Alcoholic Eating

I’ve battled food my whole life, but with the absence of alcohol my food struggles have intensified. I am now working with my counselor again (who helped me a great deal before my sentencing) to try to deal with my ingrained shitty feelings about myself. I seem to have several issues going on here: I use substances (food, alcohol) to deal with unpleasant feelings, I punish myself more for being “bad”, I have the self-esteem of a snail, and I secretly hate myself. I’m kidding about the last two. Sorta.

Sobriety and AA have helped so much with my self esteem, but I still have that nagging voice inside of me that tells me that whatever it is that I am doing, it’s not enough. My lifelong battle with myself is exhausting! And my inner voice would never in a million years be as critical to one of my friends as it is to myself. What is it that alcoholics call themselves? Oh yeah. Egomaniacs with an inferiority complex. I’m not much, but I am all that I think about! Ha.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one heck of a sweet tooth. I’m pretty sure I blogged here about those sugar cravings going haywire in my early sobriety. I’ve also turned to food for comfort since I was a kid. At age 8, I chubbed out after my parents split up. True to form, I found solace in bowls of ice cream and spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter after my car accident. In the 13 months following my accident, I gave myself the green light to smoke and eat heartily. I’m not drinking anymore, so I DESERVE THIS. What’s wrong with me smoking? I need to have one vice, right? I must add that I wasn’t a daily smoker, and if you are, then by all means DO NOT QUIT during your first year of sobriety.

In February I read Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. So much of what Sarah wrote rang true for me. In fact, I was photographing passages and sending them to people as I read the book. Here’s one that struck home:


I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt because people quitting the thing they love get to eat whatever the fuck they want. And that my friends, was my mindset. I continued to eat whatever the fuck I wanted after I was incarcerated for six months. Six months without fresh vegetables, most fruit, cheese, peanut butter, pizza, sushi, a good curry? I left jail 25 pounds lighter because I worked my ass off as a janitor, and because the food was wretched. I got out during December which meant I got to binge on rich holiday foods. But instead of eventually reining it all back in, my sense of entitlement kept kicking up. And as I gained my weight back, I started hating myself all over again.

I’m the type of person who when watching what I eat, will go on a “bad” food binge for a week after eating dessert when I shouldn’t have. Makes sense, right? Why can’t I just eat the cookie? Instead, I eat the cookie, hate myself, eat 200 more cookies, then hate myself a bunch more. I also know that I am addicted to sugar in the same way that I am addicted to alcohol. It takes time to wean myself off it, but once I do, I don’t crave it as much. However if I have a scoop of ice cream, my body cries more more more until I eat a pint. Until I am disgusted with myself. Here’s another quote I loved from Blackout:


I’m a walking shame spiral! It should go without saying that I don’t really hate and despise myself, but I think my fellow alcoholics and addicts understand where I am coming from. I also have that same sense of guilt and shame following me around after I eat too much that I carried around with me for days after a bad night of drinking.

I was briefly doing well with my eating and the sugar intake, then I said screw it, and let the holidays steamroll over me. Now I am struggling with sad eating, as I call it. My fiancee is 9 hours away by car, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. He’s trying to relocate here, but it’s proved difficult for him to make a lateral move within a company that he’s worked for for 17 years. Lately I have found it easier to not see him for longer periods of time, because it becomes too painful for me after he leaves following a visit. I’ll have a good day, will work out, eat healthfully, then waves of sadness will hit me after a busy day which leads to me sad eating the contents of my fridge at 10pm. And then I feel guilty and shitty for days after. And the eating continues.

So friends…this is where I’m at. I am working to create my inspiration spiral, to change my palate and crave something good for me. (thanks for the line, Sarah) OH! I did quit smoking at the end of January. So that’s one good thing. I’m hoping I don’t sound too insane with this post. With sobriety comes a lifetime of learning to better oneself. I’ve already changed so much in my life within a short time, so I need to be patient in my growing process. Thoughts? Anyone else get where I am coming from?


9 thoughts on “Alcoholic Eating

  1. Brene browns book the gifts of imperfection started me on the path to self compassion and acceptance.

    I definitely hated myself. I was full of anger and bitterness and fear. I starved for years and then drank when I couldn’t ever change my body enough to accept myself.

    Finding the ability to be gentle with myself has been a miracle. My therapist always comes back to unconditional self acceptance. Of how things are RIGHT NOW.

    Hug. This is hard. But you can find love for yourself. It just takes practice.

  2. Congrats on quitting smoking! That’s a huge…give yourself credit….as for the eating, I struggle with that too. It often feels the same as drinking too much did….the overdoing, the remorse, the morning promise to do better, etc. I wish I had better advice…all I can say is that I haven’t figured it out quite yet, but I haven’t lost faith that I will.

    • Thank you! I tend to be pretty hard on myself
      This week has been good with the exercise and eating. Here’s hoping I won’t get mentally derailed by Easter goodies this weekend. xo

  3. I nodded in agreement the whole time here. If you look back at what I have written (or spoken about in the pod) in that last few years, this is precisely the stuff I talk about. I have struggled with sugar ever since I got sober. Right now, I am in a sugar down spiral. I am *this* close in going on a sugar detox for the 80th time. I emotionally eat. I hide sweets sometimes. I down play how much I have eaten. I certainly have issues with food. I love to love it and I love to hate it. And yes, a lot of it comes down to a low level of self-loathing that still sticks to me like burrs. I am working on it, and there is a great chapter in Melody Beattie’s Codependancy No More which I like to reread all the time and talks about self-compassion.

    I recall years ago admitting to my then sponsor about almost buying laxatives so that I can lose weight quickly. But I put them back. I teared up telling him that. He said it’s my self-loathing that brought me to that place. If I truly loved myself, why would I inflict that on myself?

    Anyway, I hear all you say. It’s common with us. I don’t have an answer because I still struggle. I have better days and I have days where I lose count of my “fuck it”‘s and eat like a pig.

    Hope you feel better.

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