First Share : Introduction
| Share Two | Share Three | Share Four |
Questions To The Workshop Leader
Are there any other sites where I can access the Big Book with page numbers.
Here are some sites
Here there are no page numbers but you can listen to the audio reading of the Big Book
Why is it important to have a sponsor? I don't really understand the need for a sponsor. The loop is there for me. You list questions and I write my answers and share it with others on the list. Is this the same thing that I would need to do with a sponsor?
When I was a newcomer to the program I didn't understand a lot of things. I still don't. But I understood one thing, that if I want to recover from my disease of food addiction I must work the steps and follow the Big Book instructions exactly.
Part of the instructions is to work the steps interactively with someone who is in recovery and is working the steps on a daily basis. I have to share all my step work with this person without hiding anything, and work with him one on one interactively.
One cannot work this way with a loop, and one cannot share everything with a loop.
Working the steps is not just answering a bunch of questions.
You will understand this more as we continue with the workshop.
In the meantime get a sponsor and begin working with the sponsor.
Understanding in this program comes with doing the actions and experiencing the actions and their results.
The only way to really understand why a sponsor is a must is to work with one.
If you cannot get a f2f sponsor get an online one. Choose one from the 'WTS Available Sponsor Directory' that is sent to the loop every few days.
This may be a very basic question but here goes
What is the difference, or is there a difference, between a FOOD ADDICT and a COMPULSIVE OVEREATER?
Food addiction is a biochemical disease similar to alcoholism. It is part of our genetic makeup.
Alcoholics are not addicted to all drinking liquids, just to alcohol.
Similarly food addicts are not addicted to all food substances just to some of them.
Compulsive eating is compulsive behavior surrounding food.
More will be explained in my workshop shares.
"Food addiction is a biochemical disease similar to alcoholism. It is part of our genetic makeup. Alcoholics are not addicted to all drinking liquids, just to alcohol. Similarly food addicts are not addicted to all food substances just to some of them. Compulsive eating is compulsive behavior surrounding food."
Can you please explain the biochemical nature of the illness and how it is part of our genetic make-up?
Using your analogy about alcoholics and liquids above doesn't make sense to me. Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol, not all liquid. We are not liquidoholics as your analogy to food might imply. The two do not equate at all to me. I am an alcoholic and know intimately the physical component and action of alcohol and other mood altering substances on me. The only thing that even remotely equates is the physiological response I have to satiety.
Can you take a stab at this?
It seems that what I wrote was misunderstood. I agree with your following sentences." Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol, not all liquids. We are not liquidoholics"
We are addicted to a few food substances (some of them may be sugar, flour, fat, and there may be others). We are NOT addicted to all foods and food substances.
A lot of medical research has shown that alcoholism is a birth defect and is hereditary. It is a defect in the endocrine system, (hormone secretion system, especially the adrenal gland) which causes a biochemical imbalance in our body.
This imbalance affects the mind too. The effect on the body develops in time and with drinking alcohol, and this is different for different persons. When the effect on the body reaches a certain red line there is no return. Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. The effect on the body manifests as cravings after taking a drink. The effect on the mind manifests as obsessive thoughts about drinking before taking a drink.
Food addiction is similar in those respects. It is an addiction to certain food substances, which can be different for different people. The most common substances are sugar flour and fat. What we have to realize is that we will never be able to eat our addictive foods substances with impunity. They will always cause cravings and eventually bingeing. What is important to know is that this illness is chronic (cannot be cured), progressive (gets worse with time), and eventually fatal (kills us).
Those of you, who are interested in more information about some of the fancy words I used here and food addiction, may read a book by Kay Sheppard "Food Addiction the Body Knows" She also gives a bibliography of the research made in the area of food addiction. Her book is NOT a necessary part of this workshop.
I will discuss different aspects of our disease of addiction in one of my next shares.
Step One Second Share
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.
Let me begin by saying that all I write in this workshop is based on my personal experience with the steps and my understanding and interpretation of the program and the step directions as they appear in the Big Book.
I don't represent OA or TRG, just myself. If I write anything that is contrary to what is written in the Big Book, you may ignore it or better still ask me about it, to see if it is indeed contrary and if it is then ignore it.
Those of you who still have not got a sponsor, choose one immediately from the 'WTS Sponsor Directory'. This directory is sent every few days to the loop.
Those of you who have trouble obtaining the Big Book can read it in the following URL http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/
Food may be mentioned freely in this workshop. Since nowhere in the OA traditions or in the Big Book does it say that it should not be mentioned.
I am thankful to all of you who participate in this workshop.
There are about 600 WTS loop members; about 15% of them answered the first assignment questions. I hope the rest are also doing the assignment, if not by sharing to the loop than by sharing with their sponsors. As I said in my first share. This program is about change since recovery is definitely a change from being actively in the disease. Change in this program is caused only by personal action and experience with the 12 steps. Reading or hearing what other people do is important but it is not going to make a change. Those are things others can't do for me. I have to do them myself. So those of you who are still just lurking, you are cordially invited to participate actively. It will benefit all of us.
Now let us have a special prayer. It does not matter to whom I pray. It can be My Higher power, God, The universe, or just a way of opening myself to something new. We will explain and discuss the meaning of prayer in this program at a later date. For now just say the following prayer every day and when you work on the workshop assignments. You can use other words if you like but the essence and meaning should remain the same. This prayer is not written in the Big book but it is based on what is written in the Big Book. The prayer is not my invention. And is used a lot in 12 step fellowships. Here it is:
Set Aside Prayer
God, Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You.
As you can see, I ask that all my preconceived ideas be put aside and I approach the program with an open mind,
Now a few words about using our text book which is the Big Book. We are going to read the Big Book in a special way. The book was written for alcoholics; therefore we are going to read it in a way that will make it easier for us to identify with it. When reading we change the word alcohol or drink, to trigger substances, alcoholism to food addiction, and alcoholic to food addict
When reading we ask ourselves does it describe me? If it does I mark it in the book or copy it to a notebook.
The Big Book contains the step directions. We can identify these directions easily since direction sentences tell me what to DO in order to recover.
We copy the direction sentences and ask ourselves how we can follow these directions. We talk this over with our sponsor and decide on the actions that can be taken now, and take them.
In this workshop we will give a framework to the actions and explain them and also explain the different concepts. Bt this does not replace the personal reading of the textbook. We have to read it and work with it ourselves too.
A brief explanation of terms.
Food addiction is a biochemical disease similar to alcoholism. It is part of our genetic makeup. Alcoholics are not addicted to all drinking liquids, just to alcohol. Similarly food addicts are not addicted to all food substances just to some of them. Compulsive eating is compulsive behavior surrounding food.
More will be explained later.
1. Say the set aside prayer every morning and every time you begin to do the workshop assignments.
Share with us the effect that doing it has on you.
2. Read the following chapters in the Big Book as explained above.
FORWARD TO THE FIRST EDITION
THE DOCTORS OPINION
THERE IS A SOLUTION
MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM.
3. Write down all the action direction sentences (they usually contain the words must, have to, or other appropriate verbs) that you encounter. And share them with us.
4. Food addiction is a three fold disease, physical, mental and spiritual. Write down concepts and sentences you encountered, that explain each part of the disease and share them with us.
In my next share I will discuss the different aspects of the disease and the concepts we encounter in those chapters.
May we have a life full of recovery
Food addict and Step Leader of this workshop
Step One Third Share
Set Aside Prayer
God, Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You.
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.
Those of you who have missed my previous shares can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006/2006-01q1.html
We are all here because of two things. Our common problem and our common solution. Those are the two parts of the cement that binds us together.
In this share I will discuss the problem.
Food addicts/compulsive eaters (call it whatever you want) of my type suffer from a three fold disease which has a physical aspect, a mental aspect and a spiritual aspect.
This disease is chronic, since it cannot be cured, it is progressive since it gets worse with time and it is fatal, if not arrested it kills us.
The disease is not the result of external circumstances, For example. Being raised in a dysfunctional family or a functional one has nothing to do with this disease and being a victim of abuse also has nothing to do with the disease since it is something internal.
Saying that outer circumstances are the cause of the disease is like saying that I am left handed because my mother didn't potty train me as a child.
The physical aspect of the disease:
When I eat certain food substances which are contained in my food, I react abnormally. The Big Book calls it an allergic reaction.
My reaction manifests as cravings which are an insatiable desire for more. This desire is beyond my mental control and eventually it causes me to binge (eat enormous quantities of food). Some of us also purge to get rid of the food and thus further complicate their situation. They are called Bulimics. Others go to the opposite extreme of starving themselves eventually to death. They are called Anorexics.
All of us have an abnormal reaction to food. And all of us suffer from the three aspects of the disease.
Since I am a binge eater I will share my personal experience as a binge eater.
The symptom of our disease is trigger substances and the solution is the same for all of us so we can all identify with each other.
It is important to note that cravings appear only after I eat my addictive food substances or foods containing my addictive food substances. I will call such foods Trigger Foods since they trigger the cravings.
It is also important to note that I cannot have cravings if I have-not eaten my trigger foods for a period of time.
So if I return to eat them it is not cravings but the result of the mental aspect of the disease, the obsession with which we will deal later.
It is very important that we identify our trigger foods since if we eat them even by mistake we will experience cravings, and may relapse to bingeing.
The identification process may be a bit complicated since each of us may be addicted to groups of trigger foods that are not exactly the same for all of us.
So let me list the most common possible trigger foods,
Sugar in all its forms, all kinds of flours, high fat foods, high sugar fruits (like tropical fruits), wheat and wheat products, puffed and popped grains. To that we add personal trigger foods which may also include all kinds of condiments and food additives.
How can we identify a trigger food?
Most of us can identify their major ones. The rest are identified by trial and error. Sometimes it is a good idea to get professional help in this identification process, from naturopaths or other specialists who are familiar with food addiction.
Another good rule about possible trigger foods is: If you are in doubt leave it out.
I also have to take into consideration the progressive nature of the disease. This means that my list of trigger foods gets bigger as time passes it never gets smaller, so I have to always be aware of the foods I eat and their effect on me since foods that were not trigger foods may become trigger foods with the passage of time.
After we have identified our trigger foods what are we supposed to do with them?
If we were not food addicts we could just decide that we give them up entirely and live all our life without them, and be able to carry out our decision quite easily.
