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Thoughts on abstinence...

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Old 02-18-2013, 02:27 AM   #1
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Default Thoughts on abstinence...

I am trying to decide what I think this means for me. I am struggling because although my "food problem" has been binge eating for a couple of years now, I've also struggled with bulimia and the binge-purge-starve-binge cycle for years (have been "clean" of purging for two years and have not restricted in that time either). I know my two big trigger foods are chips and desserts of any kind so I feel like that's what I need to be "abstinent" from, but I also worry that that will somehow bump me into old thoughts of restricting. I have NEVER been able to eat sweets reasonably. I binge every single time I have even one bit of a dessert and have for as long as I can remember. Today after my meeting I was so convinced I was going to try giving up sweets, and I literally went to the store and bought a container of cookies not even three hours later because the "never eating it again" thing got to me. I know the slogan is "one day at a time" and I kept trying to tell myself it was "just for today" but in the back of my mind I can't let go of it actually being for forever! I can't figure out if my brain is just trying to make excuses for not being abstinent from sugar or if it really is a bad idea. I will say also I've tried the "everything in moderation" thing MANY times (have been on myfitnesspal for years and it will only work for me for a couple of weeks) and it hasn't worked. I know in ED recovery though they always talk about how no foods are ever off limits. What do you think?
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:56 AM   #2
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I am facing similar issues, and I look forward to reading comments and insights of other members in response to your post. I wish you the best in reaching your goals.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by haley87 View Post
I am trying to decide what I think this means for me. I am struggling because although my "food problem" has been binge eating for a couple of years now, I've also struggled with bulimia and the binge-purge-starve-binge cycle for years (have been "clean" of purging for two years and have not restricted in that time either). I know my two big trigger foods are chips and desserts of any kind so I feel like that's what I need to be "abstinent" from, but I also worry that that will somehow bump me into old thoughts of restricting. I have NEVER been able to eat sweets reasonably. I binge every single time I have even one bit of a dessert and have for as long as I can remember. Today after my meeting I was so convinced I was going to try giving up sweets, and I literally went to the store and bought a container of cookies not even three hours later because the "never eating it again" thing got to me. I know the slogan is "one day at a time" and I kept trying to tell myself it was "just for today" but in the back of my mind I can't let go of it actually being for forever! I can't figure out if my brain is just trying to make excuses for not being abstinent from sugar or if it really is a bad idea. I will say also I've tried the "everything in moderation" thing MANY times (have been on myfitnesspal for years and it will only work for me for a couple of weeks) and it hasn't worked. I know in ED recovery though they always talk about how no foods are ever off limits. What do you think?
This was me.

First off, I took it slow and gentle. It took me a while to find a sponsor I trust. She does not restrict foods and does not expect that of me. We spend most of our time talking about step work. I first restricted my foods to four meals a day. I just gave myself time to get used to times in the day when I wasn't eating. Then, by some Fracking Miracle one day, I realized that I could give up sugar. I didn't have any sugar that day and I haven't had it since (with two exceptions, where I "slipped" They were both situations with social pressure - my weakness.) But I really haven't gone back to my old ways.

The important part for me was to give myself the time and the space to really be ready. I took in the program, went to meetings, read books. Basically, I started to nurture myself in real ways. I think its easier to give up the fake ways of nurturing oneself when you have real nourishment.

I have this thing. I don't call it "abstinence." I don't relate to that word. I call it "nourishment." My OA commitment is to only to eat foods that are nourishing. Theoretically, I could eat sugar, if sugar was truly nourishing for me at the time. I can't imagine a situation in which it would, but it is a possibility.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:34 AM   #4
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I haven't been to OA in 20 years or so. When I went there was a huge focus on 'no sugar' of any kind...and frankly it's put me off - even though I am a compulsive over-eater with some binging, long histories of compulsive restriction - and possibly purging through exercise.

