Living with Food Addiction in America
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Living with Food Addiction in America


living w-food addiction in americaI enjoyed my morning ritual of ice blended French Roast, Half & Half and sugar while I read Gendy Alimurung’s blog in the Los Angeles Times on food addiction and found myself in envious awe. She interviews two women—Morgan, 42 and Hazel, 50—neither of whom have consumed flour or sugar for over a decade and their respective fit and slim physiques are tangible evidence that they are not making that up. My jaw dropped—and then I shoved a chocolate chip muffin into it.

King Sugar and Queen Flour

As a woman who is maybe not obsessed but certainly distracted and at the very least concerned with her weight, I found the fact that there are people living amongst us who manage to exist without eating flour and sugar to be fascinating. I would love nothing more than to cut both of these satanic waistline demolishers out of my diet and live skinnily ever after but I have tried countless times and failed. Flour is tough because it’s involved in most things delicious but there are at least solid meal alternatives—like a juicy steak and hearty salad—that one looking to stay away from bread can opt for and still be satiated both nutritionally and palette-wise. Sugar, on the other hand, is nearly impossible to steer clear from. Not only is yummy and chemically addictive but it’s in everything.

Habits Are Hard to Break, No Matter What the Habit

Which is exactly Alimurung’s point—the impressive triumph of those recovering from food addiction in a food-obsessed country without the option of abstinence—the simplistic advantage of those who suffer from drug, alcohol or gambling addiction—because everyone has to eat. I suppose my admiration of people like Morgan and Hazel is similar to my friends who can’t understand how I live without alcohol. Thankfully, it’s their awesome perspective on my life that allows me to have some hope that I may someday be able to live fabulous, fit and free from the temptations of sugar and complex starchy carbohydrates—because tackling an addiction is tackling an addition. It’s about breaking habits and surrendering.

The F Word

The problem is, I am pretty thin (well, Massachusetts thin, Los Angeles average) but like most women in the world, I want to be thinner. However, because my only “weight problem” is that I am a size eight and wish I were a size four, it’s hard to stay motivated to completely eliminate certain foods from my diet forever. But that’s the key word here, isn’t it? Forever. It’s the getting sober equivalent to worrying that you won’t be able to have one glass of champagne at your wedding when you aren’t even dating anyone and have never even liked champagne (let alone one glass of anything). It’s that voice of addiction in your head that creates stupid fears designed to sabotage your success of overcoming them. When you have hit a bottom with anything, it’s not pleasant but it’s typically a lot easier to do what you feel you need to or want to do. When there is nowhere to go but up, it’s hard to deny the decision—do I want to live or do I want to live with misery?

Of course, a visible weight problem does not necessarily mean someone has a food addiction nor is it the only sign that someone is struggling. Just like with any addiction, it comes down to whether the substance or the behavior interferes with their day-to-day life and makes it unmanageable, and only the individual can really answer that. There are many people out there who have suffered much worse consequences from alcohol than I ever did and are still drinking. It doesn’t mean they are alcoholics or should stop, it just means that any consequences they encounter from overindulging in alcohol, food, online shopping and so on are worth the pleasure they receive from doing it. And if that is where you are, I don’t really think there is a problem.

Unlocking Even More Achievements

But as I descend into my 11th year of abstinence from alcohol and drugs (and one year, five months and 14 days from nicotine), I wonder if the time has come for me to look at some of the other ways I sabotage myself from the dreams I have. Because career and relationships are not the only areas where I have goals—looking like a swimsuit model (in the right lighting) is definitely something I would one day like to achieve and maybe even hold on to.

Photo courtesy of ClarkeInsurance

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.