Archives for posts with tag: compulsive eating

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Photograph:”Easter Sunrise;” courtesy of K. Farwell

How many nudges do I need before I start doing the things I know I have to do to be healthy? So far, I’ve had foot pain, back pain, headaches, clothes fitting tighter, and now…..my fasting blood sugars are starting to creep up 2-4 points above what they should be. My blood pressure and pulse are fine, and I am not experiencing any pedal edema. But I think I recognize this road I seem to have detoured onto. I’ve been on it before…..only then I tried to deny how bad I felt or how big I’d gotten. That time I didn’t know I was developing diabetes. That time I had to be hospitalized with my lungs filled up with water and the scales tipping over an unmentionable poundage before I realized how seriously ill I had become. Years ago I let go of the fantasy that I could ever drink alcohol like “normal’ people……but it seems I am still hanging on to the fantasy that I can eat like “normal people.”

I’ve been telling myself if I just eat what I know to be healthy foods with no flour or sugar listed in the ingredients that I should be able to maintain both my weight and my health. There is something about having to weigh and measure these “healthy foods” that my stubborn “I want to be normal” ego resists—–and keeps resisting.  I delude myself into believing I can accomplish adequate “portion control” without the aid of scales, measuring cups, or measuring spoons. I seem to have been seeking a “middle way” that was easier than totally disciplined eating and yet healthier than compulsively eating unhealthy snacks whenever I desire to do so. I am a slow learner, but it is beginning to sink in that, for me, there is no “middle way” when it comes to what I eat.

If I compare pros and cons it seems logical that weighing and measuring what I eat is a small price to pay for being healthy and feeling good…….and staying alive. I am writing these words this morning because for the first time in months I weighed out 2 ounces of meat, 1 cup of fresh sliced strawberries, and 1/4 cup of cottage cheese for my breakfast. Having a fasting blood sugar of 94 scared me into “following the straight and narrow” pathway to my own health once again. Then after I slowly ate this delicious breakfast, as is my habit, I began perusing what my friends had posted on Facebook.  Here I encountered these encouraging words Bishop Charleston had posted this morning, and I want to share them with you because I think these words may help some of my readers free their minds from whatever trap has ensnared them:

” Like a beam of sunlight the energy of the Spirit can come to you, warm you and renew you, enlighten your mind with brighter visions for your future, bring you to life, lift you out of the shadows and give you strength to take the next step. Turn to face the sun. Do not look down into the same swirl of dark water that has captured your imagination for too long, but look up to see possibilities grow around you like a field of flowers. Even if your movement is limited, your mind can fly to any corner of reality. You are free, like sunlight, set free by the gift of the Spirit, touched by the mind that first dreamed when all the world still slept, made of grace and wonder.”

Did you get that? We are all set free by the gift of the Spirit——and we are part of God’s creation—-we are part of the grace and wonder. One day at a time I will, with God’s help, lift myself out of the shadows and be given the strength to take the next step. May god bless and keep you!

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Antique heart

Image courtesy of  Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now I know why it is important to keep a disciplined writing schedule. It has been almost two weeks since I last wrote, and I am finding it most difficult to come up with a topic. Needless to say, during this dry spot I have had what I call a “bit of depression.” My sinuses have been fighting this awful “bug” that has been flourishing in this region, and they haven’t “won” the battle yet; however, progress is being made. I have tried not to bury myself in “should be doing” and, instead rested in “just be.” The result has been more self acceptance and less guilt. Guilt has been replaced by limited regret that I am not consenting or surrendering to God’s will and love—–at least not totally. Doing so only at a  “50%” level means the other 50% is being run on “self-will” which can be ruinous.

So far, during this past two weeks self will has let me eat two bags of pistachios, and it has allowed me to stop weighing and measuring what I eat. I can, of course, still consider myself abstinent because I am not eating flour and sugar.  Once again, I am finding that nothing “fills the void”—and nothing really tastes appealing. I know if I go back to “squeaky clean” abstinence by  weighing and measuring the food I eat it will once again taste good. Eating will once again become a pleasurable exercise in mindfulness, and it will be a pleasure to chew each bite mindfully.

Wow! I just got interrupted by a phone call, and when I turned my attention back to the screen, I re-read the above paragraph. It is literally screaming “Half measures availed us nothing!” Obviously, I know what I need to do, and I am close to willing. However, “close to willing” never got me anywhere except closer to “hitting bottom.” I need to stop “counting my yets” and start looking at the reality of what I am doing to myself. I am not allowing God’s love to envelop me, and I am not loving myself or caring for God’s temple as I should be. There is that word “should” again!

I am going to re-direct my thinking this morning from “should” to “let it be.”  Today, “let it be” will mean “let me be willing” and “let God’s love happen.” Each day in recovery is a miracle, and I need to once again be mindfully aware of the miraculous gift God has given me.

