Addictive Eaters Anonymous provides support to people battling eating disorders and addiction, here one member shares her story and explains how AEA has helped to repair her lifelong obsession with food, diet and exercise …
My earliest childhood memories are of eating food in secret. Up until the age of 23, when I entered into recovery, I went to great lengths to steal money from my family, friends and neighbours to buy food. No matter whose kitchen I was in, any opportunity I had to be alone, I would raid the cupboards and fridge. I had huge embarrassment about the way I ate, as I recognised that others didn’t eat the same way. I never knew how much food was enough and whenever I had finished a meal, I would wait in anticipation for the next. Growing up, I found it difficult to form friendships and relationships with people. I would make up stories, tell lies often and never felt comfortable in my own skin. Eating food was a way of escaping from feeling socially awkward.
Over time, my eating got progressively worse. The quantities became greater and my obsession with food and how I could get my fix was constant. I hated the physical effects of gaining weight and became obsessed with exercise. I lost weight and I loved the attention I began to receive from others. I felt like I had discovered the meaning to my life and all I needed to do was to get and stay thin. My thoughts and actions revolved around not putting on weight, so extreme dieting, exercise and the introduction of laxatives all became part of my daily life. This way of living was very difficult to maintain as I had a constant craving to eat.
Sooner or later, I would find that I couldn’t stop eating again and all the weight I’d lost would go back on. I had no idea that the problem was within me and centred in my mind. I started drinking alcohol and taking pills and the obsession I had for these substances was instant. I believe I was an alcoholic before ever picking up a drink. All I needed was the substance of alcohol to set me off.
Then I was introduced to a Twelve Step programme for people addicted to food. I got great relief because there I found people who I could identify with. They openly shared (without shame or guilt) what their eating habits had been like. I was amazed how they could live and be free from the pressure of constantly wanting to eat. With help, I recognised that I have the disease of addiction, and throughout my whole life I had always swapped one substance for another. It made sense to me that I needed to put down every drug (food, alcohol and pills) to have a chance at a sober life.
I asked a woman to sponsor me, to show me how to work the Twelve Steps with the help of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I needed to set aside everything I thought I knew about getting well and accept that my best efforts had brought me to a place of complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bankruptcy. I know today that I had lost the power of choice with food. I had no idea what to eat, how much to eat, what foods were right for me to eat or even what time I should eat at. I now have a weighed and measured food plan to provide nourishment and energy for my body. I’ve come to believe in a higher power and know that I am being taken care of the more I take action with the Twelve Steps and accept I need help with all areas of my life.
I’m truly grateful that there is a solution. The compulsion and obsession surrounding food, diet, weight and exercise has been lifted. I have the peace of mind I always wanted and I continue to see this serenity in the other AEA members too. For my own recovery, it is imperative for me to share my story with others and pass on what I have been given. I’m truly grateful that there is a solution and that members of Addictive Eaters Anonymous continue to be there for me.
Addictive Eaters Anonymous has members who have suffered from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Many have been underweight, overweight or obese; others were people of average weight yet suffered with an obsession with food. Members may have used exercise and other substances to try and control their weight. AEA works when one addictive eater shares with another the solution they have found to the obsession and craving for food and other mind altering substances. AEA has an extensive network of members willing to share their experience, strength and hope with you. Anyone from anywhere in the world can attend any of these regular AEA online meetings, regardless of geographic location. There is no fee to attend and all are welcome.
For more information about how AEA may be able to help: phone 015549725 or email [email protected]
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