There are a lot of people who are not food addicts who have to limit the types of foods they eat, like people who are allergic to dairy products or to raspberries, or to gluten in wheat, or to kinds of shell fish. They live their life happily ever after without those foods. They don't need support groups or 12 steps or whatever.
If we had only the physical aspect of the disease we could do what they do. But we cannot, because the other aspects of the disease wouldn't let us leave those foods alone.
So the physical treatment is not to eat those foods at all even not a small bite no matter what, as they like to say in OA.
I will borrow a term from NA and call not eating my trigger foods at all as being CLEAN.
I will later also use the term abstinence as something I have to do in addition to being clean. I find it clearer and more applicable that way and I am sure you will find it to be so too after I explain my definitions and their use.
The Big Book says that I have to be willing to be clean for life. This does not mean that I am able to do it but that I must be willing. The solution is not applicable without willingness. We apply the solution in the present, one day at a time, but the willingness should be for life. A lot of relapses occur as a result of holding on to the idea that maybe some day I will be able to control my eating and eat my trigger foods with impunity, or because I cannot see myself living my life without some of my trigger foods.
If I have a problem with this, the program suggests praying every day even many times a day to be willing to be willing.
For example Please God (or whatever suits you) help me be willing to be willing to be clean.
What I have written here about the physical aspect must be internalized.
The exact biochemical nature of the disease and all the rest of that stuff are nice to know and may be helpful but are not essential to our recovery.
The mental aspect of the disease:
So why cannot I decide to be clean and stay clean? Why is my willingness not enough and why cannot I carry out my decision to stay clean?
I can't stay clean because of the mental aspect of this disease. My physical addiction even when I am clean affects my mind. It affects my perception of reality in a twisted way. My thought process is not based on reality but on a deluded picture of reality. This means that I don't see the truth. So when I interact with my environment I get different results from what I expect. This causes discontentment restlessness and irritability, fears, and all kinds of negative feelings and actions and triggers a thought process that is called obsession.
Obsessive thoughts are thoughts that exclude all other thoughts even recovery. I may obsess on a lot of things as part of my disease but my most prevalent obsession is about food, especially trigger foods.
Eating trigger foods has the effect of calming me for a short time. It is something like sedation, so that the feelings are buried for a time. Because of the obsession I don't remember the craving or don't care. I don't remember the anguish and suffering that follow the short sedation time. All I think about is that eating will ease whatever I feel. It even does not matter if I feel good or bad. The obsession convinces me that the solution to whatever it is that I feel in my internal world is food and especially trigger foods which have a very satisfying temporary effect.
I don't even remember or care about it being temporary, just about the satisfying effect.
So these obsessive thoughts convince me that my delusion is reality and make me want to eat. It is not a matter of having a weak will power. It is the changing of my will from not eating to eating and there is nothing I can do about it.
So I eat, and when I eat my triggers, the cravings kick in, I cannot be satisfied with a moderate or small portion and it develops into a binge. After the binge I may feel terrible and decide not to eat triggers no matter what, and say it to myself a thousand times a day, but to no avail. Since my twisted perception of reality is still there. It will drive me again to unease and this will drive me again to the obsession and the obsession will drive me to eat and the eating will cause cravings and they cause bingeing and this cycle never ends.
Such obsessive thoughts are insane thoughts.
Insanity is not seeing reality.
There are those who think they are Napoleon and move imaginary armies in their minds and there are those who think that trigger foods are what will make them be at ease and that they can control their eating.
One common definition of insanity in this program is repeating the same act and expecting different results. Well, there is an even stronger insanity; knowing what the negative results will be and still doing it, like planning a binge in advance.
Where is my will power you may ask? Some say it is none existent. I say it exists but it is turned by my obsession into a will to eat instead of a will not to eat.
Can you see the hopelessness of my position?
Once I start eating I cannot stop because of the cravings, and if I succeed in stopping for a time I cannot stay stopped because of the obsession.
I may ask the following. What if I could get rid of the obsession, will it solve my problem?
The answer is YES. Since if I don't obsess about food I can quite easily decide not to eat my triggers and carry out my decision like any other normal person who has to limit the types of food he eats, either voluntarily like vegans, or because he has some physical illness that does not affect his mind.
But there are professionals that deal with the mind. All kinds of psychologists and psychiatrists, cannot they solve my obsession problem?
The answer is no. Not for addicts of my type who have this three fold disease. The third aspect of my disease does not lend itself to psychiatric treatment. So let me discuss the third aspect.
The spiritual aspect of the disease:
The word spiritual may have many meanings, like team spirit, he is a spirited puppy, etc…
When it is written with a capital S, Spiritual, it means a connection with a Higher Power who is incorporeal.
The solution is Spiritual. The way to achieve it is partly spiritual. Well, enough with the play of words.
Let us see how the different aspects of the spiritual disease are explained in the Big Book.
Here are some quotes from the Big Book.
Since we are reading the book as part of the assignments we are sure to encounter them.
"Restless irritable and discontented"
"We were having trouble with our personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people,"
"Selfishness-self centeredness! That we think is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self delusion self seeking, and self pity, we step on the toes of our fellows"
Here we see that our character defects are part of the spiritual disease.
"The alcoholic is an extreme example of self will run riot"
"Resentment is the 'number one ' offender it destroys more alcoholics than anything else, from it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not been only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick"
Those quotes give quite a presentation of the spiritual disease. It consists of our negative feelings, our character defects, and our dysfunctional relations with ourselves and others.
What about God, Higher power, etc…??????
God is missing here because if we really had any real conscious contact with God all this spiritual malady would disappear.
The Big Book says very clearly
"When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically."
Pay attention to the right order of things here.
The spiritual malady has to be overcome,
When this happens the obsession is gone. This is one of the explicit promises of the program.
When the obsession is gone we can deal with the physical malady and stay clean quite easily without any fighting and clenched fists which cannot be effective for long
So can we deal with our defects which are the essence of our spiritual malady?
Normal people can. They go to self help courses, all kind of awareness groups, learn what they have to do and do it and their life is changed.
We cannot do that. Here is what the Big Book says about it.
"Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God's help"
This disease makes me powerless not only over food but also over my obsession and over my spiritual disease.
There is nothing I can do to recover under my own power. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. This is a position of complete and TOTAL DEFEAT. And once I internalize that defeat deep inside my being, then comes SURRENDER and I can turn to the one who has Power and act to make conscious contact so that this Power solves my problem.
"Lack of power that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES. Obviously. But were and how were we to find this Power?
Well that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself who will solve your problem"
Not find a power so that I will solve my problem but find a Power that will solve the problem for me.
SO READ THE BOOK!!!!!!! AND FOLLOW ITS INSTRUCTIONS.
To finish this part let me tell a small personal story.
I sat in a restaurant the other day and drank some coffee. Two women sat at a nearby table and talked. One of them said:
How nice it is to be able to meet every week or so and be able to clear the air between us when there are any misunderstandings.
I thought to myself WOW!!! Their starting point in dealing with life's problems is so different than mine. I had to clear the air with a friend once and in order to just meet him and talk I had to share in a meeting, talk to my sponsor, do a bunch of steps including an inventory, share the inventory with my sponsor work steps six and seven pray and mediate till I felt that H.P. held my hand and only then could I be at the starting point of those women.
Still I am blessed since I have a program that directs and supports me on the spiritual path and takes me out of the hell I was in. It entails a lot of unending work but it is worth it.
Just being more happy joyous and free than I ever was, and experiencing conscious contact with H.P. is worth everything.
Enough for now
Read the following
The forwards to all the editions.
How It Works till page 62
1. Write down the sentences that describe the different aspects of the disease and share them with us.
2. Write down the sentences that describe you and share them with us.
3. Write down the action sentences and share them with your sponsor and with us.
Action sentences are sentences that tell us what we have to do to in order to recover.
4. Write down your trigger foods. Are you sure that you have not missed any?
If you don't know how to identify your trigger foods discus the problem with your sponsor.
It may also be a good idea to get professional help.
5. Do you think that at this point in time you can be clean? If you are clean how do you manage that?
6. Answer the question: Am I willing to give up my trigger foods for life?
7. In what areas of my life is the spiritual illness still active and how does it manifest itself
8. Ask yourself: Am I really a food addict? Do I really have all three aspects of the disease?
Share your answer with us.
Again I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important.
When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop.
In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
May we have a life full of recovery
Food addict and Step Leader of this workshop
Questions To The Workshop Leader
I am struggling with bulimia (that began about a year ago) and I am just starting to review OA and your 12 step program. I am at the part that asks to identify trigger foods and food addiction. This doesn't sound familiar to me. I am pretty sure I am not one of the people that eat sugar and then just cannot stop. Instead I am a huge emotional eater. My bulimia is a response to dealing with emotions- I do not otherwise acknowledge or Express.
Should I still try to work the 12 steps or what?
I am also probably a "hard drinker"- i.e. I can abuse it, but my body doesn't crave it. If I have one I can just stop- I won't end up on a bender.
First I want to clarify that anyone who has a problem with food is welcome in OA and in TRG. It does not matter what kind of a food problem it is. Everyone who wants to work the steps is welcome and can benefit from them no matter what his problem is and even if he doesn't have any problem. Now after making this clear, let me answer your question specifically.
Bulimics and anorexics may or may not be addicted to certain foods. But they are certainly addicted to inner chemical secretions by the endocrine system. They are addicted to adrenalin and endorphins. By purging or by starving they force their body to secrete these chemicals and give them the feeling that food addicts get when eating triggers. So you are certainly powerless over those mind altering chemicals and your life is unmanageable. There are also bulimics and anorexics that do have trigger foods, and there are those who stop starving and purging and become overeaters with trigger foods. Problems with food are not simple and there are all kinds. Everyone can work the steps and so can you. For you, being clean can mean not purging, and for an anorexic it can mean not starving himself, since the acts of starving and purging are in fact the acts of "bingeing" on inner chemicals. And you cannot stay stopped from doing it because of your obsession. To summarize: WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Step One Fourth Share
Set Aside Prayer
God, Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You.
Those of you who have missed my previous shares can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006/2006-01q1.html
We continue with the discussion of our problem.
There are two concepts that are prevalent in twelve step groups, BOTTOM and SURRENDER. It is interesting to note that those concepts do not appear in the first 164 pages of the Big Book in those words. Those 164 pages contain the program directions. Let us connect those concepts to the Big Book.
We reach bottom when we admit complete defeat in our innermost being. Here is complete defeat or bottom as it is described in Bill's Story:
"No words can tell the loneliness and despair I found in the bitter morass of self- pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master."
