October 27, 2021
My name is Fernando C and I’m a compulsive overeater. I am 42 years of age and have had problems with compulsive overeating my entire life.
Growing up, I faced two distinct challenges: 1) I was born into a family where food was scarce and 2) my father was an active alcoholic. Throughout my childhood, I worried about whether we would have enough food for the next day, or if there might be no food at all on our table. I lived in a great deal of daily fear. Always thinking about eating. Always worried and fearful about not having enough food for the following days.
I think that my focus on food helped me cover my feelings of pain around coming from a dysfunctional family. Whenever I’m at a party, I recall what it was like to grow up in this way. It seemed as if I always needed to eat – as if the availability of food was going to quickly end, so I had better eat what was available, or face doing without any food at all.
There was never enough food, so I took advantage of any opportunity to eat – and I ate more than normal. I reasoned that I had better eat now, just in case, because the next day there might not be enough.
My whole world revolved around eating and eating, and always thinking about the next binge. I was, however, not an obese person as a child or as a young adult. And yet, over the years, I began to turn to food – my inseparable friend – more and more. I sought food because I believed it would pamper me, help me, and understand me. Regardless of the feeling or emotion, whether very happy or very sad, afraid or courageous – it simply didn’t matter. Food was always there for me.
At first, this substitute “friend” was very good, but as time passed, it wanted me to eat more and more, non-stop. What had started out as a supportive relationship shifted and changed. Food soon became my master, forcing me to pay attention to its unrelenting demands for more and more food.
As a result of my addiction, I began to steal food, to search in garbage cans for food, to suffer from nightmares, and to leave my son without anything to eat. My increasing weight gain caused me to bleed between my legs from the fat that rubbed together. I wound up breaking chairs and breaking my bed. And, I found myself falling asleep everywhere.
At night, I lived in fear of vomiting through my nostrils and suffocating in my sleep. I became afraid that the spicy or greasy foods that I was continually eating would get stuck in my throat. I stopped looking at myself in full length mirrors because of the great amount of shame I had over my body’s appearance. I stopped posting photos on social networks. I stopped playing with my son because my knees and ankles hurt from my excessive weight gain. Although others had no such difficulties, I couldn’t put on my own socks or cut my own toenails.
Eventually, all my clothes were either 3X or 4X. I was forced to wear not what I wanted, but what was left to me that I could squeeze into. I became fearful of people’s disapproval. Because of my body size and my problems with food, I began to isolate and lock myself in my own home.
My favorite places were the taquerias and buffets. Just as the drug addict knows where to find his drug of choice, I also had the places where I knew I could get lots of food so that I could continue to “numb out” and anesthetize my feelings.
Soon, I found myself lying about diseases that I didn’t have, such as thyroid disease, just so I would have an excuse for my increasing body size. Since I could easily gain more than 20 pounds in a month, I claiming I had a disease became the perfect excuse. Then people would come to feel sorry for me and they would stop commenting about my increasing weight.
Many times I sought out nutritionists and doctors who would tell me that I was abusing food. I felt that they were against me. I believed that they simply did not understand me. My family and friends told me to do something about my food problems and my weight, but I rejected them because I thought they just did not understand.
I truly wanted to stop overeating, but I could not. I even tried going to Overeaters Anonymous meetings, hoping that would fix me. But I felt that even they did not understand me, so I kept going in and out of the rooms of OA for a long time, without knowing what to do about my life and my food problems.
My sponsor stayed with me, devoting time to sharing his experience, strength and hope with me. And yet, despite his helpful suggestions, love, and affection, left to my own devices, I would cross the street and go to the first bakery I could find to buy jellies and desserts. At that time, I could not grasp why a person like my sponsor – someone with so much compassion, affection, and love for me – would bother with someone like me who could not do something to save his own life.
I knew my sponsor was a good person and that he had a lot of faith in me. Unfortunately, I no longer had any remaining self-esteem or self-love. And, most of the time, I was angry. I grew weary of starting my diet over again and over again – with every every Monday, and every new month. Yet, time after time, it never happened. I could not stop eating compulsively.
I was already tired of paying for full-year gym memberships and buying home remedies for weight loss. My life definitely became unmanageable. And then the moment came when I hit rock bottom. One night last year, I asked my Higher Power for help. I was extremely ashamed. I simply said, “Forgive me,” and “I am willing.” My sponsor suggested that I should do this, and that I should do so while on my knees. But my knees hurt a lot from my excess weight, and I found I could not get up. That night, I only apologized and told my Higher Power that I was willing.
That was March 1st of 2020. At that time, I weighed 295 pounds. The next day I called my sponsor and told him that I was willing to do whatever it took to release the weight and learn healthy habits. My sponsor reminded me of the OA 90 meal plan. From that day forward began my first day of abstinence from flour and sugar.
To the list of foods I abstain from, I have added fried foods and sodas. Now my meal plan consists of weighing my 3 meals, reporting my food to my sponsor on a daily basis, and weighing myself once a month.
Now, I no longer stuff my feelings with food. Instead, I know to talk with my OA fellows. I read our OA literature, go for a 30-40 minute walk every day, and I attend my chosen OA meetings. My life is very good and it is very different. Now, I play with my son. I tell him that I love him and that I am very proud of him. I even decided to go back to college and am attending Evergreen Valley College. Since that day, I have released 130 pounds. Currently, I weigh a healthy 165 pounds, wear size medium clothes, and have a 33 inch waist.
The numbers changed. My life has changed. And, best of all, my spirit is happy.
I like to carry the message of Overeaters Anonymous and I live this program one day at a time. This is my story and I really hope to be fortunate enough to win a scholarship for my continuing education. It will help me a great deal during this difficult time, given the pandemic.
Thank you very much for allowing me to share my experience, strength, and hope with you. Please, feel free to share my phone number (408-592-8789) with anyone who needs and wants this recovery program. God Bless you all.
by Fernando C., a grateful, recovered compulsive eater, California
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