“FOOD, glorious food…”, goes the famous song from Oliver.
But according to recovering food addicts Sarah and Mary (not their real names), something so necessary can be anything but glorious.
Alcoholics kicking the bottle can avoid places of temptation, drug addicts can reduce their exposure to narcotics, but there’s no avoiding food, they say.
The pair have set up a local branch of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, at St Paul’s Church in Beaconsfield, to help others.
All her life, East Fremantle local Sarah looked trim and healthy but it belied her anorexia and bulimia, and an almost crippling exercise regime.
Mary was a chubby kid with a sweet tooth who stole tins of condensed milk from her mother’s cupboard, or ate the whole loaf of bread the baker had delivered.
“I found comfort in food…I went for sugar, flour and fat.”
In adulthood she hit 109 kilos and anything sugary, like a chocolate biscuit, would trigger an obsessive craving.
“Once I started I had to eat the lot…then had to go and get another packet,” she says.
These days she’s 65 kilos and wears a size 12.
“Before I felt like I wanted to die, to give up,” Mary says.
“Now I feel like I’m a 20-year-old,”
Shame and a fear of being found out were the overwhelming emotions experienced by former- teacher Sarah, as she stole anything sweet from her students’ lunch boxes.
But she was unable to stop herself and said the addiction “crippled” her.
Like Mary, Sarah’s eating addiction dates back to childhood, when eating filled an emotional void.
As she got older alcohol substituted for food.
She eventually managed to quit the booze with the help of AA, but “then my food addiction ran rampant.”
Some food addicts may be morbidly obese, or like Sarah a healthy looking weight, but all are obsessed with food.
“Under eating, over-eating, binging, over exercising, it covers all spectrums,” Sarah say.
The FARA program is based on the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous.
“Dealing with “our addictive nature, one day at a time,” Sarah says, adding, “It’s one food addict helping another.”
The group meets at St Pauls each Wednesday, 6.30pm.
For more information go to foodaddicts.org
by JENNY D’ANGER