The physical part of this disease is my abnormal reaction to sugars, grains, and high-carbohydrate foods. The GreySheet food plan eliminates these foods that trigger an uncontrollable craving in me to get more of the same. The mental part of this disease is the obsession that I can return to eating like a normal person and the delusion, that is a flaw in my hard-drive, that one day, I will become a normal eater. This part is extremely insidious - even after I become perfectly clear that I can't handle certain foods - that I am beaten bloody by the food - eventually, the old idea will insinuate itself sooner or later, that now I am "cured," I am "different" from the others, that I can handle the food on my own. The treatment for this mental obsession is continued participation in the GreySheet recovery community - meetings for those of us with meetings available, carrying the message to the overeater who still suffers, and keeping in the forefront for myself what happens to people who fail to continue to participate. ("We keep going to meetings to find out what happens to people who don't go to meetings.") The spiritual part of this disease, as I understand it, is described in the AA 12 Steps & 12 Traditions as "alcoholic apartness." Feeling different. Feeling better than. Feeling less than. Isolating. Various forms of self-centered fears and all sort of judgments against myself and others. Some common manifestations for the spiritual part of the disease: self-pity, resentment, jealously, fear, envy, and frustration. The treatment for this part of the disease is found in the slogans and in the 12 steps. I believe that newcomers on the GreySheet shouldn't worry too much about the steps in the beginning; just the profound humility that goes into the surrender of planning, committing to a sponsor, and weighing and measuring the food, and not eating in between meals, no matter what, that is a huge spiritual workout in itself. During these first few months, the slogans can be extremely helpful. Most of them embody the principles of the 12 steps in a first-aid format and are relatively easy to assimilate in the beginning.
Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Solution
I am still weighing and measuring without exception my 3 beautiful abstinent GreySheet meals each day, one day at a time. Because I'm an addict (and as such, fundamentally a sneak, cheat and liar around my food), I continue to commit my food daily to my food sponsor. I write it down, and keep the 3 by 5 spiral notebook where I have written it in my kitchen - set up like a little easel, so that while I prepare my meals, I check and make sure I've got it exactly as committed. I don't make decisions about my food on my own. It is extremely easy for me to lie to myself about my food - but it is extremely uncomfortable for me to lie to another person. The way the Cambridge GreySheet program has been passed down to me via my sponsor, and the long-term abstinent GSers in NYC where I live, is that we continue to commit our food daily to our sponsors, indefinitely, a day at a time. I know this is a major factor supporting my abstinence because it helps me stay honest around my food. I do this, and all the other things I do to support my abstinence, because I am a food addict. I am "carbohydrate sensitive," so the low-carbohydrate GreySheet food plan is a big help. But I am also just plain addicted to the process of eating. So the fact that we weigh and measure, a day at a time, indefinitely - so that all my meals have a clear-cut beginning and a clear-cut ending - this is another huge factor in protecting my abstinence. Because addiction is a disease - progressive, fatal and incurable - there is no way that I will ever become "normal" around food. It is not because I am spiritually unfit that I have this disease (although living in active addiction certainly corrodes moral fiber). And no amount of spiritual work, no amount of lifting of my defects of character by my loving higher power, is ever going to make me into a normal eater. No more will I ever safely take a drink of alcohol, or safely use recreational drugs. Oh, yes, because this fatal, progressive, and incurable illness is three-fold (mental, physical and spiritual), the solution with which I can hope to arrest this illness in the long term (one day at a time) must also be three-fold.
- Easy Does it [Bedroom Slippers];
- There's Another Meal Coming;
- One Day At A Time;
- Keep It Simple;
- Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Plate;
- Live and Let Live;
- You Are As Sick As Your Secrets;
- Let Go and Let God;
- Don't Eat No Matter What, to mention a few.
- And especially helpful for overeaters, who hate rejection:
- This (GS group, AA group, etc.) is not a social club. It is medicine.
- It isn't necessary for other members to like me in order to save my life, and I don't need to like them for me to be saving their lives.
At a certain point, of course - and I myself usually recommend that newcomers start after a year of back-to-back GreySheet abstinence - the steps are a really good idea for those who want long-term abstinence. It says in the Big Book (substitute "food" for "alcohol" and it becomes our basic source for recovery information) that if we fail to enlarge our spiritual life, we are bound to relapse. The Big Book says the 12 steps are the "recommended" program for recovery. Heard in an AA meeting: "Yes, and if you jump out of a plane, it is recommended that you pull the ripcord to open the parachute." But, again, though the steps become essential, there is no amount of step work, no amount of brilliant psychotherapy, no amount of sanctification, no amount of wisdom that will turn me from a food addict into a normal person around food. And no number of years wearing my cute little clothes and passing for normal among others will make me normal. GreySheet meetings, sharing with another compulsive eater to keep it green, and daily practice of the principles of the 12 Steps in all my affairs, this is the only medicine available up to this point in history that has a proven track record of arresting the disease I have for any significant period of time. This disease is progressive, incurable, and fatal. Just for today, I am grateful that I have found the medicine to arrest it, and I pray that I may continue in willingness to do so.
Thanks for listening. Don't eat no matter what. Thanks for saving my life. IDENMW.
Anonymous in NYC