The author has been asked how he gets by with no bread, pasta and all the other flour-sugar substances. Here’s his answer.
Update: A recent New York Times Magazine article on sugar as a toxin is worth reading as a companion to this post. Article summary: “That it makes us fat is something we take for granted. That it might also be making us sick is harder to accept.”
A reader of this blog wrote me over the weekend and asked how on Earth I’m able to exist without flour and sugar. No pasta? No bread? What else is there?
A woman in OA who I start sponsoring today asked the same question in a Saturday-night phone call. She said she’s hit rock bottom with the binge eating and is ready to do what she must to get better. But really, she asked. Does she HAVE TO give up flour and sugar?
No two addicts are the same. That goes for the substance we get addicted to, the manner in which we let it destroy our lives and how we come to the point where we realize it’s time to turn it all over to God or die by our own hands.
I know people in the program who are diabetics or who have intestinal problems that make them very sensitive to raw vegetables. Their food plans have to be different.
But it is true that most people in OA recovery abstain from all foods that have flour and sugar in the ingredients. Including me.
In my case, those ingredients were at the root of my addiction. Flour and sugar mixed together were for me what heroin was to Nikki Sixx or what vodka was to Ozzy Osbourne.
Not only did I put on an atrocious amount of weight binging on these things — I was 280 pounds at my worst — but I started running into some serious medical problems. I was waking up in the middle of the night throwing up stomach acid, for one thing. I was also experiencing an increased frequency of migraines, chest pains and deep fatigue.
I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist but I know this — days after I stopped eating flour and sugar all these things stopped happening to me.
That’s when I realized how enslaved I was to the stuff.
I also dropped more than 50 pounds on the spot. By four months in, the weight loss was 65 pounds, and I’ve maintained my current weight for nearly two years.
The wild thing is I lost the weight and have kept it off eating way more food than I ate before I got abstinent.
Almost everything I eat goes on a little scale. Four ounces of protein. Ten ounces of vegetable. Two ounces of brown rice or potato. Ten ounces of veggie is a lot.
My goal wasn’t really to lose weight. I didn’t mind being a big man. Hard to believe, perhaps. But it’s the truth.
I sought recovery for the sake of my sanity. My grip on reality was getting looser and looser, and without action I was going to fall into the abyss.
The weight loss was a bonus. And I won’t lie: I’m much more comfortable in this body than I was before.
Do I still wish I could eat a slice of pizza or have pasta once in awhile? Well, I thought I would have to fight back those urges. But I haven’t.
In fact, the sight and smell of McDonald’s or Papa Gino’s now makes me want to puke.
I never expected that. But I’ll take it.