Sunday, June 17, 2012

Addiction to sugar is addiction to an old identity

Geneen Roth's Women Food and God isn't about GOD God, but about love and freedom from fear. She says the reason we yo-yo diet is that we don't look at our true reasons for eating in unhealthy ways. Looking at our true reasons is very scary and might lead us to face painful memories, let go of an old identity, end a relationship, start saying "no" to people, etc. She says on a subconscious level, we choose to focus on food and weight because that's less threatening than the pain we're trying to avoid.

After reading about half of the book, I put it down and did some writing. I asked myself why it's valuable to stay addicted to sugar and to stay physically sick from eating it. All this time I thought I was just using sugar as a substitute for love and comfort, and I was. But now I've also realized that the last time I was effortlessly thin, I was also over my head in responsibilities and was swimming through someone else's emotions. I was carrying too many problems that weren't even my own. I had no boundaries to protect me.

I think that's what I'm afraid of: being strong and leaned upon too much by someone else. If I'm sick and weak, I have a good excuse for not taking on too much and for asking people to leave me alone. Before experiences in my early life emotionally drained me, I appeared strong and maybe I was, but that attracted way too much responsibility. At that point, I didn't know how to set boundaries or say no, so things got dangerous for me. I suspect I've been afraid of strength and responsibility ever since. This fear keeps me returning to the baked goods in an attempt to hold on to my old identity as a weak, powerless person. People say "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." My atheism notwithstanding, this makes me think that if I'm very strong and capable, life is going to crap all over me, right? The more capable I am, the more workload I get? Forget that. Pass me the heavily frosted cake.

But I'm tired of the yo-yo thing: stomach aches and embarrassing digestive noises, energy spikes and exhaustion, losing and gaining the same pounds over and over and over again. I'm ready to get off the sugar merry-go-round. I'm no longer the young girl who didn't know how to set boundaries, who looked strong and never complained and who started and ended every day with sweets. 

Roth says we overeat because we forget who we really are. I'm now a resilient, vibrant 45-year-old woman who is now very good at declining responsibility that doesn't feel appropriate or healthy. I'm safe now. It's time to let go of the frosted cakes and health challenges because I don't need to hide behind chronic problems to enforce my boundaries. I don't need sugar to replace what used to be missing, but is missing no longer.

I look forward to seeing how far this Geneen Roth work gets me. If it's just a little farther down the road towards freedom from food addiction, that's good enough. Maybe I'll even look at her online retreat. It's hard to slow myself down when I'm on the brink of a binge, but I'll try to remind myself that I'm no longer the frightened, sugar-obsessed girl who didn't know how to fight for herself.  That's a decades old identity that doesn't apply any more. I'm a confident, competent grown-up now, so it's safe to eat well and be healthy.

1 comment:

junayad khan said...



Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this post. It was
practical. Keep on posting!