Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guilt, Shame, and Other Ineffective Motivators

Let me get this right out in front. Food addiction is not sin. Glorying in it is. Flaunting it is. Refusing to do anything about it is.

Using willpower doesn't work for long except in very anal people, which I am not. For most of us, this is the thorn in the flesh that God refuses to remove, despite ernest prayer and pleas. Different methods work for different people, but having people guilt you, shame you, humiliate you, preach at you, quote Bible verses to you, tell you you just need willpower, or to pray harder, doesn't work. In fact, most of these things backfire, cause even more guilt and shame than we already carry, and drive us deeper into the food.

Scientists are working on drugs that work on those addiction centers of the brain that control the cravings for over-eating as well as other addictions. This is a brain-based disease and most of us can trace the cravings back to early childhood whether our bodies reflected the disorder or not.

Most of us have fought long and hard to contain the cravings. Yet the disease grows along with our hopelessness. We lose weight only to regain it with interest.

In addition to the cravings for the substance itself, food is a proven numbing medication for issues like sexual and physical abuse, service to others at the expense of taking care of ourselves, stuffing our feelings and not speaking up for ourselves, depression, and in my case I would add, ADHD.

For me, food helps me concentrate and sit still. The restlessness that overwhelms me, the stillness and concentration that society and social convention require from me are brought under control with food--especially chocolate.

This is the only addiction that requires you to indulge it 3x a day. We can't live with food and we can't live without it.

Don't judge us. Don't give us advice. Pray for us. Love us. Accept us the way we are. This is a disease of silence. but our bodies speak louder than our words. Encourage us to break our silence, to talk about the pain of our condition--which is the human condition, under which all creation groans, waiting for that final redemption.