Food Addiction: Relapse and Recovery

Left: 2007, Right: 2011

A counselor once told me years ago that I had relapsed. I had always heard that term used to refer to drug or alcohol use. That was the first time I had ever heard it applied to food addiction and weight loss. In 2002 when I was 20 I lost just over 200 lbs in 10 months on Weight Watchers. Shortly after I had hit the 200 down mark, I started falling back into my old habits and began to slowly put weight back on. I then went through several life-changing events that I eventually let derail me completely. I went through a hard break-up followed by a stay in the hospital with gallstone pancreatitis that resulted in a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). Right after I was released from the hospital and was home recovering, I got a call from the church daycare where I had just started working. They were calling to let me know that the elders of the church had voted to close down the daycare. I was out of a job. I proceeded to quickly pack back on everything I had lost plus more.

While I was in the process of putting the weight back on, I worked at another daycare for a little while. I was in excruciating pain every day from an incisional abdominal hernia that I had gotten when they took the drain out of my side after my surgery. The doctor I was seeing put me on pain pills for a little while but I wasn’t comfortable taking them when I was caring for infants every day, so he sent me to a specialist in IA City. What he did was ridiculously painful but has helped with the pain ever since. He inserted a very long needle directly into my incisional hernia and injected it with anesthetic. A few moments of pain for years of relief. I’ll take it.

Anyway, back to relapsing. That is exactly what I had done and it hadn’t even occurred to me. The counselor I spoke of earlier who told me that I had relapsed drew something called the “Cycle of Change”. The first stage of that cycle is the Pre-contemplation Stage. This is the stage where one sees nothing wrong with their harmful behavior and has no desire to change. Stage 2 is the Contemplation Stage, where the person is considering making a change in their life. Next comes the Preparation Stage, when said person is making preparations for that life change. The Action Stage, stage 4, is when he or she takes action to make that change happen. Following that is the Maintenance Stage, a stage I’ve never make it to… yet. When I lost the 200+ lbs when I was 20, I skipped the maintenance and went straight to stage 6, the Relapse Stage. This time around, the plan is to stay in the Maintenance Stage (once I get there) and avoid relapsing for the rest of my life. I know there will be small relapses to overcome. I just hope and pray I don’t fall deep down into the valley ever again.

Right now I am very close to 150 lbs lighter than my heaviest weight.Two years ago I lost 130+ lbs. Then last year I gained 70+ of that back. From Aug. or Sept. of last year until now I have lost all of that plus some. Like it says in my “About Me” on here, I have been trying to lose weight since I was 8 years old. So far, I have lost 500 lbs or more in my life. Right now I am about 95 lbs away from the weight goal that my doctor gave me. I haven’t decided yet if I want to get any thinner than that. This is the first time in my life where I have actually felt like reaching my goal weight is achievable. I have to say, it is an incredible feeling! 🙂

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10 responses to “Food Addiction: Relapse and Recovery

  1. I think you’re a glorious human being, Jennifer! A truly amazing “work in progress!” Being kind, patient with the creation that is YOU will take you to places as yet unseen! You make me smile, Jennifer….. THAT is a very good thing!

    Bless you, lady… and bravo!

    Nancy Makin

    • Thank you muchly, Miss Nancy! You too are a rather glorious creation and I very much look up to you! Oh yeah… and you make me smile too! 🙂 How is your lovely little 4-legged queen adapting to her new kingdom?

  2. That’s great Jenny! Very proud of your accomplishments! I don’t know if this will help you or not, but it has helped me in the past. There’s a video documentary called What the Bleep Do We Know? It talks about addiction in a light I’d never really realized. For me, it’s an emotional addiction to depression which has been undoing my life for the last 15 years, probably more. Marly Matlin (sorry for the spelling) stars in it. I learned about the video in my Intrapersonal Communications class this week. Could be one of the most influential videos in my life. I haven’t seen it in it’s entirety, but it examines these facets of philosophy, physiology (the part that helped me), religion, quantum physics (don’t let that scare you). Let me know if you decide to check it out. Good luck on your journey!

    • Thank you much, August! I am definitely going to check out that video when I get a chance (if I can find it). That is so awesome that it’s helping you find out more about yourself. Best of luck in your self-discovery! 🙂

  3. Hey Jennifer! I know we just recently became friends, but I want to say I am SO proud of you! When I find someone as inspiring as yourself, it causes me to see potential for change in my life. Like the other commentary, thank you for being so open with your personal journey.

  4. Hi Jennifer. Thanks so much for this piece of writing. I searched ‘food addiction relapse’ this morning after having a rather severe relapse myself, last night. 10 years ago, I lost 100 lbs, and have been maintaining that relatively well. But my food addiction is still ever-present, and if I supply myself with the right foods (in this case, delicious chocolate and home-made candied pecans) I am beyond control. It’s interesting how I literally found myself mindlessly retrieving the food and eating it, despite being far beyond hungry, and past that initial point of really enjoying these beautiful flavours. I have not performed this poorly in my maintenance very often. I sometimes find myself creeping back up by 20 lbs, and then have to re-evaluate how I’m treating myself. This usually means getting more serious about physical activity, and getting more strict on eliminating unhealthy foods. After last night, I’ll definitely be getting more seriousonce again! Thanks so much for your insight about this journey you’re going through, and I wish you all the beauty, peace, and happiness that you will achieve. Love Kyle

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