(SPOILER ALERT) I recently saw the movie, Flight, with Denzel Washington, and it stunned me. Not because of its quality, which is okay but not great, but because of the storyline. If ever there was a crystal clear example of addiction, this was it. Denzel’s character, Whip, was grasping at life, trying to beat the addiction that threatened to engulf him. And all I could see on that screen was…me. I have suspected for years that I was a food addict, but never had it been made so obvious to me as this weekend as I watched Whip’s behavior which was so eerily similar. Three key behaviors resonated with me.
1. Purge. No, not the kind where you’re bent over a toilet, but the kind of purge you perform often on Monday mornings where you think to yourself- This is it. I’m done. This diet starts today. You then proceed to throw everything you deem as “junk food” into the garbage can, bag it up, and drag it out to the curb. Whip did the same thing with his booze, several times. And each time he ended up at the liquor store within a few days time.
2. Lie. One of the cornerstones of the movie is Whip’s ability to lie about his addiction. In fact, in one of my favorite lines of the film is when he tells his lawyer, “Don’t tell me how to lie about my drinking, I’ve been doing it my whole life.” I lied about my eating, all the time. To myself, to my family, to perfect strangers.
3. Regret. Like a drunk, I began many a days with a food hangover. Knowing I gorged myself the night before, knowing I destroyed my diet and broke my resolve, I would feel AWFUL the next day. Like I robbed someone of something intangible. Like I blew something up inside of me.
I have made many excuses about my reluctance to face my food addiction. I have made the argument that food addiction is very difficult to overcome since we must continue to eat, while alcoholics can completely avoid their substance of choice, we cannot. But this is bullshit. I am not addicted to all food, I am addicted to high sugar, high calorie, high fat foods. I can eat things that do not contain these ingredients. Just like alcoholics can drink iced tea, lemonade, soda, etc.
I have made many excuses, but when I saw that movie, I realized what my world looks like. I realized what I’m doing. I’m still doing, even though I’ve gained remarkable control over my eating, I’m still a long way from where I need to be. I’m not sure how to get back, how to find solace. But I think it’s time I face what I am.
I am a food addict.
Much more on this to come.