10 years freedom from addictive eating

In January 2024 I celebrate 10 years of sobriety from food addiction. Read about my reflections and my message to those who still suffer.

I’m grateful for the clarity, peace of mind, headspace, body joy, vitality and integrity this sobriety affords me. My most prized possession to this day is the freedom from food obsession. I feel honoured to be able to support people on their recovery journey as a food addiction counsellor today.

I also want to reflect on how much of a struggle it was, to give hope to those who are still suffering. My message to you is: IT’S WORTH THE PERSEVERANCE AND COMMITMENT!

I struggled with food and weight for as long as I can remember. I believe I was born with this affliction. The crisis point came when I became terrified of losing my mind. There was so much internal tension between the parts that really needed me to overeat and the parts that were trying to control the eating. I reached out to a therapist and eventually found Overeaters Anonymous. For five years I desperately tried to find abstinence. I didn’t know what that even meant for me. Was I meant to eat three moderate meals a day, as they suggested? Could I keep some of the sugar and flour or did I have to give it up entirely? It took many trials and tribulations, and a lot of perseverance and commitment to keep trying to attain peace around food. I couldn't understand how some of the people in OA were abstinent straight away. I thought I would never get there.

The peace only came when I hit yet another crisis point after many years of trying to stick to different food plans. I finally surrendered the idea that I could control anything. I was powerless over the conflict between parts saying ‘but I want to do it like this’ and other parts disagreeing and wanting it another way. I was so confused and desperate I had to take instructions from someone else (my OA sponsor at the time). At this point all my warring parts inside were so entrenched and exhausted that all of them gave up arguing. Suddenly it was quiet inside. I accepted a weighed and measured food plan and rigorously wrote down my food and shared it over the phone everyday for two years as was suggested. There was no internal objection to any of that. My parts were so tired and desperate and it was a relief for everyone inside. And the food was delicious. (I'm not saying that 12-step programs have to be your solution, but back then there were no recovery coaches or therapists and I still recommend people try a 12-step program in addition to a coach or therapist). 

Over the years my needs have changed a lot. I no longer need to share my food plan with anyone. I’ve also worked with various health professionals to optimise my food plan for nutrition and digestion and no longer follow the specific plans that are routinely provided by sponsors in 12-step groups.

What hasn’t changed is that I still have non-negotiable bottom lines. And before I make any changes to my food plan, I still consult with one of my peers. I don’t make big food decisions alone because I’ve learned that the addictive process of rationalising kicks in very quickly and I can’t control it.

My bottom lines are no sugar, no flour, no trigger foods/drinks, 3 meals a day and my meals are weighed and measured. This sounds extreme to some people and it’s not for everyone. Many of my you, my dear clients, don’t need to be all that black and white. We all find our ways. For me, it’s perfect. It brings me total peace to not have to try anymore to control something that my brain wiring is unable to do.

I’ve learned to set boundaries with well-intentioned people who want to offer food. I’ve found ways to explain to people why I do what I do to raise awareness of food addiction and am not ashamed of it. I’ve even found ways to explain abstinence to peer professionals from the eating disorders field who might judge my way of eating as ‘orthorexia’ or ‘restrictive’. In truth, it is total freedom for an addictive eater like me.

When I see all the ultra-processed food consumption around me I have moments of indulging in thoughts around what it would be like to partake. And then what kicks in is a deep knowing that for me there would be no point of return and I may not survive it because my addictive process around food is voraciously rapid and destructive. The freedom of knowing that is immense. For me, it’s either addictive eating or life.

It feels like so far in my life, the abstinence from addictive eating has been the most formative and spiritually significant experience, which is why I treasure it so much.

I hope this blog helps others to get a glimpse of one person’s lived experience. It’s possible to gain peace with food. Everyone has a unique journey. It’s not usually easy. But it’s well worth staying the course.

Categories: Abstinence, Food Addiction, Sugar addiction

Acknowledgement of Country
I recognise the history, culture, diversity and value of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and acknowledge their Elders past and present.

I acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded, and support reconciliation, justice and the recognition of the ongoing living culture of all First Nations people by providing welcoming and culturally informed services. 

Embracing inclusivity and diversity,  I also support a culture of inclusion, respect, choice, voice and diversity and am committed to supporting all people to be mentally well and engaged in their communities.