Hope all is well with my readers. May God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of  suphakit73/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In an 11th step centering prayer meeting discussion this morning we talked about how  we all have recurring compulsions and that we should not be self-critical when related obsessive thoughts become the focus of our attention. It was suggested that we should acknowledge such thoughts and look beyond them and continue seeking the God of our choosing. Thus, one can develop the habit of thought redirection so that the after first acknowledging such thoughts one can think something like,  “Oh, you again” and immediately follow that thought with “I am going to look over/around you as I seek to be in the presence of my Higher Power.” The “you again” is simple enough for me, but I’ve got to work on the re-direction part.

In recognizing the all too familiar obsessive thoughts (cravings) I tend to sometimes start thinking about the “you” addressed in “oh, you again” rather than immediately turning  the focus of my thoughts to the God that protects me from giving into those cravings. It can be as simple as just taking a deep breath and thinking “I’m in God’s hands, you no longer have power over me” or “I’m not wasting my time on you anymore, I am, instead, turning my will and my life over to the care of my God as I understand him.” I have heard these phrases repeated over and over again by people in recovery, and I have even said them myself. But this is the first time I have associated them with mindful breathing and centering prayer—–a practice that is teaching me to quiet my mind and extraneous thoughts while I consent to spending some alone time with God, accepting his love, and listening instead of asking.

I have experienced a lot of “positive side effects” of centering prayer since I have been learning this new technique. One is that the skills my mind learns to use while in centering prayer can “bleed out” into “ordinary reality.” For example, I can have an obsessive thought about food any time I open my refrigerator—–or even think about what is in my refrigerator. I am learning to just smile and think, “oh, you again” when such thoughts occur.  Then I immediately remember I started the day off by turning my will and my life over to God, so those thoughts are rendered “powerless” over triggering compulsive eating. I’ve been doing something similar to this for years whenever I happen to walk through a grocery store’s liquor section.

Applying this thought redirection approach is starting to help me put my eating compulsion into  perspective. I have been trying the “25 chews/bite with one breath between bites” method (Altman, Donald,  2004.  Meal by Meal: 365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance Through Mindful Eating, Kindle Locations 3644-3648, New World Library, Kindle Edition )when I consciously remember to do so. It has amazed me that it no longer feels “silly” as my previous attempts to learn to eat slowly have. Now I am aware of taste, texture, and the need to chew things thoroughly before swallowing. The breath between bites has been amazing—–it reminds to thank God during those “breathing” times for the gift of living—–of being able to breathe and to eat healthy food as it should be eaten. It has changed eating from being a frantic race to fill an ever-empty hole to a celebration of the sacred. What once seemed tedious and unnecessary  has become a very viable, easy way to accomplish a means of reaffirming my spiritual path.  It is amazing to me how much better thought redirection can work for me if the re-direction I apply is directly associated with something spiritually important to me .

God bless and keep you.

Eating Apple

Image courtesy of  imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to Altman (2004,  Meal by Meal: 365 Daily Meditations for Finding Balance Through Mindful Eating, Kindle Locations 3867-3868, New World Library, Kindle Edition), Mae West once said “One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I’m having a good time.” I have to admit that quote caught my attention and gave me a deep, belly-centered chuckle. However, there is much truth in it. Now that I am on a spiritual journey I don’t want to let any of my addictions take away my ability to know what I am experiencing.

Much of what I have read this afternoon has called my attention to the unspiritual manner in which I eat. For those of you who don’t know,  my addictions include both compulsive eating and alcoholism. I have been in recovery from alcohol for over three decades, but my eating is another story. I have to practice “controlled eating” every day if I am to live—-something I would never try doing with alcohol. I can sometimes go for months and years at a time letting my Higher Power guide my eating, but there always comes that time when I want to “try it on my own again.”

Not surprisingly, my excursions back into self-controlled eating lead to weight gain and feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and, yes, shame that I have “fallen into the same old hole again.” The good news now though is I don’t have to fall as far—-or fall to the point that I almost die. I can’t seem to tolerate feeling “distanced from God” these days; and that is what happens when I take control of my food back from my Higher Power. He helps me recognize the negative physical and psychological consequences my unhealthy eating triggers, and I realize that once again my own addictive behavior has kept me from fully enjoying and appreciating God’s grace. These periods of “slip time” don’t last nearly as long as they used to, and I don’t know if it is because I am more spiritual or have just grown older and wiser. I know part of it is that I have “tasted” the grace of being 100% in relationship with my Higher Power and  it gets harder and harder to tolerate the self-imposed vacations I take from that level of closeness.  So, I think Mae West was right—I want to fully appreciate being a human being walking hand in hand with God, and I am less and less attracted to doing anything that takes me away from that—-which, in my case, is drinking alcohol or compulsively eating—eating my way, when I want, and how I want. See that word “I” starting to assert itself? For me, that is the word that usually ruins things.

