Food For Thought


Over the past couple weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about food addictions, particularly sugar, in the sober blogging community. It seems like most of us in recovery continue to struggle with our addictions in some form or another despite giving up our “main” addiction.

When I first got sober, I craved sugar. Not like “Oh, I kind of feel like something sweet,” but like “I NEED something sweet NOW!” Chocolate cake was my friend along with ice cream, candy – really, whatever I could get my hands on. It was the first time I had ever experienced food as a form of addiction. In fact, before getting sober I didn’t even really like sweets. Little did I realize at the time, that I was getting my “fix” and then some through all the wine I was drinking!

My “sweet tooth” has subsided since first getting sober, but I know it’s something many of us continue to struggle with. Before getting sober, I never looked at food addiction as a REAL addiction. Basically, I just thought fat people were fat because they liked food too much and couldn’t control themselves. I mean, come on, how hard is it to just shut the refrigerator door or not eat that extra helping of ice cream?

Of course, that would be the same thing as someone asking me, “Why can’t you just have one drink?” or “Do you really have to finish that WHOLE bottle of wine?” I was ignorant and judgmental.

As Heather from At The Picket Fence says, “addiction is addiction.”

Heather, along with her sister Vanessa (who is a dear friend of mine), co-authors a wonderful lifestyle blog called At The Picket Fence. While their posts usually center on DIY projects, parties and decorating, Heather recently posted her very personal and honest story about food addiction and what she’s doing about it.

As I read Heather’s story, I was struck by the similarities between her addiction to food and mine to alcohol. She says, “I eat when I’m happy; I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat to celebrate, I eat to mourn…and occasionally I eat for sustenance.” Just replace “eat” with “drink” and you would have my story. It’s that simple. Addition is addiction.

I continue to be amazed and grateful to people like Heather who open their hearts and souls in an effort to help others. Her honesty is refreshing and much needed in a culture of addiction that is often based on secrecy and deceit.

Thank you, Heather. For more of Heather’s story you can go here.

8 responses

  1. It’s so funny – I was just telling my fiancé today how odd it is that I never EVER craved or even enjoyed sugar until I quit drinking. Now I’m craving a chocolate bar a day !

    • I know, it’s crazy how the craving just kicks into high gear once you take the alcohol away. I always told myself if I was eating dark chocolate, it was good for me – ha! Over time, I’ve tried to find other things to satisfy my sweet tooth, like dried fruit, yogurt or fresh fruit. Easier said than done!

  2. Great topic…dear to my sweet, sugary, rich, decadent heart…which will probably explode if I don’t watch it either! I read Heather’s story and while I don’t identify fully with food per se, but like you I certainly could identify if we’re talking booze. And for me now, probably sugar. But that realization, that sudden clarity, that moment where calamity and calm meet for just a second…I get that. I think food is one of the toughest things to tackle – in terms of addiction. I mean, we have to eat, right? it’s not like booze or drugs or gambling or things like that where we can remove those activities and be alright…but food? That’s something you have to face daily, and make the choices and do the work every single day. Wow. But then again, I have to do the work daily to keep myself in fit spiritual condition. Regardless, I think it’s a tougher thing. And for women too – men don’t have to deal with the barrage of what a woman is “supposed” to look like and the desirability level attached to that. Men don’t care, for the most part. yeah, we all want 6 packs, but we know we rarely get them…ha ha.

    You are lucky your sweet tooth went away on its own. That’s wonderful! We were talking about that a bit at a meeting last night, and I swear that most of those people were salivating over the sweets and spoke of them like they used to speak of their booze – with loving adoration…ha ha.

    Anyway, great post and thanks for the link to the story. Awesome.


    • Oh, don’t get me wrong Paul, I still look forward to the end of month birthday cake at my Wednesday night meeting! The craving is still there – just not as intense as it used to be. As I mentioned to Chelsie, I’ve tried to find different, healthier ways to substitute my cravings like dried or fresh fruit, yogurt or trail mix. I’ve also found popsicles to be great during the summer! Also, you bring up some great points about food and women – so true! I’m just grateful for people like Heather who have the guts to talk about it since, like alcoholism, there tends to be a big stigma surrounding food addiction.

  3. Great post and message. I agree with Paul that food addictions seem like the hardest of all. I always had a sweet tooth, but it became unmanageable in sobriety. I’ve wrestled it to the ground a couple of times and we’re in something of a truce at the moment, but I know I have to remain vigilant and careful in the choices I make. It is nice to hear your sweet tooth calmed down. I think that will be helpful for people new in recovery to hear, especially those just discovering they have a sweet tooth.

    • Thanks BBB. Like anything, it’s hard. I try to make healthy choices, but sometimes that almond snickers bar left in the freezer from Halloween is just calling my name! Dang it! Glad you’re at a truce for now with your cravings!

  4. This actually brought up a kind of painful memory for me. I used to go to a therapist who was on the heavy side and admittedly suffered from a food addiction. In my judgmental state of “if she can’t kick her addiction, how will she help me”, I did end up switching therapists. Now…granted…my new therapist specializes in addiction which helps in some ways. But looking back, my OLD therapist most likely RELATED to me more b/c she inherently struggled with something very similar to what I do.

    And yes to the sugar cravings. I have NEVER been a sweets fan (unless it was disguised in a wine bottle I guess) but I do now have actual cravings for sugar. For example, the other night, I craved Salted Caramel ice cream. What’s really funny?!? I had never even TASTED salted caramel ice cream but it just sounded good. I did wait 3 days before giving into the craving…and when I did have ONE serving of it, it was the best damn ice cream I have ever had in my life. Ice cream I can moderate. Wine…’nuff said. I do enjoy the flavored sparkling waters – especially the White Grape flavor. It’s not quite a chardonnay but gives me the bubbly, sweet sensation and is quite tasty! Thanks for a great topic.

    • Yeah, we tend to think our addiction is “special” but really we’re all dealing with the same core issues. That’s too funny about the ice cream! I’m glad it met your expectations. That would’ve been a bummer if it turned out to be horrible! Oh yes, sparkling water – love it! Thanks for your comment!

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