ARE YOU A PROCESSED FOOD ADDICT?
To help answer this question, ask yourself the following questions and answer them as honestly as you can.
- Do you believe that on some level (one day) you will gain control and enjoy ingesting processed food?
- Do you often hide what you eat or disguise the amount you ingest?
- Are you baffled as to why you are successful in many ways, yet seem to have a total inability to manage the amount of processed food you ingest?
- Even though you know the consequences, you cannot ‘stay’ stopped when it comes to ingesting processed food?
- Do you find once you ‘stop’ ingesting processed foods, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as feeling depressed, anxious, irritable or angry, which can ONLY be relieved by going back and ingesting more processed food?
- Do you find all is well, then out of the blue you are compelled to ingest processed food, and before you know it, you have taken that first bite again and cannot stop?
- Have you substituted other substances such as diet sodas, gum or sweeteners, diet pills, nicotine, narcotics, alcohol, etc.…. to ‘manage or control’ your processed food problem?
- Is being thin or losing weight the most important thing in your life above everything else?
- Is your work life, home life or life in general becoming unmanageable or out of control?
- Do you turn to processed food to manage your life’s ups and downs?
SOME RECOVERED MEMBERS OF PROCESSED FOOD ANONYMOUS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH AND HOPE…….Look for the similarities and not the differences.
I was born a processed food addict with the desire to eat and eat until I could not stand at times. Stealing, lying and cheating to get my “fix”. The disease caused terrible damage to me and others, physically with huge weight gains, emotionally as I did not mature and spiritually by alienating me from God …processed food was my God. I have been around the rooms of recovery in several programs for over 30 years. I thought I had a measure of freedom and healing; however it was not until I sought help, and identified with others in the Processed Food Anonymous (P.F.A.) program that I found the peace, healing and freedom from the disease. My journey has not been a perfect one that’s for sure, but I’m grateful today that I know the problem. I have a physical intolerance to processed food and a mental obsession that takes me back to it. Today I have peace of mind as I’m living in the solution of the 12 steps of P.F.A..
I built up a tolerance to processed foods in childhood, turned to pills and programs to manage my ever-growing body, obsessed and depressed by early 20’s with this monkey on my back that I could not shake off. I was a true processed food addict, but didn’t know what that meant. I spent the next four decades trying to beat it one day and become normal eater. Money, programs, doctors, hypnosis, medications, self-help books, diets, counselling, and finally weight loss surgery, but the collective result was nil. It has been 14 months since I found a solution in Processed Food Anonymous (P.F.A.). I am abstinent from all processed food, and I am totally recovered, as are many others. I am free.
Since day dot I was carrying excess weight, but that was the least of my problems!! By the age 14 the regular idea of suicide made its way into my thoughts. This was amongst other thoughts that included how was I “going to fix my life” and turn into a “worthy human being”. My journey before reaching Processed Food Anonymous (P.F.A.) at age 25 included; 10 plus years of antidepressants that only masked the symptoms of my processed food addiction; waking up on edge and not knowing why; 6 years of clinical psychology as well as dozens of various restricting diets; rigid exercise programs that I could never stick to and ended up feeling more hopeless and lost. It has now been 6 months in Processed Food Anonymous (P.F.A.) and I am no longer dictated by processed food or the negative voice that deluded me. Slowly I now believe I have a life worth living; I am worthy of life.
As a child every year at my annual physical I was told I needed to lose weight. I had no idea I had a disease until I was hooked on pain pills and found myself in rehab at age 28. Even then I was clueless about my primary addiction – processed food addiction – until I started recovering in P.F.A.. I always thought I had a weight problem and anxiety disorders; those were merely symptoms of my disease of processed food addiction. Since December 2016 I have been free from processed foods and all mood/mind altering substances. I am learning how to live life without using people places and things. I am finally experiencing happiness, joy and freedom!