This is an admission of total powerlessness, helplessness and hopelessness. Reaching bottom is the inner feeling described by Bill. It is not my outer circumstances. Being in jail or bingeing all the time, or having my children taking away from me, or suffering abuse etc... Are not bottoms. They are outer circumstances and actions that may drive me to reach bottom, but they are not the bottom. The bottom is in my inner being. And is actually the same for everyone.
This is very important to realize since as long as we look outside for our bottom we think that if outside circumstances will change we will be alright. So we act to change the outside instead of surrendering and having God solve our problem. And since we are powerless without God, all our actions which are driven by self-will are doomed to fail.
Only when I admit and feel this bottom in my innermost being will I surrender. Surrender is what connects my defeat to the solution. And brings me from total hopelessness to hope. Surrender is stopping anything I do to solve my problem by my own willpower and turning to the Power that can solve it. It is putting myself in this Power's hands and following this Power's guidance and direction. The twelve step program is the plan of action that when implemented connects me to this Power.
Now let us talk about food, my favorite subject. There is a preconceived idea in OA that we have to deal with our addictive substances everyday since we have to eat everyday, and alcoholics in recovery don't have to deal with alcohol every day, since they don't drink it. There is even a nice slogan: 'We have to take the tiger out of the cage three times a day' As is the case with most slogans and preconceived ideas, it is not true and actually misleading.
When we are in recovery we don't have to deal with our trigger foods at all. We don't eat them and we don't want to eat them, since God frees us from our obsession with triggers. This is what I call being CLEAN.
We have to deal with the food that is not our triggers (abstinent food), but this is an entirely different story. So let us deal with our abstinent food. Eating is a natural instinct. As an addict my instincts are generally not balanced and don't work as they should. Their fulfillment turns to extremes which are harmful to me. In the case of food, such extremes may be overeating or starvation. When an instinct turns to the extreme side it is actually a character defect which is a part of the spiritual malady (unmanageability of life) in this program. Instincts cannot disappear since they are necessary for our life. But they can be brought back into balance by the 12 step program.
Just living our life and interacting with the world around us may make us react selfishly or dishonestly or angrily or be afraid, or overeat etc...Everyone may react like this sometimes, since the defects are essentially basic instincts out of balance. We as addicts are more prone to be out of balance and go to extremes because the root of our troubles (our illness) is selfishness-self centeredness, which manifests as a self will run riot. When we don't act via the twelve steps our spiritual disease feed and awakens our obsession which leads us to eating our trigger foods and bingeing. This is what the daily steps 10-12 are for. Those steps deal with our defects and actions and connect us to God on a daily basis, so as to keep us in a fit spiritual condition. Not perfect, just fit to stay in recovery on a daily basis. We are powerless over all aspects of our disease which also include those defects, but acting to stay spiritually fit is our responsibility. It will not be perfect but it does not have to be.
Here is the way it is written in the big book. "Many of us exclaimed.'What an order! (Working the steps) I can't go through with it.' Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles (twelve steps). We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."
So let us regard the overeating of our abstinent foods as a character defect. This character defect is sometimes called gluttony. The program tells us how to deal with character defects. We do it by working step seven on the character defect. We pray to God to remove it since we are also powerless over our character defects, and follow our prayer with actions that bring us to fulfill this instinct in a balanced way. This is what I call ABSTINENCE.
In OA abstinence is defined as abstaining from compulsive eating, and a food plan is the way to do it. The OA cofounder Rozzane defined abstinence as three moderate meals a day with nothing in between except non caloric beverages and no trigger foods. This is a definition that to me is more practical to understand and try to apply. I just divide it into two parts. Being clean, which means not eating my trigger foods, and being abstinent which means eating the food I may eat (abstinent food), in a balanced way. I do it this way because as I have shown the program works differently on trigger foods and on abstinent foods
Why do I separate being clean from being abstinent? Because as we have seen, the program works differently on trigger foods and on abstinent foods. . As I said earlier, the way I deal with overeating is by working step 7 as I do with all my character defects. I pray to God to remove this defect and act so that the opposite of this defect or the balancing of this basic eating instinct is practiced.
To do this I handle my abstinent food in the following way. I eat a specific number of meals a day, and nothing in-between, except non-caloric beverages including water. I am aware that I have lost my true feeling of satiety since I don't recognize when I had enough. Therefore I usually weigh and measure my food. If I eat out I don't take seconds, and eat only foods that I know are free from my trigger substances. And I usually don't use more than one plate. I know that when I eat too much I gain weight. Therefore I check my weight every two weeks and change the quantity of my food accordingly. Those are the physical actions I take in order to stay abstinent. There are those who also write down their food, and commit it to their sponsor. Everyone acts in a way that suits him and helps him balance his eating instinct.
Some may follow one of the structured food plans that are used in twelve step fellowships. Those are plans like the HOW food plan which is low carb plan for the first 30 days and then carbs are added. The GREYSHEET food plan which is low-carb plan and the FAA food plan which is a balanced plan. Usually those who follow those plans commit their food to their sponsor.
I recommend checking each food plan with a professional who understands about triggers. If he doesn't understand then just tell him that those are foods you don't eat and that's it. He should advice you only on your abstinent foods. If he does not agree, find someone else.
Those who are interested in the specific food plans I mentioned may find the food plans in the following websites: The HOW food plan: http://web.archive.org/web/20040214063650/http://www.geri.net/foodplan.htm
The GREYSHEET food plan:
The KAY SHEPPARD food plan which is similar but not the same as the FAA plan. http://www.kaysheppard.com/foodplan.htm
What I have written here is NOT a recommendation of any food plan. I just pass along the information. What you do with it is up to you. Just a remark. Professionals who deal with bulimics and anorexics say that they should not be on a low carb food plan, since it plays havoc with their emotional state. I also have some experience in sponsoring bulimics and anorexics and what the professionals say is in accordance with my experience.
Now let us talk about RELAPSE. Relapse is a process that begins with neglecting my daily step work of steps 10-12 which are there to keep me in a fit spiritual condition and grow in understanding and effectiveness on a daily basis.
This neglect manifests in the bedevilments. "We were having trouble with our personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people, " Those are the things that most of us hear in meetings and read in shares.
When we have some of the bedevilments or even one of them in some area of our lives, we are in a state of UNTREATED ADDICTION. This is true even if we are clean and abstinent. This is the first phase of RELAPSE. The only answer the program has to offer to the bedevilments is to turn to God and work the steps on those issues. This state of untreated addiction is what will awaken our obsession which is the second phase of relapse. Our obsession will drive us to eat our trigger foods and binge which is the third and last phase of relapse.
Usually when there is talk of relapse in the fellowships, what is meant is only the third phase which is eating our triggers. This is dangerous since we then tend to direct our attention and actions outside, to the trigger foods. Forgetting that we are powerless over them, and can do nothing to stop eating them unless our obsession is removed by GOD. In this program we open ourselves to H.P and His Power by keeping or returning to a fit SPIRITUAL CONDITION by working the 12 steps.
What about breaking my abstinence (overeating my abstinent foods) or not being abstinent. Is this relapse too? My answer is NO. Not in the way that not being clean is relapse. We don't say that we are in relapse if during our day we become angry or afraid or selfish or dishonest, so why should we say this about the character defect of overeating. As I said, when we usually talk about relapse we talk about the physical disease, and not the spiritual disease Overeating is a character defect and as such it is a manifestation of the spiritual disease. Although it deals with the physical act of eating it is not part of the physical symptoms of our addiction which are trigger foods. It is part of the spiritual disease, period.
Not being clean is the third and final phase of relapse whereas not being abstinent is the first phase of relapse which has to do with our spiritual illness and is a sign of untreated addiction. We deal with it by working step seven as explained above. Breaking my abstinence means that my character defect of overeating is active and not that my physical disease is active. My physical disease is active when I have cravings which arise only when eating trigger foods.
Why is this distinction about relapse so important? Because as an addict I go to extremes and when I break my abstinence I tend to think that I am a failure and no good and I despair of working the program. I say to myself, here I am working the steps and I fail again and again. So perhaps this program does not really work for me. And I retreat deeper into my disease. I have to treat overeating as a character defect like anger or fear. If I have them I don't say that the program is not working and I don't say that I am in relapse. I accept the fact that it is natural for them to appear from time to time and what the program does is give me the tools via the steps to deal with them. This is the attitude that should be taken towards my abstinence.
If we understand and define the concepts of abstinence and being clean in this way then I am sure that a lot of addicts will be encouraged to work the program more diligently and reach recovery, instead of feeling that they are failures and the program does not work for them.
Now let us discuss whether I have to be clean and abstinent before I begin working the steps. The Big Book says that I have to be willing without any reservations. But nowhere does it say that I am able to do it on my own power before I begin working the steps or even when I work them. I cannot stay clean if my obsession with food is not removed from me. Only God can remove my obsession and the Big Book promises that it will be removed on a daily basis when I reach and work step ten. (Page 84) So if I don't work the steps the chances are that I will not be able to stay clean and abstinent.
The Big Book says in "THE DOCTORS OPINION" Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit" This does not mean that he can stop drinking by his own efforts. It means that sometimes his mind is so hazy from the effects of his drinking that he has to be hospitalized and forced to stop drinking in order to clear his mind and be freed from his cravings.
We see from Bill's Story that when he is out of the hospital and the forced cleanliness, he eventually returns to drinking, Since no doctors or any other human beings can remove the obsession only God can do that. Working the steps and connecting to God by this work is what removes my obsession. So demanding that I stay clean for a period of 90 days or whatever before beginning to work the steps, is contrary to everything that is written in the Big Book . This program is here to help us recover and not to kill us. Demanding that I stay clean and abstinent on my own power or on the power of the fellowship is for some of us an impossible demand which may be fatal for us, since our efforts to overcome our obsession in the time period demanded of us are to no avail. This is not what this program is about.
What the program asks of us is to be WILLING (not able) to stay clean and abstinent and do all that is needed to recover. So we have to take the actions which are working the steps and do what is needed not to overeat our abstinent food. But the results of our actions are not in our hands. We don't have the power to choose to be abstinent. The only thing that I can and should choose to do is to act to connect to the only one who has the Power that will free me from my obsession and allow me to be clean and abstinent, and it is NOT I.
In conclusion. I have to do whatever I can to be clean and abstinent and simultaneously work the steps. There is no waiting period, even if while working the steps I overeat or relapse. This is the Big Book's way as I see it, and experience it.