Very quickly in closing, I want to share some advice from the author cited at the beginning of today’s blog (Donald Altman). I think his suggestions will help me learn to eat in a healthier, more mindful manner.  Basically he suggests taking a breath between bites and focusing on your breathing. He suggests concentrating on being aware of the taste, smell, texture, etc. of the food in your mouth. His instruction to “chew up to twenty-five times before swallowing” (Kindle Locations 3644-3648) will be the hardest one for me to follow; however, something tells me the breathing and extensive chewing are both extremely important practices for me to adopt. Of course, it is also important to be aware of feelings and emotions associated with eating.  I can tell that I have NOT been a mindful eater in the past—-and that Mae West would say I’ve probably missed out on a good time! God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of  -Marcus-/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just saw a commercial where the narrator was proclaiming not only could you get 2X the points for using his company’s credit card, but,  if you did, then you could either eat or buy something that would “wake up your soul.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t been listening that closely, so I am not sure if the verb was “eat” or “buy.” It was a restaurant scene, so it probably was “eat.” Then, again, I may have heard “eat” because I have started a healthy eating regimen again . One where I turn my will and my life in regards to what I eat over to my Higher Power as I understand him. Put another way, it is a way of eating that is a gift from God that allows me to honor and care for my body as a temple/instrument meant to worship him and carry out his will on earth. Either way, my false self is feeling a wee bit neglected and miffed about no longer being in control of my eating. My true self, however,  is celebrating. I don’t know if anyone else out there ever feels guilty for eating what you want to when you want until you are able to determine you are setting up problems for your body, but it is an immense relief to let that guilt/shame go and to feel “happy, joyous, and free” (term from AA’s Big Book) in regards to freedom from the bondage of compulsive eating.

I actually did not start to type this morning in order to tell you about using the 12 steps to combat compulsive eating. What I really want to focus on is how ludicrous the idea is that you can eat something that will wake up your soul—–or even buy something that will. The concept of a major credit card company “going spiritual” is an excellent example of cognitive dissonance until you realize the God credit cards “worship” is money. Money and what it can buy does not wake up one’s soul. At least, it has not awakened mine. My “wake up calls” have all come from God. I am talking about the ones that had to practically “hit me over the head” before I noticed them and responded in a healthy way. And getting to the point that I was able to register the precarious position I had put myself in was, in retrospect, a very dangerous and self-destructive process. Thankfully, I have started learning to be aware of and to heed the “still small” voice within that comes from my spiritual relationship more effectively, and I no longer have to endanger myself before I am able to comprehend and respond to it.

I want to take a moment to try to relate what sorts of things I do think “wake up” my soul, a soul that is, thankfully, no longer buried in addiction. First, there is the joy of experiencing God’s creation. Then, there are the blessings associated with the wonderful relationships God has given me with others that not only help wake my soul but keep it awake. These are found in my church, my step study groups, my 12 step groups, my prayer groups, and in close, caring relationships with dear friends. Mediation, studying God’s word, reading spiritual writings, hugging my dogs, telling my father and my sister’s I love them when we talk on the phone,—–these are all examples of some of the wonderful gifts that wake, feed, and nourish my soul.

I had to think longer than an Episcopalian should before I could come up with an example of what one could possibly eat that would wake one’s soul. Then I remembered the strong spiritual connection I feel when I am administered the bread and wine that represent Jesus. At that magical moment  I literally become one with the body of Christ——and my soul is awakened  and empowered to go forth and share God’s love with others. I think through all my years of compulsive eating I was probably searching for that one food that could wake my soul. I am thankful I no longer have to do so. May God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just heard a commercial  on television for a movie where the narrator announces “moderation is for cowards.” Finally, I have it on good authority I am not a coward! Somehow that still doesn’t make my “nothing in moderation” memories any easier to bear. Now, I am watching a re-run of a Law and Order Special Victims Unit episode about alcoholism and blackouts. The attorney who was an alcoholic basher has to face her own alcoholism in this episode, and the defendant who got off on a miss-trial has to live with the knowledge he’ll never know if he killed a stranger during a blackout or not. An expert during the trial testified about evidence supporting the fact that alcoholism is a neurological disease.

As for my other “main addiction,” compulsive eating, not being a coward doesn’t make it any easier to live with trigger foods, food cravings, and binge eating or addictive dieting/exercise. There is probably a neuro-biological justification for that “condition” also. With alcohol, you can stop drinking. With food, you have to eat to stay alive.

