I am addicted to DIETING! This is not a Saturday Night Live sketch or a parody of an “Anything-anonymous” meeting. Diet addiction is real to me and much like others with addictions, I have set backs and triumphs on my journey to overcome it. Let’s start at the beginning though.
My story is different than some. I was neither an overweight child nor athletic super star gone to pot. I’ve been average my entire life. I had a healthy and pretty happy upbringing being loved and wanted by my entire family. Family dinners with some foods directly from a garden. I don’t think I even ate in a fast food restaurant until middle school at the earliest. I wouldn’t say that I have any more emotional scars than the average Jane. I don’t call myself a picky eater but I certainly have things I don’t like for one reason or another. Aside from my love of Spam and macaroni and cheese (together please), Frito’s of any kind and really moist chocolate whatever; I’m not anorexic or bulimic and I’m not addicted to food itself.
It was around the time I was an early teen and smitten with a boy, that I started to feel fat. (I’ll analyze that for you in another post) I look back at photos of myself then and see that I look fine, really, really fine! Not at all needing to be on a diet! But that’s exactly what I did! Boiled eggs and chicken bouillon to be exact! I don’t know how I even knew to eat that, but needless to say, thus began my journey with dieting. I wasn’t always on a diet though. In fact, early on I was mostly never on a diet and I stayed pretty thin throughout my late teens and early 20’s by just cutting back here and then when necessary. Even throughout my pregnancies I was very thin. I was so thin during my second pregnancy that my doctor sent me to a dietician, who suggested I eat whatever I could eat to gain the weight. Talk about dream come true!
Then, IT happened: LIFE! Marriage, parenting, late 20’s, financial struggles, a major move across states and away from family into carb Amish country, more life and stressors and an entirely different stage of hormones. Paula wasn’t your average thin girl anymore and just laying off the junk and cutting back wasn’t working. It was then that I made my first official diet book purchase. So Fat, Low Fat, No Fat became a staple in my kitchen for a while but the low fat plan wasn’t yielding enough result. Book number 2 quickly followed. Diet by Design. This was from the “Hollywood” dietician of the moment. I had BIG success with that one, losing over 30 pounds AND lots of my hair because of the lack of fat and protein “designed” for me in this approach. It was while I plateaued on this program that I purchased Eating for Life, based on a glowing review from my husband’s boss about not only physical transformation, but the success that would spill over into “life” and “career” themselves when you ate food in certain combinations only. The next book and diet trial in this 2 year period (YES, you read that right) was The Zone Diet……. And so it began!
I’m pretty sure that I was doing a combination of all of these plans over the next several years. I wouldn’t necessarily classify my diet journey as yo-yo dieting, because I stayed pretty thin for many, many years to follow. It was in an effort to stay thin and to “support” my husband in weight loss, that I began to obsess over trying so many more plans.
That was over 20 years ago. And multitudes of:
It was madness! I was out of control, but thought I was completely in control because I was doing ALL the things! I even thought, “I will never be heavy again. I have all the tools I need to stay thin.” Can you relate to the “overload”?
It has taken a couple of years and more than one aha moment to realize it is an addiction. We’ve only started this discussion and I can’t wait to share why I call it an addiction and what my recovery plan is. So until next time, have a candy bar and don’t worry. We’re going to figure this out together.