Now let me discuss a slogan that is prevalent in our fellowships. "Abstinence is the most important thing in my life without fail." The first thing we have to ask ourselves is the following: Is this part of the twelve step program? If it is then it should somehow be mentioned in the first 164 pages of the big book where the step directions are written. So here are some quotes.
Page 19 THERE IS A SOLUTION "We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles (12 steps) lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs"
Page 25 THERE IS A SOLUTION "The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous."
Page 51 WE AGNOSTICS "When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their life, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith."
Page 82 INTO ACTION "Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober (clean). Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn't. But he is yet a long way from making good to his wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated"
Page 122 THE FAMILY AFTERWARDS "Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition"
So if we want a slogan or a mantra which is part of our program instead of the one about abstinence which is not, Then here it is: CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE WITHOUT FAIL.
You may ask, but isn't being clean and abstinent important? Sure it is. But our program aims much higher than that. It aims to connect us to God. Being clean and abstinent is only the beginning of the process whose aim is conscious contact with God. Why did I spend time writing on this issue you may ask? Because it is very important to know where we have to really concentrate our efforts in this program and what to aim for. Otherwise all our efforts will be in the wrong direction and eventually lead to relapse.
Now at last let us turn to step one: WE ADMITTED WE WERE POWERLESS OVER FOOD--THAT OUR LIVES HAD BECOME UNMANAGABLE. Let us dwell a bit on this step. Our powerlessness over our trigger foods is the result of the combination of the physical addiction and the mental obsession. I have to have both to be powerless over my trigger foods. The unmanageability of our life is the result of the spiritual illness and is manifested in my character defects, my negative feelings, and my relations with myself, the world, and other people. The spiritual disease is with me when I eat my trigger foods and when I don't eat them. It is part of me as are the physical and mental parts. Only H.P. can remove the mental part.
Now let me ask a question. If God is all powerful why does He not take away the spiritual and physical parts too in the same way that he takes the obsession? I think that God takes away our obsession so that we can exercise our free will and not eat triggers and turn to him with our work on the spiritual disease (the work is the 12 steps). Thus we remove what blocks us so that we develop a conscious contact with God and experience His presence. This is the way we progress and develop. If God did the work for us by taking away the spiritual and physical aspects of our addiction, we would have been like manipulated puppet. There is no progress and no development in that. We would have been like animals that act only by instinct and cannot do anything else.
How do I internalize step one? The Big Book tells me that: "We learned that we had to concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery"
So first I have to admit to my innermost self that I have the three fold disease of food addiction. Then I have to internalize step one by admitting my powerlessness and my unmanageability. Those are not just words. I have to feel them and feel the utter hopelessness of dealing with my disease on my own or with the help of other people. The Big Book writes that we have to internalize the following pertinent ideas:
"(a) that we were alcoholics (food addicts) and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism (food addiction.)"
When we have really internalized that, we can turn to step two which gives us hope of recovery. Step one by itself only makes us realize our complete defeat and hopelessness of recovering from this disease by our own power.
Well, let us turn to the assignments. First two definitions that I will use during this workshop. Those are my personal definitions
(a) An old timer is a person who has worked all the 12 steps at least once, is working all of them currently on a daily basis, and is clean and abstinent.
(b) Newcomers are all the rest. This definition is of value since a newcomer finds it easier to put aside preconceived ideas and is more open to change.
1. Read the bedevilments on page 52. They describe the unmanageability of our lives which is the spiritual malady. Turn each sentence into a personal question in the PRESENT. Example: "We were having trouble with our personal relationships" Turns into: Am I currently having troubles with personal relationships? Examine the following areas, myself, family, friends, at work, authorities, etc... Check each area of your life and write were you still have troubles. Do the same for each of the bedevilments. Any bedevilment that currently applies to you is a sign of UNTREATED FOOD ADDICTION, since only overcoming the spiritual malady straightens us mentally and physically.
TO OLDTIMERS: Those bedevilments are your current connection to step one and if untreated will lead you straight into the obsession and relapse which physically manifests as eating trigger foods and bingeing. Discuss your current bedevilments with your sponsor. Decide on the course of action you are going to take and begin taking it. Share all this with us.
TO NEWCOMERS: Share what you have found with your sponsor and with us. Be aware that this is the spiritual part of the disease and as long as it is not overcome you will continue to relapse even if you are now clean and abstinent. Do you commit to go to any lengths in order to recover by working all the twelve steps? Write down your commitment give it to your sponsor and share with us.
2. Do you concede to your innermost self that you are a food addict and compulsive overeater? Share with us.
3. Are the following ideas clear to you and do you feel they describe you personally? Share with us (a) that you are a food addict and compulsive eater and can't manage your own life (b) That probably no human power (including your own) can relieve your addiction
4. Say step one to yourself, God, your sponsor and your meeting or loop. Share with us.
5. Read again the following: THE DOCTORS OPINION BILLS STORY from page 9 THERE IS A SOLUTION MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM WE AGNOSTICS HOW IT WORKS up to page 62 WORKING WITH OTHERS pages 93-94 While reading Copy and comment on the sentences that deal with the following: What is the solution, why do we need it. What are the actions needed to begin applying this solution. What sentences make it clear that the solution is spiritual and not religious. Share with us.
6. What in your opinion is the difference between belief in a Power greater than myself and faith in a Power greater than myself.
Again I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Wishing us all a life full of recovery
Food addict and compulsive overeater
Questions To The Workshop Leader
Could you explain some concepts in the DOCTORS OPINION?
The good doctor was not an alcoholic and some of the words he used are different than what we use in the program.
It is easier to understand some of his sentences about the solution if we translate his words as follows:
Moral psychology---Spiritual solution.
Powers of good---Power of God.
Psychic change---Spiritual awakening.
Few simple rules---The twelve steps.
Would it be fair to say that many food addicts cannot identify trigger foods because they do not crave them? That is my experience: that flour and sugar in all its forms create enormous appetite in me for everything, but not necessarily more sugar and flour. The only way I could identify that all forms of sugar and flour were triggers was to stop using them totally (and I weighed and measured and followed a plan that balanced carbs with protein, etc, etc, - additions by themselves which did not work alone by the way.)
Anyway have you found this to be true for yourself or others - that trigger foods are sneaky in this way? - that we may not crave them in particular
Some people react like that to their triggers, eating them just opens up their appetite and they eat everything in sight.
I'm getting very angry with someone ignoring my letters so I would appreciate your telling me why it isn't good for me.
Anger is an emotional reaction. Good or bad depends on the results of how I deal with it.
It is something I feel when things don't go the way I think they should, or people don't behave the way I think they should.
For us addicts it is usually an expression of our self centeredness which means we want our will to be done.
Suppressing anger is no good; since our emotional reactions should be expressed otherwise we will cause damage to ourselves, and probably to those around us too.
The simplest examples are all kinds of illnesses cause by tensions which are what suppressed feelings turn into, or the person who is mad at his boss but suppresses his feelings because he is afraid of losing his job and then when he comes home he takes it out on his wife and children.
I can consider anger to be a character defect, and then I can work the steps on it.
Share with another person preferably my sponsor. Write about it as in step 4 by the method of the Big Book,
See my part, share my written fourth step with my sponsor, pray to God to remove the anger from me and show me what I can do to remedy the angering situation rationally, if this can be done, and if it cannot be done then help me to let go.
It is important to understand that I can't deal with my anger by my own power since I don't have any power over my character defects. I am powerless not only over food but also over my character defects since I am powerless over all the aspects of my addiction be it physical mental or spiritual.
Normal people don't usually need all that stuff. They can use their own power most of the time. With them their anger dissipates and they can continue to act normally but I can't. Since without the program my anger turns into resentment and feeds my spiritual illness till my obsession raises it head and I turn to food and relapse, or harm myself and others in other ways.
See also the example I gave at the end of my third share.
I'm wondering about another aspect of eating compulsively. In my experience, in addition to trigger foods, I sometimes crave great quantities of food. Eating very large amounts of anything is also a mood-altering experience for me.
This is why I have only been successful with remaining abstinent when I weigh and measure my portions.
What are your thoughts about this?
If the foods you overeat are not triggers, then you don't have cravings. It is the obsession. I treat overeating regular foods (not triggers) as a character defect, sometimes called gluttony. When I am in recovery I don't have to deal with my trigger foods, since I don't eat them and I don't want to eat them.
But I do have to deal with my character defect of overeating. Every character defect that is not dealt with by way of the steps may cause the return of my obsession and this may cause me to eat my triggers and binge. Part of the actions I may take is weighing and measuring.
My dh and I were sitting around trying to figure out my trigger foods....we couldn't come up with any ONE, single category that I crave or that sets me off. For me it is just food in general. Unless I have a food plan to go by I just eat anything and everything... whenever and where ever. Does this mean that I am a compulsive overeater but NOT necessarily a food addict?
IF I can eat too much of everything and am really sure that I don't have specific triggers than I don't have the disease of addiction since I don't have the physical part.
This is similar to the case of a hard drinker that is described in the Big Book.
"Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason-ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor-becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention"
What it means is that an overeater that is not a food addict can stop by his own will power or with other peoples help, without using the 12 steps. He can do it if there is a sufficient and strong enough reason to do it. Whereas I cannot do it no matter how strongly I want to.
I must have a Power Greater than myself that does it for me and takes away my obsession. I cannot just decide 'abstinence no matter what' and be able to carry this out on my own willpower. An overeater that is not a food addict may need professional help or support in order to deal with his emotional problems since he is usually an emotional eater. And he can solve his eating problem by following a food plan and sharing in his support group or with his therapist and even playing around cafeteria style with the steps.
BUT I CAN'T.
I must have this conscious contact with my H.P. via working all the twelve steps all my life. It is only then that I open myself to this POWER who removes my obsession and thus solves my problem. This does not mean that an overeater cannot work the steps. It just means that he can take it or leave it alone and I can't. For me it is a must I think the distinction is very important to realize, since if I am only an overeater I am not really powerless over food. And if I say that I am powerless I am not really saying the truth. There is no way I can build a spiritual structure on a lie. If I want to work the steps I should skip the first part of step one.
This is my opinion based on what the Big Book says about the hard drinker who is not an alcoholic, and based on my experience with working with others
When I know I am not hungry and want to eat, how do I know if it is my emotions? Do you have any suggestions on how to know the difference between it being something I don't want to deal with (like boredom or a problem I don't want to deal with) or because I ate the wrong foods for me.
