By jakkie, Jun 5 2019 11:04AM
This was me in my early 20’s. No, I wasn’t into the hard stuff, (although copious amounts of alcohol was in my diet most days), for me I was addicted to food. I couldn’t stop stuffing my face. At the age of 25 I was 5 ft 3 inches and 13 stone (83 kilo’s) in weight. I had a great life. I had a fantastic career, great friends, a great boyfriend. I had money, I lived in a great part of London, I worked in Leicester Square and had everything a young woman could wish for. However I was deeply unhappy.
I tried so many diets and NONE of them worked. I’d starve myself for days then get so hungry I’d find myself eating the entire contents of the fridge in one sitting. Then I’d get disgusted with myself, hate myself for the lack of will power and hate myself for being so fat. So I’d starve myself again and the whole sorry vicious circle would start all over again.
I forgot I was like this because the person I was then is so different to the person I am now. I have been a stable 8 stone (50kg) for the past 25 years without even thinking about food or diets. In fact, I can’t relate myself to the person I was. I only know it was me because recently I found a whole load of my old diary's and have been absolutely engrossed in reading about my struggles and pain all of which I’d completely forgotten about.
It wasn’t until I worked as the designer on ‘Slimming’ magazine that I started to wake up. I followed every diet suggested in the magazine, I went on photo shoots with the ‘Slimmer of the year’ wishing it was me in the after shots. I was so jealous that they had managed to crack the answer to being slim and happy. It wasn’t until a year later, when we did the follow-up feature of the ‘Slimmer of the year’, that I realised they were just the same as me. They were still fat! All the weight they had lost had all come back again. It was then I realised that the answer was not dieting, the issue was something much much deeper than that. No one was looking at the root cause of the obsessive eating and the yoyo dieting, all they wanted was a quick fix. The symptom was being addressed but the underlying cause wasn’t.
After a few years I was promoted to art editor for a natural health magazine which opened up a whole new world to me. It lead me on a huge journey of self discovery and onto the line of work I do now.
I realised I was trying to fill the deep void within me with eating. It’s the classic ‘filling the hole inside with food’ syndrome. I found comfort in food, food made me feel better, but of course that was only temporary. I was desperate for love and I was finding it in all the wrong places. I was searching ‘out there’ when all the time everything I needed to make me feel whole was ‘in there’. Basically I hated myself and it took me a very long time and a very complex journey to finally love and respect myself. It was only until I truly loved myself, that the unhealthy patterns I had created in my life stopped, and my true life began.
Food addiction may not be life threatening but other substance addictions are, however all addictions are the same, they are all a disrespect for the self and a cry for love.
In the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander did an experiment on rats (yes I know poor rats!) He separated a group of rats and put each one in a cage on their own. They were given 2 bottles, one with water, the other was heroin in a water base. They did the same experiment with a group of rats who all lived together in the same cage. These rats had a great life as the cage was full of stimulating toys, the best rat-food, tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends to play with: everything a rat about town could want.
The rats which were isolated only drank the heroin water. The rats who were with others in the rat- park only drank the water. They concluded that Addiction is the loss of connection, from self and others.
In 2001, the Portuguese government did something radical. They did a social experiment where they legalised all harmful drugs. They took the funding that was set up for rehabilitating addicts and instead used it to socialise them. In other words, instead of chastising addicts and forcing them to give up, they gave unconditional love, help and nurture. The results were astonishing. Even though the drugs were cheeper and legal, the abuse decreased by 50%.
We are connected as a society more than ever before through social media, yet we are the most isolated and loneliest society than ever before. More and more people are choosing to live alone, are divorced or prefer to separate themselves from family. We have become disconnected. Humans need love and nurture, not just to thrive but to survive, and if we don’t feel loved, by ourselves or others, then we find something else to fill the void, the hole, the bit that’s missing in our lives.
That missing is simply LOVE.
Love is the most powerful drug on the planet, and it’s free. We don’t even need to steal or take it from others, we have love within us all the time as a constant supply. We are love, but we forget to open our hearts and give that love to ourselves. We have an internal tap of love that most of the time we forget, or don’t want to turn on.
So my message to you this month is, whenever you find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin / bottle of wine / cigarettes or any other artificial mood changer, try giving yourself a natural high instead. Turn your internal LOVE TAP ON and give yourself the LOVE you crave.
Most people cringe when they hear the L word and it’s amazing how many people don’t like themselves let-alone love themselves. What would you do for yourself today if you really loved yourself? What choices would you make if you truly loved yourself? What is it that you’d LOVE for yourself but you don’t believe you can have? Would you treat your best friend/child/pet the same way you sometimes treat yourself? If you find it hard to love yourself, for whatever false reason you have made up about yourself, then at least be KIND to yourself. RESPECT yourself and be PROUD of the person you have become, because you have overcome many obstacles in your life to get where you are now. You have evolved into a spectacular person whether you believe it or not.
So next time you find yourself reaching for an artificial substance that gives you a quick kick, replace it with doing something that opens your heart, connect with someone or something you love and notice how that empty space miraculously disappears. Love isn’t a quick fix, it’ll never abandon you, it’ll never let you down.
Your heart is your biggest asset, so own it, use it and LOVE IT.