Addictive Eaters Anonymous Saved Me from the Terrible Shame of Eating Food from Garbage Bins
I am glad I found Addictive Eaters Anonymous. I used to live very emotionally, feeling on edge all of the time. I struggled to enjoy anything because I could not stop thinking about myself and worrying about my situation in the world. I thought the key to living more successfully was being the right weight. I thought thin people must feel great about themselves. They must earn better, have better relationships, and like themselves more. The problem was I needed to eat to take away uncomfortable feelings and fears. I also liked the taste of delicious food. It was a never-ending cycle of wanting the food, while also wishing it would not make me fat or disturb my life. Little did I know that the discomfort was inside me and not about things in my life. I experienced such terrible shame about the way I ate. I did not feel sane or normal as I thought about food all the time, either what and how to eat or trying desperately to avoid eating
My obsession with food took many forms
I would ask my husband to get rid of leftovers while I was at the gym. I hoped it would be enough to stop me from eating the discarded food. But it didn’t work as I scavenged the packets out of the bin and found the leftovers to eat anyway. In an effort to not steal and binge on my boss’ food, I would ask my husband to visit me for lunch. Then soon after he arrived, I wanted my husband to leave so I could start eating. I desperately wanted to eat and desperately wanted to stop all the time. But, once I started eating, I was completely unable to stop, no matter how much I wanted to be thin. This conflict and obsession with food and weight was my everyday reality. It was a miserable existence, with no end in sight. After years of struggle, I finally decided I did not want to live like that anymore and I reached out for help to a 12-Step programme of recovery. I thought maybe there was a solution that would work for me too.
AEA worked for others. Could it work for me too?
From my first meeting, I was attracted to the 12-Step programme as described in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. I also identified with what people shared about their eating. I felt hope that I too could succeed in this programme of recovery from addictive eating. I wanted the programme to work quickly, but it took time to uncover the worst of my old ideas and obsessive thoughts that did not work and find the willingness to change. Based on my experience, I knew I had tried everything else and nothing had worked; I knew this 12-Step programme was working for others, and maybe it could work for me, if I kept persevering and bringing myself back to the solution. I was promised that, eventually, it would work for me too. At first, I became willing to eat on a food plan and I thought that was enough for quite a long time. Eventually, I came to understand and see that all areas of my life had to continue to change if I were to live by spiritual principles and not eat addictively one day at a time.
I love my life today, even on the hard days
Today, I eat on a food plan, no more or less than the plan, and I no longer want to eat all the time. I really enjoy my meals, free of guilt and shame. By living on a food plan and with the help of a sponsor, I get to nourish and fuel my body physically with the nutrients it needs to function well, instead of trying to starve it. All the while, I do not analyze my food plan or try to control it. I just follow the programme as suggested and my weight and health have been taken care of. I no longer feel compelled to abuse my body with punishing workouts or denying it food or overeating or consuming food that is harmful. Negative emotions still arise.
I can feel overwhelmed, anxious, worried, annoyed, fearful, or controlling, but today I know I do not have to act on these feelings, and I know that eating food, bingeing, or starving will make the situation worse, not better. Today, I can work my program by doing what is suggested if I feel restless, irritable, or discontent. I love my life today, even on the hard days. I never want to be in that place of despair and hopelessness again because of my addictive eating. Today I want to live in the solution I have found in Addictive Eaters Anonymous.