Saturday, December 3, 2011


The infamous large pizza I talked about in a previous post was merely a symptom of a larger problem. I have an eating disorder. I don’t say that at all flippantly. I don’t know if there is a clinical definition for it, or if it is even regarded as a disorder...but I am convinced that I have an eating disorder.

Eating was a recreational hobby. One that I miss dearly, if I’m honest. I ate because I was bored, I ate because I was happy, I ate because I was depressed, I ate because I was angry. One reason I didn’t eat was to live. It was never about life for me, though I would try hard to pretend. “I have to eat to live” is what I would tell myself. And thus was born the deception in my mind perverting an act that was created to joyfully sustain life into one that brought despair as it sucked life away. On more than one occasion I would gorge myself on the culinary delights of the moment, excuse myself to vomit, then proceed to repeat the process. Food was my comfort; the thing that filled the empty places in my soul. My therapist (yes...I have a therapist. I should probably have 4 therapists) would have a field day dissecting (again) all of the brokenness that resulted in these empty spaces inside of me. But the fact of the matter is that food was a substitute for any number of real needs and desires in my life. God. Friends. Connection. Purpose. Joy.

I understand why Americans would be hesitant to label this addictive substitution of food as a disorder (at least a ‘real’ one) because we would then be forced to acknowledge the pervasiveness of the sickness. Obesity costs the health care system in this country 90 billion-with-a-b dollars every year. And I promise that every one of the people who struggle with obesity are trying to fill some sort of void with food, and most are probably operating under the same deception I was about food being necessary for life. The only reason I wasn’t clinically obese was because I’m also prone to physical activity, which allowed me to maintain an outward appearence of relative health and balance.

The CDC reports that more than a third (33.8%) of American adults are obese. Type II diabetes (TTD-most often caused by being overweight and a lack of physical activity) had to be renamed from adult-onset diabetes because so many children are now contracting it. 30% of kids born after Y2K will contract TTD. In minorities that number jumps to 50%. Many people see the obesity epidemic in America and call it laziness or a crises of personal responsibility. I find this ironic as we continue to subsidize and support the very foods and the very system that got us to this place. We’ve made it much easier, cheaper and faster to get or stay fat then to maintain a nutritious input of food and sustain healthy bodies. And how about the ‘health care crises’? If we were able to put a sizable dent in the $90,000,000,000 we spend annually on our subsidized obesity I have to imagine that would change the picture a bit.

For me, finding relative freedom from this cycle of addictive-substitution eating is about two things. First and foremost, it’s about finding some healing and wholeness in the broken places where it’s easy for me to cram in a bunch of food to try to mitigate the pain. I know that if I don’t deal with the sadness, lonliness, and feelings of being unwanted that any treatment of the symptom of eating would be temporary. Second, it’s about taking some sort of stand against the systems that encouraged and enabled me to stuff my face with a cheeseburger everytime I was feeling low.

If any of this resonates with and/or describes you, take heart. You are not alone.

1 comment:

  1. I can't remember a time when I ate because I was actually hungry - that my body was telling me; you need food. I find that I eat because it's the time of day to eat. And being so wealthy I get to choose what tastes the best.

    Thanks for your thoughts Fraaza.