It was the first year we had the family over for the holidays. With our house situated near a hospital and a fire station, we were accustomed to the occasional wail of sirens. But the sound of emergency vehicles racing by with increased frequency on this holiday was especially unsettling. What was the reason? Accidents? House fires?
The next day, I read in the newspaper that the emergency ward was busy tending to people who had decided to celebrate the holidays by taking a break from following doctors' orders "just this once." Heart patients, who didn't want the side effects of their prescribed medications, didn't take them "just for one day"; diabetics ate too much sugar and made themselves dangerously ill; and alcoholics ended up sick or violent from out of control, celebratory drinking.
When I think I "deserve" to overeat during the holidays, I know I am in denial about the insidious nature of this disease. Sugar is my cocaine, my alcohol and, ultimately, my poison. I fool myself if I believe I can magically turn the switch on and off at will. The disease never takes a holiday. My body reacts the same way to food as it did yesterday, as it will tomorrow and 365 days a year.
Do I really want to deprive myself of a sane and happy holiday? I don't think so. Not his year.
This article appeared in Lifeline, November 2009, p. 18. Copyright Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.
It has followed me every place I've ever worked: the lure of unattended food! Particularly hard are Monday mornings. I walk into the office kitchen and find half-eaten birthday cake, seasonal candy or food from a weekend social function left by well-meaning coworkers. All it needs over it is a sign that says, "Eat me!" Any unattended food, be it cold, stale, broken or half-eaten, I will eat in no time.
Unattended food has always been one of my biggest temptations. I can easily justify eating it: it's left over; some coworker was kind enough to share it with others; it will spoil if it's not eaten today.
The other scenario is a coworker passing my office, saying "Come on; they're having a birthday cake for John in the conference room!" Or "Come on; there's leftover food in the kitchen!" If I don't join them, they bring it to me! "Sorry you couldn't stop by, I brought you some food."
Over the years, I've gotten better at dealing with the siren call of office ending machines. At least a few more steps are required to get it: I have to decide what to buy, remove coins from my pocket, insert the coins in the machine and make a selection. What's worked wonders for me over the years is carrying my 24-hour OA chip and my anniversary chip in with my loose change. That way, whenever I reach for change, I see the chips in my hand. In that moment, I have the opportunity to contemplate my next action. I can put the coins in the machine or put them back in my pocket. Sometimes sanity prevails and the coins go back in my pocket.
I'm writing this the week before Halloween. In the kitchen in my office is an orange plastic pumpkin filled with individually wrapped candy. Fortunately, it emptied quickly the first day. To my horror, I found the next morning that gremlins had replenished the candy overnight. This has gone on every day. After Halloween, we will have several more days of a full pumpkin, thanks to parents bringing their children's candy to share with their coworkers. The next onslaught will be Christmas food.
So for today, I move the pumpkin to a higher shelf in the kitchen, where others can access it but I don't have to look inside. The temptation of this unattended food is just too strong. If going to my office, closing the door and reading a daily meditation is not enough, I take a walk outside and ask my Higher Power for strength - not just for today, but for right now.
Edited and reprinted from Novation newsletter, Northern Virginia Outreach Intergroup, November 2000. This article later appeared in Lifeline, November 2002, p. 14, Copyright Overeaters Anonymous Inc.