I came because I was bitter inside and didn’t know why. It was a feeling like I was a coiled snake ready to strike, constantly. I had stopped sugar and flour years prior, but I didn’t realise how much I was still at the mercy of food: meticulously substituting healthy options in recipes and adhering to a big list of can’t-haves, all while getting very excited each time I got out the scales to weigh myself. These were some of the ways I was controlled by food, and I didn’t realise how vulnerable and inept I really felt, or how I held onto food practises like a life-line. P.F.A. is a way I found to live in the moment, present with people, and instead of constant worry, I have a feeling of ease and pleasure inside.
The most important thing in my life was to stay thin. If I could stay thin and look “normal” people would not know about the crazy thinking in my head around processed food. The self-obsession was driving me mad … “Have I put weight on? how will I get it off? what will I do to purge? how much exercise do I need to do? What do people think about me? do they like me? do they approve of me?” I felt hopeless, and the pain was getting too much. My negative thinking was progressing to the point it was unbearable. I have been treating my disease for just over 2 years now, and in that time I have not eaten processed food nor had any desire too. I understand I have a disease which needs to be treated daily, or I am at risk of picking up processed food. I will never be cured as I will always have the disease of addiction, but I have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body, and my disease is in remission. I know I will never be normal as far as eating processed food goes…what a relief!!! I have stopped trying to fix me and now I get on with living this grand life of mine without using processed food.
My mantra all my life has been “What’s wrong with me?” I have always felt different from everyone else, locked in my own world of shame and fear. Shame because I thought everyone knew my darkest secret, that I couldn’t stop eating enormous quantities of junk and high fat foods. I thought it was written all over my face and I knew my body showed it. My weight has fluctuated up and down by 60kg over the last 20 years. Fear because I couldn’t stop eating processed food no matter how demoralising it was. I remember getting down to what I thought was my perfect body weight, 62kg. I could finally wear a size 10 and people told me what an amazing body I had. But I was so miserable I thought of suicide endlessly. It seemed the only solution to the pain I felt inside. “What’s wrong with me?’ played over and over. “I have a perfect body now; doesn’t that mean life should be perfect too?” I was completely baffled. Then I started to binge again. I put on 60 kg in just a few months and couldn’t bear to leave my house except to buy more processed food. I was deeply ashamed of my body and feared what people thought of me. It took another 6 years of this agony and misery, until one morning I woke up very sick after heavily binging the night before. I knew I had to get help. I found PFA within a few days and along with that, there were other people just like me. They shared the same problem, and better still they had a solution!!! My disease of Processed Food Addiction is now in remission. I have learnt I wasn’t a bad person, I was a sick person and with this solution I am now recovered. I couldn’t be more grateful for this fellowship of people just like me!
All my life I have struggled with food and weight. It was a vicious cycle that was relentless and uncontrollable. Diets seemed to be working in the early days, but as time went on the days got shorter and shorter between binges. I felt different from others – they could ingest processed food and moderate or stop. That was a foreign concept to me – I just wanted to be the same as everyone else and be ‘normal’. It never occurred to me that I had a chronic disease and it had a name for it that described what I experienced my entire life. Everybody told me my problem, but no one could give me the solution. Unbeknownst to me the disease of processed food addiction was progressing and I needed more and more processed food to relieve the feelings of anxiety, depression, happiness etc. I didn’t want to feel. The processed food anaesthetised me, but that’s all I knew and how I coped with life. Diet clubs and food support meetings seemed to be the way to go, as in the early phases of my addiction I too could control my processed food intake to a degree. However, as time passed (13 years) and my disease progressed I got sicker – I couldn’t stay on any diet, food plan, or eating regime like the other non-processed food addicts. What I didn’t know was that I was different – I am a ‘real’ processed food addict. Not a compulsive overeater, an emotional eater, food addict, or social eater. I learned I had a disease like the alcoholic who also can’t stop drinking alcohol and it could be treated. I found the solution, and more importantly I am living in the solution. I am free today of the unstoppable processed food cravings, the mental obsessions, the unmanageability in my life and I don’t have the physical ailments I had from the excess weight I was carrying. I have been living in the solution since September 2015. It’s so humbling to be living a life beyond my wildest dreams-physically, mentally and spiritually, with the most wonderful people that “get me”. “Together We Can”.