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Addiction, gluttony and pleasure.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


With the problems facing the Mayor of Toronto getting major press coverage both in Canada and all over the world, I've never seen more info out there about addictions -- and in particular the intersection among the three main types of addiction: food, alcohol and drugs.

People want to change the way they feel. Instantly. By self-medicating with food, with alcohol, or with drugs. That's apparently the common denominator among addictions.

They're all drugs, of course. And no question: for me, food has always been my drug of choice.

However, something I had not thought much about until recently is the inverse correlation between unrestrained indulgence in food addiction (gluttony) and pleasure. Because the impulse to gluttony is by no means a thing of my past. I have not licked my food addiction (if you'll pardon the expression!).

Have to confess that on occasion I still find myself simply wanting to stuff my face without ceasing . . . what used to be referred to in Biblical terms as the "sin" of gluttony. but now is more commonly called bingeing.

When I contemplate eating a whole big bag of potato chips -- indulging in gluttony -- I'm thinking it will change the way I feel. That it will give me pleasure.

The taste. The crunching. The saltiness. The greasiness. Mmmmmmmm! Potato chips!!!

So yeah, it helps a lot if I remind myself that gluttony doesn't work that way for me.

Eating more potato chips actually gives me less pleasure. Makes me feel dehydrated, bloated and sick. Pretty quickly, too. Within a half hour, or even less time, depending upon how fast I'm chowing them back. And the non-pleasure is sustained, well into the next day.

Other than my recent experiment at they gym with that tiny vending machine bag of baked cheddar cheese and sour cream Lays . . . (and despite all the subsequent trouble I had to persuade myself not to buy another small bag, and then not to buy a bigger bag) . . . it's been a long time since I've been drawn into this kind of compulsive non-stop chomping

But I'm not complacent about it. Has happened many times in the past. Could happen again. And those baked Lays demonstrated that potato chips still have the power, in my world.

Here at Spark most people are struggling with food addiction. And we know there's lots of social stigma attached to eating too much . . . we've all experienced the evil eye directed at our restaurant or grocery cart choices, or our less-than-svelte bodies.

But: I think it's still the case that even more criticism is aimed at people who drink too much. I read recently that more and more so-called "professional" women are getting into the 2-3++nightly glasses of wine thing. And acknowledging they're veering towards alcohol addiction. (I'm consistently a 1 glass of wine person, just once a week or so . . . not because I'm so virtuous but mostly because I absolutely hate the sensation of even the mildest hangover. )

Drugs? Never tried 'em. Not even once. Despite having been a teenager during the height of the marijuana Reefer Madness craze, when usage was incredibly widespread. And now, even though many seem to have a tolerant and non-judgmental attitude towards pot, it's still illegal most places. However, the Toronto media frenzy in response to mayoral admission of cocaine use indicates that of all addictions (food/alcohol/drugs) it's pretty clear that street drugs still draw the most disapprobation.

Best possible drug? Endorphins, self-generated from exercise. Absolutely legal, absolutely free, and offering many many side benefits! Changes the way I feel instantly. Changes the way I feel tomorrow too. And eventually, of course, changes the way I look.

Today, however, exercise endorphins generated were possibly too much of a good thing. I may have overdone the raking and bagging of heavy wet maple leaves, and subsequent heaving them into the wheel barrow and trundling them out to the curb.

And nope, all this really wasn't motivated by exercise gluttony. Just gotta get it done before the leaves are all matted down and buried under the snow until spring.

(DH would be quick to tell ya: didn't do nearly as much of it as him! Thirty-one big leaf bags total, maybe a fifth attributable to me?)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    "Best possible drug? Endorphins, self-generated from exercise. Absolutely legal, absolutely free, and offering many many side benefits! Changes the way I feel instantly. Changes the way I feel tomorrow too. And eventually, of course, changes the way I look."

    100% true! Absolutely. Not easy to switch to that type of "self-medicating" but well worth the efforts for the way it makes you feel (healthier, no guilt, more energy) and bonus points for the positive affect on how we look.

    HUGS -- great blog.
    1684 days ago
    I've just been reading a book 'Potatoes not Prozac' which gives scientific reasons why sugar has similar effects on some of our bodies as alcohol has in the body of an alcoholic. Its quite interesting and makes a lot of sense. This is no easy battle we are fighting!! emoticon emoticon
    1686 days ago
  • RR1_RR1
    Great blog post. Im guilty with the wine and the food. The wine thing is triggered by stress- thats why most professional women do it I think. Also think it has something to do with "getting out of our heads" or wanting something tangible to make us feel better or relax. I was actually thinking of this very thing the other night thinking wishing I could eat something to make me feel better. I didn't because I knew it wouldn't make me feel better. So you are absolutely right to look ahead at the concequences.
    1686 days ago
    I keep waiting for the day when the pull to eat more...and more...goes away. I know it's usually not real physical hunger that's driving me and most of the time I can resist it, but I still cave into it every now and then. Probably more often then I should.

