Diets Don’t Work

How many people do you know who have gone on a diet and kept all their weight off? In my memory, I know two or three people.  They didn’t have much weight to lose, and usually the weight had come on over a holiday season or a vacation. They took it off.  Two or three people is less than .0001% of the dieting population.

Why is that? Almost all the diets I see advertised, show happy people on the day they reach their goal weight. I can’t help but wonder what those people look like five years later. Chances are good they have gained all their weight back plus more.

We live in a world of instant gratification.  I want this and I want in NOW. We wake up one morning with a burst of willingness to do something about our weight.  We know ourselves well enough to realize the willingness many not last long.  We jump on the computer and google “Can’t Stop Eating” or “Lose weight” and then shuffle through the sites that come up.  The one with the most bling, the best razzle-dazzle, and the promise that in just one month, you can lose up to thirty pounds jumps out at you. You’re afraid if you don’t plunk down your money now, you’ll lose your willingness and not do anything.  Congratulations! You’ve signed up for a diet that has the absolute best marketing plan and knows how to take advantage of your desperation. 

You are not alone.  I’ve done that. We’ve all done that.  And it doesn’t seem to matter how intelligent we are. At the moment of willingness and desperation, we are blind to everything except the overwhelming desire to lose weight NOW.

Some of us may take all our weight off quickly, some of us may make it half-way, and some may falter out of the starting gate. It doesn’t really matter.  What all the research has shown, both my personal research and professional research, is that without changing ways of thinking and much of our behavior, we’ll gain the weight back.  Then we hang our head in shame, want to disappear from the world, and take one more step towards disconnecting from our feelings, our hearts, and our souls.

The truth is that changing our relationship with food is hard work. Any diet program that doesn’t tell you that is lying, is more concerned with making money than they are with your health, both mental and physical. If you are forty years old, you’ve been doing something for twenty or thirty years that has resulted in you being overweight, underweight, or trying to manage your weight with vomiting or exercise bulimia. No one can undo that in thirty days. What is wrong with us is three fold. One, we have physical problem.  We abuse our bodies with food, some make it much worse by vomiting or anorexia. Two, we have an emotional problem. We have no idea how to live with the range of human feelings we all experience.  We let our feelings run our lives.  Three, we have a spiritual problem.  Most of us have a huge, empty hole in our souls that we are desperately trying to fill up. We try to fill it with food, or alcohol, or sex, or any variety of things.  And the hole stays empty because we don’t have any idea what to really do.

We need help. We need the kind of help that treats what is wrong with us. We need a three-fold solution not a diet. In my experience the only solution is a twelve-step program or any program that treats the three problems.  I like twelve-step programs because they are free, they work, and it’s a ‘together’ program.  We all recover together. I found Greysheeters Anonymous. I now live in the solution. I live in today. I’m pretty darn sure I will never be normal around food.  It hasn’t happened in over sixty years so it’s very unlikely. I crossed some invisible line when I was very young.  I’m a food addict. GSA has helped me accept that I am what I am. It gives me a food plan that won’t trigger my addiction. I have learned what behaviors lead me back into active addiction and which ones lead me away. At some point I realized that something miraculous had happened: the impossible.  I hadn’t binged in years; I was right size.  Did I mention GSA is free and that it works!!! That hole in my soul is filled with gratitude for the life I live today.

It’s January.  It’s the month so many of us swear we are going to lose weight. I encourage you to save your money and try something new.

Please look under Resources on this blog.  Especially go to YouTube and do a search for the GreySheet channel and you can hear lots of people tell their stories. And if you feel moved to tell me your story, I would be honored.

Christmas 2020

My 16th Christmas abstaining from sugar and grains has passed. As far as food was concerned, it was just another day. Christmas, as a season, can be full of wonder and full of stress. I’ve always loved the lights that sparkle and entertain as the nights grow longer. I love the music and carols. But when I was growing up, all that was overshadowed by the stress of the family getting together.

For me, the stress of Christmas drove me towards the foods I’m allergic to: sugar and grains. Each year I’d vow that “this Christmas it will be different.” But, each Christmas, as stress grew, I turned to sugar and immediately I’d feel possessed by something I didn’t understand and was terrified of.

Then a miracle happened. At the age of 57, I realised, without a doubt, that my bingeing wasn’t normal. That when it comes to food and my relationship to certain foods, I am not normal in any way. I would eat and binge like an alcoholic drinks. Since I was 35 years old, I had been told I had an allergy to sugar, grains and certain carbohydrates. My body simply will not process them. If I put them in my body, it sets off a craving just as if I was alcoholic. When a relief to finally accept that that is who I am and not keep banging my head bloody up against a brick wall trying to be someone I’m not.

