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Posted by on in Food Addiction

Food has been a problem for mankind since Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The word forbidden conjures up thoughts about sin, punishment, guilt and shame. Food is still an emotionally charged area of life for many. If you have been on diet after diet after diet I bet that you want to be free to eat what you want without looking over your shoulder at the ghosts of the “diet police.”

Sometimes the “diet police” are real people, a parent or spouse who stays on your case and judges you or makes remarks about your looks or what you are about to put in your mouth. Sometimes you hire a policeman in the form of a doctor or nutritionist to tell you what to do. I once met a woman who wanted me to help her with her food cravings. After the first session she called to cancel. She explained, “I want someone to tell me what to do, so I am going to Weight Watchers because they weigh you, and if you don’t lose weight, they kick your ass!”

It is a fact that diets often lead to full blown eating disorders. When we hear someone tell us that certain foods must never pass our lips again it can cause a harmful reaction. The first Overeaters Anonymous meeting I ever went to scared me so much that I didn’t go back for four years!

The speaker, a slim woman, reminded us that we were allergic to sugar and if it passed our lips we would be certain to go into uncontrollable eating binges. She proudly announced that she hadn’t had a piece of cherry pie for umpteen years. Although I wanted to look like her and have the peace of mind she seemed to have, I went home and ate up a storm. Even though I hated cherry pie, the thought of never having it again, or any pie was more than my deprived inner self could accept.

What is a “bad” food? One person’s mayonnaise is another person’s ice cream. Carla told me that she had to stay away from mayonnaise because she liked to eat it with a spoon. I felt like gagging when she said this because mayonnaise is not one of my favorite foods so I have never felt a craving for it. Yet in my past I often ate peanut butter with a spoon and even had to hide it from myself. How can you hide it from yourself when you know where it is? This is crazy making!

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Many years ago when Overeaters Anonymous was in its infancy in Los Angeles, members of AA who had years of sobriety were invited to speak at OA meetings. They brought experience, strength and hope to a group struggling to get on its feet. Among the AA helpers was a wonderful woman named Dottie who was an inspiring speaker. Dottie was welcomed at the burgeoning OA meetings and became a friend and supporter of those wanting to be free of compulsive eating.

As the years went by and OA grew, other anonymous meetings sprang up for drug addicts and later spenders and sex addicts. Then word went around that Dottie was starting another new meeting that was different from all the rest. It was a meeting open to any and all people suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviors. No type of addiction was considered more serious than another. It was a meeting where all attendees were practicing the 12 steps.

Soon after this meeting got underway I moved away from Los Angeles so I never found out what happened to that group, but I never forgot it. We desperately need a new support system today that is like Dottie’s since we have become a society riddled with addictions and compulsions of all sorts. People switch from one to another but are never free of the cravings to feel good at all costs.

I recall Betty, the very first client I treated after I was licensed as an MFT. Betty was an overeating, drug-addicted alcoholic. She wanted me to help her stop her compulsive overeating. Then she met her husband, who was a drug dealer, and she dropped out of therapy. She eventually returned, having divorced her husband. She was not using drugs and was trying to stay off booze, but food was a constant battle.

I worked with Betty for quite a while as she tried to kick all three of her compulsions. She never managed to get rid of all three at the same time.  Finally she relocated to another city. I remember one of her letters in which she said that she went to an alcoholism counselor who told her, “I don’t care what you do, just DON”T DRINK!” She wrote that she stopped drinking and immediately gained 35 pounds!

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