Flying Free From Compulsive Eating

I've shared before that despite having been morbidly obese, my initial journey into the land of raw and living foods had little to do with dieting or weight loss. I knew that my excess weight was merely a symptom of overeating, and that my overeating was indicative of my complicated and out-of-whack relationship with food.

Adopting a raw foods lifestyle, for me, was all about Changing My Relationship With Food.

Did it happen right away? Heck no. Just as my body did not grow to 300 pounds overnight, I didn't just wake up one day and adopt the classic behavior and thought patterns of someone who eats compulsively and to excess. That stage was set when I was still a toddler (yes!) and simply became more convoluted over the years.

So, the intention to find freedom from mindless eating was what propelled me to begin my transition toward a primarily raw plant-based diet. If that's something you've been thinking about or struggling with yourself, you can read my 15 Tips To Transition To A Raw Foods Lifestyle.

But what I wanted to address today, and what preceded my intention to change my relationship with food, was first recognizing that I was in fact a compulsive overeater.

Now you can laugh and think, "Helloooo, you were tipping the scales at over 300 pounds! Of course you were a compulsive overeater."

Well, I've got news for you: I was exhibiting classic compulsive behaviors when I weighed just 115 pounds, had a body that could stop traffic, and no one, I mean no one, would have guessed to look at me. I was able to fool everyone, including myself.

Early on in my foray into raw foods, I read a book that resonated deeply with me. I recognized a kindred spirit in Angela Stokes-Monarch, who succeeded in transforming her own relationship with food and shed 160 pounds in the process.

I was recently reminded of her beautiful and thought-provoking book, Raw Emotions, when she included an excerpt in her most recent newsletter. I'd like to share a portion of that with you now in hopes that it may shed some light on your own eating history and how you relate to food:

Do Any of These Sound Familiar?

I am overweight or obese.
 (Many overeaters are either overweight or obese. However, not all overeaters carry signs of their addiction so visibly. Some may be a standard weight for their size, yet still have compulsive issues with food.)

A great deal of my time and energy is directed towards food. I find it difficult to be present with people or concentrate on activities because my thoughts are preoccupied with food.

I eat in secret, binge-eat, fluctuate between bingeing and deprivation, eat when I’m not hungry, hide food wrappers, am dishonest about what I’ve eaten, find I start eating and feel like "I just can’t stop."

I eat moderately in front of others, then "make up for it" in private with binges, especially on refined sugars and processed starches – ice cream, cakes, cookies, chips, etc.

I feel compelled to eat everything available. I do not want to "waste" anything, so I eat everything on my plate, often picking scraps/leftovers from fellow diners too.

When I eat, my mood changes perceptibly – I use food for comfort, to pacify myself, deal with stress, reward myself, celebrate and so on. During and afterward, I might feel guilt, shame, remorse, fear, self-disgust and more.

I live in a crazy internal landscape where an obsession with slimness and body image exists in constant battle with the compulsion to eat. I typically look for a solution in endless cycles of dieting and weigh myself frequently.

I might be very particular and rigid, almost ritualistic, about the circumstances in which I want to eat. I may get upset and angry if the situation doesn’t seem to fit my ideal. 
(This is not to be confused with having simple preferences, such as blessing food before eating. The pattern described above tends to be more specific and uncompromising, indicating a strong attachment to eating habits.)

Just as Angela shares in her book, when I first saw a similar list as this one, I can remember thinking to myself, "You mean other people don't do these things?" Yup, I identified with just about every trait.

Listen, just like alcoholism, or any addiction for that matter, disordered eating is a self-diagnosed ailment and one chiefly ignored in our society. { Don't even get me started on the multi-billion dollar diet industry! } Ultimately, you're the only one who can determine if you have an unbalanced relationship with food.

You may not want to hear it, but I can tell you from firsthand experience: it is SO not about the food, or the weight.

If you recognize yourself in that list up there, I'd highly recommend you get a copy and delve into Raw Emotions. Angela goes beyond the physical, to examine the emotional and spiritual factors that contribute to our eating patterns.

Imagine how different your life would be if you, too, could find the freedom to fly free from mindless compulsive eating.

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