Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crave

Just as I begin to feel better, I start to feel worse again.  I thought I would hit up the gym with my buddies for an intense workout this morning.  Instead I woke with a terrible cough and even worse sore throat than before.  Luckily most of that has worn off and I am again feeling almost normal, just a little more tired than usual. 

It is amazing how much effort I have put into getting well.  You wouldn't believe the copious amounts of oranges and orange juice I have consumed this week.  Not to mention all the other very healthful foods.  I have also been allowing my body extra rest time.  Though I made it to the gym yesterday and today for a little sweat sesh, it was all very low impact work that I hope is helping to clear out the crud.

It has occurred to me to consider my healthful eating each and every day of my life.  Why am I not always taking care of my body 100% as I should be.  I am also considering my dedication to "fixing this problem."  When my body doesn't work right, everything is more difficult to accomplish.  Therefore, I throw myself into getting well with all that I have.  What if I put that same effort into other areas of my life?

Though I haven't spoken of it in a while on the blog, I battle an ongoing addiction to food.  I have always referred to it as disordered eating, not necessarily an eating disorder.  In general my relationship with food is not always a healthy one.  While loving what you are eating is not inherently wrong, using food as a crutch in life certainly is.  I do rely heavily on food each and every day and most times I "live to eat" versus "eating to live."  To me, that means I think about food constantly and I overeat during meals and snack times, even if by a little.  Rather than stop when I am full, I continue to eat because it "feels" good, which usually leaves me feeling not so good. 

In the past I have used food restriction as a means of dealing with the addiction.  Which in many cases only feeds the addiction.  Even my vegan ways began once as a restricted diet plan.  While most people may see a plant-based diet as very restrictive, as I once did, it no longer hinders what I eat.  Eating vegan is on auto-pilot now and comes without much thought at all.  Honestly, I just love eating a plant-based diet and I don't even want meat or dairy any more. 

Although eating a vegan diet began as a means to restrict myself, it has actually liberated me into a more free-eating style than I once participated in.  I no longer view foods as "good" and "bad."  I used to be afraid of eating bread, or pasta, or dessert.  Now it is all worked into my diet.  I would like to say in moderation, but that is the one area that I still struggle with the most.  After every bite I eat I always want another one.  Leaving a plate with food on it never happens.  Rather than get up for seconds I have sneaky ways of getting them in.  I offer to put away leftovers and as I do I steal a few more bites not wanting any eating experience to end. 

I believe that this addiction replaced an old addiction.  I used to smoke cigarettes and it was common for me to have one after every meal.  I think the oral fixation transferred to a food addiction when I quit smoking, thus leaving me always wanting more. 

The oral fixation eventually worked its way into my brain and now while I am always left wanting more, I am also always thinking about food.  When is the next time I can eat?  What will I eat?  How much will I eat?  What will those around me eat?  Day-in and day-out these thoughts run through my mind. 

I have been resigned to think that this is just the way it is going to be.  Each day my mind will be filled with these agonizing thoughts and food will continue to be my idol.  But some days I am reminded that I am a child of the Kingdom of God and this is not His will for my life: to be consumed with thoughts about food.  God promises that through the blood of his son Jesus I have already been forgiven for all my sins and that includes addiction.  Specifically food addiction.  All I need to do is stand up and believe that I am forgiven and walk a new path. 

On Sunday I thought I did that.  I prayed fervently for the forgiveness of my sins, to be released from the chains that bind me to addiction.  I believed God had forgiven me and I prepared to walk a new path.  But before we had even left church food was on my mind.  I was already considering how much of what I would eat for lunch. 

I guess I wasn't really freed from the sin of addiction on Sunday after all, huh?  I guess it is still there.  I must not have prayed hard enough.  Strong enough.  Confident enough.  And I considered giving up altogether.  I got to thinking: how did I quit smoking?  What did that process feel like?  Well, it certainly was a process.  I had to make the decision to not smoke anymore.  Just like I have to make the conscious decision to not overeat anymore.

Don't overeat anymore.

But did that take away the addiction?  Did I decide I would never smoke again and then I was free and I never thought about it again?  No!  I had cravings for months!  Maybe even years!  But if I had not made that first decision to not smoke anymore, my path of recovery would have never been put into motion.  So following that first decision were many more decisions.  Each time temptation set in, I had to decide not to smoke over and over again.

Temptation.  No.
Temptation.  No.
Temptation.  No.

To beat this food addiction, I need to exercise the same discipline that existed when I quit smoking.  Each time I want to go back for more I should: Stop. Think. And then respond.  Am I full?  Do I need more?  Am I eating to live or living to eat?  I will need to ask myself these questions and then face temptation with a strong No. 

Because I continue to think about food, does that mean that God really hasn't separated me from my addiction?  That he hasn't forgiven me and released me from sin?  Maybe its not all as black and white as it seems.  Maybe there is a little gray area where we are being sanctified, changed, improved.  I suppose God isn't a "quick fix" God.  There isn't a God Pill that we take that makes us perfect.  When we are saved our lives don't change overnight.  There is a process to everything and I was wrong on Sunday to think that it was all going to be better overnight.  But that doesn't mean it is time to give up and throw in the towel. 

I have come along way toward recovery.  For starters, my addiction to food has less side effects than my addiction to cigarette smoking.  I can look back and know that I was able to beat one addiction and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for that.  I will see someone smoking a cigarette and just praise God that I no longer feel the need to smoke.  I never thought a day would come when I wouldn't be addicted to cigarettes. 

If I choose no each and every time I feel temptation for food, someday I will look back at this addiction with the same gratitude and admiration.  However, if I decide that my attempt at quitting this addiction didn't work and I don't fight the temptations, I will never get to the end of this tunnel.  I will never see the light.  This isn't a "quick fix" job and the road to recovery is long.  I am reminded that I am already half way down that road.  I have already done so much work so I must continue.  I will muster up the willpower to continue toward recovery rather than throw in the towel.  I must throw myself into this healing just as I have thrown myself into getting well this week.  I must give it my all and push forward.  And each day that I do brings me one step closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I've dealt with and am still dealing with the same thing. All your words felt like ones I have typed before! I know food will always be a struggle for me, but I am still covered by Christ. Looking to Him when food or anything in this world is so much easier is a hard battle. But we can overcome! I'm so glad He didn't just "fix" me. I've learned so much (and am always still learning) and I know that this is a journey and another stepping stone in my faith to bring me closer to Him. We are free! Just know that theres someone and I'm sure many others, fighting right along side ya!

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  2. I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm going through the same thing, the same prayers that God will "fix" my addiction and obsessive thoughts around food and other things. Those thoughts you described that you are constantly thinking about when and what you will eat, I have the same thoughts, all the time. This whole year has been a big struggle for me trying to overcome the addiction, or maybe more rightly, trying to get God to magically take the addiction away over night. I didn't want to believe that there was going to be effort involved, and I thought that if there was effort involved I wasn't doing it right: God should be able to just flip a switch and take it away right? Well I finally realized a month ago that that's not going to happen, and God calls me to make the conscious decision to follow Him even through the temptations. The addiction isn't an obstacle exactly, it's more a test for purifying faith. I forget the Bible passage, but it talks about perseverance builds character builds faith, and there's another one that talks about how our faith is tested and purified like gold. So that's the way I'm looking at it now. Each day, each MOMENT really, I have to look my addiction, my temptation, straight in the face and ask God to give me the strength and endurance to say NO and to instead obey God in whatever form that is. And in that act of obedience my faith and character grow and I draw closer to God.
    I'll be praying for you in your journey! And just know that I'm right there with you, because I still have a long way to go. :)

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