I submitted this blog to the Huffington Post but for some reason they decided they didn’t want to run it. Since it was already written, I figured I might as well post it here for you guys to read. Anyone who has followed me for a while will recognize that it is very similar to an older post that I made a while back. Just never you mind that. Read it with fresh eyes. Comment and let me know what you think…
My name is Hank and I am an addict. Hello Hank.
I am addicted to food and I am of the personal belief that it is an addiction that is much harder to overcome than even heroin. Now let me qualify that statement with the fact that I have never been addicted to heroin and I am not trying to down play the seriousness of being addicted to a drug, especially in light of recent high profile drug related deaths. In fact, I am trying to bring attention to a concept that most people pass off as silly or farce.
Being addicted to food is worse than being addicted to a drug like heroin because my body NEEDS food. I can’t quit food cold turkey. I can’t detox off of food. The ONLY thing that I can do is MANAGE my addiction.
And the only way to MANAGE it is to fully embrace the idea that overcoming your addiction means changing the way you think about food and committing to living as if you truly WANT to change.
At my heaviest weight, I was around 360 pounds. It took me a long, long time to figure out that I was addicted to food and that I was slowly killing myself with it. And let’s be honest here, most obese people ARE addicted to food. My obesity and most everyone else’s obesity is due to uncontrolled consumption of food. Period. And overdosing on food isn’t a quick death like it is with drugs. It is a long, slow, painful and bankrupting death. I woke up one day and realized that the only way to control my addiction to food was to manage what I was putting in my mouth. I set a daily calorie limit and started counting calories. When I started running out of calories before the end of the day, I started researching foods that were lower in calories but higher in nutrition. It is no surprise that more vegetables and lean protein became the staples of my diet. Pizza, french fries and grossly processed “food” items became less and less prevalent in my diet. I began to lose weight and two and a half years later had lost over 100 pounds and and was able to show medically (through blood work and physical) that I had improved my health by leaps and bounds.
But I am still addicted to food just as much as ANY recovered addict is still addicted but managing.
Now let me make this post even more controversial…
Would you ever consider telling a drug addict that it would be ok for them to have a cheat day? A full day in which they were allowed to do whatever drugs they wanted. No? How about offering them just one cheat high? Not a full day of uncontrolled drug use, just one fix. A cheat “meal” if you will. That would be ridiculous, right? Offering a drug addict a day to go back to their old ways would ruin every effort to help them overcome their problem. So why should ANYONE who is grossly overweight because of their food addiction be allowed a day to cheat on their recovery?
“Cheat” days or even meals for an obese person are a sign that someone doesn’t truly want to change themselves. They have not set aside their former self for their new and improved self. I am reminded of a passage from the Bible (I hope that you don’t run off just because I am quoting the Bible here) that says that once you decide to live for Christ you are a new person and that the old ways have died. You don’t have to be Joel Osteen to realize that the idea can be applicable across religious lines. Once you decide to change, then shed your old ways and never look back. I did not want to be fat anymore. In order for me to change that, I needed to die to the things that led me to become obese and fully embrace my new way of life that included thinking completely differently about food.
I should eat to live, not live to eat.
If I live by that principle then I should be concerned with putting food into my body that will nurture me and encourage health and well-being. If you look at food with those eyes then the things that used to tempt you will be less appealing. A treat will seem satisfying, but not some incredible experience that completes you and defines you.
You have to know that unhealthy food is a slow acting poison. A drug. It is imperative that you understand that.
The eventuality, if you can maintain the mind set, is that you will lose the weight and you will get healthy. And through that you will have adopted a lifestyle that will help you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t enable yourself. Empower yourself.