I am not going to make any New Year’s resolutions about any of this because the only reprieve I have is a daily gift from my Higher Power. My addictions are what they are. Thank heaven the solution is what it is for both of them. God does do for me what I cannot do for myself. Even with these gifts those of us in recovery have to live in reality; we don’t automatically live happily ever after—-nor does anyone, for that matter.  Those of us in recovery are often well acquainted with depression. Many times we have residual physical problems left over to remind us of previous excesses. Sometimes we cross-addict to something else that eventually kills us; many in recovery die from problems associated with smoking——an addiction that, compared to alcoholism, can seem relatively safe.

Where am I going with this? I am not sure. I am presently “recovering” and recuperating from my drive back home after spending Christmas with family. What used to be an enjoyable experience I looked forward to, driving to and from my father’s house,  is now a major challenge. The trip back took two hours more than it should have. Seven hours became nine hours. Emergent GI problems which necessitated multiple stops along the way and painful arthritic wrists added to the challenge. I am grateful to have arrived home, and I am working on accepting my mind, body, and eyesight (after dark driving with beginning level cataracts  is the pits!) are all altering as I age.

I am grateful for God giving me almost an entire year without having to be hospitalized.  Even though medical experts cannot explain my reoccurring partial small bowel blockages, this year has taught me stress plays a big role in contributing to them. I have consciously tried to avoid as much stress as I can since my last hospitalization, and I think limiting my driving trips to my father’s and back to only two trips this year has probably helped me do so along with all the other changes I have instituted in my life such as deep breathing, centering prayer, meditation, lavender-based aroma therapy, and just “saying no” to being over-extended .

The time spent with my almost 92 year old father was a true gift from God, and I thank Creator for giving me the special time I was able to share with him.  I would not have missed it for the world. I think  I am starting to realize I am becoming a coward. I am learning moderation in some things. Sometimes I do so kicking and screaming, sometimes I am a bit more receptive.

As we approach the New Year I ask Creator to continue to help me accept moderation on an as-needed basis, and for all my friends who can still celebrate seeing the New Year in with the help of alcoholic beverages, I pray that Creator also gives you the gift of moderation or a designated driver to see you safely home. God bless and keep you.

Christmas Cookies

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve set my moral-emotional barometer all “a-twitter.” I just made the mistake of reading all the “think like I  do or else you’re wrong, stupid, evil, etc.” messages that I could stand  on Facebook before I gave up and started writing this. Why do we have to spread hate and ill-will when we are put on this earth to love one another? I even fell into posting a response to one that reminded those that were commenting that it is up to God to judge rather than ourselves. After I posted, I realized I’d fallen into the “got to have the last word trap” that made me just another judging, condemning, ill-will spreading person who thinks my thoughts and opinions are superior.

Maybe it is time for me to take a serious look at why I spend so much time perusing Facebook/social media. On it I find spiritually uplifting messages, beautiful photos, poems full of beauty and wisdom, prayers, and friendly messages of support. I post an invitation to read my daily blogs on Facebook, and I maintain my church’s Facebook site with a daily prayers and bible verses. There is, obviously, positive material of value on Facebook. It is what lies between the positive highlights that hurts my soul—–yet I read most of it. Why? I realize I have both good and evil in my soul. Reading the hurtful, negative, judgmental things feeds the evil that lurks in my soul, and I still choose to read them. Am I looking for  a false self “jolt” of erroneously feeling superior? Do I like getting upset and feeling indignant?

And, then, there are the posted recipes for all the yummy foods—–foods that would eventually kill me were I to start eating them again. Do they trigger compulsive eating relapses? Not yet. Does my mouth water? Sometimes. Luckily, the craving is short lived because I re-frame my thoughts around “following through” what would happen if I gave into temptation. Then there are the jokes about drinking. I should be able to realize it is normal for normal people to joke about drinking desires——after all, I am certainly used to recovering alcoholics joking about drinking consequences.  These pro-drinking Facebook posts are teaching me to accept I am not normal, but other people are and I need to accept it. All of the luscious recipes should be doing a similar thing rather than making my mouth water. I hate to admit it, but I am still copying, pasting, and saving some of those tempting recipes. It as if part of me still buys into the fantasy that I “will be normal” someday and be able to eat like “regular people”—–whatever that is.

I have recently been privileged to learn  something important about the behavior and emotions I sometimes experience when those I am with are offered a special food treat as a token of warmth and hospitality—-a token I have to refuse for health-related reasons.  If I catch myself feeling sorry for myself or feeling left out because I am a diabetic and can’t partake I am sometimes able to realize what I am really missing is the emotional intent of the gift I have to decline. A good friend recently offered me a friendly hug at just such a time. It was exactly what I needed. Thanks to that insight, I am learning to thank people for their thoughtfulness and to ask them for a hug instead if it feels appropriate to do so.

Loosely summarized, today’s topic is  handling “Christmas Cookies” that are irritating or bothersome for some reason or another during this busy season. May all your “Christmas Cookies” be  filled with love and peace rather than symbolic of minor little irritating things. May God bless and keep you.