Anorexia, bulimia and obesity are still at the top of the list of current hot topics, the biggest question being whether there are any real long-term solutions? Recently I undertook my own study and looked more closely at different ‘12 step recovery programs’, and it would appear one program in particular, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, is a worldwide programme with some outstanding results.
I spoke too 2 male members engaged in the programme, both experiencing long term recovery, taking each day at a time, but both reporting NO further episodes of unhealthy eating. One guy talked of having 17 years “abstinence” (a term used in the programme as not eating addictive substances and maintaining a normal healthy body weight), the other reported 6 successful years of abstinence.
I asked them in detail what their experiences were like? In 12 Step terms. What it was like? What happened? And what is like now?
Food Addicts In Recovery is an anonymous programme, members respectfully keeping each others’ details and identities to themselves. One member spoke of how he grew up, on a city council estate in London, where recreational drugs was the ‘norm’. Using or taking recreational drugs didn’t initially have any serious detrimental affects to obtaining work, performance or successfully developing a career.
At a point he realized he had a dependency on drugs and alcohol, which he was using more as a relaxant. At that time unaware of any major issues with food. Recognising an unhealthy association with food is unusual, as people talk about food all the time, it is not a taboo subject, people confessing to overeating and under-eating without a moments thought as to what they are really acknowledging. He talks about when he noticed he was hiding food, binge eating, gaining weight and over exercising to compensate, as well as a low feeling. “I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and was depressed.”.
He goes on to say “A friend of a friend was in a ‘programme’. He looked great, had clear eyes, was happy and content. But most importantly seemed free from a mental obsession with food. So I thought I would look into it.”.
He has been attending the recovery group for 6 years, is highly successful in his career, as well as being at a healthy body weight, free from bingeing, over and under-eating, and obsessing about food.
The other member I spoke to has 17 years successful freedom from food related obsession, his story features in the Food Addicts in Recovery Book available here.
Some of the most interesting exerts from the book read:
- I have never been fat, but know I am a food addict, because I spent years battling with food.
- Food helped to take the edge off my awful feelings.
- I craved sugar, flour and fatty foods to alleviate my constant cravings.
- I used food as a coping mechanism, as I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.
So in conclusion, there is a solution to an unhealthy eating problem. Not everyone wants to identify with or acknowledge they have an addiction. This programme gives people HOPE, at least. It is interesting to note that men can have real freedom from addiction, in particular food addiction, and that it is not just a ‘woman’s problem’, or a ‘woman’s solution’. My suggestion with any addiction would always be to get help, but identifying you have a real problem that you are finding difficult to control must be the first step.
Counseling, coaching and other talking therapies can really help. As a coach I have personally worked with people with addiction and seen some amazing results. Have a look at the FA website for further insight into what food addiction actually is, the website gives in-depth answers to most frequently asked questions you might have.
There are solutions to addiction but you have to be ready and willing to take action http://www.foodaddicts.org/