If you eat your regular meal and want to eat a short time afterwards, less than four hours, than it is either the obsession, or you have eaten an unidentified trigger
If you suspect that some food triggers your cravings use the elimination method. Leave it out and don't eat it for three weeks, and see what happens. A good rule to use about suspected foods is: When in doubt leave it out.
Just want to clarify something important You write that overeating, without addiction to trigger foods is gluttony, and a person with such character defect CAN stop his behavior if he/she really wants. Do you mean that character defects can be overcome without the help of a HP and the steps? Is addiction only a consequence of chemicals and nothing to do with habits? Can one not be addicted to a certain pattern of behavior?
There are two types of chemical addiction.
One is an addiction to outer chemicals like trigger foods, alcohol, and drugs. The other is an addiction to inner chemicals like adrenaline or endorphin, which are secreted by our endocrine system. Examples of such addicts are workaholics, gamblers, people with ever increasing debts, codependents, etc... Anorexics and bulimics may belong to both types of addictions I am really powerless over my addiction only when it is three fold. Physical-addiction to chemicals. Mental -obsession Spiritual-negative feelings, character defects, unsound relations with myself the world and other people.
When the addiction is three fold I cannot recover under my own will power. Neither can I recover with the help of other people, which means that the fellowship itself is not enough. I must connect to a power greater than myself that will solve my problem, and I do that by working the entire twelve steps.
When the addiction is only two fold or one fold and is not too far advanced I may recover using only my willpower, if I have a strong enough reason to do so.
If the disease is very advanced I may have to have the help of other people, be it the fellowship or professionals or whatever. I may also choose to work the twelve steps and recover that way, but for a two fold disease it is not a must but a choice.
This choice is often not made earnestly if at all, because it seems that human nature is such that only insufferable pain which cannot be solved by other means will drive me to choose such a spiritual solution. If I have a choice I will choose the easier way out.
Regarding your email about how to classify ourselves as either a food addict Or a compulsive overeater... I have been attempting to sort this out for myself so that I may more accurately answer the third assignment. I am not Sure which I am and thought perhaps you could help. I too cannot think of any trigger foods. Sort of. You could say that candy and chocolate were Trigger foods, but it is mostly the sweetness I crave. However, when I use Sugar in my coffee and tea, and in some other cooking, it doesn't produce cravings. Also, it is nearly unheard of for me to have only one cookie, and baked goods in general have been regular attendants in my over-eating. However, the last time I had cake, even though I did not like the cake, I ate half of my large slice, and put the rest down because I truly found it to be unappealing. So yes, while I ate it even though I did not like it because I wanted to eat, I also was able to stop. Had it been better tasting the situation would have turned out differently, most likely. So again, are baked goods really a trigger food? I've stuffed myself on cheese and crackers before as well, but more because they were available than because fat, cheese, or crackers 'triggered' craving in me. So I am not "really sure" what this makes me.
If this makes me an overeater but not a food addict, then according to your explanation, I should be able to "stop by (my) own will power without using the 12 steps." Well if that were true I would have done so by now. "He can solve his eating problem by following a food plan and sharing in his support group or with his therapist and even playing around cafeteria style with the steps." I have failed so many food plans, and like the last assignment prompted us to discover in the big book, no amount of self-knowledge has been enough to stop our behavior. I truly believe that I do indeed need a spiritual awakening in order to overcome my coe and/or food addiction.
I agree that the "distinction is very important to realize, since if I am only an overeater I am not really powerless over food. And if I say that I am powerless I am not really saying the truth. There is no way I can build a spiritual structure on a lie." This is why I am asking since I am not sure where I fit. I must admit it is very tempting just to say that I am a coe because I am wrestling with the powerless concept. However, skipping step one would be a mistake in my case regardless. Every morning when I wake up I have been repeating step one to myself. It has served to halt my justifications for over-eating and has helped me to retain abstinence these last few days. I only wish for clarification in my own case. Also, what does "playing around cafeteria style with the steps" mean?
I am powerless over my addiction when it is three fold, Physical mental and spiritual. I explained this further in my third share and in an answer to another question.
About triggers. Chocolate is a common possible trigger, so are all kinds of sweets. Flour is also a common possible trigger; therefore baked stuff can be a trigger. We can also get professional help to identify our food sensitivities.
I have a three fold disease and therefore I must have conscious contact with a power that will solve my problem. I achieve this contact by working all the twelve steps. I am helped by the fellowship, but the fellowship itself is not enough. Neither is my sponsor or friends or a food plan or praying or repeating step one. It may give me some relief and delay my relapse but it is not a solution to my problem.
Playing around cafeteria style with the steps means working only some of them or being stuck in one of them and not proceeding with the work. It also means saying, I do the steps in Gods time, which is a nice procrastinating excuse.
If I feel deep inside That all else fails and I admit complete defeat in my innermost self, then I will feel that I have no choice but to turn to a Power greater than myself, and work all the steps to get in conscious contact with this Power.
If I feel like that and do ALL the work, and continue to do it on a daily basis, then I recover from my disease
Since sign language is my first language, I am trying to "picture" what you mean by your statements, please tell me if I "get" the idea.
Spiritual aspect = My way
Trigger = ice-cream bar (sugar)
Craving = first bar, then second, then third... even though I am still hungry.
Result = first high, then down ("drunk", then sick, depressed, cranky, etc plus extra pounds)
Is that what you mean?
Thank you for your dedication.
Beautiful. You said it better than I could
Hi everyone my name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. May be you remember the personal story I told you at the end of my third share about the two women in the restaurant. If some of you don't, here it is again. "I sat in a restaurant the other day and drank some coffee. Two women sat at a nearby table and talked. One of them said: 'How nice it is to be able to meet every week or so and be able to clear the air between us when there are any misunderstandings.' I thought to myself WOW!!! Their starting point in dealing with life's problems is so different than mine. I had to clear the air with a friend once and in order to just meet him and talk I had to share in a meeting, talk to my Sponsor, do a bunch of steps including an inventory, share the inventory with my sponsor work steps six and seven pray and mediate till I felt that H.P. held my hand and only then could I be at the starting point of those women." Why do I tell you this again? Because I want to tell you how this workshop affects me too.
Yesterday I wrote a letter to a friend in program and it annoyed her. She wrote me a response with some harsh words in it. Today she wrote me an apology. That is quick even for one working the program. Well, it seems that this workshop affects me too since I wrote her immediately back and cleared the air between us instead of enjoying sulking and anger for a few days. So here is her apology and my answer. Enjoy.
I had a tantrum last night. None of it was about You. Please forgive me for taking it out on you. It won't happen again.
What is a small tantrum or even a big one between friends? It takes two to tango. I have this propensity to annoy people. Sometimes intentionally as I do in the WTS workshop. And sometimes unintentionally. Don't say it won't happen again because it will, but I don't mind.
Well, this for me is progress.
Is it important or necessary to count days of abstinence? I have found myself feeling the pressure and I am not comfortable with it. I don't know if it has to do with my struggle with step one. Thank you for your service.
Counting days is a custom in some fellowships. It has nothing to do with the recovery program which is written in the first 165 pages of the Big Book.
There are different arguments for it and against it. But since it is not a part of the recovery program you can take it or leave it as you see fit.
QUESTION: In your notes for Lesson 3 you said abuse is not to blame for our COE. "The disease is not the result of external circumstances. For example, being raised in a dysfunctional family or a functional one has nothing to do with this disease and being a victim of abuse also has nothing to do with the disease since it is something internal". I have had the belief for 15 years now that the abuse was to blame for the beginning of my COE. I also have had the belief that medication is to blame. Let me briefly explain. I really want to understand this and be open-minded about your answers. May be a trigger for some - At age 13, my brother was sexually abusing me. The abuse took place in a room at our grocery store. This happened weekly. My "reward" afterwards was that I could eat anything I wanted. (I have already worked through the abuse issue through counseling.) I never had an eating problem before this time. This is when it started, and it ended when the abuse stopped. I ate sweets, not much really, but nonetheless, sweets. I did not have any eating problem or weight problem again until I was 30 years old. At this time I was put on an anti-depressant medication with the side-affect of weight gain. I gained 40 lbs. the first month. Thus my weight was never the same after that. I continue to this day to be on this same medication, plus 2 more medications, with weight-gain as side-affects. It is the 3rd medication now that leaves me feeling starved all the time. My question of course is how can these 2 experiences NOT be to blame? It seems so clear to me that my COE is specific to the abuse and medications. Hi Before I answer I have to ask a question. Do you have cravings as a result of eating specific foods? If you do then what are they? Shlomo Dear Shlomo,
To answer your question, at age 30, when I started on the medication, I did not have anything triggering me. I just all of a sudden liked food, very much.
Probably 10 years after this, I started wanting chocolate compulsively. This went on for a few years. It became a trigger food, so I just stopped having chocolate completely. After a couple more years, I began wanting sweets. Now, any sweets are triggers. Since starting on the last medication, I want to overeat with anything now.
Thank you for your question.
Food addiction is a hereditary disease. We are born with it.
Therefore we cannot say that outer circumstances have anything to do with it.
We are born with the biochemical imbalance that results in cravings after we eat trigger foods and an obsession to eat them again if there is a period of being clean.
The spiritual aspect of this illness is not something we are born with, but it develops as a result of the biochemical imbalance affecting our mind to have a delusional relationship with reality, thus giving rise to character defects, negative feelings, and actions.
On the other hand
Compulsive overeating is not a disease of addiction. It is a behavioral pattern around food.
It is usually compensational eating behavior over feelings. A compulsive overeater has foods that attract more of his overeating behavior. Those are usually calming foods that consist of carbohydrate.
But he does not have cravings as a result of eating them, and he does not really obsess about them in a way that makes it impossible for him to leave them alone, if his emotional state is taken care of. A compulsive overeater can gain weight as a result of his overeating and try to lose it. But as long as his emotional problems are not solved it will be difficult for him to do so.
Usually those who are addicted to trigger foods develop this compulsive overeating too. And may be this is what makes the distinction between the addiction and the compulsive non addicted overeating so confusing.
Since compulsive overeating is a behavioral emotional eating it can certainly be triggered by emotional traumas like abuse and other outer circumstances.
Now let me discuss the effect of medications.
All medications have side effects that can be sometimes more damaging than the disease that is being medicated. It depends on the person's sensitivity to the medication.