I'm doing intuitive eating with NO RESTRICTION. But in truth I am avoiding crisps (chips) and cakey, ice creamy kinds of desserts (I do eat fruit and sometimes for dessert). I did eat cake two days ago and I had some chocolate last night. I did not overeat the cake. In my current mode, I was genuinely hungry - that was the food I most wanted from what was on offer, and I stopped when I was full. The chocolate was definitely 'off plan' and was consumed not out of a desire to eat the chocolate but for emotional comfort when I was already slightly over-full from dinner. Emotionally I feel on the precipice of out-of-control...but I have no idea if this is because of the food or because my husband has made a sharp return to his emotionally abusive behaviour. I think it's more likely the latter.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:00 AM   #5
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Hayley - I'm an OA participant. I don't use the word abstinent. I use the word nourishing. So sugar doesn't nourish me. It leaves me wanting more and more because it can never scratch that itch.

I do still have sugar in my cabinet. For months after deciding that sugar doesn't nourish me, I had a huge chocolate bar in my kitchen. There's a pot of chocolate sauce in there now, come to think of it. I need the comfort of knowing that I can go back to this. Its not forever. My inner child - inner brat really - would throw a temper tantrum of massive amplitude if I did that. I don't want to beat that inner child down. I want to nourish her for real. I can go back to eating that stuff any time. I can also give it up any time. I can eat a bag of cookies, and go to a meeting 2 hours later, with two hours of abstinence (nourishing behavior in this case would be giving my poor stomach a break!) It works for me to focus more on nurishing foods and nourishing behaviors. Going to lots of meetings, working the steps, reading stuff, answering questions on the internet. These things nourish me in a real way and then the food issues are just a little bit more manageable. And suddenly I'm OK with leaving chocolate sauce in the kitchen and not eating it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:15 AM   #6
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I haven't been to OA in 20 years or so. When I went there was a huge focus on 'no sugar' of any kind...and frankly it's put me off - even though I am a compulsive over-eater with some binging, long histories of compulsive restriction - and possibly purging through exercise.

I'm doing intuitive eating with NO RESTRICTION. But in truth I am avoiding crisps (chips) and cakey, ice creamy kinds of desserts (I do eat fruit and sometimes for dessert). I did eat cake two days ago and I had some chocolate last night. I did not overeat the cake. In my current mode, I was genuinely hungry - that was the food I most wanted from what was on offer, and I stopped when I was full. The chocolate was definitely 'off plan' and was consumed not out of a desire to eat the chocolate but for emotional comfort when I was already slightly over-full from dinner. Emotionally I feel on the precipice of out-of-control...but I have no idea if this is because of the food or because my husband has made a sharp return to his emotionally abusive behaviour. I think it's more likely the latter.
Almost me - I follow intuitive eating, too. I want to point something out to you in the hopes of being helpful. If I'm full of ****, please just ignore me. I'm an addict you know, and sometime my insights are not so insightful. lol

Its just that you are listing yourself as having taken a bet to loose a certain amount of weight by a certain date and then you post that you have an intuitive eating plan. These things don't fit. You're also posting in an section committed to OA but you don't seem to approve of OA.

I know that for me, these places where I believe two seemingly opposing things at the same time are very important. When I look at them carefully, I tend to find out some very important stuff about myself.

Scientifically, sugar affects human bodies in a certain way. It does act as a drug of sorts in that it affects our neuro-chemical balance. Only you can decide if your body has entered into an addictive cycle with sugar... or any food for that matter. I have a crazy addictive response to raisin bread, not any bread, just the raisin bread, even if its whole wheat. Go figure.

I know that when I eat raisin bread, my thinking gets all fuzzy. I can't really make good decisions for myself. Intuitive eating becomes impossible because I don't have clear thinking. So for me, OA became that thing I do so that I can follow my intuitive eating plan. There are many people in OA who have a very strict diet. We share the steps, but we don't talk about food. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that we continue to keep our hearts open and our heads clear so that we can really take care of ourselves in a real way.
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:41 PM   #7
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Hi Haley,

