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Recovery from Alcoholism and Recovery from Food Addiction: They’re not as Different as some Suggest

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A while back I remember someone suggesting that staying on the straight and narrow path of recovery from food addiction was more difficult that recovery from alcoholism because “You don’t have to drink alcohol to survive, but everyone has to eat!”

That seemed like a pretty compelling argument at the time, but when I broke it down it’s really not so.  Allow me a moment to explain…  While we do all have to eat food, we also have to drink, especially water, no?

Show me an overweight person who got that way by eating too much broccoli.  How about an overweight person who got that way because they ate too much baked chicken, broccoli and rice?  We’ve just eliminated 99% of all overweight people.  The vast majority don’t get fat eating well, they get fat eating $#!+.  Simple as that.

I didn’t get drunk from drinking too much Mountain Dew, but I did from too much beer and/or liquor.  I still have to drink fluids even though I have to abstain from alcohol.  I can’t make it three days without water, right?  Right.  So staying away from overeating crap food is not harder than staying away from alcohol, it’s just different.

Where we do get into trouble, of course, is the overeating – and I can relate to this, because I REALLY like to eat.  I have a real problem with good comfort food.  I don’t have to worry too much about the desert foods, they’ve lost their luster a little bit, because I can usually convince myself I’m wasting calories on crap.  Every now and again I get stuck on a donut, but for the most part I can say no.  Where I get into trouble is with that big plate of nachos or that homemade beef stew.  Now that’s tasty, baby!

My point is still clear, though; It’s not the low-calorie food that gets me, it’s the calorie-dense stuff.  In the same vain, it’s not the cranberry spritzer (cranberry juice and seltzer water) that gets me, it’s the rum & Coke (or beer, or anything else that contains alcohol).

As far as availability goes, well let’s just say there’s no hiding from anything.  We make a choice – abstain or we don’t.  Which is it going to be?

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10 Comments

  1. mikeykjr says:

    Addiction is the same across the board: alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, Internet use, sex, etc. We all come in various shapes and sizes yet share the same thing in common, “A sudden compulsion to use [insert substance] . . .” However, while we are addicts sharing this disease, not everyone understands the other. My primary choice was alcohol, yet many of my recovery friends choice was drugs. I really still don’t understand the compulsion to use drugs, yet I do. In reality its all the same – our addictions, if we don’t do something, will kill us in the end!

    Just my $0.02 🙂

  2. Gail says:

    I read that thread in the comment section of the post that inspired this one. I immediately thought of the same logic you did. I just knew you’d eventually get around to writing about it, and much better than I could. Besides, the fellow who was so convinced that recovery from food addiction was more difficult than recovery from alcoholism because “You don’t have to drink alcohol to survive, but everyone has to eat!” did not seem open to a logical rebuttal. You laid it out in a compelling manner!

    • bgddyjim says:

      I just like to put things into terms where people can see how we’re alike rather than how we are different. I told him I was going to write this post as soon as I figured out how to get a handle on it.

  3. Paul S says:

    I used to use that argument too. I wondered how people who are in OA and such do it, but you know what – they do! I love to eat too. Sugar has been my nemesis for some time, but I can go months without it if I put my mind to it and realize that I do have a choice in what I do and don’t put in my body. I just have to want it enough. I can’t say that I had that kind of choice when drinking, so I am grateful that I can take care of my body in terms of nutrients and food. So when I choose to eat well, I reap the rewards of it. Well put post, brother.

  4. Eliza says:

    Recovery from anything – I think- is learning to use everything for the right reasons. To deal with life and live it on its own terms without escaping/controlling…

  5. Thanks for sharing. When I stopped drinking, eating became an easy way to splurge without the guilt of using substances. Makes so much sense that people usually replace addictions with others that have more societal acceptance (working out, smoking are other examples). Thank you for articulating your thoughts so well here.

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