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