Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fearing the end of addiction

I few years ago I read The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein. Every time I read something he writes, it resonates with me. He is able to see clearly and then tell us what he sees. I just finished another book of his, Transformational Weight Loss, which I sometimes call Yoga of Eating II: More Yoga of Eating.

I was trying to explain a tenet to Reid, now 7 years old:

When you eat, your body sends a message about whether this is a food you need right now. You can trust this message. The thing I've gotten away from is being able to hear this message. You can probably hear this message more clearly than I can, because I have more practice not listening to it.

When you eat what your body doesn't need, if you hear the message clearly, you will not like the taste of the food.

He asked me if that meant that he might eat some cotton candy and not like it. I gave him a simple "yes", but realized that I had a deep fear of that happening. I was afraid of the possibility of junk food not tasting good, of comfort food not providing comfort. As I thought about it further, I found that I've had that fear for a long time, but hadn't been aware of it before. When I read The Yoga of Eating and tried to put what I learned in to practice, I think this fear blocked me, but I didn't know it at the time.

As I tried to understand the fear, I realized I had fully faced it once before: when I was thinking about quitting smoking. It went like this: I knew the powerful desire I would feel when I went too long without a cigarette, since I experienced it every day. Every minute the craving gets stronger, the misery gets more intense, and it just continues. Whenever something prevented me from getting my fix (say, being in an airplane), it was very stressful. When I considered the possibility of quitting smoking, my subconscious didn't register it as "Ahh, freedom from that dependency and an end of the misery of craving", but as "I will never be able to satisfy that desire, and the misery will increase forever". Instead of hope, I had despair. I had to recognize that fear before I could actually quit. I was entirely successful, and haven't smoked for 9 years.

I know that I use food as a distraction, from anger, boredom, loneliness, or physical pain. (For some people, fatigue goes on the list, but I use a computer for that one.) I am so used to doing this that I usually don't realize it, and just think "I am hungry". The other day I overate and the feeling was so uncomfortable I kept thinking I wanted a snack, because the flavor would distract me from the discomfort. Silly, huh?

Anyway, when I consider the possibility of hearing my body's true messages about food, and that I might try to eat a cookie or a pizza or whatever and not enjoy the flavor (because I don't need the nutrition), that idea is really scary. My fear is that I will want a distraction from something, and food just won't work. I'll be stuck with the discomfort, unable to divert my attention, because I don't like cookies all of a sudden.
I want to get to the bottom of this.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.