Tools To Use as You Explore YourPatterns and Contemplate Options
You Can’t Change What You Don’t Acknowledge!
A part of many recovery programs curriculum for people with various addictions is to have them write out a thorough self-evaluation. See 12-Step programs.
This first step preparation is designed to provide you with the opportunity to identify, in detail, the effects of your food compulsion, alcoholism, or chemical dependency in all major areas of your life. It is a difficult task and a painful experience to really look at how our addiction has harmed ourselves or others. The reward, a result of this necessary pain, is contained in your transforming the harmful pattern.
In every category, start with the first problem and work to the present time. You are expected to write out specific, painful examples of ways in which your use of foods, alcohol, drugs, or other substances has caused problems in the following areas.
1. KINDS, AMOUNTS, AND FREQUENCY of the foods, alcohol, or chemicals going back to when you first started overeating, drinking, or using drugs. Indicate changing patterns of use and whether or not you were able to eat, drink, or drug more with no great difference in effect (increase in tolerance) or as you continued eating, has the food consumption or behavior pattern had more effect on you? On other people?
2. PHYSICAL HEALTH problems such as hangovers, liver damage, diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, heart damage, or any other physical problems occurred as a result of your overweight?
3. FAMILY AND CONCERNED PERSONS (each person in your immediate family or other close relationships) - Give specific examples of the effect of your food use, alcohol, or chemical use on your concerned persons as regards their physical, emotional, and spiritual health. What did you do to them? What didn’t you do for them?
4. INSANE BEHAVIOR, DESTRUCTIVE OR DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR, BLACKOUTS -verbal abuse, physical abuse, accidents, falls, injuries, suicide attempts or thoughts, loss of-memory, accidents caused or dangerous situations produced.
5. LOSS OF sex drive or desire, ability, satisfaction, impotency.
6. WORK OR JOB-includes school, and being a housewife or husband. Also include jobs lost, job absences, tardiness, poor quality of work, etc.
7. SOCIAL LIFE AND FRIENDS-discontinuing or changing social contacts, recreations, relationships, etc.
8. FINANCIAL AND LEGAL-lack of money, salary attachments, utilities, phone disconnected, repossessions and arrests, near arrests, convictions - include those arrests when charges were dropped or reduced.
9. The increasing PREOCCUPATION with your use of foods, alcohol, or chemicals. Hiding, sneaking, planning, or increased thinking about food, alcohol, or chemical use. Manipulating people, places, and things to insure the consumption of food or other substances.
10. Your attempts to CONTROL your use of the foods, alcohol, or other chemicals (quitting, cutting down, changing and substituting chemicals, promises to yourself and others to quit, limiting numbers or time of use, etc. Be specific and complete. See also The Ovals--Developing a "Personal Plan of Eating" .
11. EMOTIONAL/FEELING life. What have chemicals done to your feelings toward life? Fear, love, anger, depression, lonely, hurt, etc. See Bob's story Emotional Area.
12. SPIRITUAL AND CHARACTER-The kind of person you've become, specific examples of violations of your values (personal morals) while eating, drinking, or using drugs. See also the Meditation section.
13. As you review your life events and discover SIGNIFICANT life events, check to see if foods, alcohol, or chemicals were involved, before, during or after these events. See also: Which Puzzle Pieces Contribute to Your Overweight? and Overcoming Your Obstacles to Healthful Eating sections.
See Additional sections of this Web site:
Sometimes in the process of doing the steps of the 12-step programs, people uncover old traumas: experiences of being abandoned, abused, sexually molested, or raped, and are far more common among 12-step members that anybody would like to believe. These and other memories have been so deeply painful to those of us who were victims that we have spent our lives running from them and eating to cover them up. Until we began to deal with them, some of us found that our abstinence (healthy, appropriate eating) was precarious and we continued to feel unhappy, even while we were abstaining and working the steps. In such cases, some of have supplemented our Overeaters Anonymous program with therapy from qualified professionals and groups especially geared to helping us deal with these issues.
After seeing in black & white the harmful effects of their relationship with foods, many people have found it valuable to say "good-bye" to or emotionally release from toxic food or other addictive choices. Here is an example of a letter that I wrote to food. I also did this with my alcohol use and patterns.
THE WORLD OF FOOD
By Bob Wilson
Letters to Addictions
Christine Jensen shares in Changing From The Inside Out, Skills for Resolving Emotional Eating the following insights and suggestions:
For many “addicts” (including food addicts), the substance serves as a stand-in for human relationships. For others, the substance provides as a kind of distorted connection with a critically important person in their lives.
It can be helpful to write a letter to the substance (food). Address the letter to the food (all food, or certain “triggers” or junk foods) and write about:
Write the letter to the person or people that your addictive substance connects you to:
In these letters include:
In all cases, address the letter to the person or thing by name. Make it personal.
