Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Secret Food Addict

      Unsupervised in the kitchen has been a battle field for me since elementary school. I remember the first time I was left alone in the house. My grandmother had gone out with a friend and left me, and cake, alone for maybe an hour. I remember sitting and staring at the cake, swearing I could hear it call me name.
In this moment, I used the trick that I would continue to use even until today.  If I just cut off little slivers from the sides no one will notice anything is missing. I am not sure I really mastered this skill as I have been caught MANY time throughout life having eaten more than I should.

     I have been yelled at more times than I care to count for having eaten too much food or food that I wasn't supposed to eat. I have known a few "non-food sharers" who would bring in food to the house that I crave then tell me to not eat it.  When your labeled the fat kid, people think they are doing you a favor by not letting you eat the foods you crave and punishing you if you do. In all reality, it is no different then putting someones drug of choice in front of them and telling them no. A person can only be strong for so long and inevitably the Costco chocolate chip muffins were mine! Bringing in foods that, because I was fat, I was told I could not eat did not do my any favors and instead turned me into a closet eater.

     There was no amount of yelling or fat shaming that could stop me from eating the foods I craved. Sugar is my drug of choice. Cakes, cookies, chocolate, frosting, ice cream, donuts, and everything else in the sweets category is my drug. The constant ridicule for eating sweets only made me eat it in secret. Alone in the house I would eat the foods I was told not too.  The fear of getting caught was not enough to stop me, just like the drug addict is no longer scared when the craving gets too strong. I became numb to the aftermath that my drug induced binge eating would cause.

     I have done things when it comes to food that I am in no way proud of.  I have devoured entire packages of cookies, candy, cakes, and many others food and simply put the empty container in the bottom of the trash can so no one would see the evidence.  I have spooned, cut, and nibbled at foods in hopes that it would not be noticeable that I had eaten any of it.  Before I could drive I would get creative in the kitchen; mixing, stirring, and baking my way to some form of a craving fulfilled item.  Over the years I learned the ingredients for coffee cake are usually always on hand, as well as the ingredients for frosting.

     The inability to resist my cravings would eventually lead to massive amounts of guilt.  I would make my coffee cake, sit on the kitchen floor, and when I could safely eat it without burning my esophagus, I would devour half before I could process what I was doing.  My crumb covered face, like the white powdered nose of a coke head,  would knock me back into reality and drown me in guilt.  In a fit of anger I would dump the remains in the trash and bombard myself with hateful inner monologue. I called myself names that others had called me; I believed I was a fat pig.

    Moments after shedding tears over the trash can, I would purge. The two places I have cried the most in my life have been in the kitchen and my bathroom.  I would eventually pick myself up off the bathroom floor, wash my face, tell myself something somewhat comforting, and try to put the event behind me.  The guilt feeling would never leave. I would go about doing something else and just about every time find myself standing over the trash can.  I would mentally argue with myself; how could I seriously be considering eating out of the trash? When my craving would kick in, my standards would drop a great deal when it came to what I was eating. It is shameful to admit that, on more than one occasion, I would pick whatever it was back out of the trash and finish it.  I hated myself for doing it, yet I could not stop myself. I would binge eat until there was nothing left and then purge in hopes of sparing my waist line.

     This was my life for years. When I moved out and was away from parental supervision and judgement, my eating disorder became worse.  I worked at CoCo's Restaurant and Bakery and would take home pies after work and eat the entire pie.  I repeat, I would eat the ENTIRE pie. Why? If there was no evidence then nothing happened. I had learned to be ashamed of my sugar addiction - I was fat because I could not control myself. When I would give into my addiction I had to eat it all and throw the box away, not just in my kitchen trash but all the way to the apartment dumpster. I did not want a reminder of the sinful act that I had participated in or the judgment from someone thinking I should not be eating that kind of food in the first place.

     The freedom to purchase my own food lead to massive weight gain over time and the continuing fight to fit into my pants.  Binging and purging was normal for me up until I was 26. At that point and at 300 pounds, I signed up for Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers taught me what I had always been missing in my diets. Balance. While in the program, never once was I told I could not have a food. Instead, I was taught how I could still eat the foods I loved in moderation.  Over time the guilty feeling that would come with eating sweets went away. As I regained control over my body and mind I was no longer ashamed of being seen eating "junk food". I had grown up believing that in order to be thin I could no longer eat sweats and I would have to eat salads every day for the rest of my life. No thank you. I was willing to sacrifice my health so I could keep eating cake.

     It has been five years since my weight loss and I still struggle with binging and eating trigger foods. I did not "get over it." It's not something that can be cured. Binge eating and trigger food are a reality I have to face everyday when I am alone standing in front of the pantry door. There are foods that are not allowed in the house. For example; fruit snacks - I have eaten too many entire boxex; candy - the entire package will be demolished; Lucky Charms - yes, I admit I have had nights where I pick out all the marshmallows and throw the cereal part away.  My husband and I also have a rule in place that if we are going to indulge in a treat it must be something that will be gone in one night. No entire cakes allowed.  I have also learned that if there is something that I am craving, and craving bad, just eat it! I have found myself eating everything else expect the one thing I want and eventually end up eating it anyway. I have had to learn to accept this about myself and make accommodations because of my sugar addiction.

   Food addiction is difficult to fight. After all,  we have to eat! I do the food shopping for my family. I have the ability to pick out whatever I want. I don't struggle as much as I used too. My health is important to me and I also did not shed 125 pounds just to let Little Debbie help me pack it back on.  Do I slip up? Yes. Those oatmeal cream pies are my crack and sometimes they win. Sometimes. Do I find myself eating out of the trash? No. I have not done that in so long I can not remember the last time I did. Food is not easy to stand up against. It took years for me to better understand and ACCEPT myself for the way I am wired. If a craving hits, I will leave the house, or get online, or tell my husband, or pick up the phone. I will fight it until it passes and it almost always passes. Almost always....I am not perfect - when I do slip up I refuse to let it sabotage everything I have done. A box of cookies will not add 100 pounds to my body overnight. I get up the next day and treat it like any other day. I eat right, I work out, I put my energy into something other than thinking about food, and I forgive myself. I am only human. I will make mistakes. I accept that and no longer punish myself for it. No longer being told no, knowing that eating sweets does not make me a bad person, and I am capable of balancing the diet that gave me my life back. Most of the time...sugar is still my drug.

I have found that eliminating refined sugars from my diet has drastically improved my health. I no longer have craving (99% of the time) by replacing unhealthy treats for healthy options. I LOVE and swear by for healthy sweet treats. I do not live a deprived life, I live a healthy life WITH treats. Check her out and just start slow. Find a recipe that you are comfortable trying and give it a shot!! I promise you will be blown away!!