I have struggled with food addiction all my life. I call it an addiction in retrospect since most of my life I thought it was just the only way I could relate to feeding myself and to my body. I felt out of control and food occupied my mind for most of the day. I was a calorie counter and planned my days around when and what I was going to eat. All this was happening while I was living a seemingly productive life. The list of diets I explored is vast. there was always another one to try, another potential success or failure. I was always living for that other day when I would be at some ideal weight. The ways in which living this way kept me from living in the moment and whittled away at my self-esteem are countless. The “willpower” conversation I had with myself again and again, the need to be in control and then being out of control clashed with the advocates of “eating a little cookie once in a while is okay”… I am one of those people who can’t just have one. Not if I want to stay easy with myself and not be thinking about food all the time.
What I did not know then, when I was feeling alternately good and then bad about myself when I could and then could not control my eating is that, although my mind and my emotions were involved in the craving process, there was something else involved that rendered my efforts at “controlling” my eating fruitless. I began to learn about the inner ecosystem that inhabits and creates who I am. At some point, the conversation in my mind shifted from calories to nutrition and then to seeing myself as an organism hosting many other organisms within me that are basically struggling for survival within me. It was only when I found this perspective that I was able to truly begin to heal my relationship with my body and my relationship with food.
Certain foods and combinations of food will feed the microorganisms that proliferate to the point that they are calling the shots in my body. At this point, “listening to my body”, does not really work because my “body” will be craving more sugar to feed those calling for it. This creates a real conundrum in that I want to listen to my body, but at that point, my body is not my own, in a sense. This is why eliminating certain things from my diet, those that are feeding the part of me that does not want me to thrive for me, but for it, is the only way I have found to truly get to a place where listening to my body works and takes me out of the addiction loop. In this new world, choice becomes my own and I make the choice to stay free.
The things I have cut out are simple sugars of all kinds and sugar substitutes in all forms, alcohol, processed flours and anything else processed. Interestingly enough, rather with being obsessed with food now that I am not eating any of that, I now eat easy, simple meals and do not have cravings for anything at all. This to me feels miraculous. In a way, not only do I feel like I have my body back, but also my mind. Not having to think about food has freed up my mind in a way I never thought possible. In this case, healing my body has also healed my mind.
Interestingly enough, there have been moments when I wonder where the sweetness in life has gone. I realize that for years, I was using sugar not just to fulfill the cravings of the overgrowth of yeast in my body, but also to touch into the energy of “sweetness” in life. I realize now how much eating sugar was keeping me away from feeling the depth of my feelings about the way life is full of suffering and longing and elusive moments of ecstasy. Am I happier now that I get to feel more? Actually, not always, but at least I am feeling more and like I am really living in the moment and not living for my next cookie. Progress.