In the letter you acknowledge that you have had opposing needs and emotions around the role of food in your life. That now you have decided to change the way that you do things. You are creating your world in a new way and are saying goodbye to your old ways.
I'm sick and tired of feeling "sick and tired"! My tolerance for PAIN may be high but it's not without limit.
You have been my closest friend and companion for a long time.
You've helped me through many hard times.
But, NOW, I'm ready to let you go! I have no need of you anymore.
Our relationship has NOT been a healthy one...YOU'RE KILLING ME...A DAY AT A TIME!
I know that it may feel uncomfortable for a while, but I know that I CAN learn new ways of dealing with LIFE—I'm a spiritual, competent being.
I'm ready to let go of my CRUTCH. Compulsive overeating is NOT an option!
I'm ready to live life FULLY now! It is safe to be happy. I DESERVE the best!
I release the "world of sorrow" and accept the "world of joy". Good-Bye...Good-Bye…Good-Bye! Overeating is NO LONGER AN OPTION.
As I look back now, I was fearful of life—abundant life. I worried. I didn’t trust life. I turned to my sick relationship—"sugar-laden foods". They're results were always dependable. I felt instant release from all my fears and misery, But I ended up feeling awful and drained, un-centered and ALWAYS BAD. Never good!
I WILL NOT VALUE WHAT IS VALUELESS!
The "world of chocolate" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of doughnuts" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of ice cream" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of pecan pie" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of apple pie or pumpkin pie" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of super-crunch peanut butter" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of chocolate chip cookies" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of potato chips or taco chips" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The ”world of granola" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of strawberry or raspberry jam" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of all-you-can-eat restaurants" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of cake" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of pastries" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of carrot cake" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of peanut butter Cups" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The ”world of M & M's" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The " world of focusing-on-the food-during celebrations" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of Wholesome Hostess Products" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of nachos" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of milkshakes" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of ice cream sundaes" offers me NOTHING that I want.
The "world of Butter Finger Candy Bars" offers me NOTHING that I want.
(These were many of my binge foods that I had recorded in my diaries.)
I choose "the world" of being happy, JOYOUS and free!
My brain just plays out—like on "auto-replay"—the same OLD suggestions that lead to NO WHERE. No where except to feeling DRAINED and DEMORALIZED!
God, or Universe, I give my crutch to YOU. Compulsive overeating is NO LONGER an option! Please help me make right choices.
I NEED your help, I can't do it ALONE.
Thank you for your help!
God, or Universe, I give all my fears to YOU!
After I finished writing my letter to the foods in my life that were killing me, I gathered old wrappers and containers from the foods and placed them on a table in front of me. I spread them out so that I could SEE each one.
I paused awhile and asked myself, CONSIDER WHAT YOU BELIEVE WILL COMFORT YOU, HELP YOU, and make it all better.
TOOK A LOOK at my binge, relapse diary that I had kept. The countless vain attempts were displayed in "black & white” in front If me. I SAW my emotions and feelings. I saw what I was running away from t the time. I SAW the FIRST compulsive bite and the MANY that followed. I remembered the EFFECTS on me, my life and my relationships.
I then LOOKED at all the food wrappers and containers that were assembled in front of me.
ONE-BY-ONE I took my binge foods and gently asked myself, “Did they really make it all better?" I took a moment and tried to remember some of the circumstances in my life around that particular binge food—what happened. The frantic trips to the store (no, several stores!). The hurried opening of foods while driving, which almost caused several automobile accidents. The mad rush to find a solitary spot in the house that would allow uninterrupted food consumption, etc.
ONE-BY-ONE I asked myself, “Is there a better way?” Did all of these foods REALLY comfort me? Weren’t they all ILLUSIONS of comfort?" The answer came back: THEY REALLY DIDN'T HELP. I ALWAYS felt worse. And worse yet, the situation or problem that I was running away from was still there. It hadn't been resolved.
THERE IS A BETTER WAY! Following a 12-Step program of recovery (or suggestions on this Web site), which provides a "framework" for living life and gives "tools" which encourage personal change.
I then asked, "Am I really giving up anything by not having these foods?" "NO!" I won't really be missing anything except feeling miserable! The "world of food" offers me nothing that I want, BEYOND THAT WORLD is the "WORLD" I really want.
I then TALKED TO the foods, "I know FOOD, that it may be tough for awhile without YOU. I know FOOD that it will require LEARNING NEW ways of dealing with life. BUT, I'm ready now.
Good Job Bob!!!
For myself, having the honesty, courage and willingness to go through the above ceremony provided the BEDROCK for new changes in my life.
I kept the food containers and wrappers in a sack around the house for THOSE TIMES when “my dis-ease of compulsive eating” is talking to me suggesting, “Ah, have some FOOD, and that will make it all better. Oh, it wasn’t really THAT BAD! Come on, food WILL help out.”
I then go through the ceremony again and afterwards think of all the new lifestyle options that I have learned and USE THEM, instead of talking the first compulsive bite.