So you've discovered raw and living foods and you're doing great--you've got your food prep books and your youtube videos, you're cranking out kale chips and flax crackers like a champ and sporting your green smoothie mustache proudly. You feel great, you've never looked better, and you would secretly (or not so secretly) love to put everyone you know on raw and living food!
And then...some time goes by. And temptation starts to rear it's ugly head. Co-workers bring treats to the break room at work. Well-meaning family members make a special (non-raw) treat "just for you" or any other of a million scenarios, wherein, it happens, you slip up. There is no shortage of temptations for the person who chooses healthy options in a sick food world. Victoria Boutenko, in her book 12 Steps to Raw Food, demonstrates a lot of research that shows that there are many addictive compounds formed when cooking food. This would explain why so many of us have had issues with compulsive eating and being addicted to some foods, especially white flour, sugar, dairy products, especially cheese, and meats.
I'm of the belief that all addiction, be it alcoholism, drug dependency, sex addiction, shopping addiction, or food addiction, are all manifestations of the same condition. And yet, while there are inpatient treatment programs for alcohol and drug dependency, the person who is slowly eating herself to death gets told she just needs to eat less and exercise more. That is a lot like telling an alcoholic, "All you have to do is quit buying alcohol. There, problem solved!" We all know WHAT to do, don't we? And we raw foodies know better than anyone what a healthy diet looks like. It's the HOW to get ourselves to do it that's the problem, just like it is when dealing with any addictive substance.
With that in mind, I have borrowed techniques used in Addiction Medicine by the medical field, to treat alcohol and drug dependency, to cope with my own disordered eating. And now that God has relieved me from my compulsion, in and through His grace and power, it is my job to be vigilant and guard against going back to my old ways, and slipping back to that place where He was perfectly willing to help me, but I was not willing to take the help. Staying "sober" from problem foods, for me, requires rigorous honesty and willingness to remember that I am responsible for keeping myself on track, and being on the lookout for signs that my feet are falling off the path. Life is a series of course corrections. Before you can correct your direction, you need to realize you are veering off the path in the first place.
Here is a worksheet, that I've adapted from the Addiction Medicine Drug and Alcohol Dependency program, that addresses relapse. Relapse is more than the act of finding yourself at the drive through of Fatty Burger getting handed a greasy bag through a window. Relapse actually starts a lot earlier, in your head and in your behaviors, and has warning signs and symptoms. If we heed these signs, we have an early warning system that it's time to kick in our emergency plan and make sure that we are extra rigorous in following our loving limits and getting the support we need to keep from slipping. My hope and my prayer for you is that you will find this valuable for your journey, as I have.
RELAPSE WARNING SIGNS
2. Compulsive Behavior
7. Feeling hopeless
10. Irregular eating habits
11. Sleep problems
13. Loss of daily structure
16. Thoughts of eating trigger foods
17. Rejection of help
19. Dissatisfaction with life
20. "I don't care" attitude
21. Loss of constructive planning
23. Stop checking in with support community/people
24. Controlled trigger food eating
25. Loss of control
26. HALTSS: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Sad, or Stressed
Which are your most likely symptoms?________________________________________________________
Cognitive Warning Signs: What thoughts do you have that are signs of imminent relapse? (What does the BRAT say to you to convince you that it's ok?________________________________________________________________________________________
Emotional Warning Signs: What feelings do you have that are warnings of possible relapse?_______________
Behavioral Warning Signs: What behaviors are you engaging in that make relapse more probable?___________
What can you say back to to those compulsive thoughts? Why is it important to you to avoid relapse?______
How can you constructively deal with your feelings without using your trigger foods or overeating?___________
What behaviors or situations do you need to avoid or change to put you back in a "safe zone"?_____________
What support people or structures (such as church, websites) can you reach out to?______________________
What specific trigger foods (or groups of foods)
have I identified that I must avoid?______________________________________________________________