Once again I had forgotten the number on the bottom of my foundation. As I stood at the counter sorting through bottles of beige make up that were each just slightly different than the other, I realized that I needed help. An associate came over as soon as she saw my searching look, and within minutes she was applying different shades of liquid coverage onto the top of my hands with a cotton ball. She insisted that my color must be honey nude. I insisted that it was too dark. We went back and forth on this debate for several rounds before I conceded to her knowledge and expertise and walked out of the store with a wallet $50 lighter and a foundation that I knew was a quarter of a shade darker than my usual.
In so many ways my recovery has mirrored this interaction. That is, I looked for help, and frequently conceded to experts who often did not get it right. I realized at this moment that after we get to the point where our thoughts are not so encumbered by addictive foods that we can and should become our own recovery advocates. We should be the driver’s of our own recovery bus.
The treatment options given to food addicts vary widely in approach and technique, but at this point in time, they almost always focus on weight loss, which we know for many addicts can lead to bingeing and even full-blown relapse. Given that we do not have a cure for food addiction at this point in time and no one method has been proven to work for everyone, it is important that food addicts in recovery stay in touch with their bodies and minds when going through the process of recovery.
It is not just medical doctors that might offer options that could be more harmful than good. Even sponsors can make demands that could derail some sufferers. Every sponsor has his or her own approach to recovery, and they have every right to exact compliance from their sponsees, but sometimes those conditions can increase obsessive thoughts and behaviors around food. For example, a friend’s sponsor required that she call her five times per day to report her food intake (among other requirements.) This approach left my friend constantly thinking and talking about food. While it raised awareness of what she was eating, it eventually led her to binge to break out of being controlled. My friend went on to find a better match, and she now has two solid years in recovery.
In addition, even if a recommended course of action doesn’t work for you at the moment, it may work for you later in your recovery. I was very strict with my eating plan at the beginning of my recovery. As I moved forward, I got to know my body much better and was able to adjust accordingly. At the beginning I ate absolutely no fruits, but as I went on in my recovery, I was able to add many lower sugar fruits with no trouble at all.
My point is our recovery plans should not be so rigid that one misstep sends into a downward spiral. Of course, we must be vigilant in our honesty, food consumption, gratitude, and thinking, but we should also stand up for what we know is right. We shouldn’t just accept someone’s opinion about our recovery plan just because they are called expert. Yes, a big part of recovery is refining our egos, but that doesn’t mean we must lose our relationship with our bodies and minds. In fact, if recovery is about anything at all, it is about repairing that connect with our bodies.
The Intuitive Eating crowd happily crows about the necessity of listening to our bodies. While food addicts can easily get waylaid by mixed signals put out by our disease if we are still in the food, as we progress we should attempt to move towards are greater sense of oneness. It is important to plan, but it is also important to develop a plan that you have created and that you can live with for the long haul.
Make your recovery yours. Put your mark on it. If you don’t like broccoli, don’t eat it. If your body feels better exercising at 10 pm, do it. If using a calorie counter works for you to stay sane around food, do it. But in all things you do be honest. Don’t try to convince yourself that a bite of sugar won’t lead to another or that eating in your car isn’t that bad. But do stand up for yourself and avoid walking out of the department store with honey nude make up that does little more than make your face look dirty.