by Kay Sheppard, LMHC
There are so many rationalizations for not weighing and measuring our food. Rather than enumerate the excuses, it seems more appropriate and helpful to outline the positive reasons to do such a thing. Indeed, why a food plan at all?
It Provides a Guide
The first of the 12 steps says, “We admitted we were powerless over food . . .” This is the physical manifestation of the disease. And because we were powerless over food “. . . our lives had become unmanageable.”
Of course, we are not powerless over every form of food, so it is the job of the food plan to be our guide for eliminating those foods that trigger addiction. This is a physical phenomenon, and the food plan is a guide to physical recovery. It clearly defines what to eat and what to avoid. This is where honesty begins. When we get honest about our food, it opens the way to honesty in other areas of our lives.
It Helps Us Break Patterns
All food addicts identify with volume eating — binge eating, gorging, overeating, and even the idea of gluttony. Weighing and measuring are methods of managing volume. They establish boundaries for our food.
In the disease process, the eating experience has been virtually limitless. Our eating was curtailed only by physical, social, or financial limitations. In recovery, we manage food intake by use of the cup and the scale. This discipline creates a boundary for something that has been without boundaries.
With these boundaries set, we abstain from that “first bite” — the first step of relapse. We abstain from the first compulsive bite, the first spontaneous bite, the first addictive bite, and the first extra bite. Compulsive eating entails eating over feelings.
It is a pattern of the food addict to reach for food to soothe toxic feelings. In recovery, we learn alternatives to “eating over it.” Spontaneous eating is the hallmark of the undisciplined will. No more do “I eat what I want when I want it!”
Addictive eating is the act of ingesting addictive foods that trigger the disease. The extra bite is illustrated by picking up that extra green bean. It is not the bean that is the problem, but rather the decision to eat the bean. Such decisions indicate that we have taken back our will.
All of these destructive patterns will lead back to volume eating and the active disease of addiction. A food plan helps us break these patterns and progress in our recovery.
It Allows Guilt-Free Eating
A food plan offers the joy of guilt-free eating. Eating with guilt is one of the major signs of food addiction. To be absolved of guilt while we eat all that good food on the plan is one of the blessings of recovery. No more punishing self talk, no more agonizing decisions about food, no more internal debates.
Plan, report, commit your food, and let go. Serenity in relation to food is the gift of our food plan in recovery.