Some side effects of certain medications, especially psychiatric ones, may cause a chemical imbalance which is similar to the imbalance caused by food addiction.
The body gets addicted to the medication and as a result may also get addicted to certain trigger foods.
Usually when the doctor wants to stop the medication he does it gradually because of the withdrawal symptoms that are similar to the symptoms of withdrawal from any other addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, etc...
Usually the addiction caused by medication and the resulting overeating and cravings are mostly physical. And we will stop overeating when we stop taking the medication. But as long as we take it we cannot stop.
One can consult a specialist and see if there are different medications that have less addictive effects band may be used instead of the addictive ones, it is a good idea to discuss this with a highly qualified specialist.
Both compulsive overeaters and food addicts can be greatly helped by the twelve step program and the fellowships
It is just a matter of making certain which form of step one is most suitable to each of them.
I stress the distinction between compulsive overeating and food addiction because it gives us a better understanding on how we act around food and how we should act around food while working on our recovery by the twelve step program.
I hope this answers the question. And if not or not clearly enough please ask again.
Dear Shlomo, I still find myself troubled and disagreeing with some of your definitions since they could potentially send someone away. Specifically these words in your last answer to another's questions:
"If I don't have specific trigger foods , and I say that everything is a trigger and causes cravings then I am in trouble, since according to the program I have to stop eating trigger foods which means that I have to starve to death.
"This of course is not a real case. There can be a case where I don't have any triggers. I just overeat a lot. In that case I am not powerless since there are no cravings and if I have sufficient reasons I can stop by my own power." In the meetings which I attend, face-to-face, online and phone, as well as all the OA sponsored literature which I have read, and my own life-time of coe (I am 54) and recovery, I can share without a doubt in my mind that there are those of us who do not have specific trigger foods who are still powerless over overeating and for whom NOT doing all the steps, using all the tools, would be as dangerous to our three fold disease and three-fold recovery as to any alcoholic. I will continue to participate in this group because I believe in OA, AA and the BB.
No need to be troubled or agree or disagree. The program is not my program it is the program in the Big Book
The definitions that I give are due to the way I understand the program in the Big Book.
If I say something that is not according to the program in the Big Book then Show me and I will be the first to say that I made a mistake or that I misunderstood. No one has to be sent away, because everyone can work the steps. He just has to check if the first step in its usual form is applicable to him and describes His condition.
In the big Book the first part of step one is about being powerless over alcohol which is a trigger substance since it causes cravings.
When the first step was written in OA It was written as powerless over food without mentioning which food. If we want to stick to the program in the Big Book then it should have been trigger foods. Then it is a one to one correspondence with the Big Book. This does not mean that people who don't have trigger foods can't work the steps or that they have to be sent away.
If I stick to the Big Book definition of the steps they cannot say that they are powerless over trigger foods since they don't have any. They cannot say that they are powerless over food in general since food in general does not cause cravings only trigger foods do that. But they can sure say the second part of step one which deals with unmanageability.
Unmanageability is the spiritual illness which includes our character defects. Compulsive overeating is a behavioral problem and is really a character defect of overeating which can go to extremes.
We are powerless not only over our physical and mental illness we are also powerless over our spiritual illness. Character defects have to be dealt with all our life. That is what steps 10 and 11 are for. Therefore we have to deal with our abstinent food all our life.
This is not the case with trigger foods. When we are in recovery we don't eat them and don't want to eat them. Therefore they are out of my life
The same is true for an alcoholic in recovery. He does not have to deal with alcohol since he does not drink it and doesn't want to drink it.
So the only difference in working the programs between a compulsive overeater and a food addict is the first part of step one. I don't see any problem here that has to disturb anyone or send him away.
If I believe in the program in the big book I have to accept all of it.
One can also choose to work the steps using another method like the method in the OA 12&12. But I work the program according to the big book and not anything else. And I share with you my experience and understanding.
If what I write is not in accordance with the big book then show me the discrepancies. But if you just don't accept what is written in the Big Book then you can try something else. It is always your choice.
Remark: I also discussed this subject in my fourth share which reached the loop.
I'm struggling to understand the idea of being willing to be clean FOR LIFE. My sponsors have always emphasized willingness FOR TODAY, one day at a time.
Thank you for that question. The directions for working the steps are written in the first 165 pages of the Big Book. There are all kinds of misleading and even damaging slogans and ideas floating around in OA, which seem to be part of the program. The things that are part of the 12 step program are those that are written in the first 165 pages of the Big Book. So if anyone including your sponsor tells you all kinds of stuff about the program ask him a simple question like you have asked me. WHERE IS IT WRITTEN IN THE FIRST 165 PAGES OF THE BIG BOOK? If it is not written there or it does not rely on what is written there, then it is not part of the program. It is just someone's opinion. You can take it or leave it, and usually it is best to leave it.
Now say the Set Aside Prayer and then read the following.
Willingness to stop: Page 30: MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM "The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker" "The delusion that we are like other people or presently may be has to be smashed."
Page 34: MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM "For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming of course that the reader desires to stop"
Page 90: WORKING WITH OTHERS "If he doesn't want to stop drinking don't waste time trying to persuade him" "If there is any indication that he wants to stop, have a good talk with the person most interested in him-usually his wife" "Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to QUIT FOR GOOD and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered"
So what does One Day at a Time refer to? It refers to the actions we are taking in working the program. We can act only in the present, but we have to be willing to quit eating our trigger Foods for good.
Here is One Day at a Time according to the Big Book. Page 85 INTO ACTION "Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all our activities 'How best can I serve Thee-Thy will (not mine be done)
The idea of a difference between an overeater and an addict spoke to me because I have been going to OA meetings for almost 2 years. I read the BB and I just know intuitively that I need to do the 12 steps in order to have serenity in my life and to remove the automatic reaction to un-ease in my life to think of food. I have been able since I began this journey to stop myself from the actual deed...from actually eating...but the nagging sensation of wanting to do it, that automatic reaction...has not left me
So, my question is: Based on the above, am I, or am I not, a food addict or compulsive overeater? And, if I am not a compulsive overeater, am I still welcome in the rooms....As I keep hearing: We welcome anyone who has the desire to overcome their compulsive overeating....etc. Isn't my desire to escape the reality of my life by eating...a compulsion?
Hi Anyone who has a problem with food, no matter what it is, is welcome in these loops and in OA. The only requirement is a desire to stop eating compulsively. You don't have to stop or do anything just to desire to stop. This is reasonable since if you want to continue eating compulsively what is the sense in joining. And if you want to work the twelve steps you are always welcome to work them no matter whom or what you are.
The only thing one has to decide is how the first step applies to him. All the other steps could be the same for everyone.
If I am an alcoholic the first step for me is: 'We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable' If I am not an alcoholic but just a heavy drinker, then the only part of step one that may be applicable to me is the second part: that our lives had become unmanageable.
As is explained in the Big Book, a heavy drinker can stop drinking or moderate his drinking if he has a good enough reason. And an alcoholic can not. Therefore the alcoholic is powerless over alcohol and the heavy drinker is not.
There are three inner requirements for working the steps. Willingness Honesty and Open-mindedness. If I am not an alcoholic and I say that I am powerless over alcohol then there is no honesty and a true spiritual structure can't be built on a basis of dishonesty. So what is applicable to me in the first step may be just the second part about unmanageability. If I think that my life is manageable then there is nothing left of the first step.
The second step may also be a bit problematic. Restoration to sanity in the context of the Big Book means removing my obsession to drink. If I don't have such an obsession it seems there is no need for step two. Still I can look at my unmanageable life as insanity and work step two. If I have a manageable life and still want to work the steps I can still do it beginning with step three.
Every person who is not addicted to anything can work the program It is just that he has to consider carefully if in order to work it he needs to work steps one and two or not.
There is nothing wrong in beginning with step three if the first two steps don't apply to me.
A person who has problems with food and wants to work the steps has to consider if steps one and two apply to him. If I don't have specific trigger foods , and I say that everything is a trigger and causes cravings then I am in trouble, since according to the program I have to stop eating trigger foods which means that I have to starve to death.
This of course is not a real case. There can be a case where I don't have any triggers. I just overeat a lot. In that case I am not powerless since there are no cravings and if I have sufficient reasons I can stop by my own power. That is fine. I wish I could do that. But anyway, this means that I can apply the second part of step one and only say that 'our life had become unmanageable' there is nothing wrong with that. And in step two I can consider the return to sanity as a return to a manageable life. As long as I am honest about what I am doing everything is fine. If I am not honest then this program will not work.
I cannot decide for anyone if he has cravings or not. This is something that only he can decide and if he does not know he can consult a professional who specializes in food addiction.
I am finding this assignment very painful! I am scared of what my true answers are and if I pull them out and all the hurt that goes with them, then what? I know you assigned reading the solution and what action to take and I have not got there yet. I am scared and could use a little guidance and assurance I guess. I am hoping you can provide reassurance that what I pull out no matter what will be healed if I have faith. I know it depends on my faith and willingness. (I am working this alone and searching for a sponsor so it is extra scary and painful at this point.)
Hi To get an online sponsor read the WTS sponsor directory that is sent regularly to the loop and choose a sponsor. Since I don't know you personally and have no idea what you are afraid of, I can't reassure you of anything. What I can do is share what I do and the people I sponsor do in similar situations, we don't begin by sharing everything with a group or loop. We first share with our sponsor the things that I am afraid to pull out, and decide together if professional help and support is also needed. Sometimes it is. If I don't have a sponsor and have trouble getting one I can share with a person in recovery in a f2f meeting or with a professional like a psychologist. So do all you can to get a sponsor and do the assignments but don't share everything you pull out with the loop. Only those parts that you feel can be shared. The things we suppress are killing us so pulling them out is the right thing to do but sharing them should be done with discretion. A loop or a group is not always the best place to share everything Shlomo
I just would like to remind you that you're clipping along at a very fast pace. When we run by everything so quickly--how much of a chance do we have to retain what we're learning? And I don't think a person does the work (the 12 Steps) & that's it--it's all over. I think we have to keep working at them our entire life. It certainly doesn't happen in 12 weeks. When I was in alcohol treatment, I was told that the Steps can even be worked in any order. What was important was that they were eventually worked on.
This particular workshop is based on the Big Book. Therefore what you were told in treatment or anywhere else, or what you write about the program concerns this workshop only if it relies on what is written in the Big Book.