    It's great to know that I'm not alone in feeling like this and that there are others out there like you, who are successfully managing their weight in spite of these urges and occasional slips.
    1686 days ago
  • KANOE10
    As you say addiction is present in many forms. I also have experienced the negative effects from gluttony..physically feeling awful. I would rather lean toward the exercise addiction as I feel so much better!

    1686 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Oh those potato chips!! Did you have to mention them?? Salty has always been my weakness too. Chips or cheese snacks. My addiction to exercise has allowed me a lot of wiggle room, but with the downtrend in my body's ability to do it at the intensity I want means I have to roll back the calories too. No excuses -the Trackers let me know the range I have to stay in given my exercise for the day. Love that new feature that it changes daily depending on what I do.
    Wow! That many bags of leaves!! I imagine its very pretty in your area, the fall colours must be incredible! Hope you aren't too sore after your efforts to clean them up.
    1686 days ago
    I fight the urge to eat MORE, to pander to my desire for continual chewing and swallowing, every day. Some days I succeed better than other days. Exercise helps to tamp down the "now-ness" of the demand, but it doesn't keep it away. Concentrating on a project away from food helps, too. Deciding "I WILL NOT!" has power commensurate with my motivational strength that day. (your chant of "no choice, no choice, no choice!" resonates then.) Eating a balanced diet with plenty of water, fruit and vegetables helps, too.

    It surprises me that it isn't just one food, like your potato chips, for me. I can make anything that is either crunchy or chewy, sweet or salty, into my weakness. That's why I'm here... to be reminded of the help available and the consequences of not being vigilant.

    Thanks, Ellen, for another blog that speaks to my issues.
    1687 days ago
  • NANCY-
    As always you provide much food for thought. (excuse the expression)
    Thanks for the link.
    I have enjoyed the barbs pointed at the Mayor of Toronto saying his excuse was he was in a drunken stupor. Really? That's the excuse?
    What excuses have I been using? Perhaps just trying to get that feeling. Changing behavior and practices is challenging but doable.

    Take it easy on the leaf raking. emoticon

    1687 days ago
    Gluttony. A good old fashioned word. I am prone to this one, and I love this post
    1687 days ago
    emoticon No addictions to raking leaves I imagine emoticon

    Hope you haven't overdone it and are feeling the ache of the rake. Sounds like a lovely day.
    1687 days ago
    I agree- many of us seem to have some level of addiction - to one thing or another.
    My famliy addiction is alcohol, which I struggle with, mostly because I am so very sensitive to the issue and tend to overthink it.
    I do love my wine, though, and have a hard time giving it up altogether.
    I know a family nearby in which the 3 brothers are pretty severe alcoholics and the 2 sisters do not drink but are both severely obese.
    1687 days ago
    I love the endorphins from exercise. Love em. I hope to break the food addiction as well. 1 day at a time. I know how bad a relapse with food can be, so it's 1 day at a time.
    1687 days ago
    Cardio, an upper body workout, and endorphins, all in one!
    1687 days ago
    I wish I could say I was as virtuous as you! I suffer/have suffered from all of the addictions you mentioned, and I could add one more: tobacco! Never did many drugs, "just" marijuana, but stopped that when I was 30; gave up cigarettes when I was 45, have given up wine multiple times and currently have not had any alcohol for a few months; and still, and always, struggle with the food addition. But I'm loving being addicted to exercise, so at least I've got that going for me.
    1687 days ago
    And another big one in my area is gambling addiction. We have the most casinos in the U.S. and buses from 10 different ones have several stops a day at a nearby mall. And they are always full.
    1687 days ago
    That was such a wonderful, inspirational post! Thank you.
    1687 days ago
  • DALID414
    I caved and grabbed a bag of Classic Lays the other day, I instantly felt myself swell up! Awful, awful experience!
    Did I not use to swell up before? Or was I just so used to constantly being swollen that there wasn't much to notice?
    1687 days ago
    That was thoughtful and interesting. There are two motivational posters out there that illustrate your points. I wish there was a way to post the images in a comment, but the texts are "FOOD IS THE MOST ABUSED ANXIETY DRUG. EXERCISE IS THE MOST UNDERUTILIZED ANTIDEPRESSANT." and from SparkPeople, "EXERCISE IS A REWARD, NOT A PUNISHMENT FOR EATING."
    1687 days ago
    As a self-identified compulsive overeater I completely identify with this. The lure, the "promise" that certain foods hold over us is no less strong than is alcohol for the alcoholic. There are those who don't believe it's real, but if you've lived it... you know better.

    One day... one decision... at a time... we can recover. But we have to keep working at it. Exercise gluttony? Can lead to injury and pain, too.
    1687 days ago
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