Food is my Addiction. Are you Addicted, too?
Food addiction for me started after I got married in 1979. Perhaps the seeds of the addiction were planted earlier before I was married, but they were watered and then thrived mightily because of the marriage, after I mostly stopped being busily employed and moved from Canada, then England to Ohio and later on to California, Massachusetts and New Jersey. I became obsessed with eating well, cooking well, and consequently added weight. Food was always a close friend, confidant (who am I kidding?), and comfort. I had a classic case of Over-desire leading to Over-eating and then Overweight. So it was caused by marital tensions, but aided by genetic predisposition. Nothing is now preventing me from correcting it since I'm now in better control of my input, as long as my mind is on track, and as long as I focus and obey my greater desire to be slim.
When I lost weight around the time of my divorce in 2015, I experienced better health and more physical flexibility. I was prouder of how I looked in pictures at my daughter's wedding, though not then at my previous lowest weight. Having more weight puts me at greater risk of knee pain, joint and hip pain, stomach pains, tension, perhaps higher blood pressure and poorer endurance. Unlike my own mother, I want to sit cross-legged as she didn't, to my knowledge. I'd like to always be able to readily reach my toes more easily for pedicures, look better in pictures, be referred to as slim, not fat or even medium build.
When I eat fatty foods, which I happen to adore eating, I afterwards feel too heavy and lean into a depressive state which I know I can avoid by not eating the very fatty foods I love. It's a cycle that's very difficult to break. Concurrently, for me at least, eating less fats usually means eating less carbs and vice-versa. Overeating is like eating and then getting a bill that is higher than I want and wasn't expecting to have to pay. It shames me that I look more heavy than I would like. It shames me that I can overeat and that I'm not as slim as I want to be, so I'm not consistently referred to as slim by others.
My addiction came from trying to make meals to please others and give them the food they wanted to eat. Food is a well-known way to get to the hearts of other people, and that's how I chose to get to the hearts of my own family, friends, and Paul's work acquaintances who often stayed at our house and critiqued my food. It's possible that preparing food took me away from spending time with them, but I'm not sure how it was avoidable. Paul and the girls didn't help me make meals, although he often helped clean the pots, and I don't know why they didn't. Perhaps I didn't tell them how they could help, or maybe I wasn't the best boss or parent. My own family of origin had shown me how eating food is part of a warm, loving family relationship. Most parenting manuals even recommend eating family dinners together if at all possible.
Shopping for food and cooking nice meals was an important part of the way I raised my children and dealt with the challenges of my marriage. I'm only now learning about the toll that mild Asperger's has on any family. The financial toll it took involved overbuying food, so that we would always have enough at home. There was always the fear of not having enough food at home for Paul and the girls. Perhaps there was the fear it was not home? Our property wasn't fully paid for, after all, so I was paying for a lot of food, and Paul was refusing to pay off the mortgage. He had a heavy travel schedule for his work, and didn't ever put me and my needs first. They were always well down on his list. I mirrored that, and they also fell down on my list as well. Keeping well-groomed and wearing nice clothes were relatively easier to do and the way I wanted to live, but I became overweight, and couldn't seem to lose weight the way I wanted. I also didn't generally feel good enough. I wasn't a decorator, and I was raised in Canada so always felt an outsider to my immediate neighbors.
As far as daily annoyances of overeating are concerned, there was always (in my marriage) the nuisance of having to throw away "good food" (expensive food) and of having cravings because of weighing too much, and to have to keep up with the food I constantly needed to eat to avoid scary stomach pangs and maintain a higher weight. It's normally difficult for me to make a priority of losing weight. I have to make ultrahealth a high priority in my life, and sacrifice secondarily at times to achieve it, for instance, by not eating as much as I would like. I'm learning how important this is through the OptaVia diet program. Making ultrahealth a definite goal is an important lesson to learn and acknowledge to validate my ongoing daily efforts at weight loss.
I'm hoping now to feel a sense of freedom from the tyranny of food as I haven't in years. I would also like to have a more relaxed relationship to food. Food to me is either something to love or to avoid. I can't seem to relax and not eat around food, and should just keep it at a safe distance. It would be nice to focus and spend money on non-food related efforts, and save money from overbuying food. I want to stay healthier and have immediate physical improvements, feel proud and confident (although feeling confident has never been a strong suit of mine).
My reasons for quitting overeating must be stronger than my reasons for doing the overeating. This is tough. Whenever I'm with my daughter Emily and Paul, I want to overeat like they do. In myself, I know I want to not be overweight and I want to be healthier all the time, even preferably have "Ultrahealth" and excellent numbers for weight, blood pressure, lipids, and I certainly don't want to go back to being the "old Shelley" who got angry all the time, as my other daughter Amy says I did. I want to be a better person, and I don't want to overspend on food. It's really hard for me to take control when I'm anywhere around food. I let it control me sometimes and I mustn't let it do that. Instead, must remember my weight loss goals, and work on them all the time. That means I have to keep those weight loss goals waaaaaaay up high in my priority list and that means I have to be assertive at times when I'm usually not at all assertive, and try to work on that as well.
Stress is often a trigger for all kinds of addictions. Yes, but I have a host of other triggers as well: 1. Seeing a food I have and like, and knowing how great it will taste to relieve a little craving I have. 2. A long list of foods are known triggers for me, especially salty or sweet foods like salty nuts, chocolate, cheese curls, french fries, breads, wines and drinks, cheeses, nut butters, mayonnaise, butters, creams, nachos, potato chips, and more. 3. Knowing I have a food in the refrigerator or pantry that's definitely going to taste delicious, whether the reason for eating is caused by an ongoing hunger, loneliness, what-the-hell and damn the consequences sheer opportunism, I don't know. 4. Emotionally soothing eating, aka comfort eating (?), sometimes happens after any kind of tense exchange, instead of getting soothed without eating.
When my genes and environment make me want to eat, it's hard to put on the brakes, and something I will have to work hard to continue to make an effort to do. Guess it's like any addiction.