“Crazy Hungry” came to me after listening to my friend, Sue, tell hilarious and sometimes, crazy stories.
Over the years, I’ve heard the wild and crazy details of my dearest friends’ lives, particularly wonderful stories about their families. We all have so many stories to tell, but Sue’s stories are somehow the most hilarious to me because she has this amazing way of remaining present in a situation, picking up each person’s responses in that particular moment, and then retelling the details with fluidity. She can tell you, from beginning to end, what face this woman was making in her living room while this child was screaming bloody murder upstairs while her husband continued baking an apple pie in the kitchen while she just stayed present, in the crazy of it all.
For years, my hunger made me crazy. Absolutely, hands down, borderline insane. And somehow I was able to appear that I was managing just fine. I was able to maintain high achiever status : excellent grades, a desirable weight, relationships with family and friends, and sometimes an ability to serve others that was regarded as strong or brave.
Finally, after living that way for twenty-ish years, one mercy-filled husband and five children later, I couldn’t hide the crazy any more or the hunger. I needed a new way. I look back and am so thankful. The Lord was good to intervene, and I started Recovery for Life.
But let me add this…
I did not want to go through a 12-step recovery group! I’ve heard about 12-step recovery my ENTIRE LIFE. If I wasn’t trying to hide that my dad was at another AA meeting or trying to get my mom off my case about going to AL-ANON as a teenager, then I was watching people in my adult life drop in and out of Overeaters Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Clearly, over the years I formed a stigma about all the 12-step nonsense. That is, until I tried it.
The Lord still whispers in my ear: Never stay never, dear one.
So, this week, Step 1 gives us a place to BEGIN. How might we change our own lifestyles and influence the lifestyles of our children when it pertains to cultivating healthy body image?
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Most of us would never say that we have a food addiction. The word “addiction” is relegated to those who have repeatedly overdosed on illegal drugs and are therefore addicted. Addiction cradles those so dependent on alcohol consumption that they can’t feel their way through life’s ups and downs without the comfort of “a drink” nearby. Maybe prolonged use of prescription drugs or psych medication singles out an individual as one who is struggling with the affliction of addiction.
However, food addiction is not on most of our radars. We might be willing to say that food addiction applies to someone who is admittedly anorexic or bulimic or even dangerously overweight from binging or constant overeating, but those are likely the only situations where the word “addiction” seems accurately used in the discussion of body image.
So, please note: First, we must confront that “we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors.”
Are there compulsive food-related/body-related behaviors that you engage in that are not biblical but that keep you “safe” in the culture you live in? Does your constant need to control drive you crazy?
The following examples, refashioned from Intuitive Eating, might help you see more clearly what I’m suggesting.
- Can you relate to the idea of or do you find yourself frequently on a “diet” or “cleansing” just to lose that extra couple of pounds that you put on at Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or at the end of the summer and or just after Spring Break? (You get the picture.)
- Do you struggle with self-comparison? Self-comparison might impel you to look at the present you in the mirror and compare her with your 20 yr-old self or 30 yr-old self. The present self can’t measure up, and she just can’t get it right.
- Are you often angry at yourself when you eat something “unhealthy?”
- Do you frequently find yourself thinking about how to avoid foods high in fat, carbs, or calories?
These questions are not meant to implicate, but to challenge. I am challenging readers to recognize. Recognizing compulsive thoughts helps us see how often we shame ourselves for our food choices.
When we are willing to admit we are living by rules that we have made up ourselves, then we invite freedom. We don’t have to live by all of these rules about what we should and should not eat. Rules about the size of clothes we should or should not fit into. Rules about not buying a new pair of jeans until we get down to that “goal weight” even though we’re uncomfortable in almost everything that drapes in our closet.
Instead, we want to live, trusting. What if God so “wonderfully made” us that we can trust our own bodies?
In a culture that uses fear to fuel an estimated $35-billion dollar a year dieting industry, we should not be surprised that we don’t inherently trust our bodies. Evelyn Tribole, author of Intuitive Eating, nails it. “People don’t know how to eat anymore. They are ashamed of their bodies and don’t trust that their bodies work” (1).
This distrust and shame has fueled our hearts for far too long.
What is possible? What might we believe? That leads us to Step 2 for next week. Let the adventure begin.
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.