Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Am I an addict?

So, the other day I came across this link that a friend had shared in a Facebook group. I don't expect anyone out there in blogland to read through it but to summarise very briefly, the author of this e-book has been a smoker and a drug addict and also what he terms a food addict (but of course, addicted to the sorts of foods which are unhealthy and make us gain weight i.e. pizza, chips, cakes, etc). His belief, what he feels is true in his case, is that his addiction to junk food is just the same as his addiction to methamphetamines was. Due to this, he made the decision to treat his addiction the same way an alcoholic would alcohol, a drug addict would drugs, a smoker would cigarettes, meaning he would never eat what he terms junk food (primarily sugar, but also bread) again. Ever. His rationale was that he thinks that for drug addicts and alcoholics and smokers, there's no such thing as moderation. You have one cigarette and then you want to have 10 packets and smoke all the time again. You have one drink and suddenly you've drunk 10 bottles of wine. You have one biscuit, he says, and it won't, it can't be enough - you'll want to have the whole packet. Not only that, eating even one piece of sugary food will trigger off huge cravings where much of your day will revolve around craving that food because it's a chemical dependency.

You know, I agreed with the majority of the e-book. I read it in one sitting on Sunday night and it struck so many chords with me. But there were two major issues I had with it. The first - OK, I'll admit this - I don't actually think I COULD make the decision to never, ever eat sugar again. I don't know that I believe his rationale that "moderation is impossible". Well, put it this way, it would be a huge struggle for me, especially if I also had to give up bread/grains. I think I could do it for a period of time but then I'd be so bored with what I was eating in the meantime. Unless I totally lost all taste for it and found everything sickly, which is possible, I think I'd be very bored very quickly, chiefly with having to obsess over every mouthful I ate. To me, this is counterintuitive to where I'd rather be, which is NOT thinking about food unless I'm hungry and my body requires fuel.

But the main issue I've got with the e-book from my own personal viewpoint, after having thought about it, is that I would argue that when I have the urge to binge, the craving is as much psychological as it is physical. Actually, I would say it's far more psychological. If I really consider how my cravings work, they don't FEEL physical in the slightest. They feel emotional. They can start when I'm bored, when I am sad, when I am angry. They do sometimes lead to me eating until I'm painfully full and feel sick, true, just like he says in the book, BUT I don't keep eating because my body insists on it. I do it because I'm hurting and at the time I really dislike myself and I feel I'm worthless, so feeling sick seems like what I deserve. I do it because I figure if I eat enough and feel sick enough, whatever problem I'm grappling with will at least go away for a while because I'll have to deal with the physical sickness. I think the best way to describe it is by likening it to people who self-harm or cut themselves. Some probably don't understand why they do it - I actually think I do. They would far rather feel physical pain from their wounds than emotional pain, and they feel there's no way out of that, no solution. Perhaps it's because the e-book is written by a man, but there is NO mention of any of this stuff. He really only states that sugary food is addictive because it programs us to always want more of it by rewarding pleasure centres in our brain. I'm sure what he is saying is true because there is sound science behind it. What I'm arguing with is that I don't believe my consumption of unhealthy foods has much to do with physical addiction at all. When I feel like I need a "fix", as a drug addict would crave heroin or whatever, I DO feel very strongly that I need to eat unhealthy food but what puts the desire there is sadness, anger, depression, whatever.

I'm thinking if I were to share this blog post with people who agree with this fellow's theory, they would think I was copping out because I didn't want to do the hard yards and face my problem. Well, you know, it doesn't matter what anything thinks except me. When last I saw V (counsellor) she said I need to simplify things, sometimes to a level of, "Is this helpful? If so, do it. If not, don't." I know in my heart of hearts that choosing that way of life is not for me. I'm certainly going to watch my sugar intake for sure and eat more cleanly and healthily, but swear off it all for life? It's not happening. I actually still believe moderation IS possible. And just quietly, I would really like to prove it.

One more thing: this is one of the best artistic impressions of addiction that I've seen.

Peace out... xx

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Honouring your feelings

I'm having a bad day today. It doesn't really matter why because that's not the point of my post. I might write about the whys and wherefores of it all elsewhere (but it is boy-related - doesn't seem to matter what age you are because they are always problematic :( ).

