Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A very wise and wonderful friend of mine said that a food addiciton was the hardest addiction she ever had to fight. Of course, I don't know firsthand about serious addictions - I mean I smoked a lot of pot and did other junk in high school, but never relied on it. But I do know about food addiction and smoking.

Right now, I am battling them both. I used to think that I would smoke forever because I was afraid that quitting would make me eat. I've been off and on the cigarettes for 6 months now and I've gained weight whether I was smoking or not.

So I started thinking about food addiction. Of all the addictions, this one is probably the worst one to have. There really is no stigma attached to being a food addict. You won't lose your house, it is easy to hide and the goods are readily available and affordable. No one ever went to rehab because they were a Doritos junkie.

There is no 12-step program, no sugar substitute injection clinic, no anonymous hotline. Food addicts are left to fend for themselves. That's pretty harsh for someone who can't seem to walk away from the Oreos, or can freely put the potato chips in the shopping cart, or purchase a fix in full public view.

And the saddest part is - there are hundreds of millions of us. Food addicts are probably more prevalent than all the other addicts combined. Year after year we open our wallets for the latest diet, hoping to find one that works. There is no government funding or subsidy to help cover the cost of weight loss programs. Businesses will pay for employees to quit smoking, but you'd have a hard time getting your boss to foot the bill for Weight Watchers.

So what can we do? We have to rely on each other. Set up our own little network of support. Develop our own programs that provide real-life solutions.

As for me, I'm going to get a sponsor. I'm sure she won't mind the 2 a.m. "I'm going to drive to 7-11 in my pajamas to get a slurpee" phone call.

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