Now about the pace of this workshop. If someone can't keep the pace, he can do it at a slower pace and share with the loop, and when the workshop is over he can continue to do the workshop with his sponsor since all my shares will be on the website. It is better to work at a slower pace with a sponsor than to try to work at a fast pace without one.
You are right when you say that we work the steps our entire life, but you are wrong when you say that 12 weeks are not enough for one run of the steps. Bill's Story is just one example of many in the Big Book that shows how the steps were worked in a very short time. Of course afterwards they were worked again and again since this is a cyclic lifetime work.
Hi Everyone. A story for you.
In my third share I discussed my addictive mind as having a twisted perception of reality. This causes me to react to the world around me with fears resentments and other character defects, which are part of the spiritual illness or what is called my unmanageable life. I want to tell you a story that shows how my addictive mind functions. This kind of thinking is part of my makeup. This is my default thinking. I can circumvent it only by working the 12 step program regularly on a daily basis.
This is not a story of something that really happened. It is just a way of explaining how my addictive mind works. I have never really strangled anyone except in my self defense practice. But I certainly wanted to.
NOW TO THE STORY. I drove late at night on a desert road. There was no other car in sight. Suddenly I felt that I had difficulty controlling the car, so I stopped at the side of the road to check what the trouble was, and saw that it was a flat tire. That irritated me a bit so I kicked the flat tire and then began jumping on the other leg since I hurt the kicking one.
Then I opened up the trunk of the car to take out the jack, poked around and no jack. I threw everything out of the trunk and still no jack. Then I remembered that the day before I took the jack out for some reason and probably forgot to put it back. Serves me right I thought. That is all I need just now to make this a perfect occasion. How am I going to change the tire? I waited a bit to see if some other car was coming but there was no traffic that night.
That is God for you I said. Even in the middle of the night in the desert He finds ways to make me miserable. Then I looked around and saw some lights further down along the road. People probably live around there I thought. The lights might be the lights of a house and I can go there and borrow a jack. I waited some more for a car to come along but nothing arrived.
So I began walking towards the lights. What can one do when walking alone in the night in the dark except think idle thoughts? My mind began working overtime. I pictured myself arriving at a house and ringing the doorbell. The door is opened and a guy stands there. He asks me what I am doing wandering around in the middle of the night. I tell him about my troubles and that I need to borrow his jack to change tires.
If you want to use my jack he said, you will have to pay for it. This guy was taking advantage of me but what choice did I have. OK. I will give you ten bucks for it I said. Are you kidding he answered. OK, twenty bucks. What do you take me for he said. A jack in the middle of the desert at night is worth much more. I began to get really mad. OK, I said with clenched teeth forty bucks. Nothing doing he said. I got so mad that I threw my wallet at him and said, take whatever you want. He searched my wallet and found 100 dollars in it. That is just half of what my jack is worth he said. Now I was really mad I was going to kill that guy.
I finally arrived at the door of the house stark raving mad. I kicked the door and a guy opened it. Before he could say a word I grabbed him by the throat and started to strangle him. You SOB I yelled. You highway robber. I am going to take your jack and shove it all the way up your. That's the way my addictive mind works. Delusion and Insanity galore. Thank God for the twelve step program which helps me circumvent it. Shlomo
Is it necessary to write about picking apart a particular step--such as the first step--and asking oneself if they were a compulsive overeater, a compulsive eater, an alcoholic, an abuser of alcohol, a problem drinker or heavy drinker, or whatever. I just don't think it's necessary to obsess over such a thing. For me, it's best to keep it simple.
Because I have had OCD ever since I've been a little kid I'm the type that would begin to worry (as I did!) about maybe I'm not an alcoholic, maybe I can drink alcohol. But I know better than that. And when I dissect a Step & decide which description applies to me it could get me into trouble if I allowed it to. It may also affect some others the same way.
I don't want to think that maybe I can have a little bit of sugar & I don't want anyone I'm working with to lead me to believe so either.
All the different 12 step fellowships have the same steps except the first part of step one which identifies the symptom, alcohol, different drugs etc.. The Big Book discusses the different kinds of people who use alcohol, the heavy drinker, the social drinker and the alcoholic. They all drink alcohol. But the alcoholic is the only one who cannot stop and stay stopped on his own power or with the help of other people. The Big Book stresses this difference for a reason. The alcoholic must embrace the spiritual solution.
The others may choose it but they can also stop and stay stopped without it, even though it sometimes may take a lot of professional help like they do in treatment centers. Drinkers who are not alcoholics can apply the slogan "just put the plug in the jug and go to meetings." The alcoholic can't and he may die if he tries. Why is the distinction so important? Because in the fellowship all are welcome and those who can stay stopped by their own power carry their own personal message that one can stay stopped just by going to meetings and not drinking one day at a time. This is what convinces real alcoholics who are not aware of the difference to do the same and it kills them.
The same applies to food addiction. There are a lot of people who come into the food addiction fellowships and are not addicted to food. They just eat too much and don't have trigger foods. They are usually very successful. They lose the excess weight just by deciding to stick to a specific food plan go to meetings and play a bit with some of the steps. This works for them and this is the message they carry. Food addicts who are not aware of the difference follow their message, since it seems to work and is easier, and then they relapse again and again and in the long run it kills them. Therefore stressing the difference as is done in the Big Book is important. It may save a lot of lives and save a lot of food addicts from repeated relapses.
The first part of step one defines the difference. An alcoholic is powerless over alcohol and will never be able to stop and stay stopped on his own power or with the help of other people. A heavy drinker is not powerless in this way, although he may be powerless in other ways.
The same is true about just overeating and no triggers.
Now about thoughts of trying again to check if you are a heavy drinker or an alcoholic. The Big book says that if you are not sure that you are an alcoholic you may try to drink and see if you can control your drinking. But this suggestion is for those who just begin to come to the fellowship and are not clear what or who they are, and want to try. If you know that drinking is not good for you, it does not matter if you came in as an alcoholic or not. There is no reason to try drinking again. Even if you came in as a heavy drinker you may now be an alcoholic, since the disease is progressive. I certainly don't advise trying to drink again or to eat sugar again since it can kill you.
Personally I use the following slogan: "When in doubt leave it out"
What I do advise is to work all twelve steps and continue working them on a daily basis all our lives.
Hi everyone, A story
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. Stories are a great tool for understanding the way our mind works. The Big Book says: "The main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body. The problem with my mind is not just the obsession with food. It is seeing a twisted picture of reality, and therefore acting in a wrong and damaging way.
Working the program does not cure the problem. It gives me the ability to recognize it and not to act on it.
Another ability that I gained to a certain extent by working the program is the ability to laugh at myself, and not take myself too seriously. This is one of the best remedies I gained in this program.
As an example of the addict's mind in action, here is another personal story
Just a few days ago I went to my former working place to see a friend. As we stood in the library and talked, another guy walked by and my friend said hello to him. The other guy just continued walking without saying anything.
My mind went immediately into high gear thinking the following thoughts. What a jerk. Cannot even answer when someone says hello to him. He is probably envious of my friend and therefore he ignores him. No, that is not it. The bastard ignores me. He does not answer the greeting because he does not like me. What a jerk. And he does not even know me. I should give him a piece of my mind. And so it went on and on.
This is my default reaction.
I know today that my mind acts like a hostile witness most of the time and I should watch out for this.
Being aware of it I asked my friend who is not an addict.
'Why didn't that guy answer your greeting, are you not on speaking terms?
My friend who knows me quite well, laughed. Not at all, he was probably so occupied with his own thoughts that he didn't hear me.
That is a sane reaction.
Such a possibility never even crossed my mind.
I have been working the steps and forwarding my answers/assignments to my sponsor via email when I'm done. I have never met her, she is my online sponsor. I do not have a f2f sponsor. I haven't really asked my sponsor anything related to my assignments - should I be? She has not commented on my answers - but I do know that she is receiving them. Should we be doing more work together on this?
The idea is that the work with the sponsor should be interactive, and not just one sided. Talk with her about it. May be she does not want to sponsor you on the work you do here. If that is the case, you can do the work with a sponsor from the list we are sending each day to this loop.
Basically, I had a problem with night time eating where I use to get up during the middle of the night and eat apples and vegetables. I felt that This was because I had a lot of childhood trauma memories come up at night in my sleep without me being fully aware.
Then I went to a face to face meeting and took the apples out of my food plan. This stopped the night time eating and I got to eating 3 meals a day since Xmas day. I felt the apples were a trigger
However, last night in my sleep I got up at 2am to go to the toilet then I was in the kitchen eating a grapefruit that was meant to be my breakfast
I just don't know if the night time eating is part of my defect or a food reaction. I'm scared as I'm so pleased with my recovery since Xmas day and now to have taken a step back and eaten at 2am in the morning has hurt
Is this part of the spiritual malady or the food disease? I just want a solution, coz I'm half asleep and don't know what insanity was going on in my head when I ate the grapefruit at 2am in the morning. I feel totally powerless as it's happening in my sleep and I'm not fully aware.
Hi You are not alone with this problem There are a lot of food addicts and compulsive overeaters who wake up in the middle of the night and eat. Only you can check if the foods that you eat in the middle of the night are triggers. If they are, you will also feel cravings and will not be able to stick to your food plan during the day. What you can do then is decide to give up those foods and pray to God to help you carry out your decision. When you advance with the step work your obsession for these foods will hopefully be removed and you will not eat them.
If those foods are not triggers, a thing that only you can determine, then it is the behavioral defect of overeating and you will not have cravings. In that case you will probably be able to stick to your food plan during the day. The way to deal with the defect of overeating my abstinent food is to pray to God to remove my defect, and practice doing the opposite. Which means doing all I can to avoid eating at night. Again, hopefully, as I advance with the work of the steps the night eating will stop.
My question is about your description of the general lack of balance in us coes. I'd like to know if this interpretation is available in other studies (which?), or is it your own interpretation?
It is an amazing revelation for me, because up to now I found it difficult to understand what is meant by "my life has become unmanageable", especially since on the outside It looks managed. But only I know that I jump from crisis to crisis, blocking the holes in the dam. I've wondered what makes my life so? And your interpretation gives me a good explanation: I can only focus on one issue at a time, because I am unbalanced (don't let my hubby hear that!), instead of being like a car with numerous control gages on my ... dashboard
The Big Book describes it in one sentence. "Self will run riot" There is an extensive discussion of this subject the AA book "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions". In the chapter on step four. So it is not just my interpretation. It also makes sense because a lot of our good characteristics when taken into extremes turn into negative characteristics which are called character defects in the program.
