Addressing physical and emotional disorders
Victim gains freedom from food
Letter to the Editor
An alcoholic can give up drinking; a drug addict can give up drugs. But what can food addicts do? We have to eat. This was my struggle when I first came into Overeaters Anonymous, a fellowship of men and women who are suffering from eating disorders.
Food has been an issue for me my entire life. I remember during my Girl Scout days buying extra boxes of Thin Mints and hiding them under my bed. At the age of 10 my cholesterol was well over 200. Life was a whirlwind of buying, stealing, sneaking and eating food. And of course, gaining weight. Food was my best friend.
The disease only progressed as I got older. I saw doctors, therapists, I even went to confession to atone for being a glutton. It seemed that even God didn't care.
The descent into hell culminated during my college years. Between late night pizza breaks and dining halls full of all my favorite binge foods I was in a rut. I went from gorging myself to starvation because I knew that the only way I would not binge was if I didn't eat.
Food was no longer my friend but my worst enemy. Yet I could never seem to put it down. I felt as though I were leading a double life, eating "normal" in front of others, and binging when I was alone. I hated myself. I was becoming suicidal.
After seeing yet another therapist I finally decided to go to Overeaters Anonymous. I was familiar with the program but never considered it seriously. The pain made me desperate. The more meetings I attended, the more I realized that there were people who did the same crazy things with food that I did.
They told me I suffered from a physical, emotional and spiritual disease. My food addiction was a mixture of allergy and compulsion. And it would kill me if I did nothing to arrest it. I had to face the first step — admit I was powerless over food and that my life had become unmanageable.
Was I powerless? Well I sure seemed to be unable to stop binging. That was powerlessness to me. Was my life unmanageable? Well when I wasn't eating I was sleeping. I was barely getting by with my classes. My social life consisted of a trip to the grocery store to stock up on binge foods. That was unmanageability to me.
Today things are much different. I have just marked the one year anniversary of my recovery in OA. Things are not all roses but I am so much further ahead than where I used to be. I am building a relationship with a power greater than myself and that is slowly filling the hole that I have always tried to stuff with food.
Yes I have lost weight, but its importance has seemed to fade as I am learning how to live one day at a time. I've learned that the diets and programs I had been on had failed because they were treating only the physical symptoms, not the spiritual and emotional.
For those who suffer from an eating disorder, you are not alone. There is hope and there is a solution. So many resources are available, whether it's OA or another program. You did not ask to have this disorder but you do not have to suffer from it. Break the isolation.
Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who through shared experience, strength and hope are recovering from eating disorders. There are no dues or fees for membership. For information on meetings in the South Bend area visit the web site: www.region5oa.org or call (219) 239-6526.
February 27, 2001
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, February 28, 2001