As a recovering alcoholic, I live with the pitfalls and limitations of an addictive personality. People who have struggled with addiction need structure and, during six years of sobriety, I’ve become a creature of healthy habits, gradually developing the disciplines of balanced diet and regular exercise to complement 12-step recovery.
It’s cliché but true: we are wired differently. Non-committal middle ground doesn’t work for us; per a popular saying in Alcoholics Anonymous, “half measures avail us nothing.” We either do things very well or very, very poorly. During my sobriety, nothing has exemplified this more than my alternately peaking and plummeting weight.
Before we continue, a note: I am not a chronic overeater, bulimic or a member of Overeaters Anonymous. I’m not addicted to food specifically. Rather, my addict mind compulsively craves practically anything that will trigger my pleasure sensors – from substances like drugs, alcohol and nicotine to rushes like sex and gambling. People with addictive personalities like stimulation; we’re everything-aholic.
And that brings us to food.
When I quit drinking, I was 50 pounds overweight. Obesity wasn’t my primary concern then but, as recovery progressed, I vowed to lose the beer gut along with the beer.
Progress was fleeting. Various diet regimens were begun, temporarily capitalized upon, and inevitably abandoned. I’d lose five pounds in a month of strength, then gain it back in a week of weakness. Why couldn’t someone with the discipline to completely abstain from booze and cigarettes manage to sustainably lose weight?
That was 45 pounds ago. The secret? I started dieting like an addict. Here’s how:
No Carbs until Evening
We’ve all seen conflicting reports on the ideal times to consume carbohydrates. Many experts advise eating carbs in the morning, so they’ll burn off throughout the day. And there’s probably some truth to that.