I’ve Been Using Food To Combat Anxiety

So on Sunday afternoon, I spent over an hour trying to figure out how I would get to and from the airport for my trip to Australia May 25 – June 13. I used to be fine spending $30 on a taxi, but I’m not fine with that anymore, so I checked out Uber and it appears to be about $20. I tried to download the app to my Blackberry but that wouldn’t work.

I went online and tried to figure out the bus schedule. This would only cost a $1.50, but I hate riding the bus (and this trip would require three transfers). I’ve only done it twice in LA, both times in 1994, and I don’t want to do it again, but I don’t want to waste $25 on a taxi or Uber and I don’t want to ask a friend.

I felt bad I wasted over an hour trying to figure out this stuff. Real life is not my strong suit and struggling with it raises my anxiety when I don’t have spare cash. So I ate an early dinner and by the time I was done eating, all of my anxiety had gone away and I was fine with the prospect of taking the bus, even though it required three transfers and I’d probably have to sit next to a bunch of losers.

I was struck by how food took away my anxiety. Maybe I have an over-eating addiction? I’ve always loved to stuff myself, usually with healthy food, but still, I was stuffing myself because that changed my emotional state.

So I downloaded a bunch of Overeaters Anonymous lectures and found that they speak to me as much as lectures on under-earning or love addiction or porn addiction. Wow. I have multiple addictions and just working one particular 12-step program doesn’t fix your other stuff.

I’ve long loved to pig out on my desires. When I was a kid, I’d sneak into the kitchen and eat sugar by the spoonful until my dad caught me one afternoon and I got so scared that I never did that again. I got a little older, my deepest yearnings moved from food to something more racy.

Other addictive techniques I’ve used to ease my anxiety include religious and intellectual extremism, exercising to exhaustion and working till I dropped.

I tend to eat the same things. For the past 17 years, I’ve been starting my day with a protein smoothie. Right now it is a frozen banana, two cups of water and some protein powder. Then I’ll either have half a bowl of cottage cheese or a bowl of oatmeal. For lunch, I’ll have a cup of oatmeal. And for dinner I’ll have another protein smoothie, two kashi peanut butter granola bars and two mangoes.

I’ve never been a snacker. That was a big sin my upbringing.

I always feel stronger after eating, more ready to wrestle with the tasks in front of me. I have more will-power.

The 12-step message, “You’ve got a disease, it’s not your fault”, sounds ludicrous to outsiders and it can certainly be abused, but it makes it easy for addicts to seek help and to work the program to recovery. For most of my life, I looked down on this message. I was wrong. I was able to get help when I realized that how things sound is not as important as how they work.

Michael Fumento: “Sorry, but cancer and flu are diseases. Drinking is a choice and it is the drinker’s fault. The answer isn’t avoiding blame; it’s accepting responsibility.”

Yes, and that attitude has worked so well for millions of people. Look at how wonderfully your life has turned out with this righteous approach. And yet the 12-step approach has worked well for millions of people too. What is objectively true is sometimes less important for an individual than what works for him. Lots of things sound absolutely bonkers and yet they can help you lead a better life.

Michael Fumento: Luke, you may be right. It has progressively become more common in America to deny responsibility for one’s actions, thus those who accept responsibility may be at a disadvantage. Like the politician who says “mistakes were made” versus “I blew it.” Shirk responsibility for that which you’ve done wrong; take credit for that which you had nothing to do with and you’ll probably go far.

Likewise, a major blow in my life was a wife who took that attitude first and then used it to justify her drinking, thus ending the marriage. Shirkers are parasites, and parasites often do quite well for themselves even as they sicken or kill the host body. That’s what’s happening nationally as well, Americans each year placing heavier financial burdens on the Americans from the years to come. Capitalism is out; cronyism and parasitism is in. But it IS sickening and killing the host body. The economy shrank last quarter and real unemployment was the second highest in US history.

Thus a formula which works for the individual is very bad for society.

Matiyahu, yes alcohol is addictive but that doesn’t make alcoholism a disease. It’s apples and oranges. 12-step programs call it a disease even as they say they exist to help the individual stop. There’s nothing you can do as an individual to stop a true disease. Therefore, alcoholism IS a choice. To the extent we pretend otherwise, we help no one. Moreover, nobody wakes up an alcoholic. There’s always a pre-addiction phase during which they could have stopped relatively easily but simply chose not to.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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