Friday, 20 July 2012

Same shit, different substance

I love listening to phone in shows on the radio when I'm walking my dogs in the morning
Yesterday a woman rang in to this particular show to talk about her sugar addiction
She spoke about how she eats copious amounts of chocolate and gets up 2 or 3 times in the night to feed her sugar addiction
I have to admit I can relate to this, just last night I got up at 2am to make a cup of tea with biscuits
Various others rang in to tell their of their own sugar or food addiction
One man's story really stayed with me
He was a successful business man but the stresses of the job got too much for him and became addicted to drugs and alcohol
He lost his job, his marriage broke down and he sank into a deep depression
Eventually he got clean but his addiction then switched to food
He gained 6 stone in weight
Again he managed to conquer his addiction but then went to the other end of the spectrum and became addicted to exercise seeing his weight plummeted to 8 stone
In total he spent a year in psychiatric hospitals
I thought this man was so brave to tell his story and I could identify so much
Jumping from one addiction to another has been the story of my life
I think my food problems have been there from the beginning
Food has been the centre of my world since I was a small child although I didn't develop a full blown eating disorder until I was 18
Also as a child I began shoplifting and this has been an on and off problem ever since
I depended on it for money when I was on drugs
At age 14 I began smoking and have been quite a heavy smoker ever since
Also at age 14 I began to use alcohol and drugs and that developed into a serious heroin problem
All the while my eating disorder was silently forming
I managed to get clean off heroin at 25 but swiftly moved back to alcohol and also methadone
Then an exercise addiction developed alongside anorexia
In inpatient treatment I was put on various meds including anti depressants, anti anxiety meds and sleeping pills
I abused all of these up until very recently
One common trait in all of these addictions is the behaviours
The lying, the cheating, the stealing, the denial,  the secrecy, the deviousness
Same shit, different substance
For most of my life I have been addicted to something
I have never learned a more healthy way to deal with reality or my feelings so I numb them until I can't feel anything
My thought race through my mind at an alarming rate and they are more often than not negative
I would never talk to anyone the way I talk to myself
I am forever trying to drown out the noise of my thoughts or at least quieten them
So I always have a distraction
I have the radio on or the t.v on so I won't have to listen to myself
Meditation and mindfulness have been suggested to me but I can't stand being inside my own head so I'm reluctant to try them
So I continue running from myself and running from reality

Anyway back to food addiction
My friend who I mentioned a few posts ago who had gone into treatment is home again
There were complications with her health (blood sugars and iron levels) and the centre were not equipped to treat her medically
This friend has been a long standing member of Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)
FAA believe that certain foods are physically and psychologically addictive, namely sugar, flour and wheat
(Interestingly some studies show that sugar reacts in the same way as opiates in the brain)
So people in FAA recovery cut sugar, wheat and flour completely out of their diet
They also follow a strict food plan, weighing and measuring all their food
(I have witnessed this friend weighing her chicken in a restaurant)
Every little thing is accounted for although they don't count calories
They are careful not to call it a diet as it's more a way of life
In my desperation to find relief from my own eating disorder, I attended a few meetings with my friend a couple of years ago (My friend had been bulimic)
The meeting was much the same as an AA or NA meeting
I could identify with the women at the meeting but was reluctant to try the food plan having had a history of anorexia
I feared that the weighing and measuring could be triggering
I attended meeting for some months and went to their annual cooking demonstration (which I thought was funny because they cooked all this food but no one ate any)
I read the literature written by Kay Shepherd. Food Addiction and From the first bite
The books were very informative but in the end I decided that FAA was not for me
I just couldn't commit to the food plan
But I saw this method working for many others including my friend
I've been to her house for lunch and saw how she meticulously weighed and measured every morsel of food
The food was delicious by the way
I have asked my friend in the past do all the rules not get in the way of her life
She replied without hesitation that it in fact did the opposite, it gave her absolute freedom

Over the years I have often asked myself the question 'Am I addicted?'
How do I know when I'm addicted to something?
For me personally, I know I am becoming addicted to something when it alters my mood
When it affects my life negatively or when I'm becoming obsessed to the point that it's detrimental to my relationships, my work or my studies
I know I am becoming addicted when I feel the need to lie about my behaviour or defend it
So am I addicted to sugar?
Quite possibly yes
I know that when I binge I don't reach for fruit or veg, I reach for sugary, carbohydrate heavy foods
I get anxious if I don't have my preferred sugar fixes in the house
And most certainly getting up in the middle of the night to snack is not normal behaviour
Maybe that's the reason I left FAA
I just couldn't bear to give up my precious sugar
I shudder to think of a life stripped of all my addictions
But then again I can't bear to think of the rest of my life with them
We all have things that help us get through the day, be they healthy or otherwise and I definitely think that I have an addictive personality
Genetics are also not in my favour as addiction is rife in my family
In my own immediate family of 6, 4 of us are recovering addicts

With all that said, what do you think?
Is food especially sugar addictive?
How do you know when you are becoming addicted to something?

