Alcoholics Anonymous Step Two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.“
I sat in the non-smokers section of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and listened to men and women tell their stories. Despite the loud ventilation system, I heard pain, joy, and most important hope. As they spoke about hitting bottom, what their lives were like before, and how they escaped addiction, and now what their lives are like, you hear the word, miracle or miraculous throughout. Many people’s lives have changed through AA. Not all, but many.
That’s alcohol and that’s addiction. Most agree. But what about food? And can you be addicted to food? I believe the answer is yes. I’ll be sharing from the book, “Dopamine Nation: Finding balance in an Age of Indulgence,” by Anna Lemke, MD, and her thoughts about breaking up with food. Her book has changed what I think about addiction.
Old Beliefs about Addiction:
You can only become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Addiction is the process of increasing your tolerance of a substance, needing more and more of the substance to get the same effect. You drink or use more to overcome that tolerance.
New Beliefs about Addiction:
Anytime you activate the pleasure pathway, you activate a dopamine response. The regular use of pleasurable substances or engaging in a pleasurable activity, stimulates a dopamine response. Regular releases of dopamine can increase the risk of developing your increased tolerance to dopamine. In other words, because of your increased tolerance to dopamine, you need more and more dopamine to get the same pleasurable response. We become dependent on this activity or substance to sustain your increasing tolerance to dopamine.
You become addicted to dopamine and the activity or substance that activates the release of dopamine.
The food-pleasure pathway. You eat food, sugar, fat, salt and feel good. Do you love that feeling?
My grandmother Louise would make me a birthday cake each year, and I would always request a banana cake with peanut butter icing, and MF, it was good. My wife made one for my 67th birthday. MF it was good! All the memories, all the sugar, all the love I felt in one piece of cake. It was a dopamine high. I ate a piece and froze the rest. It’s in my freezer, and I’m tempted to take out a piece and eat it right now. But I realize the danger of activating my pleasure pathway. I didn’t have any added sugar yesterday. Hopefully, not today. It’s dangerous! Sugar is addictive, don’t doubt it for a second.
Food addiction is no different from any other form of addiction. If you are going to overcome food addiction, you will need to come to believe that there is a power that can restore you to sanity. It’s the power that you have within you. It is greater than you and it is you. It is the magic that you have within.
The Magic Within
It’s the combination of all the positive voices within you. It’s your fifth-grade teacher who told you that you can accomplish anything if you just try and study. It’s the high school English teacher who told you that you were smarter than what you think. It’s the father or mother or grandparent who held your hand and hugged you and told you that you were special, in a good way.
Your power is all those voices within you.
Your power is the dreams that were planted in your soul by many, many, many people who love you and have sewn within you the seeds of growth and possibility. There’s hope within you because there is power within you. As you set out to change your life, know that there is a power greater than yourself. It can be God. It can be the inner power that comes from those “voices” that hoped for your best.
My hope comes from my mother who told me that I could be anything I wanted to be.
My hope comes from all the successes that I’ve had these 60+ years.
My hope comes from seeing others change, and grow, and overcome addiction, and become better.
As you set out to change your life, know that there is a power greater than yourself.
People change because they have hope.
They believe in the power of change. You can and will change if you believe in the power that is greater than yourself, if you believe in that power within you.
If you believe you can change, you can overcome your addiction to food. Hope is not enough, but hope is the miracle part. You will need many tools for change, but hope is the one indispensable tool.
I have given you several tools that you will need to begin that changed, but we will also need hope.
You may not believe in magic, but if you believe in yourself, you will see magic. You will see the power change you from within.
You will finally break up and stay broke up with food!
To read more entries in the Healthy Aging series, click here.