I'm new to OA and I started to "eat clean" 8 days ago, which was no sugar and no refined carbs. By day 2, I knew I needed help so I went to OA mtgs and it has REALLY helped. I started to not see it as deprivation (whatever it is that I'm abstaining from) but see it as this food might send me into a compulsive overeating cycle for the next few days or weeks, do I want to take that chance? Remembering how insatiable I feel when I eat certain foods with sugar in it helps me to not eat it that time. I don't think about "how long" I'm going to abstain from sugar, flour or potatoes, because thinking about "how long" automatically makes me think about how I'm going to binge before or after that period of abstinence. I decide it one day at a time and sometimes one moment at a time if I will abstain from this food this time. In the mean time, I'm reading the OA 12 & 12 and the AA Big book and working with my sponsor. Fortunately for me, my sponsor in another 12 step program is also in OA, so right when I started OA, I already had a sponsor I've known for more 2 years. We don't talk about my food much yet though. I'm doing the 30 day assignments and reading what I wrote to her everyday. I'm sure it has helped with the lack of compulsive eating in the last 8 days. In less than 1 week, I've read the step 1 chapter more than 5 times and most of what's in the new comer pamphlet. Sometimes I read it over and over again because my brain takes a while to learn new concepts. It has been really enlightening.

A lot of food prep and I have packed all of my lunches to make sure I have a plan of eating. For now it's 3 meals and 2 snacks (optional but I usually eat them), no sugar, no refined carbs and I only eat 1-2 apples a week cuz I haven't figured out how I would respond to the sugar in fruits yet. Taking it one day at a time. A typical day for me looks like 3 boiled egg white + 1/3 cup (dry) oatmeal for breakfast and then various veggies with chicken or turkey for lunch and dinner with a sweet potato. I've had to get creative and it's been time consuming BUT my mind seems CLEARER and I SEE my controlling behaviors more clearly. And I've been able to express hurts to my husband without anger which is so rare that I can't remember the last time it happened.

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Old 02-27-2013, 05:06 PM   #8
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At blog

at no point did I say I didn't approve of OA. Nothing further than the truth - however, I found that the very anti-sugar approach was off-putting to me and I often felt really judged. I have no problem with OTHER people staying free of sugar, or even trying that out. What I should have asked is if OA has changed and there's a more encompassing approach - as it sounds. Much of it was helpful, but some not so much... And I could certainly use the support that OA can provide.

As to the bet and the intuitive eating thing...ha! you're the first person to pick up on that (and say so, anyway) That bet was made quite a while ago and was a trigger for me to re-start intuitive eating and get away from overeating. I allowed myself (and my brother) enough time to lose the weight very slowly indeed. There's no forfeit, beyond an 'I did it...' I may possibly be over-training (i.e. purging) ...but it's hard to tell as I have started to play rugby and have had to push hard to get fit for that. I reckon I feel comfortable setting weight-loss goals for myself all the way down to maybe 180 or so as I just don't believe I'd weigh more than that if I'm being reasonably active and not overeating. After that...I'll just have to accept where the weight loss stops.
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:18 PM   #9
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I've been abstinent with the help of the Greysheet since June 2, 2012. I know that there are some differences between OA and Greysheet but Greysheet is what works for me.

When I was first introduced to the Greysheet I was very very resistant. It was nothing that I wanted to hear. All I could think of was all of the foods that I would be giving up. The thought of committing to forever was too much for me to handle. Why would I willingly give up alcohol when I didn't have an alcohol problem? Was I really never going to have bread again?

My sponsor explained the program to me and I was screaming NO NO NO in my head but when she asked me if I wanted to get started right away and have an abstinent dinner. I said yes. I don't know why I did because I surely didn't want to. I packed up all of the foods we don't eat and returned it to the grocery store and bought abstinent food.

I told myself that I could commit to anything for 30 days and that if it didn't work, I would stop. I didn't entertain forever in those first days. I said that I would give the program a legitimate month and then decide. During that first month, I would walk through the grocery store and think that when I made it to goal, I would start to incorporate those foods we don't eat back into my diet. That once I had lost the weight I would be normal and I would be able to eat like a normal person.

Then one day something clicked and I realized that I was a compulsive overeater a food addict and a sugar/carb addict. I personally need the Greysheet. I love not being in the food. I love that I can enjoy the holidays with my family and not spend all my time wishing that I would have a moment alone to binge. Lying in bed waiting for everyone to fall asleep so I could go back in the kitchen and sneak food. I'm finally free from all of that. I finally admitted the truth about my secret food behaviors and just for today I know that there is no sugar or food that would be worth putting myself back in that place.

People ask me all the time, so you're never going to eat so and so again? I spent 7 years hiding out in my apartment, I lost touch with good friends, I missed out on so many opportunities so that I could stay home and eat food. I chose the food over everything else for too long. Now I get to live again so for today, there's nothing that I could eat that would be better than the freedom that I have.

