SOME RECOVERED MEMBERS OF PROCESSED FOOD ANONYMOUS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH AND HOPE…….Look for the similarities and not the differences.
Anonymous, Australia (Dec 2017)
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 12steps of P.F.A..
Janice, US (Dec 2017)
I built up a tolerance to processed food 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.
Anonymous, Australia (Dec 2017)
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.
Over the last two years, blessedly clean, abstinent, sober and increasing peace of mind one day at a time I have had the blessing to grow in myself, relationships with others and God as I understand him, recovery and practising what it is like to live a constructive useful life, one that is gradually moving away from selfishly fulfilling my own desires, wants and demanding expectations. It has involved taking action each day and asking for a clean, abstinent, sober day with peace of mind as well as being guided by fellows whom have experienced what I experienced.
I have stumbled make mistakes and felt the world was going to end, not to mention the false guilt and pride that I was a terrible person. The hardest thing I have found in recovery is being humble and not letting my pride grow and then admitting and surrendering when it has grown. Things would go along well in recovery such as new employment, financial fears resolving, family resentments fading, ability to not run for help when work was challenging and then I would think-thanks P.F.A./God I’ve got this now, look at me soar, look how far I have come, I, I,I. And as soon as the blink of the eye I took the reins back and was in emotional turmoil, unfortunately this has been a slow learning and continually I fall and make mistakes and think this is too hard, I want to go have fun with others my age, HOWEVER the reality is I am not like other people, I am a processed food addict and thank fully have a 12 step way of life that guides me to live an amazing life, IF I only step to the side and let the miracles unfold. I would much rather chose recovery and the action I put in today, than living a life ingesting processed food, pursuing unhealthy relationships and in constant fear, anxiety, dread, remorse and searching for a way out. I pray for myself and those reading one day at a time recovery, humility and patience to live a spiritual life.
Sheri, US (Jan 2018)
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 food 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!
Rob, Australia (Jan 2018)
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.
Two and a half years as a recovered, processed food addict has shown me that I feel. I’m human. I had to step down out of the clouds of superiority. I had to allow my painfully low self-esteem to mend through facing up to attitudes and behaviours that hurt me and others. I had to slow down, and instead of being a hero, be human.
Lee, Australia (May 2020)
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 had tried many things to lose weight, to not put on weight, to fix me, and nothing ever worked. I went into 12 step programs A.A., Alanon, OA and CEA-HOW and I could not stay abstinent. I went to counsellors, a hypnotist, religious people, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and the list goes on. None of these worked, I just got sicker and sicker. It wasn’t until I reached out for professional help from an addictionologist and was guided to Processed Food Anonymous that my recovery from processed food addiction began. I started to learn that I had a disease, and how it manifested in me. I was not a bad person trying to get good. I was a sick person trying to get well. I learnt that I am a processed food addict, not a compulsive overeater, not a binge eater, not a comfort eater. For me to recover I needed to stop ingesting processed food because when I did, I would trigger off that craving that I had no control over.
Today my disease is in remission, I don’t ingest processed food so I don’t trigger off the craving for processed food, I don’t white knuckle, I don’t swear off, I don’t have to wait until Monday, next month or a new year to start the next wiz bang diet. I fit into my clothes season after season and year after year. My life is not about the weight today, I have a full life but most importantly I accept that I am a processed food addict, I always will be and I need to treat my disease on a daily basis then I will have abstinence with peace of mind. I have been abstinent for four and a half years now. Abstaining from processed food is normal for me today, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I attend regular meetings of P.F.A. as one way to treat my disease. I need to be around people who speak my language who understand the disease, who have been there and done that, who make no judgement, who can have a laugh at themselves. They remind me of the disease and that I have it, and they share the solution with me. I try to the best of my ability to live in that solution on a daily basis and life is good. Today it is not about the food, it is about my peace of mind. What a miracle!!!!!
Katie, Hong Kong (Feb 2018)
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 food. 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 P.F.A. 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!!! I have learnt I wasn’t a bad person, I was sick with a disease called processed Food Addiction on a cellular level, I couldn’t will it away myself, I needed treatment. Blessedly I can share that with treatment, my disease is now in remission. I couldn’t be more grateful for this fellowship of people just like me!
Karen, US (March 2018)
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 learnt 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 am forever grateful to be on this journey, with the most wonderful people that ‘get me’. I have now been living in the solution and free of processed food since September 2015 – physically, mentally and spiritually.