This week, the topic for the new group I am attending for my personal recovery was to answer this question.
"I will know I am essential recovered when..."
It is a difficult question to answer. My answer was simple, "Every day I am in recovery. Every day I must eat, every day I must make choices. Some days I make poor choices, which means I have relapsed."
Now, I'm not talking about the tiny taste of a piece of fudge that I've wanted for the past few weeks due to all the holiday sweet treats that until today I had successfully passed by with ease. I have had peanut butter fudge on the brain for a while now though. I've wanted to make it, but I knew I'd eat the whole pan. Unfortunately, today at work there was a tray of chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and toffee on the table. I passed by it several times, and then decided to take a sliver of toffee no more than 1/2" inch by an inch, took a bite and spit it out. It was quite possibly the worse toffee I've had, nothing like what I could make. Later, I decided I would taste the peanut butter fudge. Again, I took the smallest of pieces, tasted a quarter of it enough to know it was not as good as I could make, and spit it out. Neither experience produced the perceived outcome of sugary pleasure I sought, but I did not deny myself the experience. The experience turned out to be unsatisfying. I don't regret it, I just won't let temptation get the best of me again anytime soon.
I will always be a recovering food addict though. I've learned to stop myself insomuch that I will not indulge in something that does not speak to the foodie in me, but I still struggle with my food addictions. I obsess over recipes on the internet, I admit to my love of food. I have broken my addiction to the Food Network, in fact, the channel is blocked on my TV. Parental controls are not just for parents. Sometimes, we have to put measures in place to save us from ourselves. I have established certain boundaries to avoid situations where I will be tempted. I try never to go to Sam's Club on Saturdays, as I prefer not to be tempted by the sampling stations. Luckily, I have a business membership and go between 7am and 10am before these people have set up their enabling little booths of temptation.
So, I will know I am essentially recovered when I am not obsessed with food? Doubt that will ever happen. I have found I am obsessed with these questions, "Have I gotten all my protein today? What did I eat that caused this acid reflux tonight? Did I get enough water today?" While these are healthy questions to be asking myself, I still have to think about the addiction daily. I still have to eat and account for everything I put into my body. I still am an addict, the difference is that my addiction is to something that I must have to sustain life. The only viable answer I have heard has been that the addiction is to sugar, fat and carbohydrates. Those are the types of foods I craved.
If I had to really narrow it down, maybe the true answer is, "I know I am essentially recovered when I don't want ice cream." Then, I'll really know the paradigm shift has occurred in my brain and I am no longer an addict. However, I doubt that will happen... Greek yogurt has been a great replacement, but my addiction for gelato will never truly be cured. I have vowed to treat myself to a small gelato when I have been compliant with my healthy eating behaviors and exercise routine, once a month (on the 3rd.) It's a small, measurable trade-off to indulge in while still keeping with my commitment to better health.