Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trigger Food Frustration

Source (click through for  a great post on trigger foods)
Yesterday I shared how I have started attending Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings.  Even though I have only been to two gatherings, one major theme that folks have been sharing about is abstinence.  If you're anything like me, the word "abstinence" makes you think of sex (as in not having it), but that's not what OA abstinence is.  Rather, this is food abstinence, or staying away from foods that trigger disordered eating.

Many of the people at the two meetings I have attended seem to be abstaining from sugars.  They have noticed that sugary foods like candy were leading them into compulsive food behaviors, and so eradicated sugars from their respective food plans.  As anyone who has tried to be conscious about what is going into his or her body knows, this is a difficult feat considering the fact that sugar is added to so many foods, many of which we assume are healthy, like peanut butter.

As these people shared how abstaining from trigger foods has helped in their recovery, I found myself nodding along.  It makes sense.  Eliminate "problem" foods (which can be different for every disordered eater) and so eliminate a great amount of the struggle.

Except . . . it doesn't make sense for me.  I feel like every food is a trigger food.  Just the sense of having something in my stomach, whether it's healthy food or not, seems to spark disordered behavior.

I am feeling very frustrated.  At least other addicts (alcoholics, narcotics abusers, gamblers, etc.) don't need the object of their compulsion to survive.  But we all need to eat.  If I could stop eating, I would.  I would trade the enjoyment of sharing a meal with my loved ones for a lifetime without disordered eating in a heartbeat.  If I could take a pill that would meet my body's daily nutritional needs, I would.

Imagine telling a recovering alcoholic that he has to drink booze three times a day.  Or told a compulsive spender that she has to visit the mall for an hour each day.  Or told a meth addict that she has to use meth regularly.  Crazy, right?  That's the kind of struggle recovering disordered eaters face every single day.  

All that to say that I'm in a place where I would gladly give up eating if I could.  If you offered me a magic nutrition pill, I'd take it.  Anything to get a leg up on this disease.

But it's not that easy. 

What the heck am I supposed to do when this is a trigger food . . .

Moose bar

. . . and so is this?

I wish I knew.  


  1. Grrr...I meant "your."

  2. First of all, I kind of love that picture. Maybe it's because I cut all my Barbie's hair off every time. Anyway, this post is a perfect example of how we're all the same, no matter what you're "disorder" is labeled as. We can't avoid food like others can avoid gambling, drinking, etc. Second, I struggle with overexercise and unless you live in a bubble, you can't get away from "health" PR and food ads. With that said, it is all about balance and moderation (two things I don't excel at.) Eventually we just have to remember that no one is going to take away our food--it will be there later if we want it--and in the end, it's just food. I don't have to eat it all or not at all just because it's there. It won't change the emotion behind the action. Good luck!

  3. Beth @ To the FullesNovember 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Thanks for your affirmation and confirmation of this truth, Abby -- that no matter what our disorder looks like on the outside, we're all battling very similar demons on the inside.

  4. Hey Beth,I have to be honest, (and I also appreciate YOUR honesty and openness in all of this!) I had a lot of misgivings when I read your last post about OA. I thought, as a former anorexic, this was NOT for you. I understand that the underlying issues of disordered eating may be the same, and they “simply” lead to various manifestations. However, putting yourself in a position where you are encourage to “restrict” and “abstain”…these words, to me, do not fit in the world of a dangerous restrictor. I know you are looking for balance now, and that DE has taken different forms, etc, but it scares me to think that your frustration with your current DE issues could cause you to swing the balance completely to the restriction. You used a few words and phrases that just make my radar beep… “I am feeling very frustrated….All that to say that I'm in a place where I would gladly give up eating if I could.” Yikes. Beth, your issue is so hard, and I do understand where you are coming from. We can’t just stop eating…but we have. Remember? It was awful. So we have to just keep figuring it out and not let frustration blow us out of the water.So how do we figure it out? What I’m coming to realize is that there is no answer on the outside. Self analyzing, support groups, self-help books, talking, sharing, blogging, comparing, contrasting…all of these means of answer seeking are helpful and wonderful…to a point. They give us some understanding, compassion, and passion to keep seeking, and they offer us tools in our journey, but I believe the answer we seek is inside ourselves. And although the tools offer tangible help, the real “answer” isn’t going to come in a clear cut format with 10 steps and then you are cured. I think it comes as we naturally surrender to our life. That means we have to shut off the “stuff” and the busyness and just be in our lives…re-teach ourselves that it’s just “stuff” that is “triggering.” It’s a practice and learning…to just BE and trust. Again, I don’t discount the tools and the outward seeking. They offer us perspectives and awareness. But when they cause us to ruminate over our issues they keep us there. What would happen if you quieted your outward seeking for a bit and stopped TRYING so hard? What would happen if you just trusted?Easier said than done. Will you post this back on my blog so I can remember too? LOL! I love you sister.

  5. Hey there,It's been a while since I've visited your blog! I kind of stayed out of the blog world for a while but now I'm back and have started a new one of my own. Love the new look of yours! I hope your OA meetings are helpful. I know when I first started allowing myself to eat more after restricting for so long, I wanted to eat everything! I guess my body wanted to make up for all the things I had deprived it of. Best wishes to you:)

  6. Yep yep yep. Pretty much everything can be a trigger food for me too.It's sad, but the way that I have been avoiding my binges is to just not keep food in the house. I live in New York so it is easy for me to get fresh and cheap food for each meal - it's a little more expensive than cooking at home, but not much. To me it's worth it though, because I would give anything to get rid of my binges!!

  7. Have to comment again because I just read all the other comments! Also, I don't konw if I ever told you, but I went to an OA meeting back at the beginning of the year. It was a bit traumatizing for me because I sat next to an anorexic/bulimic/binge-eater who was very underweight and she just kept talking about how she had to stop eating so much. SIgh. So I never went back.I agree with Clare's comment kind of - that the whole idea of "abstaining" is kind of scary and could just be an excuse to be restrictive. To be honest, I just want to be able to eat spontaneously and not think about it. There's a difference between spontaneous eating and compulsive eating though. If that makes sense. I am reading a *fabulous* book called "Making Peace with Food". You have to take some of it with a grain of salt, becuase it is kind of a fat acceptance book, which I don't really agree with. (No, we were not all meant to be fat, it is a product of our culture and the shiznit that is sold as "food".) But a lot of it is really applicable. If you read it let me know I would love to discuss. Speaking of which, I have to talk to the hubs more about the blog thing, and I will get back to you soon!!Happy Sunday :)


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