Hey, It’s Just Food

ct-0714-refrigerator-foodIt’s Just Food.” Early on in my recovery with food addiction and compulsive overeating this phrase would pop into my head when I would experience a craving that was beyond the reasonable boundaries of what I should be eating. I know for you normal eaters this may seem strange but it is crucial for those of us in food addiction recovery to set reasonable boundaries for eating which, for me, include:

  1. Not eating foods that are known triggers for binge eating
  2. Eating a moderate amount during each meal
  3. Not eating/grazing outside of my meals

Early on in my recovery I would find myself reaching for food outside my boundaries and the thought would enter my head, “It’s just food, it’s no big deal.” As the saying goes, “thought always precedes action”, so after entertaining this thought for a while I would conclude there were ultimately only two actions I could take: eat it or don’t eat it. That’s when the inner dialogue would start. I would try to convince myself how harmless this bite will be, how maybe this whole addiction thing is just something I made up, that I can handle normal eating, and maybe if I satisfied this one craving, just this once, it would be the end of it.

Yeah, right.

Every single time I would give in to the “it’s just food” voice one of two scenarios would inevitably unfold:

  1. I would continue eating beyond just that “one thing” because eating it would trigger the receptor in my brain that says, “This is great! But you need more!”
  2. I would stop after that “one thing” but my brain wouldn’t stop remembering it; my body would begin to crave more and the obsession wouldn’t stop until eventually – sometimes within hours, sometimes within days – I would cave in to those cravings and eat more of those foods, sometimes setting off a binge or a total relapse.

When I throw a ball straight up in the air I know what the outcome will be every single time because it’s inevitable: the ball will fall back down to the ground. It’s the same thing when I give in to the “its just food” lie. Every single time the outcome is going to be the same because its inevitable: I am going to have a relapse, complete with all of those fun emotions of guilt and shame that go along with it.

I had to learn the hard way that believing “its just food” is like throwing that ball straight up in the air and convincing myself that this time is different; the ball will just float up there in the air and won’t fall back to the ground. This is the same principle as an alcoholic trying to have “just one drink”.  But with food addiction, we’re fighting a battle with an enemy that we can’t completely banish from our lives because food, unlike alcohol, is a requirement of staying alive. So we have to find healthy ways to live in the tension. The reality is that for me food can be abused like a drug to the point it threatens my health, well-being and freedom. This means that even “just one bite” can damage or completely undo the progress I’ve made in terms of peace, clear-headedness, inner growth and weight loss.

Even today some foods (especially processed foods and desserts) still call to me once in awhile, promising comfort and pleasure – usually when I am feeling out of control with some aspect of my life. So every day to keep that enemy running, I use the “weapons” of the 12-step program; talking to my sponsor, doing step work, going to meetings, maintaining abstinence, asking my higher power (Jesus) for the will to stay clean one more day, and reading the literature. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with food I accept that the only purpose of eating should be to sustain my health. Period. When I adopt this way of living, I throw out the naïve and dangerous attitude of “it’s just food”, along with all of the chaos and unhealthy behavior that it inevitably brings.

All of this used to seem so overwhelming to me (“How am I going to do this for the rest of my life?”), and sometimes there is still doubt that creeps in (“This whole food thing is ridiculous”), but all I need to remember is to take it one day at a time. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34.

2 Responses to “Hey, It’s Just Food

  • This is so encouraging to me. Sometimes I feel all alone in my crazy eating disorder world. However, lately, God has been encouraging me to speak out more specifically about my own struggles, instead of lamenting that nobody else is. I figure, somebody else is all alone out there, thinking the same isolating thoughts. Thanks for telling the truth and giving hope to the rest of us!
    Angi L.

    • debsolberg
      5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Angi! I feel like when you speak about it, there goes the denial, and when it’s “out of the darkness” a lot of the power goes away. “We are as sick as our secrets” – so true!

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