Some examples Careful spending turns to uncontrolled buying and debt Perseverance turns into extreme stubbornness Taking care of myself turns into being inconsiderate of others. Eating turns to overeating. Etc...
What does concede mean?
Hi The Big Book was published in 1939 Some 1939 definitions to words in the Big Book can be seen at the following site http://msag.org/BBCA/default.htm The words that don't appear in this site can be found in the online dictionary http://dictionary.reference.com At the beginning of the page there is space to type the word we search and then click with the mouse on 'search'. One can also search for synonyms with a thesaurus. "Concede" means to accept, to admit, to yield.
How long does it take for the cravings to abate when a trigger food had been eliminated? I'm having a difficult time identifying my triggers because I feel cravings all the time even when I eliminate everything but protein and veggies from my diet. Does it make sense to keep my diet that strict until all cravings disappear and then reintroduce foods slowly to assess their effect on me? And is it possible to have situational triggers. For example, when I watch TV, read, surf the net, I immediately get the urge to snack. Thank you for your help.
Hi There is such a thing as situational behavior which may give you the urge to eat when you watch TV etc. I think that this is what you mean when you ask about situational triggers. This is part of the defect of overeating because of emotional problems.
I use the word triggers only in the connotation of trigger foods which are foods that always cause cravings.
Now to the effect of trigger foods.
I think that a week on proteins and veggies is quite enough. The veggies should not be High starch veggies like beans. If you did that then you are probably suffering from the obsession and not cravings. We tend to get them mixed up. Maybe a professional person can help you identify your triggers. If not then I suggest that you look at Kay Sheppard's website. And copy her possible trigger list. You can build a very balanced and satisfying food plan with the permitted foods on her list. If you want you can also follow her food plan which is quite balanced. Or get a professional to help you with a food plan which has no triggers. The way we deal with the food is do the actions, like planning, preparing the meals, committing, writing, sharing, etc... But the ability to remain clean and abstinent comes only when we are freed by H.P. from our obsession with food. So do whatever you can to be abstinent and clean and continue working the steps till the freedom comes.
You can of course try to reintroduce foods slowly after your one week of strict diet Remember that most common possible triggers to some of us, are sugar in all its forms, flour of any kind. Wheat and wheat products, and foods with a high fat content like nuts etc.
My problem is the food plan.
Bottom line, I feel very strange NOT following her plan to a tee, feel like I am cheating. It was ingrained into my thinking that I am not abstinent if I drank a diet soda or used a sweetener packet. I am stuck!
I want a balanced plan, I want to be abstinent.... but I don't want to swap my obsession with food for obsession with a food plan~ I hope this makes sense. I think I am trying to say I want to do what you do, without guilt that I am not 100% on this particular food plan.
The only things we have to avoid 100% are our trigger foods. I can do that without relapsing only if I work all twelve steps on a daily basis or I switch obsessions from triggers to dealing with food as the main issue in my life. Switching obsessions is not recovery. I don't want my life to be only about food.
Being abstinent is the way we deal with our permitted foods. Overeating my permitted foods is a character defect like being afraid, or having resentments, or self pity etc. We cannot deal with it 100%. We can follow a food plan but we should not feel guilty or unworthy if we don't follow it to the letter, and sometimes overeat our permitted foods. I don't see it as relapse since I don't see being afraid or angry or impatient as relapse.
Those are all character defects that will always be with me to some extent. Otherwise we would not need the daily steps 10-12 and we will all become perfect robots. I can be 100% clean and not eat triggers when my obsession with food is removed by God. But I cannot be 100% abstinent since eating is a natural instinct and it cannot be removed only balanced I don't believe in perfection achieved by my actions, only in progress. Perfection is achieved only by God's actions and that is why I can be 100% clean in this program when God removes my obsession
You ask us to Read the bedevilments on page 52. They describe the unmanageability of our lives which is the spiritual malady. Turn each sentence into a personal question in the PRESENT. Example: "We were having trouble with our personal relationships" Turns into: Am I currently having troubles with personal relationships? Examine the following areas, myself, family, friends, at work, authorities, etc...Check each area of your life and write were you still have troubles. Do the same for each of the bedevilments. Any bedevilment that currently applies to you is a sign of UNTREATED FOOD ADDICTION, since only overcoming the spiritual malady straightens us mentally and physically.
So I have made a list of each of the questions and then written myself, family, friends, work, and authorities.
I am writing a bit in each of the above for each question.
However, for "Am I prey to misery and depression" and then I look at myself. That is easy to answer. But when I go to answer for my family, friends, work and authorities...how am I to ask it? Is it "Am I prey to misery and depression because I cannot control my friends/family, etc.?" OR is it "Am I prey to misery and depression because of their actions?" OR "Are they a prey to misery and depression?"
Maybe it is because I'm doing this so late at night and God is now telling me to get my butt to bed that this isn't clear. I hope to have some clarity and guidance in the morning.
Am I prey to misery and depression? If the answer is YES, than I ask: Is this depression connected to my interaction with others in the following areas? myself, family, friends, at work, authorities, etc...Check each area of your life. And examine if and how it causes you to be depressed.
You write: Any bedevilment that currently applies to you is a sign of UNTREATED FOOD ADDICTION, since only overcoming the spiritual malady straightens us mentally and physically.
I am a bit confused here, as I thought the compulsion was the spiritual malady like anger, selfishness etc, whereas the addiction was a physical problem, and has to do with stopping the eating of certain foods completely
Untreated food addiction means that the spiritual malady is active. Of course if I am not clean and eat triggers, it means that my addiction is not treated. But this is the last stage of relapse. The first stage is always untreated spiritual malady. The disease is three fold. Physical addiction, mental obsession and spiritual malady which includes thoughts feelings and actions. When the bedevilments are active in some area in my life it means that this area of the spiritual malady is not treated or is not overcome yet. Even if I am ok in the other two aspects of the disease i.e. I am clean and abstinent and am not obsessed about food. It will not last long since if the spiritual malady is not overcome the obsession will return and eventually I will return to eating my trigger foods and bingeing. Even if I remain clean and abstinent my internal world will turn to a hell of pain and suffering which will just intensify till I return to treating the spiritual malady or kill myself or turn to food.
I have a question in regards to sponsorship. It has been my understanding for years now that I am to share my experience, strength and hope with another. To sponsor another, to me, is to do that. To help the individual come to understand the nature of the disease and the way out through the study of the Big Book and taking action. In doing this I am actually helping myself stay clean and abstinent because if I do not give away what I have I will lose it.
In my personal experience in reaching out online for sponsors (food and step work) I have not had the sponsor share with me their experience, strength and hope. It comes across to me, that I am reporting my food and my assignment work, and receiving a pat on the back for good work. I experience feelings of irritation when this happens and when I have addressed it as well as I can, to receive from them the shares of their experience strength and hope; I get told to find another sponsor.
I sponsor others in the program and I share with them. I learn from them and it is wonderful. We learn from each other and they keep me on my toes to the work I must continue doing.
Thus far it has been a statement that I am writing. My question: is there a guideline for Sponsors and would you please share this with us.
There is a whole chapter devoted to sponsoring, the chapter WORKING WITH OTHERS. WE will deal with this when we come to step twelve. But just to answer your question now.
According to the Big Book.
"This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics".
The message is what it says in step twelve. "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps." And the one who carries it is: "a person who has recovered."
Sponsoring should be interactive:
"Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress"
From FORWARD TO THE THIRD EDITION.
"Recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience strength and hope."
If the sponsoring is not interactive, it is the same as talking to yourself or to an answering machine, and that is not what this is all about. The sharing should be of experience strength and hope in working the program.
As a sponsee I personally suggest to always ask yourself and/or your sponsor (in a polite way) two questions about what he/she says. Where is it written in the Big Book or how it relies on what is written in the Big Book? And where is God in the picture?
If the answer is negative to the first question then it is just his opinion. If there is no God in the picture then it is a wrong interpretation. What we are supposed to share is experience strength and hope in working the 12 step program. This is what helps me on the recovery path and not opinions that are not based on the program.
Does this mean that I cannot help others and share with them my recovery up to my level of working the program? NO it does not. But I cannot really carry the message in step twelve if I have not worked all twelve steps and if I don't continue to work them on a daily basis, and if I am not in recovery. From the chapter A VISION FOR YOU: "But obviously you cannot transmit something you have not got."
Now to the question about guidelines to sponsors. In the fellowship and in TRG the only guidelines are to sponsor up to your own level of working the steps. Personally I think that one who has not worked all twelve steps should concentrate his efforts on his own recovery and finish working them. Sometimes being occupied with dealing with others is a way of avoiding dealing with myself and my own problems, which is a way of avoiding the solution.
Maybe you could give us a list of strategies for combating temptation (in addition to our working the steps), for people who have to keep "forbidden foods" at home, and even have to cook delicious meals with them. I have an OA friend who labels them "not my food"; any other ideas for us?
First some quotes. Change alcohol to trigger foods. The Big Book says the following on page 101. Read the page "In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually he winds up with a bigger explosion than ever." "So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking IF WE HAVE A LEGITIMATE REASON FOR BEING THERE."
Page 103. Read the page
"AFTER ALL OUR PROBLEMS WERE OF OUR OWN MAKING. BOTTLES WERE ONLY A SYMBOL. BESIDES, WE HAVE STOPPED FIGHTING ANYBODY OR ANYTHING. WE HAVE TO!"
The real solution is to be freed of the obsession and this is promised in the step ten promises pages 84-85. Read pages 84-85.
"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned." "This is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."
Keeping in fit spiritual condition is achieved by living all twelve steps on a daily basis.
Page 89. Read the page "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much ensure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.
So those are the Big Book tips
1. Work all twelve steps on a daily basis
2. Occupy yourself intensively with helping others.
3. Don't be in places where you will be around triggers unless you have a legitimate business for being there.
4. Pray to God for help.
In dealing with overeating abstinent foods:
Plan, prepare and commit your food.
General suggestions, for temporary help
Call your sponsor when the urge or thoughts of overeating or eating triggers arise
Call more people and talk to them too. Share about it in meetings and online.
This helps to release emotional tension and may help for a time.
Engage in some vigorous physical activity, even a brisk walk will do. It also helps to release emotional tension.
The Twelve Steps
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