Monday, February 8, 2010

More thoughts on the fueling of bad decisions

Thank you to Gen, I have a little more insight to add to the whole Group A vs. Group B discussion (last post).

Gen pointed out that there may be certain factors that fuel bad decision making by those of us that are fully aware of what a healthy lifestyle consists of but have little success in living that lifestyle consistently. She said that the choice is not so "simple" and went on to compare the addiction of food to the addiction of alcohol.

I agree.

See, decisions are very simple. Every person that may have answered a really important text while driving or stayed up an hour later than they should have because their favorite TV show is on a season finale, has grappled with doing something they know is probably a bad idea, but did it anyway.

Now that is not to over-simplify what fuels that decision, which is why what Gen said is important. The decision to over-consume is quite a simple one, fueled by some very complex issues that differ from person to person.

While working as a reporter for a tiny newspaper, I had a sit down with a psychologist that hosted free support meetings for people who have a loved one grappling with addiction to drugs and alcohol. We discussed the nature of addiction and I made the reference of comparing food addiction to heroin.

He looked at me, dead in the eye, and said "The two have nothing in common." Walking out of the meeting, for a minute, I felt stupid. I am fully aware that the chemical addiction a heroin addict feels is non-comparable. If I go 24 hours without a hit of alfredo sauce, I am not going to begin sweating and shaking.

But on the other hand - it is much more "simple." Not a more simple problem to resolve, but a more simple problem to understand. There is no moderational use of cocaine. I won't feel like I deserve a hit of crystal-meth because I ran a 5K earlier that day. You either use illegal drugs or you do not.

But, food is a different issue all together. A serving of most pastas are okay with the right sauce and that the serving is a small side to a protein packed entree. 2 oz of cheese is the right serving for your turkey pita. But too much of either of these and you could be on a dangerous road. To me, one of the most enjoyable foods with almost no nutritional value, chicken wings with bleu cheese, would be an okay twice a year indulgence if paired with a major event like running the aforementioned 5K. Ask a recovering alcohol addict what a twice year bottle of rum would do?

So, are the addictions similar? Probably not. In the end, I am sure us Fat Bastards have it a lot better off.


  1. I disagree with the psychologist dude! I blogged about this when I was on the liquid diet pre-surgery. For about a week, I was a total angry, crazy, weepy mess...I mean a MESS!! If what I experienced on my 3 Medi Trim shakes per day wasn't withdrawal, then I don't know what is! And when the withdrawal was over, I felt great! But the problem then becomes: you have to eat to live. The heroin addict (or smoker, or alcoholic or what have you) never has to touch their drug again...but I have to see, smell, touch and prepare my drug for others. My drug is in every ad on television. My drug is legal and it's everywhere and if I quit it cold turkey, I'll eventually die. It's a hard road. So I disagree with that may not be exactly the same, but i don't think that it's THAT different, either. That guy was a quack. IMHO.

    best wishes from your newest follower,

  2. Maybe I'm the oddball here, but I have dabbled with recreational drugs, as well as being an off-again, on-again cigarette smoker and when it comes to those things, I've been able to "take it or leave it." I'm a firm believer in the legalization and taxation of marijuana (the tax revenue would be awesome, people... but I'll stop before I start any debates on that) and have no problem with indulging a little from time to time. The difference is that I could get in big trouble for something I do on my weekends off, whereas I know people who swear by a glass of wine a night habit. And there are studies to back it up being healthy!

    I think that some people just have addictive personalities. You also have to have a "taste" for these things. My mother would pantomime a gagging motion if you talked to her about wings and blue cheese dressing. She doesn't like anything greasy, it makes her mind vomit. She'll have a piece of See's chocolate from time to time or expensive cheesecake (from which she'll take about 3 bites of a sliver and declare that it's too rich to finish). She also does not drink, does not smoke and admits that while being a hippie, drugs did nothing for her.

