90 Days of Food Sobriety

IMG_0325So at the Overeaters Anonymous meeting I attended last night I received my 90-day coin for food sobriety.  For me that means that I have not had any sugar, have not eaten more than three meals and an evening snack each day – and specifically, I have not binged on any food at any point in the past three months.

From a food consumption end of things, the past three months have gone well.  Abstaining from sugar has been surprisingly easy.  At first, I was most concerned about not eating ice cream or a birthday cake – coming up in a couple of days – but that has proven largely a nonissue.

Binge eating surprisingly has been less an issue than I thought as well.  I have stayed away from the salty snack stuff that has been my typical downfall.

Some of my plates of food at meals have been slightly bigger than they should.  The eating out issue is a bit less perfect than I would like as well.

In 90 days I have lost a bit over 30 pounds.  But, I have also been quite clear in my head that I am not doing a diet.  I have played the diet weight loss game before.  I know how to lose weight, and in fact have lost it more quickly in the past than this time.

What is different this time is that for the first time I am very much seeing this as a 12-Step recovery process, the same way I have been sober for over 30 years and the same way I have been nicotine free for almost 20 years.

In this way, I treat sugar and bingeing as I would nicotine, alcohol and mind altering drugs.  If I don’t take the first drink, smoke, hit, or whatever, then I can begin to address the issue of living life on life’s terms.  In the same way that one drink, smoke, or hit, is both never enough and too many, so is one candy bar.

I am particularly enjoying in this 90-day period that my working through the first three steps in Overeaters Anonymous has provided me with a more visceral less intellectual approach to 12-Step recovery than in my past 30 plus years of sobriety.  I am not completely certain what that is all about.  I am not certain if it is because food is in many ways more of a core issue for me, as I have posted about before, having picked up sugar long before the alcohol.  Perhaps at the age of 63 I am ready to hear or engage with a deeper level of recovery.  As the title of this blog states, I am committed to the understanding that recovery is truly a process and not an event.

When I first got sober, I clung to my commitment of 90 meetings in 90 days – if after that 90 days I still wanted to drink, the bars would still be there.  I have found the same to be true in OA.  After 90 days, La Sucre and Michoacan, my two favorite sugar stores are still in business, but they are not calling my name these days.  I know that the binge issue is going to be rearing its head and is not permanently put to rest.  But today, it is less the physical, and more the spiritual and emotional recovery as a compulsive overeater that will keep me coming back.  I suppose another way of looking at it is that if I maintain the physical, I will be around to grow in the other.

So, I am launched and committed on another recovery adventure, one day at a time!

Why Food Has Little To Do With My Eating Disorder

uptreeThis past week I remained “food sober” along with having an important learning experience.  I have long understood that my alcohol recovery has little to do with drinking and more with living life on life’s terms.  However, with compulsive overeating (coe) what and how much I am putting in my mouth can take on a greater weight (no pun intended) in recovery, at least early on, than the living life on life’s terms.

I participated in an interesting discussion on FB this past week where folks discussed at what point an abstinence is considered “broken” and one starts counting days over again.  I was pleasantly surprised that the overriding response was that in coe recovery, a person can end up replacing one compulsion (overeating) with another (counting days, weighing and measuring food, counting calories, and so forth).

I find the insights I experience in coe recovery seem at a more core or visceral level than in my previous 30 years of alcohol recovery.  A key lesson I picked up from my past three months of coe recovery is that the cravings to binge eat or consume sugar have little or nothing to do with my hunger, what others around me are eating, and often, how well or not I have planned my food for the day.  Cravings to binge have everything to do with where I am at emotionally and spiritually.

This past week I had a higher stress level than I would like, did not read as much recovery literature, wrote less, and I began to push the boundaries of my plan for eating.  And like in AA recovery, I believe that coe relapse is a process and not an event.  I am grateful to have drawn on that understanding – not just so that I continue toward my goal weight, but to better live life on life’s terms.

I find this understanding particularly important because when I reach my goal weight in the next month, that is where the real recovery will need to engage on a completely visceral and gut level.  Then, weight loss definitely takes the back seat, and even more recovery becomes about dealing with the isms of which coe is only a symptom.