I went to a Food Addicts in Recovery (FA) meeting the other night. It's a 12-step offshoot of Overeaters Anonymous (OA). Some years back I went to FA meetings for a month or two. I had an unbearably atrocious sponsor and just felt crazier and crazier as the time went on, so I gave it up. I also have some minimal experience with OA, which seemed to be a group of people who couldn't deal with life, but who wanted me to put all my decisions into their hands (yeah, right!). I have been cynical to say the least about 12-step programs over the years, FA and OA included. However, it is very clear to me that each of these programs works for some, as far as helping people to release the grip on their food addictions. From what I have personally witnessed, FA has a much higher success rate than OA. I attribute that both to a very simple, clear-cut food plan as well as to FA's close-knit community.
I went to FA the other night without the intention of getting a sponsor or following their food plan. I went to gather information, namely, what it is that's working for these people. I didn't get a chance to speak to too many people myself, but I do have some more solidified ideas of what works after hearing people speak during the meeting, namely:
- A defined notion of abstinence. (The definition of an "ideal raw food diet" varies amongst raw enthusiasts, even in raw sub-genres, i.e. 811ers vs. "eat-anything-as-long-as-it's-raw-ers" vs. fruitarians, etc.)
- A community of people who have similar feelings and behaviors around food. (I haven't found this in raw circles yet, but, rather, a spectrum of behaviors/beliefs about food, some of which I agree with, some of which I find highly suspect.)
- A support system within that community. (I have not always found the raw community supportive; not that it doesn't exist, but the support is not systematized/defined.)
- Continued reinforcement of the positive behavior in the form of community meetings. (Doesn't exist due to the above.)
- Having another person (sponsor) who you commit your program to. (See above.)
- A daily meditation/spiritual practice/quiet time. (Ok, if I haven't always done this, that's my fault! :-) )
I spoke to a wonderful friend of mine this afternoon who is in FA, and who has been abstinent in that program for over five years. She has given me some supportive insight, which has helped me to define my own abstinence (in the absence of a systematic support system to do it for me):
- Unlimited raw fruits and vegetables, eating no more than 4 times per day.
- A daily caloric intake of at least 1800 calories (may go down if I get smaller). I have a problem of not eating enough when I'm eating 811.
- Limited fats (1 handful of nuts, 1 tbsp oil, or 1/2 an avocado).
- Black tea and coffee are ok for now (my biggest problem is with food right now, and I need to get past that first).
P.S. That cheese I was eating a few days ago was gross!