...YUMMY!!!

This past Friday I met for the first time with a diabetes educator (who also happens to be a dietician). The main item on her agenda item to modify the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan for me so it gives me more direction in terms of how many grams of total carbohydrates I should consume each day. The more appropriate my carbohydrate intake, the better control I should have over my diabetes.

So yes, I’ve actually been ORDERED (by a health care professional no less!) to EAT CARBOHYDRATES…In fact to eat 330 grams of carbohydrates EVERY day!!! <I just heard an Adkins Diet devotee or some other carbohrate phobic SCREAM in terror of the mere thought that even so much as one gram of carbohydrate would dare touch my lips…or my hips!!!>

If you’ve read some of my journal entries, then you probably have figured out that I am NOT a “carbohydrate phobic” in any sense of the term. In fact, just like my hero Jared Fogle, I eat some bread EVERY day! I’ve lost around 85 pounds thus far and Jared has lost 235 pounds, so maybe the carbs are NOT the problem?!?  Maybe the (food) addiction IS the problem?!? Maybe the ADDICTION is what the 12 Steps treats, while I have the freedom to eat a moderate amount of carbohydrates, One Day At A Time?!?

Yes, I have a resentment. DUH!!! I greatly resent those cabohydrate phobic addicts who act as if their food plan is the ONLY food plan for the rest of us. Whether they are part of the H.O.W. Movement cult within Overeaters Anonymous or part of some other 12 Step fellowship (I can think of at least four such organizations that insist on ONLY ONE anti-carb food plan for their members), they really irritate the snot out of me!

Addicts (myself included) should NEVER play dietician to other addicts! My experience is that recovery works BEST when addicts trust direction for their food plan to a professional! I know, most of these professionals are “earth people” (e.g., people who don’t share and not fully understand my disease of addiction)…but they DO understand what constitutes SANE eating…which is more than we addicts can do!

To quote the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), “When it comes to [food[ we [addicts] are strangely insane.” Amen? Amen! I would no sooner trust myself (or any other addict) with my choice of food plan than I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a fireman. It just ain’t a good idea!

A word about Weight Watchers POINTS food plan…As I’ve stated previously, I believe this plan is the sanest, most flexible, most moderate and nutritionally sound food plan ever written. The reason I needed my diabetes educator to “modify” it is because I am a diabetic. And while non-diabetics don’t usually need to keep track of their carbohydrate intake, as a diabetic I need to do this to help me maintain the maximum control of my blood sugar.  The POINTS food plan takes into consideration three values for each food: calories, dietary fiber and total fat content. As a diabetic, with the help of my diabetes-savvy dietician, I also now know how many grams of carbohydrate I should ingest each day to manage my sugar.

NOTE that I am NOT to avoid any food altogether — not even sugar and flour — in order to manage my diabetes. Instead I’ve been instructed to eat a MODERATE amount of carbs and (when possible) choose foods that are rich in fiber (examples: choose whole grain bread over bread made with bleached wheat; choose solid ftuit over food juice). Above all, even though NO food is totally off limits, I am to limit my carb intake to 285 grams per day.

ANOTHER NOTE: 285 grams of carbohydrates is a value appropriate for ME, NOT for you. If you are a diabetic, please follow my example and meet with a diabetes-savvy dietician who knows your specific medical history. Please follow their advice and NOT the advice given to me by my dietician!

Food NEVER \Some people refer to themselves as “compulsive overeaters”. Others refer to themselves as “food addicts”.

Some people with a “food issue” make a big deal about how they identify themselves and insist that others identify themselves exactly the way they do when it comes to identifying problematic food-related behavior.

My position, when it comes to identifying my out-of-control food behavior, is that ultimately I’m an addict and that excessive food intake and avoidance of physical exercise are merely manifestations of my underlying addictive disorder. As I mentioned in a previous post, I tend to agree with a friend who believed that codependency was underneath every single self-destructive addiction.

Whatever.  How I identify my disorder isn’t all that important. What is important, IMHO, is what I’m doing about.

I’m certainly cmpulsive when it comes to food and exercise avoidance.

I’m definitely an addict when it comes to these two things.

I’m also very much of what I would call an “Impulsive Overeater”. “Impulsive” to the point that when I want to eat something (or want to avoid exercise) ALMOST NOTHING will stop from having my way!  If this isn’t a classic definition of “addiction” I don’t know what is! <blush> As I’ve also heard this reality described, we addicts, “want what we want when we want it — if not BEFORE!!!”

I can really relate to the following definitions of “impulse” and “impulsive”.

IMPULSE
* “S
udden, involuntary inclination prompting to action.”
* “A sudden desire.”
* “A sudden pushing or driving force.”

IMPULSIVE
” Without forethought.”
* “Determined by chance or impulse or whim, rather than by necessity or reason.”
* “Characterized by undue haste and lack of thought or deliberation.”

Being impulsive explains a LOT about my behavior with food and exercise avoidance…especially with the food part of my addiction process! How many times it seemed almost if food MAGICALLY came FLYING into my mouth! No forethought, just an INSTANEOUS action took place, over which I felt powerLESS.

And when I am powerLESS, what a great place to “tap into the power” I find when working the 12 Steps, praying, working with other addicts! I find it of absolute importance that I share HONESTLY (with both God and other addicts) about at those moments when I want to act out in a self-destructive manner. Mentioning food and behaviors by names often does much to diminish the power of my self-destructive behaviors.

I bring up this issue of “impuslive overeating” because this issue is related to one of my few frustrations with the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I think the POINTS plan has to be one of the nutritionally-sanest food plans ever written. Because it is so very “sane” when it comes to nutrition, I have found it to be the easiest food plan I’ve ever tried to follow. This is NOT another “diet”. Given the variety and volume of food it allows me to consume, for the most part it is a sheer joy to follow. Figuring up the POINTS value of foods takes some work, but my experience is that most things in life that are worthwhile DO take work.

So when it comes to MY impulsiveness and working the POINTS food plan the “rub” is that I really can’t just “grab and inhale” any old food whenever I feel like it.  In order to honestly work the POINTS food plan I must know the POINTS value of every food item I consume. It doesn’t great math skills to work the POINTS food plan, but it DOES take some discipline. And discipline makes it pretty hard to act out impulsively with excess food! This is NOT necessarily a bad thing. The only problem is that my “addict within” doesn’t particularly care for this! 🙂