I talked to a client today. She has been in one or another of the OA programs for a few years. She was really frustrated. For her, the programs she attended, defined her abstinence by their rules. Their rules did not fit her needs. And some times, she had to change the rules.
She had to get written permission from her doctor AND her dietitian to change the rules for the two days after her surgery in order to still be counted abstinent.
She had to call a certain number of people a day; she had to control her portions in a particular manner, and she had to commit her food in a particular manner, or ……..
She was not abstinent and not allowed to speak at the meetings. “I felt such guilt and shame if I did not follow the rules, she said. “But their rules just don’t work for me.”
Let’s talk today about abstinence…what it is and what it isn’t. What follows is my opinion, after 29 years of counseling food addicts. It is only my opinion. Why should you believe it? Use it? I am not a food addict. BUT I have both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nutrition from Drexel University and I am a Registered Dietitian and a licensed nutritionist. But I am not a food addict. However, I have been listening to food addicts and learning to help them for twenty-nine years. I have seen thousands of people succeed at getting free.
Now. The main OA program says that this is YOUR program and you get to run it in any way that works for you. Abstinence has been defined in a variety of ways, but the one I like best is “Abstinence is a state of mind characterized by freedom from the obsession with food.”
Now what do you need to do to be free of the obsession with food?
I think this is different for every person and may change over time. You get to define your own program. When others tell you about their recovery program, look at what it is doing for them; what do you want your recovery program to do for you?
When others tell you that you are “Not Abstinent”, you probably aren’t, by their rules. But you get to set your own rules with your trusted advisors as to what’s abstinent and what isn’t. Abstinence means you stop hurting your body, mind and spirit with your food behaviors, and you begin to create the life you always wanted.
I’m going to begin this series of blog posts with the guidelines I use in my office and my classes to help people define their own abstinence: and I am going to write the next few posts on how to create your own concept of abstinence. There are a few principles I use, in my office, to decide how to write a food plan; here are some:
The first goal is freedom from self-abusive and self-destructive food behaviors: bingeing, purging, starving, restricting, obsession, and cravings.
The second is to take out all your drug and trigger foods, and all their friends and cousins. This will leave a hole in your food plan, so
Goal three is to meet the body’s nutrient needs. That means:
2 to 4 fruits a day
2 to 6 vegetable servings a day
Adequate protein for your height and weight
Adequate fats for skin, hair, nails, and hormones
A good source of calcium and other B vitamins and minerals.
Goal Four: ENOUGH food that the body isn’t hungry all day. You should feel hunger for about ten minutes before meal time and feel satisfied afterward.
Goal Five: Calories and nutrients in the right amount to maintain or lead you to a normal body weight and meet your other goals. If you are a nursing mom, for instance, I want you to have enough milk. If you are a long-distance runner, I want you to be able to do that effectively.
Goal Six: Have enough fluid to meet the body’s needs. Take your weight in pounds, divide by 2, and that is the number of ounces of fluid you should drink in a day. Sodas, milkshakes, and other sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages don’t count. Use water, seltzer, or herbal tea.
For our next blog, make yourself a list please – what are the foods that ALWAYS cause you trouble: Sugar? Flour? Fat? Sugar and fat? Salty? Caffeine? Alcohol? Chocolate? Volume, that is more? Salty/crunchy? Smooth/creamy? What are the things that consistently set you off?
I hope you will stick around to hear more specifics about these concepts, in the next few weeks.
That’s my rant for today. Hope you liked it. Be welcome to comment below.
Blessings to you;