The Making of a Food Addict

I have no idea why one person evolves into a compulsive eater and the next one doesn’t. Yes, food was associated with comfort during my childhood, but isn’t that true for everyone? I was skinny as a kid, and my sister and I grew up back in the day when children still played outside for hours at a time, so I ran off every excess calorie. Even though there were certain dishes I loved (e.g., my grandma’s shrimp dip and lemon meringue pie), I rarely overate.

aWhen I was fourteen, my mother remarried and my safe little life spun out of control. We moved from Chicago to a rinky-dink town in rural Illinois. I was already painfully shy and immature, and the upheaval was excruciating. In the emotional whiplash, I discovered the consolation of food. I got a worker’s permit and an after-school job at Dairy Queen, where we were free to make our own sundaes, so you can imagine what sort of concoctions we kids came up with. After work, when my family had already retired for the night, I’d slip quietly into the apartment and fix a fried egg and bologna sandwich. At some point during my fifteenth year, food got a hook in me.

bBy the time I was 20, I had a baby and was in a disastrous marriage that would last for more than two decades. We were living in an old, ramshackle house; it was so cold at night that a leftover cup of coffee would freeze on the kitchen table. The house sat on a country road surrounded by cornfields. I was terribly isolated with virtually no friends, no phone, and no transportation. I was forbidden to visit my own family even though they lived just a few miles away. To top it off, I was unknowingly battling the initial stages of thyroid disease.

One day as my son napped in the next room, I sat down with a batch of chocolate chip cookies and I couldn’t stop. Sugar became my drug. The act of eating brought instant relief from the pain and hopelessness.

I began to look forward to these occasional moments alone with food. After the birth of my son, I’d lost every trace of baby weight in 30 days, so I always promised myself I’d have just a few cookies or just one Twinkie. But at some point during each binge—usually by cookie number three or Twinkie number two—the satisfaction would morph into compulsion. That little regulator inside a person that tells them they’ve had enough stopped functioning. I railroaded right over the voice of reason, trying to make the gratification last just one minute longer.

For the next few years, the binges were serious but sporadic. I held my addiction at bay until my mid-twenties . . .

bThat’s all I can muster for now. Laying my story “out there” is difficult—but worth it if it helps even one person. Understand that if you feel powerless against food, there’s hope. The path to healing is not an easy journey, but there’s hope and there’s freedom. See ya next time.

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4 thoughts on “The Making of a Food Addict

  1. I love this and I’m so glad you shared. Your story helps more than you realize. You said the path isn’t easy, but there is hope- would you say you’re recovered or still struggling with the addiction?

    • It’s so encouraging to know that my story helps others. In answer to your question, on one hand, I’m no longer an addict (doing the dance of joy right now). On the other hand, I’m aware that if given the “right” circumstances, it’s possible I could go back there, just like a former alcoholic could fall off the wagon under certain circumstances. I don’t live in fear of spiraling into addiction again——not at all!——but I know where/when I’m vulnerable. Do I ever still have a self-destructive thought or a battle of the wills with a bowl of ice cream? Once in awhile, yes. But the overarching theme of my life is freedom. My relationship with food is NOTHING like it used to be. If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, you might want to because I’m going to continue with this topic for awhile so that I can explain how the Lord brought me out of compulsion and into a place of freedom. Blessing and hope and liberty to you, Jenny!

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