Today, I can say with gratitude, that I have had 16 wonderful Christmases because I don’t eat those substances. Even this year when so many of us are still in lockdown, I have enjoyed the music, the lights and the Zoom get togethers.

You can get Saving Sara at http://www.bookshop.org or amazon or anywhere you like to buy books.

If you think you might be like me, please read my book: Saving Sara A Memoir of Food Addiction. If you identify with my story, you may need a solution like mine–a spiritual program that doesn’t cost anything. Where we help each other never, ever to put, what for us, is ‘poison’ in our bodies. GreySheeters Anonymous. http://www.greysheet.org

Join me in a discussion of Food Addiction with Judy Collins, singer and author of Cravings

A virtual “Evening with an Author” hosted by the American Library in Paris featuring a conversation between Judy Collins and Sara Somers about food addiction and recovery to celebrate the release of Sara’s new book “Saving Sara: A Memoir of Food Addiction.” Filmed via Zoom with a live audience on 18/11/2020.

For nearly fifty years, Sara Somers suffered from untreated food addiction. In “Saving Sara,” she offers readers an inside view of a food addict’s mind, showcasing her experiences with obsessive cravings, compulsivity, and powerlessness regarding food, with the hopes of educating her readers and promoting life-saving conversations between loved ones and those suffering with addiction. “Saving Sara” chronicles her addiction from childhood to adulthood, beginning with abnormal eating as a nine-year-old. A raw account of Somers’ decades-long journey, “Saving Sara” underscores the challenges faced by food addicts of any age – and the hope that exists for them all.

available anywhere books are sold.

Since childhood, legendary folk singer Judy Collins has had a tumultuous relationship with food. Her issues with overeating nearly claimed her career and her life. For decades she thought she simply lacked self-discipline. She tried nearly every diet plan that exists, often turning to alcohol to dull the pain of yet another failed attempt to control her seemingly insatiable cravings. Today, Judy knows she suffers from an addiction to sugar, grains, flour, and wheat. She adheres to a strict diet of unprocessed foods, consumed in carefully measured portions. This solution has allowed her to maintain a healthy weight, to enjoy the glow of good health, and to attain peace of mind. Alternating between chapters on her life and those on the many diet gurus she has encountered along the way, “Cravings: How I Conquered Food” is the culmination of Judy’s desire to share what she’s learned—so that no one else has to struggle in the same way she did.

Thank you and look forward to any of your comments,

Sara

Is it ok to eat like a “normie” on Thanksgiving?

In the world of food addiction, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday where the food is concerned.  For me, it’s a day to look around and say ‘Thanks’.  Since I no longer binge and I no longer eat massive amounts of sugar or carbos or grains, I now have the bandwidth in between my ears to have a day of true Thanks Giving.  A day when I can say with all my heart how grateful I am that I live in the solution and never ever have to binge again.  A day when I can say with all my heart how grateful I am to have the willingness to do everything I need to do to show that I care enough about myself to work hard not to engage in self-abusive behaviors that drove me deeper and deeper into food hell.

Normally, this is a lethal time of year.  Starting with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then all the Christmas parties, then Christmas itself and finally New Year’s Eve.  At every single one of those occasions, there is always an over-abundance of food.  Does that mean we have to eat as everyone else does?  Does that mean we aren’t celebrating if we say No to foods and alcohol that will hurt us?  These are loaded questions with difficult answers.  Most people I know want to belong.  Whether to a family, to a close organization, somewhere that they know they can let their hair down. So many of us have grown up thinking of food as love.  “If I eat everything at Thanksgiving, I belong.  I’m home and I know I’m loved.”  

For some people that may be true.  There is a joke amongst recovering food addicts: Thanksgiving is amateur day for normal eaters. Everyone overeats. But not everyone pays the price of triggering the phenomenon of craving. Not everyone starts with Thanksgiving and can’t stop bingeing until they wake up on January 2nd determined to start yet another diet. We food addicts are different. We will never be normal eaters and therefore Thanksgiving and the rest of these holidays have to be about something else. About being with family, about knowing what works well in your life and saying thank you to the universe.  It just takes practice.  One holiday at a time.

