On Food

Rescued from Posterous

Eating is an addiction. It may not be a chemical one like alcohol or heroin, but its hold is no less intense. Like those addicted to gambling, food is something in my life I cannot properly control. Why is this? What is it about food that I can't stop at an appropriate level? I have no other vices; I drink very little alcohol, I have never taken illegal drugs, I don't even take painkillers unless absolutely necessary. I don't gamble, I've never had so much as a single draw on a cigarette, so I can't understand why eating is such a problem. Perhaps it is because I don't have these vices that food is the only thing I have, but why should this be so? No doubt you could delve deep into Freud and talk about oral fixation, but I think it could be simpler than that. I've always had a small, but very close, family (only child and only grandchild). Many of my best childhood memories are tightly attached to family meals, celebrating, going out, general good times. This association between meals and happy memories is one I can't shake. Food, for me, is synonymous with good times.

For several years, in my late teens and early twenties, I struggled with borderline depression. I would spend days in slumps where getting out of bed was an effort, where I would cut myself and where the only thing I could do to relieve the feelings was to eat. It was a comfort, a way to short circuit my brain into something approaching a normal state. Although I rarely feel this way anymore, I now have a mindset where periods of inactivity are easily filled with a trip to the fridge.

Food makes me feel good, it coats my brain in a fuzzy glow of happiness. It is like a drug, I need constant stimulation to maintain the high. I can't resist the idea of multiple taste inputs. If I order Chinese, I can't just order a meal. I need to order two or three starters too because I can't stand the idea of only one taste, I need three or four. It's not so much the amount as the variety, but I hate to throw food out, so it all gets eaten.

How do I break this? A couple of people have said "allow yourself a treat or you won't stick to it", but this is an addiction. I can't stop at just one. You don't suggest that an alcoholic has the odd drink, they have to go teetotal. That's what I need to do. Nothing I eat can be non-diet food. Because if I start, I can't stop. I also need a support group, which is why I am doing this in such a public way. I have to look at you and admit my failings. Twitter and Posterous will be my confessional. My name is Stuart, and I am addicted to food.