Thanks for reading and as always much love to you x


  1. hey.. i certainly think sugar is addictive.. i am addicted to caffeine.. i honestly dont know how i would survive without diet coke. And like you, when i binge it is for sugary food, or carbs, like bread etc.. so maybe there is truth in it?

    Also that FAA thing really sounds like an eating disorder.. but i guess that may be me thinking it sounds like an eating disorder as that much control over food is not seen as "normal" by the masses.. however my cousin who is a celiac and diabetic has to weigh out all her food carefully and calculate the grams of protein and carbs.. she in no way has an eating disorder though (i hope)so maybe you are right that you can become addicted..

    i hope you are ok ruby, lovely post as usual you really are thought provoking <3

    much love xx

  2. Thanks Rayya

    I am ok or at least I will be

    Hope you're ok too x

  3. Simple answer, yes:

    Sugar releases the same brain chemicals in your body that opioids do. It is definitely possible to have a food addiction based on chemistry alone. Sometimes it might only be a chemical reaction, other times the chemical reaction only occurs due to emotional memories of having consumed that particular food.

    1. Also for got to add that Milk does the same thing. It's part of a mammal's biology to produce opioids in milk in order to stimulate appetite in their young, ensuring that they don't starve.

  4. Thanks, I'm going to look at those sites right now x

  5. I think it's addictive, but I don't really know to what extent. I crave carbs a lot, because I have issues with low blood sugars, but I don't go overboard. My mum is a diabetic and she has a lot of problems with bedtime eating of chips/cookies/chocolate/muesli bars anything starchy & sugary. So yes, I do think they can be addictive!

    Hope you're okay

  6. Hey Bella, good to hear from you

    Hope you're okay too x

  7. I was watching "Intervention" and they had this guy who was 550 lbs, and he ended up joining FAA and said he was addicted to the sugar and the flour, and he made huge progress. And I've heard that scans show parts of the brain lighting up when eating sugar like when taking drugs, so I definitly believe it. There's a releif to bingeing, even if it's very temporary, and with the statistics out about disordered eating, I really do believe that food works as a drug for many people.

  8. Actually I think everyone is addicted to something... me, I'm also addicted to sugar or most likely carbs.

    Really good to hear form you, again another part of your life. I love it how open you're with it - that's good. It heals you and gives us more reality than tv or any papre <3

  9. I like phone in shows, too. It reminds you that everyone has problems even if they never show them.

    I find it really easy to become addicted to things. I have a really addictive personality which is why I stay away from a LOT of things. I can't say I have ever been addicted to sugar, though. I've never been able to get to grips with sweet things and it's never been the first thing I want to grab when binging. I guess I am lucky in that sense. But I always seem to trade in one addiction for another.

    1. I love them too. My favourite radio presenter died a couple of years ago and the replaced him with an absolute idiot so I now listen to a different station.
      I just love listening to conversations while not having to talk,
      Have you ever rung in to a show?
      I haven't, maybe someday x

  10. I've avoided drugs because addiction is in my family and I know that once I started I'd not stop until it killed me.

    It hasn't stopped me from getting addicted to computer games and tv shows and collecting things, though. I used to slip off to a quiet room with a TV at parties so I could get my fix of an AU. I won't get a credit card because all the money would be gone on M:TG cards and yarn and fibre and BJDs and so many other things.

    Food can be addictive, and sugar too. Foods high in sugar, things that tasted sweet were one of the forms of quick, energy-dense foods our ancestors could find. We're programmed to seek them out and enjoy them.

    Look after yourself, ok? Arohanui from Kiwiland <3

  11. Hey Peri,

    Hope you're hanging in there,

    Sending you lots of gra (Irish for love) from Eire x

  12. Hey Ruby, I would say I am definitely addicted to sugar. I feel deprived if I don't eat something sweet everyday or if I leave the supermarket with no sweet foods - it makes it so much harder to eat right. When I binge, there always has to be chocolate involved. I'm cutting down on the sugar though, even though I wish I could cut it out completely!
    Take care.
    Alice xx

  13. Hey Alice, unfortunately, I am the same, sugar is an ever present constant in my life. Sugar and salt. They are my drugs.

    Take care of you too x

  14. we need it to survive. just like air and water. too much is the problem.

  15. I definitely eat too much, I crave it the way I used to crave heroin

    Hope you're well Loulou x

    1. procrastinating, damn me. but fine.
      argh, this is what makes ED related addictions so hard to conquer. you cannot cut the addictive substance out of your life completely

      (in case someone will lecture me about ed and the rules here: NO one canNOT survive without glucose)

      ruby love feel free to delete this comment if you like.



Thank you for leaving some love x