When the fog lifts
I’ve been very public about my lifelong struggle with food. The first essay that a publisher ever paid me money for was about compulsive eating. Now here I am a few years later with a brand-new vision and I’m awkward and uncomfortable about being public with it, because I’ve been at this battle for a long, long time. So, I’m going to be public with it anyway. Because life has given me a lot of practice at getting through the awkward and uncomfortable. And because I think the whole world would be better if we were all just a little more transparent about our burdens. Also, I want to be public because I declare this is working for me, and I don’t ever want to forget all I’ve learned.
I’ve quit eating flour and sugar. Entirely. And all sweeteners, including honey, stevia, agave, and any other natural or chemical sweetener. I eat only at mealtimes, which for me is 3 times a day and I weigh all of my food. The program I’ve been following is called Bright Line Eating, but it is no diet. It is an absolute shift in one’s relationship to food. It takes a long, hard look at what we’re eating and – why, even when we’ve spent our whole life on the sweet train to Sugartown, our brains only want more.
My name is Susan and I am a sugar, flour and processed food (read: sugar and flour) addict. The beauty of it, is I’ve finally figured out that it’s not a terrible thing to be.
It’s actually of a beautiful thing to know. My brain is kind of allergic to all the things that man has engineered away from their natural state and/or pulverized into highly profitable poison. I am a creature of the planet, of the earth and sky, of trees and plants – not of machines and factory food. And I must reject them, because they only harm and never serve me.
There’s an enormous amount of freedom – as many addicts know – in knowing the thing from which you need to walk away.
I’ve known for much of my life that I wanted to walk away from food. I was crushed time and again by the ridicule that was heaped on me about my body. I’ve said, for the better part of three decades, how wonderful it is for an alcoholic to swear off alcohol, or a gambling addict not to gamble, but there was no way for people like me to swear off food entirely.
Then, reading this book by Susan Pierce Thompson, came the great “Aha.” It’s not all food. It’s some food. With some recently gained understanding, I have decided that there are some foods that simply aren’t safe for me to eat. Essentially, flour and sugar. And science bears this up.
I love science, don’t you? Much to the chagrin of the current administration, science stands up to even the heartiest disinformation campaigns. The disinformation campaign for me was nearly every bit of advertising I’ve seen about food for five decades, nearly everything I’d been told about diets. Perhaps the greatest truth ever told in food advertising was this: “You can’t only eat just one.” They’d made sure of it – an engineered certainty.
The science in this book for me results in this conclusion: My brain lights up and buzzes like a winning slot machine when I feed it flour and sugar. And who doesn’t like to win? But this slot machine is loud – and it overstimulates the reward centers in my brain – and voila, addiction! There may even be other foods later, that I say no to. Foods that might be “safe” for you, but not for me. “Triggers.” I think I found one tonight, but it didn’t get the best of me. What I know is that I wanted more, and the want felt unhealthy. It felt a way I haven’t felt in a while, like “I do not want to stop eating this particular food.” So, having noticed that, I may sidestep it next time. Millions of people live without it every year.
Now, not everyone is like me. I’ve got an addict-able brain, born and bred by addicted and addict-able people. I’m hard-wired for addiction.
What I’m doing now is heavily based in science, but following the path requires deep commitment to self. What I’m doing, I believe, is changing my life in ways I’d only have dreamed were possible, because I was not being accountable to myself, and I was surrounded by a fog of ignorance – willful, and not. The amazing thing about fog is this: when it lifts, not only can you see what’s right in front of you, but you can begin to see things all around you, like I’m seeing things in my life.
The more accountable I become, the more I see other things that I need to shift around or remove from my life. The more ways I see that I can better care for myself and my inner peace. Spending a great amount of time and attention on my own plan, my own progress, and my own goals I see more clearly the places where I’m tying my shoelaces together as I try to move forward.
The beauty is – I can untie them now. I can do this differently, retie each and start over. I hope, gentle reader, you are here to bear witness. I thought I’d already lived many of my life’s greatest and most unexpected journeys, yet this promises to somehow be grander than all of them combined. The more I know myself and the power of both healthy and unhealthy food, the more I get the value of “sober.”
Every day, my journey takes me a little closer to the heart of compassion, which is where I think I’d like to remain.