No, the reason I was moved to put fingers to keys was that when the sad feelings first hit me, of course I naturally felt like going straight for the chocolate/cake/biscuits/chips/unhealthy, unnecessary food. But it occurred to me that the main reason I shouldn't do this is because the only thing that would achieve is squashing the feelings down temporarily. After which time I'd have to eat more and squash them back down again. And so on we'd go around and around. And none of this would do anything to actually make me feel any better in the long term. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It occurs to me that when we do this, eat to suppress our emotions, we're basically telling ourselves that what we are feeling is not valid. It's not important enough to actually let ourselves experience it. It's something to be shoved to one side and put in a corner and ignored. Is it any wonder that the strategy basically never works! Sure, I don't feel great right now. I'm teary and uncomfortable and very mixed-up about things. But if I don't learn to stop stepping all over my emotions, I'll never deal with anything. In fact, I actually believe that what I'm feeling today traces back to other events three years ago. I didn't deal with THAT stuff then and so now, what has happened today has pushed buttons which have connected back to that other undealt-with stuff. So in a way, I'm not surprised I feel so yuck in my mind so often. I probably have spent most of my life running away from things I'm SUPPOSED to feel. I know one thing's for sure - it doesn't work. Not at all.

So today, I'm writing this as a reminder. I am NOT going to handle this by disappearing into a huge vat of ice-cream. I'm going to just experience this horrible wash of sadness and yucky negativity. I don't care if it's hard - it's necessary. Otherwise I may still be having these revelations when I'm 70 but still be in the same mindset. Enough is enough.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Me and Felicity!

Hello, out there in blogland. I'd like you to meet my new constant companion, Felicity Fitbit. Apparently everyone names theirs so I thought I had better too. I do have a habit of naming inanimate objects, though, so I was always going to be on board with that idea. ;)

In the past I have had a Polar heart rate monitor but I haven't worn it for quite some time and I'm not doing enough exercise to really worry about it at the moment. Not only that, I'm at a size/weight where, really, ANY exercise/movement I do is going to be helpful. This is why I decided to get a Fitbit as it is more of an overall health tool rather than a "how many calories did I burn" tool. You can do things like monitor blood pressure and do graphs/charts (something my doctor likes me to do since I have my own home BP machine) and sugar if you're diabetic. At its simplest it is a very sophisticated pedometer but it does a lot more. It can even be worn when you sleep so that you can keep track of how much rest you are getting, since that is another very important part of overall health. I have only had my Fitbit for a day but already I am feeling much more aware of how active I am as compared to how much more active I need to be.

Another cool thing about Fitbit is that it integrates with My Fitness Pal, which I'm also using, and if you have done enough activity it will take that into account with your calorie burn for the day. For example, today, taking into account my extra movement, a "credit" of 126 calories (so far) is showing up on My Fitness Pal. I don't know if I'll need or want to eat them, but it's nice to know that I'm using my body the way it's meant to be used i.e. I am moving!

What is sobering, though, is that I would count today as one of my more active days generally speaking and even then I haven't even got halfway to 10,000 steps which is considered the minimum we should be doing for good health! If I'd been at work sitting on my butt instead of walking around the shops and around the house doing washing and stuff, I reckon I'd be flat out cracking 2,000! It certainly makes you realise why you need to find a way to incorporate a walk into your day, or several walks, preferably.

So now that Felicity Fitbit has come into my life, one of my four week projects is definitely going to be to move more and I think that's going to have to mean actually going for proper walks. I just don't have the sort of job where I need to walk at all and unless I go out and pound the pavement, or even just do one of the Leslie Sansone walks on the DVD, it just ain't gonna happen - I won't make it to 10,000 steps. Ever!

Anyway, by the end of the day I might make it to 5,000 and I don't think that's a bad effort for one day. I do have to work tomorrow but there is plenty of time before that to clock up some steps. I'm going to the Hyperdome tomorrow for a family thing and it's an opportunity to park as far away as I can just to increase the incidental exercise. As you might have guessed, I'm quite excited by my new fitness tool.

Till next time...