Every addiction is like every other. I read one time that all addictions capture about the same percentage of people who try the behaviors. The number is steady at around six percent. That means that ninety four percent of the people who try heroin are not going to be sleeping under a bridge because of it someday. That also means that the two out of three Americans that are overweight are not addicted to damaging foods. The fact that they are not addicted means that their problem is likely due to a screwed up food delivery system that actually makes it hard to make the right choices.
If you are an over eater, or if you can’t resist that third piece of birthday cake with ice cream, then you may be in the six percent of people that are actually addicted to eating. If you are, there are competing ways these days for how to deal with your addiction. The old standby way is using the Alcoholics Anonymous method of absolute abstinence, relying on the power of god to help you where your own human weakness cannot be relied upon to resist the temptations of life. This method count’s the days, and resets if you slide, giving you no credit for the days that came before your fall. We who have quit smoking all know this way…200 days and then I had to start over at 1.
The newer ways to deal with addiction don’t deal with it in the same way. Today in the New York Times there is a great article on addiction treatments (on alcohol, but they are all the same in your head).
it uses a suite of techniques that provide a hands-on, practical approach to solving emotional and behavioral problems, rather than having abusers forever swear off the substance — a particularly difficult step for young people to take.
And unlike programs like Al-Anon, A.A.’s offshoot for family members, the C.M.C.’s approach does not advocate interventions or disengaging from someone who is drinking or using drugs. “The traditional language often sets parents up to feel they have to make extreme choices: Either force them into rehab or detach until they hit rock bottom,” said Carrie Wilkens, a psychologist who helped found the C.M.C. 10 years ago. “Science tells us those formulas don’t work very well.”
The new approaches allow for normal behavior, trying to temper the excessive habits with more productive habits. In the article they describe a woman that had trouble with drinking in Kansas, but when she moved to New York she was able to replace that kind of stimulation with the productive pursuits of an intellectual life in the big city. If you have ever lived in small town America this will ring true. All of the other personal addictions will be harder to overcome in small communities, because the choices for productive activities are limited. People don’t have to work so hard just living out there now, which leaves a lot of minutes to fill in a twenty four hour day. Some of us fill those minutes with food and drink. It’s a habit.
Trying to change my eating habits I have decided that I am not quitting. I am not dieting. I am changing. I still eat sugar. I still eat carbs and breads. I am picking whole foods and vegetables. I am eating what I want, as long as I cook it myself. We eat out mindfully, picking carefully as we can from the menu and not eating foods that might have hidden sugar. We eat real butter and lard, instead of processed oils and margarine. If I eat cake, I don’t reset any kind of counter, because there is nothing wrong with eating a sweet desert infrequently. Resetting a counter would imply that all the progress I have made at building up better habits is lost when I don’t follow my rules once. It is ridiculous to think that my changes are all lost at that moment. My changes are real, they are with me as my own personal history. I build on all progress and even setbacks are learning experiences that I may also build upon.
I am having a great time changing one small thing at at time. Next for me is my omega oils!