My Secret Food Addiction
Have you ever had a secret that you could not share with anyone? Not even your best friend? Have you ever been so distraught over something that you have done that you cannot forgive yourself? Have you ever been so obsessed with something that it filled your thoughts every waking moment? Unfortunately for me, I can answer “yes” to all of the above.
Secrets can be very dangerous to keep, especially if those secrets involve issues relating to one’s health. My secret for many years was a well hidden, well disguised food addiction. Having always struggled with my weight and body image, I would limit what I ate in public and somehow thought that if I ate in private then no one would be able to criticize me for my poor food choices or the amount of food that I was eating. Dieting for me was always a disaster as I would achieve success for a short while and then crash back into the addiction harder than before. As a young child food was the center of most activities in my life. Growing up on a farm did not allow our family a lot of time to go away on vacation because when you farm the farm does not shut down so you can go away. Most of our social activities involved picnics, church dinners, family get togethers and parties. Food was everywhere all the time. Home cooked breakfast before school was normal in my house and a big piece of cake or other homemade treat welcomed me when I got home from school every afternoon. Food was the cure for just about anything from sad times to good times to just because times, food was there. To be painfully honest, food was my best friend at times.
As time ticked away and crept into my biological clock, I began to realize that I was in trouble. I had been quite obsessive for many years struggling with perfectionism wanting to make sure that everything in my life was perfect…or at least appeared perfect. I had the handsome husband, two beautiful children, a large home, two nice cars all that life told me I had to have in order to be happy. But for some reason happiness eluded me and all that seemed to make me feel better was eating. And so I ate. But I refused to eat a lot in public so I began to hide food and eat it alone. Having a job that allowed me to be the last one out the door in the morning and the first one home in the afternoon I was able satisfy my binges without anyone knowing the seriousness of my addiction. Consuming unthinkable amounts of food was my primary goal at times and after eating it the guilt would set in and I would feel worse than before. Not wanting anyone to know what I had eaten, I would collect the trash, put it in my car and drive to the grocery store where I would throw out the trash and purchase the exact amount of food to replace it so that no one would know. Eating entire bags of French fries, cookies, boxes of donuts, six-packs of pudding, and washing it all down with at least one full two liter bottle of soda a day was beginning to take its toll on me and create some serious weight issues. The bigger I got, the sadder I got and as the sadness intensified I ate more. I had spun myself into a critical web of food disorder and deceit and had to find a way out.
Nearly three years ago I entered into a 12-step recovery program that was Biblically based and began to not only work on curing my severe food addiction, but nurture my soul. Thankfully I was able to tackle my addiction without serious medical intervention; however, my doctor approved of my choice of action and encouraged me to continue on with her support. With the loving support from my husband, children and a few close friends I knew that I had a long road ahead of me. I began to take baby steps and work on food portion and control first. Next came exercise, in the form of walking on a treadmill. Walking outside was not an option because I did not want anyone seeing me, the fat girl, walking. Working up to two miles a day in less than 30 minutes was my goal and in June of this year I was able to meet that goal and celebrate by participating in a 5K race. My goal for the 5K was not to win but to finish with my head held high and to not celebrate by eating. I met my goals and have lost nearly 40 pounds. Looking to the future, I know that I will never be model thin or wear a pair of skinny jeans, yet I do know that as my health improves and the number on the scales go down the vision I see in the mirror staring back at me is one of a happier, healthier me both inside and out.
As I watch Lifetime’s “Starving Secrets with Tracey Gold,” my heart aches for the women who suffer with their severe eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, obsessive over-eating, purging are all forms of this debilitating disease that can ruin one’s life. Knowing firsthand the toll that these disorders take on one’s body, mind and soul I understand their pain and suffering and find myself cheering them on when they choose to tackle their disease. Eating disorders are a disease. And just like a disease we must find a way to cure ourselves and recover from it. Tracey Gold struggled and nearly lost her life because of her own eating disorder. Sharing herself, her story and her resources to help these women on “Starving Secrets” is a gift worth more than one could put a price on. As this series proves, eating disorders do not discriminate or affect any one social class. It is an equal opportunity illness that can cause one to do unthinkable things that could end unthinkable results. Starving Secrets is an eye-opening experience both for those who have an eating disorder and others who know someone with an eating disorder. I encourage you to set aside some time on Friday nights to watch the new unscripted series on Lifetime. It will open your eyes and your heart to view a world that is often misunderstood.
Starving Secrets With Tracey Gold airs Fridays at 11/10c on Lifetime.