We’re all addicted.
Or rather, we’re all addicted to something. Even if you don’t realise it. It could be the thoughts in your head. Maybe you tend to lean to having the same comforting ones?
Yup, addiction. You can be addicted to thoughts.
Take travelling for example. And please bear with me here. But whilst I might not do it every day, I couldn’t just stop going travelling. I don’t want to. And its more primal than that, I just can’t. When I have long periods where I don’t go away, to somewhere foreign and noisy and sweaty and hot, I become withdrawn, depressed, I feel stifled, I freak out. I crave for travelling, my feet get twitchy and I long for seeing – and smelling – some place new.
Sure, so there’s not a Travellers Anonymous, and no amount of Twelve Steps would probably ever stop me from experiencing this thing that I love – and why should I? You can’t really compare it to a heroin addiction, or smoking. Those things are undeniably bad for you, and travelling is, well, just bad for your wallet.
But my point is, addiction doesn’t just have to be the desire to consume something that’s socially unacceptable.
It can be love.
And of course, the thing that everyone’s addicted to – but doesn’t realise it – food.
My 5 day fasting cleanse at The Spa Koh Chang Resort was a bloody eye opener. I am saying that in an Australian accent, I’m not sure entirely sure why.
But when you take food away from your daily routine, you realise how much you depend on it, in an unhealthy way.
I said bear with me!
Think about it. From the little voice in your head that wanders what you fancy next, to the excitement you get as you have decided what you want, the rush as you make the call / smell of a meal as it’s prepared, that satisfying feeling as you devour it. But that’s not bad for you, I know. Food’s great. I love food!
But take it away from your life for a while.
Just try it.
Stop eating. In a controlled environment of course, like The Spa at Koh Chang Resort in Thailand, or one of the many other resorts that offer these detoxes. This programme makes sure you never feel hungry. It gives you all the nutrients you need to survive, and flushes out toxins from your body. It’s fab. Give your stomach and your colon a rest. It’s deserved it. He/she – works hard man!
See how you feel then.
Ok. Picture the scene – there are five of of us sat round the dinner table. We’ve all been on the detox for about 2 days and it feels like a week. I feel like i’ve not eaten for a bloody week, and i’m salivating at the chicken burger one of the guys is treating himself to, now that his fast has well and truly ended. It’s not even in a proper bun. It’s a fried chicken breast in two slices of bread, its a sandwich really, and I wouldn’t even care much for that usually. I hate cheap bread. Especially white bread. This was a bit more on the side of granary, slightly seeded, so marginally more edible granted.
The rest of us hate him, and send hate in his direction through black and beady eyes.
But once that vicious greed and resentfulness passes, I take a different tact. That chicken ‘burger’ smells damn good, and it’s satisfying me to smell that smell. It initially felt like torture; but once I accepted I couldn’t eat the food, not even his scrappy leftovers, then it was actually kinda nice. Our smell and sight is 2 out of 3 senses (relevant to food). And there I am, I can’t eat it, and sure usually I wouldn’t even really be all that bothered (unless I was drunk). But it was like my senses had opened up. I was visually eating that thing with my eyes and via my nostrils.
Even the leftovers.
And it felt good.
Now – tell me that’s not an addiction!
Not eating for 4 days (gosh, only 4 days! Yeh – you try it. Go on!) made me realise that I usually shove anything into my pie hole. Piece of cake for a colleague’s birthday? Yup, spoon it in. Thank you very much. Free turkish delight from a friend’s holiday? Oh go on, why not. I don’t even like Turkish Delight, but wander if I might this time. Wanna share my dinner, I can’t eat it all? Oh why not, if it helps you out, even thought I already ate. And i’m full. But let’s not let that go to waste eh?
I’m a consumer of food. I love food. I’m lucky enough to be able to eat every day, so I should make the most of it right?
THIS IS NOT HAVING ANY SELF CONTROL PEOPLE.
THIS IS FOOD CONTROLLING ME.
AKA, this is an addiction.
Some people are addicted to fitness or being thin or nerdy or cool, and that’s a different issue but it all sits in the same camp. Something controlling you. Feeling (or being) helpless to it. Having a million little excuses in your brain that justify your actions. Or thinking that is just makes you ‘better’ or feel good.
I am a better person because I love and appreciate food!
I will be more accepted by the sorta crowd I like because I dress and look more like them.
Oh, let me just quickly check facebook in case someone new has liked my post!
I feel good smoking this cigarette because it gives me a little high from the rebellious fuck you to the system.
Or it runs deeper than that.
Maybe I know fuck all about addiction.
But in my opinion, what’s at the heart of everything – is the need for us to understand our insecurities, our habits, and the crutches we rely on when things get tough. When we can understand this about ourselves, we’re almost certainly one step closer to being able to break that cycle of addiction.
And I know this because i’ve left food on every single plate that’s been presented to me since I finished the detox. And i’ve never done that in my life.
A small, but tiny progress.
Maybe when I accept that my ‘need’ to go away is more about my refusal to live (or fear of) a repetitive (aka boring) life, then I’ll just be able to enjoy holidays for what they are, instead of using travelling as an escape from reality and simply just do more of it!