    Myself, I'm a combination of my mother and my biological father, a man who indulged WAY too much in all of his addictions. I like these things. I like the way they make me feel. And I see nothing wrong with them. But I can walk away from them. Each time that I've quit smoking cigarettes, I've walked away cold turkey with no issues. So many smoker friends of mine hate me because of this. *shrug*

    I can do the same thing with food. I didn't mind being on a liquid diet (granted, I was only doctor-implemented on a 2 day liquid diet prior to surgery and 10 days after, but they instructed me that broth, sugar-free jello and popsicles were OK, so it wasn't hard emotionally or otherwise. I'm sorry, I don't know why, but it wasn't). I also have been able to lose a good amount of weight fast with Atkins by allowing myself to eat as many calories I want but no carbs. For a cheese lover, this is easy after the 48 hour period of kicking sugars.

    Winding this up, do I think that drug addiction and food addiction are different? Not really. The necessity of the addiction varies, as we need to eat to live. But we don't need to eat junk. It's like people can take Tylenol for a headache but they don't need Vicodin, you know? But some people can't draw the line.

    I really believe it boils down to whether or not you're an addictive personality. In which case, food, drugs or otherwise, you're going to need some help to see through your haze of excuses for choosing to overindulge.

  3. I second what the previous posters said. I don't think it's nearly as simple because once you're off the drugs, you're off the drugs (relapses aside). You can remove yourself from those situations...avoid your druggie friends, avoid bars if you can't be around others who drink. You cannot avoid food. You need food to live and function. The problem is we overindulge. We eat more than we should but we can't eliminate the temptations. We MUST eat and it's impossible to be around anyone who doesn't eat because (here it is) everyone MUST eat. There is no rehab prgram from us. There is no 30 day in-patient program that will get us off food. In some ways, fighting obesity is even harder, in my opinion.

  4. Wow, what a fascinating discussion. I have spent years and thousands of dollars trying to figure these things out. What I have learned though, is that the addiction is a symptom of a larger problem. My niece is a drug addict, I am a food addict. Both of our issues are very similar, we just chose different ways to "care" for ourselves. Every addiction starts out as an enjoyable experience and a way to detract from the pain you are presently in, either emotional of physical pain. Then, the thing that once made you feel so good(cookies,sauces,drugs,alcohol?) now cause you as much pain as you were in to begin with and there you are, in a vicious cycle. For me, will power could only last so long. Once I got thin, I realized that not only was I still the same person, I was even more vulnerable than before, so slowly but surely I started packing on the insulation again. I think once we can really figure out what drove us to "care" for ourselves with food, whether abandonment or esteem issues, only then can we begin to fill those needs with healthy things, like people, a faith life, or whatever. Once our needs are truly met, then the dependence on food or drugs will diminish. I know these things to be true, but I just don't know how to truly integrate this into my life. I know that there are no easy answers and that I really can't do it all on my own. I'm glad that I have found such a great community of bloggers to share these thoughts with. What a great post Jordan!

    "Band me Baby!"

  5. I agree with the others totally! Especially Gilly!

    My only addiction, is to food. I stopped drinking many years ago as I found that I was on a fast track to becoming an alcoholic, like many in my family. However,I never tried any drugs. But food, alas, I am definitely addicted to and this is where my problem lies....

  6. Great comments everyone. I love reading everyone's take on the subject that many of us seem to be grappling with. Raising such topics as these is precisely the reason I started Fat Bastard Banded.

  7. I, too, think the addictions are similar. I have a very real reason why I decided to turn to food and that was that I used it as a security measure. I had something happen to me while in the Navy that no woman (or man) deserves to endure. I chose food so that I could "make myself unattractive" and hopefully deflect attention away from myself as I healed from that event. Like I said in a previous comment, once that healing was complete, I then tried to get the weight off...but I do think there is something that happens as our bodies get bigger making it harder to lose excess weight than say the normal person hoping to rid themself of five unwanted pounds. Once I started to struggle with that yo-yo effect, I then made the decision, well, if I have to look like this, I might as well eat like this.

    Interestingly enough, letting myself go even further is what ultimately made me eligible for this surgery.

    What an interesting topic. And it bodes well for great success on your part, from what I can tell. The people that never bother to figure out why's or what's seem to struggle more with this process. I do think the band does help in moving beyond food as an addiction back to food as sustenance. From blogs I read of people at ideal weight or, at least, very close to, they just seem to see food quite differently than us fat bastards. Right on their heals, though...right on their heals!

  8. Just found your blog!