I went to a dietitian yesterday. That in itself, is somewhat of a small miracle. I can't afford a dietitian, though I've needed one for a very long time. But in December my numbers finally got bad enough to technically become a type 2 diabetic. Though that's not a good thing, something else happened at the same time.
My insurance company started including dietitian services for those who are diabetic. I think that started in January of this year, though I may be wrong about that. But anyway, because of this change, I could afford to go to this dietitian and get some help.
Since my very first meeting with a food addiction 12-step group, I knew it was the answer I was looking for. I have known and seen success in my other 12-step group and knew that it was possible. But from the way everyone was defining abstinence (though I knew in this program you come up with your own definition), I wondered if I could ever deal with being so strict.
We are talking MAJOR food issues with me. I've never had a normal relationship with food, not even when I was very young. My older brother wrote an essay for school about his "red-headed little sissy" who would "burn the soles off her shoes if she heard someone in the kitchen because they might be getting out something to eat," talking about when I was a toddler.
And there are so many barriers to not being able to make this work now. My bipolar isn't under control; I live with my parents which brings major stress; I'm trying to start a business and I'm always in major stress from that; my mom is a food hoarder and there's literally no room in the pantry, the kitchen refrigerator, the refrigerator in the garage, and the very large deep freezer for me to keep some foods that I like or want to cook; cooking is difficult because I have to keep the kitchen clean and my mom wants to be involved (which translates as "wants me to prepare stuff her way"); there is always junk food laying around; my schedule is constantly changing; I'm extremely picky on what I like to eat and don't; I am nauseated most days... I could keep going but I'm sure your eyes are glassed over by now.
Needless to say, it's not the time to start something that will be an added stressor on top of an already incredibly stressful life. But I can't wait.
So I got what I called a pre-sponsor until I was entirely ready to tackle this. During that time, my pre-sponsor would give me some encouragement when I told her I didn't know how to do this. She was there to support me before I was ready to take any real steps towards abstinence. This gave me time to try to think through some of the above issues and see if I could figure anything out.
Then after the holidays were over, I told my pre-sponsor I was ready to get to work, even though I was terrified of doing so. We planned to meet tonight but ended up having to cancel. So this past week I was trying to get ready for this first meeting.
Like I said before, within this program, you define your own abstinence. Most choose foods that they tend to eat compulsively and avoid them. Many have a meal plan where they weigh and portion their food and even might email it to their sponsors each week. Some avoid entire categories of food - like no sugar or non-whole-wheat breads.
I knew none of those wouldn't work for me. For me, it's not a particular food that causes me to eat compulsively. I have had times where I had a half-eaten candy bar in my desk for weeks and other times I thought I would die if I didn't eat peanut butter every night before bed. So I do have foods that I want to eat compulsively but they constantly change.
I finally figured out that it was situational. I will compulsively grab a doughnut off the counter if there's a package of them sitting out. I will grab something to munch on to keep me from falling asleep at my desk or will run through a drive-through for the same reason if I'm out late at night. It could also be if I'm bored, or stressed, or depressed, or on the flip-side, manic.
Because of this realization, I had already planned to go into the meeting with my sponsor wanting to discuss having times when I could eat and when I can't. This would mean that if I'm extremely exhausted but it's not during a planned time to eat, I would have to figure out a way to get through it without food... and the same with the other scenarios. I didn't know how that would go over but it just felt right to me.
Back to my dietitian (you probably wondered if I had forgotten about her). She was amazing. She listened to me and I didn't feel at all condemned by my weight. After listening to all of what could be taken as excuses, but are just my reality, she said that we needed to start simple. She wanted me to focus on two things. 1 - drinking water instead of diet sodas through the day (which she blew my mind about, telling me that your brain thinks diet soda is the same as regular and even though there are no calories and no direct weight gain, your brain tells your pancreas to shoot out insulin, which messes up everything). And 2 - eat every 4 hours, and don't eat between those times.
WHAT?! She basically told me, as far as food goes, to do exactly what I had already come up with for my abstinence plan. I was riding high. I was hyped. I had thought I could do this and now I had a professional to back me up. How hard could this be?
Turns out, very. It's my first day trying this out. I drank only one soda this morning, though I did have tea with supper (very, very watered down). I woke up super early and had forgotten to eat supper last night so I was so hungry I could barely stand it. I ended up eating breakfast about 5:00am. Four hours after that would just be 9:00am, which is way too early for lunch. So I compromised and ate a snack around then and ate lunch about 1:30pm. Supper was a little late for the four hour rule - 6:00pm - but my stomach has been torn up all day and it was hard to think of something I could get down. My plan is to eat a small snack before I go to sleep.
So far I've been able to do it. I got super stressed and depressed earlier today and it was during an in-between time. I wanted to grab something to eat so badly I could hardly stand it. But I made it through. The water has been a bigger issue than I thought. I go through phases where all I want to drink is water and other times I can't stand it. I'm much more towards the latter at this point. But other than the watered-down tea, I've been faithful to drink my water through the day.
It's not going to be easy, but I know it's possible. I do plan to add more parameters as time passes - probably drastically stopping or eliminating sugar for example. I also want to build up to almost never eating in the car, which is a huge problem for me. But this is where I can start and with the help of my a food addiction 12-step group friends and the 12-steps, I'm hoping I'll learn how to deal with life without food being my go-to. Maybe one day I'll be at least mostly free of this horrible disease.