This year, nothing is normal. It’s all different.  Here in France, ex-Pats do celebrate Thanksgiving but we won’t this year.  We are in lockdown and no one I know would risk exposing someone they love to the possibility of getting sick with Covid-19. In the US, I’m hearing that more and more states and cities are entering lockdown.  New Mexico went into lockdown today. One thing both Covid-19 and food addiction have in common—they don’t take vacations.  We can’t let up on our vigilance of either disease just because it’s a special day.  Wanting to belong to your family has to take a backseat to true love and telling them that we aren’t celebrating in person this year and let’s brainstorm how we can celebrate. On-line? Zoom? FaceTime.

This Too Shall Pass. We all have the opportunity to wake up January 2nd and not be vowing to diet and not have the deadly Covid disease. To do that, we have to expand our imagination.  We have to put our heads together and ask each other “How do we celebrate? Do we celebrate? Maybe we wait and have Christmas in July?” There are as many answers as there are people.

So to all of you I say: You don’t have to eat foods that will ultimately kill you.  You can provide yourself with an abundant delicious meal on Thanksgiving and any day.  You can stay “sober” and truly let the people you love know how much you love them. You can walk through the holiday season, one step at a time, one day at a time without engaging in self-abuse. This is the Holiday Challenge.  Can I love myself as much as I love others?

Let me know how you are doing? Please write some encouraging words to other compulsive eaters and let them know they are not alone.

Until next time,

Sara

Election Sanity vs Binge Eating

As part of my self-care program to keep my food addiction at bay, I meditate. And, as everyone who participates in any kind of social media knows, once I started asking questions or downloading any thing to do with meditation, I began to receive many invites in my e-mail. One of the best that I have discovered is 10% Happier–an app that had its beginnings with the book of the same name by Dan Harris of ABC Television. This no-nonsence, down to earth approach and aid to meditation is a wonderful way for anyone to get started on meditation as a daily practice.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from 10% Happier inviting me to partake in the Election Sanity Challenge. Of course my mind went on Tilt. No such thing as sanity and election in the same sentence. Elections in the USA have grown more and more insane as the years go by. But, in theory I thought, great idea, sign me up. Each Monday, a talk arrived in my mailbox that addressed one of the four nobel truths of Buddhism: Loving Kindness/Friendliness; Compassion/Giving a crap; Sympathetic Joy/the opposite of schadenfreude; Equanimity/Keeping cool. The second label is Dan Harris’ way of making these truths accessible to all of us. It works.

Why am I telling you all this? This week, I realized that as the election is 7 days away and I have no idea what will happen, this is the kind of worry or anxiety that I would eat over. The more I got involved with something that I feel great passion for, the higher my anxiety got as I realized that I had no control over the outcome. That kind of anxiety is terribly uncomfortable and I would always eat/binge when I was at any level of discomfort. Preferably–my drug of choice ‘ice cream’, which I thought would cool me down. Of course, the quantities that I consumed would knock me out, make me numb, and while numb I might sign up for yet another round of activity with my political party of choice. When the food/drug wore off, there I was: neck-deep in craziness, powerlessness and not knowing. Three quarters of the way towards another binge.

Radical Self-care is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others. It’s necessary to fill your cup first, then to give to others from the overflow. This is what gives you the capacity to heal and to move forward into your next chapter of life.

This is a week of ultimate need for radical self-care. Dan Harris anticipated this and, for the last month, has been preparing us and our active minds to think in terms of kindness–to ourselves and others. He offers a daily mediation challenge through next Tuesday. You can sign up on the app 10% Happier. I find that I need to consciously acknowledge where I can go with this sense of wanting to control the outcome of the election. The first thing is to accept that I cannot control it. This morning, I asked myself if I was pleased and satisfied with all the actions I had taken to participate in this election. As a voter from abroad, I had the extra challenge of making sure I got my ballot in time to get it returned in time. I did. Check. Have I participated in physical actions to get out the vote? Yes, Check. Since my time zone is not conducive to making phone calls all day to make sure people voted, I donated money. More than I ever have in any previous election. Check. But I don’t want my mailbox filled with requests, solicitations, some even shaming me for not doing enough. So this morning, I unsubscribed to every single one of them. I didn’t feel guilty. I felt strong that I wanted to survive this election time abstinent from compulsive eating, abstinent from crazy, insane, powerless thinking, abstinent from the adrenaline rushes I used to get from the highs of sugar misinterpreting that energy as creative energy.

