Recovering from Compulsive Overeating – Five Months In

monkeyHard to believe that it is just a bit over five months since I began to work a 12-step program – Overeaters Anonymous – to begin the recovery process from my compulsive overeating addiction.  So, to date, I have lost a bit over 40 pounds, but more importantly, I know that I have truly begun dealing with my food addiction as opposed to being on a diet.  Besides the simple value of dealing with food addiction as a 12-step program of recovery, as I have discussed in earlier posts, here are some other takeaways 5 months in:

  • in consultation with some basic nutrition information, I am learning a lot.  Knowing what normal food consumption looked like was one of my biggest concerns when I started down this road – that yes, I could lose the weight, like so many times before –  but as in the past, if I only dealt considered coe from a dieting perspective, when I did not need to diet, I would not know how to eat normally, and binges would soon follow. Five months in, because I am working this as a step process, those fears are considerably less.
  • One bit of nutrition wisdom I am following is moderation in what I consume, and staying away from the low-fat diet game.  Here is something of interest to me. For the past few months, I have rigorously avoided dairy products with fat, opting for the 0% fat variety.  Basic nutrition guidance says that we need some fat in our diet, and that nonfat milk is not necessarily a good idea.  And I tend to find that when I use the nonfat, I am left still craving something after.  Of late, I have used reduced fat (2%) milk products and have found they are much more satisfying and filling.  I am not left wanting or craving for more.  A bit of evidence to support that we do need some fat in our diet.
  • The one substance I am not attempting to consume in moderation is refined sugar, as I have discussed before.  I have not consumed any recreational or refined sugar in the past 5 months.  Three times during that period I have gotten a serving of no sugar added frozen yogurt without any cravings or thoughts of follow-up binges.  Ditto, twice my neighbor has made a cheesecake and substituted Splenda for white sugar, with the same results in terms of after effects.
  • I did have an interesting experience of late.  I have read many in OA warn against the artificial sweetener routine as it could lead to relapse on sugar.  Some nutritionists argue that artificial sweeteners are inherently bad because of the chemical additives.  The only time I really miss the refined sugar sweetness is in the very strong Turkish hot tea that I make – and I tended just to stay away from the tea instead.  I decided to give the artificial sweetener a shot with hot tea.  I was quite surprised that although the Splenda did the trick in terms of adding the sweet taste I had previously gotten from refined sugar, I found that after 5 months I really did not like the sweet taste so much any longer.  This is an ongoing experiment, but instead of the one to two packets of sugar I had put in a full cup of tea, I am now putting less than a half packet of the Splenda and only once a day.  Other times I drink tea without any sweetener of any sort. I am comfortable with that.

But mostly, I am not dealing with this issue any longer as a diet.  I am down somewhere approaching an ideal weight and am now beginning the process of maintenance – of balancing food consumption with physical activity with what is healthy overall for mind, body, and spirit.  I am not thinking of when I hit that magic number I will reward myself with a mess of fried chicken or pint of Ben and Jerry’s.  If I choose to eat those things, I need to choose to eat them now and not as a reward for something.

So, this all feels much, much different from any past “diet” as it is something entirely different as well.  Dealing with my compulsive overeating from a recovery perspective, as I do alcohol and drugs, is the foundation.