I hope to God that I can stay strong though.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:52 AM   #10
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Chickieboom...you are inspiring...thank you
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Old 07-27-2013, 09:09 PM   #11
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I have just started with OA and then I found this site not sure how to proceed from here. One day at a time seems well. Does anyone have any advice.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:43 PM   #12
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Good thread. I am in OA as well. The program has given me my life back. One day at a time. Thanks for your share Chickieboom. Very encouraging.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:24 PM   #13
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The focus on nourishment is really helpful. Abstinence has been a sticking point for me, too. I’ve heard some OA members talk of being abstinent for 10 years and I think that’s wonderful, but I just can’t wrap my head around that when what seems acceptable regarding food types, amounts, and intentions can often be situational and subject to interpretation.

I grew up with a mother who alternated between draconian high-protein diets and wild binges set off by one off-the-plan saltine, so the all-or-nothing approach isn’t one that I find helpful. I’d like to figure out what abstinence can mean to me on my own terms, in the spirit of 12 steps’ “progress not perfection.” What I want is to learn to trust myself, to eat responsibly and intuitively, and to respect the wisdom of my body.
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:45 AM   #14
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I've been experimenting recently with not eating certain foods, one day at a time, but I've never been to OA and I don't call it abstinence. I started with my 3 big emotional eating foods: cookies, candy, & donuts. I used the word vacation. I said, "I'm taking a vacation from those foods. They're out there in the world, hard at work bothering other people, but they can't reach me. I need time to relax and sail in the sun and try to figure out why those foods were making me crazy." My first "vacation" lasted 52 days. I was really pleased with that!

Now I've got a new plan: one day at a time, I'm taking a vacation from all of my emotional eating behavior. Again: one day at a time. Just for grins, I've challenged myself to see if I can make it 30 days.

I'm not doing this because I'm fat. I'm not doing it in order to lose weight. I'm doing it in order to get free from what for me had become addictive behavior.
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChickieBoom View Post
I've been abstinent with the help of the Greysheet since June 2, 2012. I know that there are some differences between OA and Greysheet but Greysheet is what works for me.

When I was first introduced to the Greysheet I was very very resistant. It was nothing that I wanted to hear. All I could think of was all of the foods that I would be giving up. The thought of committing to forever was too much for me to handle. Why would I willingly give up alcohol when I didn't have an alcohol problem? Was I really never going to have bread again?

My sponsor explained the program to me and I was screaming NO NO NO in my head but when she asked me if I wanted to get started right away and have an abstinent dinner. I said yes. I don't know why I did because I surely didn't want to. I packed up all of the foods we don't eat and returned it to the grocery store and bought abstinent food.

I told myself that I could commit to anything for 30 days and that if it didn't work, I would stop. I didn't entertain forever in those first days. I said that I would give the program a legitimate month and then decide. During that first month, I would walk through the grocery store and think that when I made it to goal, I would start to incorporate those foods we don't eat back into my diet. That once I had lost the weight I would be normal and I would be able to eat like a normal person.

Then one day something clicked and I realized that I was a compulsive overeater a food addict and a sugar/carb addict. I personally need the Greysheet. I love not being in the food. I love that I can enjoy the holidays with my family and not spend all my time wishing that I would have a moment alone to binge. Lying in bed waiting for everyone to fall asleep so I could go back in the kitchen and sneak food. I'm finally free from all of that. I finally admitted the truth about my secret food behaviors and just for today I know that there is no sugar or food that would be worth putting myself back in that place.

People ask me all the time, so you're never going to eat so and so again? I spent 7 years hiding out in my apartment, I lost touch with good friends, I missed out on so many opportunities so that I could stay home and eat food. I chose the food over everything else for too long. Now I get to live again so for today, there's nothing that I could eat that would be better than the freedom that I have.

I hope to God that I can stay strong though.
this is what I needed to hear tonight after my mind is racing about the too restrictive Food addicts anonymous plan...I am where you were hiding out and have isolated myself from good friends due to shame not living any kind of life at all really..implementing it will be another thing as inspiration is very fleeting for me but I have to try.

Hope you are still in your recovery.
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