I am broken around food. I go to a group weekly and admit that I am a food addict. In our seminars we tell people that they are probably dealing with an addiction if there is repeated behavior present, usually done in secret that is contrary to values/morals, is harmful, and if it was found out by family members, they would be hurt by the discovery. That is me, and sugar and flour are my secret lovers that treat me badly, yet I keep returning to them.
I can remember loving sugar when I was a kid, obsessively. If there wasn't something sweet to eat in the house, licking my finger and sticking it in the sugar bowl would do. I ate the sugar cubes by the coffee at church like they were appetizers. I even stole a candy bar or a pack of gum from a store a time or two. There was something present early on, a reason for the behavior but I didn't realize it as a child.
As I got older, fast food was a staple and candy was my dessert. The problem was, I didn't grow out of this pattern. My diet didn't mature like it should have. I never liked salads and there were only a few choice vegetables I could stomach, so I generally avoided them.
I realized this was a full blown problem a few years ago. I was having an affair... with the Wienerschnitzel down the street. Late at night after everyone was in bed, I would sneak out and order a full meal at a drive-through window, set it all up and sit in front of the TV and feed my pain. Then I would discard the bags and wrappers in the outside garbage can so my wife wouldn't see it. Sometimes this would happen 4 times a week. Repeated behavior, done in secret, harmful, and painful if discovered. I am a food addict.
I had tried many times to change my ways. I came up with my own food plans, promised to do better, was sobered by other people's stories, I even drew my own headstone in my journal to wake me up to the reality that could be mine if I kept treating my body that way. But none of it stuck.
Even after joining Overeaters Anonymous, I was still relapsing. Then my sponsor shared a selected reading with me one day and the word "selfishness" hit me between the eyes. I saw myself sitting on that couch late at night shoveling the food in, and my actions were basically saying, "Forget my family, I want what I want." In those moments it was worth it to feed the pain (because all addictive behavior comes from a place of pain), and not ensure my being around for the long haul, even with the knowledge that my dad had a history of heart trouble and I have high blood pressure and high triglycerides. Does it have to take a heart attack to change?
I began surrendering to God and to the food plan my sponsor gave me. I had failed on my own time and time again. I just needed to surrender. I have never eaten more salads in my whole life than I have in the last several months. And I've learned to enjoy them.
The picture on the left is from last Fall during a family photo shoot. I liked the shots on the stone wall... of the rest of the family, so those particular pictures never made it to facebook for all the world to see. Life was good, I love my family, but I was just so not happy with myself.
The picture on the right is 7 months later. It may look like a pose of victory, but it is actually a sign of surrender. I'm humbled when I look at it, not necessarily proud. And I have to add, I have not perfected this whole process. Believe me, there are nights I still want to get in the car and meet up with my lover, but I have to strive to get that unhealthy chatter out of my head and surrender to God and to the plan and process.
I say it practically every time I preach or speak, we're all broken people, we just have different details. I'm broken around food. Maybe you are, too. That's okay. Embrace the brokenness and know that there is hope. Take it from a sugar cube-eating, Easter candy clearance-shopping, soda drinking, fast food-loving food addict. It's a better way to live.