Thursday, April 29, 2010
With much love and sincere thanks to Al-Anon Family Groups, for pioneering the way to keep substance abusers and food addicts accountable for their actions.
I am a food addict. I do need your help, but not in the ways you have tried in the past. The best way you can help me is to leave me to my own devices. Believe me; I have a lot of them.
Don't lecture, blame or scold me. I know exactly what I’m doing to myself, even though I eat as if I will never get another meal. I berate and demonize myself almost every moment of the day about my obsession with eating large quantities of highly refined, processed sugar/flour/high fat food.
Don’t show me the latest magazine diet or clip out articles about obesity risks and weight loss treatments from the newspaper. I will thank you politely on some days, become surly and distant on others. But I won’t do anything more than glance at the clippings before tossing them in the garbage. Please don’t take it personally.
Do not buy me diet books; I’ve bought enough of them over the years. Do not get angry if you’ve noticed that I haven’t opened those books. I am sick. You wouldn't be angry with me for having cancer or diabetes. Food addiction is a disease, too.
Don't throw away my “secret” stashes of food when you find them; it's just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.
Don’t hide the bathroom scale from me; I will find it. Or if I hide the scale, don’t put it out in the open again. I know this doesn’t make any sense, but there is nothing rational about food addiction.
Don't let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion abut myself. I hate myself enough already.
Don't let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. Don’t bring me food, cook my meals, help me get dressed, or call my boss when I feel too depressed to get out of bed and ready for work. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.
Don't accept my promises and solemn pledges to lose weight. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them at the time.
Don't make empty threats, as in you will send me to one of those fat camps or reality shows to force me to lose weight. I know you’re not going to do that, and the fact that you would even say that to me just compounds my shame. But if you do decide to do those things or anything else, stick to your decision. Do not let me talk you ought of it.
Don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. I’m not going to Weight Watcher’s or start the latest magazine diet on Monday, and even if I do, I will only half-heartedly follow those programs. I will tell you that another family member or a friend ate all the entire box of cookies, the gallon of ice cream or the whole bucket of fried chicken. What I tell you about my eating may even sound plausible, completely rational. But my word can’t be trusted when it comes to food. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness, and I am in so much denial that I don’t always see how much more weight I’ve put on. It’s unfair of me to require you to be in denial about my food issues the way I am. Moreover, I'm likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.
Don't let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without the dimension of justice. It doesn’t matter how much I yell, scream, cry or make you feel guilty. Don’t give into my overt or passive/aggressive machinations.
Don't cover up for me or try in any way to spare me the consequences of my addictive eating. Don't lie for me, pay my bills, or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a a serious problem with food as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my eating.
Above all, do learn all you can about food addiction and your role in relation to me. Go to Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly and adapt whatever they say about alcoholism and the alcoholic to food addiction and the food addict. Read the literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They're the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.
I love you.
Your Food Addict