It took several diets, continual cycles of denial and self-directed criticism and a weight problem that had spiraled to 300 pounds that finally brought Beth to the realization she needed help.
“I was 300 pounds and had serious health issues like high blood pressure and borderline diabetes. I knew I was very much overweight, but I thought I would just be fat and happy.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t working. Not only did she feel miserable, her health was in jeopardy, and slowly getting worse.
Beth was at a point in her life when she was almost resigned to the fact she may have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair if she could not get her obesity under control.
It was during one of those dark days when all hope seemed to be lost that a friend recommended Food Addicts in recovery anonymous.
Beth made the choice to attend a meeting just to see what it was all about.
It was a choice that changed her life.
Beth has been a member of Food Addicts in recovery anonymous for 10 years. During that time her weight has returned to a healthy number, her self-esteem has been restored and physically she looks and feels great.
“My doctor told me I had the blood pressure of a teenage boy after a nap,” she said with a pleased chuckle.
Mary’s story is similar, but different.
Growing up with an overweight mother who became her eating buddy, an unhealthy pattern of rejection and acceptance began early in her life.
“Although we ate together I felt criticized and pitied for my obesity.”
Mary eventually married and had three children, but her addiction to food never left her.
“I could control food for a while, but would always go back to overeating. I lost and gained over 80 pounds three times.”
After embarking on her own journey of weight loss methods, she, too, finally took her 230-pound self to a Food Addicts in recovery anonymous meeting.
She has never looked back.
Being addicted to a food is a disease that can slowly kill you, Beth said.
“Obesity is rampant and it can be a horrible, slow death.”
Food Addicts in recovery anonymous is a program based on the 12 steps of Alcoholism Anonymous. There are no dues, fees or weigh-ins at the meetings.
It is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience and mutual support, are recovering from the disease of food addiction.
FA is open to men and women of all ages.
Members include those who have been obese, or under eaters, bulimic, or so obsessed with food or weight they cannot focus on anything else. People who have weighed as little as 62 pounds or as much as 400 pounds, and others who have been of normal weight, but are obsessed with food or dieting have joined.
FA members have usually joined the program after trying a number of other solutions, none of which have been successful.
The program allows members to use the 12-steps, work with a sponsor and turn over their eating problems to a higher power.
“It’s simple, but it’s not always easy,” said Beth. It’s disciplined and the meetings are a lifeline.”
In an article about her struggle with food addiction Mary wrote: “I am grateful for the fellowship and for this pattern for living. I am thankful for a loving and disciplined sponsor, who dares to speak her truth so I might find mine. I am now very present and available for my family, no longer focusing all my attention on food.”
In the long-term, many FA members have maintained their normal weights and found freedom from their obsession with food.
For more information about Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous and its meetings in and around Central Alberta — open to Sylvan Lake residents — contact 403-843-4570 or 403-396-9371.