It is Sunday evening as I write this and I am reminded by another member that I haven’t had to eat addictively today. I haven’t had to weigh myself or go out trying to lose weight. I didn't have to scrutinise my food for the calorie content. I didn't have to make promises to myself that I’ll never binge again, start the diet tomorrow or ‘cop myself on and eat like other people.’ This is because I have found a solution to the disease of addictive eating in AEA.
Sundays weren't always like today. When I was obsessed with food and weight, my days looked different. I would start with good intentions, but as the day went on I was unable to live up to them. Breakfast would involve going back into the kitchen for handfuls of more cereal. I ate directly from the box. One meal would merge into another. I might have plans for the day, but often found myself staying for hours in the kitchen, eating a variety of sweet and savoury foods. I went to great lengths to make sure no one realised that I was still eating. I had a double life - eating in the car or in my bedroom had become normal for me. I was ashamed of how I ate and the weight I’d put on. I tried desperately to control my eating by calorie watching. I could overeat on anything, including apples, rice cakes, baby food and I would often use a teaspoon or chopsticks to try slow my eating down. My weight went up and down (mainly up), depending on what control methods I was trying.
While I could study, get employed, pay the rent and travel, I see now that I couldn't do this without eating. Food was a drug for me. I thought if I could just eat and be thin I’d be ok. I’m not sure I knew what ok was, but I believe now I was looking to feel at ease. I didn't know then that I was full of fear, found it hard to feel part of a group or communicate. I just felt hungry all the time. I couldn't understand why I couldn't get a handle on this problem I had with food, despite my education about health.
Over the years, the disease of addiction never went away. Sometimes I thought I was ok, but looking back now I see that I never lost the obsession. Things that hadn't been hard at one time were now difficult to do, like going to post a letter, showering and having a gap between meals. I got to a place where I realised that I was beaten, that I was not in a rut, I was in a hole that was going further down. I believed that if I lived to be seventy I’d still have this problem, only I’d be worse. I began to feel like I was losing my dignity.
One day I saw a flyer in the local library that said ‘Is food a problem for you?’. Eventually I wrote the contact number down and, after more eating, rang that number. A member of the fellowship spoke with me and she shared a little of her story. I knew she got what it was like to be me. I met another member who shared her story with me. I couldn't believe that there were other people I could identify with. I started going to meetings and working the Twelve Steps of AEA with a sponsor.
Today, I have a new relationship with my Higher Power - God. I get to depend on Him and not the food. He helps me in lots of ways - through my sponsor, other members, prayer, meetings and service. I get to enjoy the gift of life and the people in it, without having to pick up the first one - a day at a time.