No matter what happens next week, I still have to live with me. I still have to wake up each morning and feed my cat, do my work, write my blog, talk to friends. Do I really want to wake up having thrown away years and years of abstaining from the substances that will kill me? Go back to living in hell praying to the God that I don’t understand to help me stop binging? Having to face all of you and say “I didn’t make it through this election.” NO I DON’T. No election, no political party, no person (other than me) is worth throwing away the life I live today; a life of mostly sanity, a life I have chosen that I love.

What are you going to do this week to take care of yourself? If you have a horse in this race, how can you detach from the outcome today and one moment at a time, abstain from the substances and the negativity that once ruled you and your life. You are worth it. Vote for yourself, for your happiness, for freedom from the food from this moment forward. Then listen to 10% Happier!! It just might give you some new and well needed tools.

Here’s to freedom from Food Addiction, one day at a time.

Sara

When you have finished your meditation, take a look at my memoir–how I went from fat and bingeing on a daily basis to recovery from my food addiction. If you identify, there is hope, I promise. Available at your favourite bookstore, bookshop.com and of course, Amazon.

More reviews for Saving Sara: A memoir of food addiction

If you would like to hear more about Food Addiction and the book, Saving Sara A memoir of Food Addiction, please join us at a webinar sponsored by EatingDisorderHope.com: https://eatingdisorderhope.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XFz58w39S266Qhjyq_WL8A

When: Jul 11, 2020 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada) (3pm ET)
Topic: Sara Somers, author of  Saving Sara A Memoir of Food Addiction in conversation with Jacquelyn Ekern of Eating Disorders Hope 

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://eatingdisorderhope.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XFz58w39S266Qhjyq_WL8A

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

“This is a riveting and deeply human memoir about one woman’s crazily disordered eating, and the path to freedom she discovered. But it is also the story of Sara Somers’s fight to save her soul, spirit and life.”
―Anne Lamott, New York Times best-selling author and past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship

“Read Saving Sara to see how bad it can get before it gets great―and find out just how [Sara Somers] did, so you can do it too.”
―Judy Collins, New York Times best-selling author of Cravings, Grammy-nominated singer, and Academy Award-nominated director

Saving Sara is a mental anguish page turner, depicting the relentless drive to eat that can dominate and destroy life’s opportunities, just like any other addiction . . . ideal reading for someone who is struggling with compulsive eating or who is suffering with complications from obesity. It is essential reading for someone working in the addiction field. A critical book for anyone who really wants to walk in the shoes of a food addict, who lives in the disease, and finally finds her recovery.”
―Dr. Vera Tarman, MD, FCFP, ABAM, medical specialist in food addiction, author of Food Junkies: Recovery from Food Addiction

“When it comes to eating disorders, both professionals and the public have a great deal of understanding of anorexia and bulimia. There is very little understanding, however, of Binge Eating Disorder. In this wrenching book, Sara describes in detail―sometimes painful detail―what her disease of food addiction was like and the depths to which it took her. But this is also a volume about hope. Her journey to finding her solution is only one person’s story, but as we know from the long history of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, one person telling their story can transform lives. I hope that mental health providers will read this, learn from it, and share it with those who might benefit from knowing they’re not alone with their eating behaviors.”
―Dr. Kristi Webb, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist, Raleigh, North Carolina

Yvonne Spence  https://yvonnespence.com/book-reviews/review-of-saving-sara-a-memoir-of-food-addiction-by-sara-somers/

  • “I found Saving Sara to be well written and an interesting and compelling read. I appreciated its honesty and Somers’s willingness to take responsibility for her part in conflict… Somers’s honesty and compassion for all involved is clear throughout…. even for someone without an eating disorder, Saving Sara: A Memoir of Food Addiction is a compelling read in its own right.”

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3329682832?book_show_action=false

One person’s story

In the April issue of Recovery Today magazine, p.46 “Confessions of a down and dirty, rock bottom food addict.” Their title not mine. But it says what it needs to say.

I got sober on June 1, 1998. I was an alcoholic, but alcohol wasn’t my bottom line addiction. Food was. I was a down and dirty, rock bottom food addict who couldn’t ingest sugar and grains in either liquid or hard form. I first went to AA in an effort to learn what the 12-step programs were all about, after coming from Overeaters Anonymous where I had been dazed and confused.

I was so ashamed of my food addiction that I never spoke of it to my sponsor or friends. In private,I tried to make AA solve my food issues. Such an irony: I knew that AA was a WE program, that connectedness was the antithesis to addiction. I knew that telling like-minded people how I’d used and abused my drugs of choice brought it all out in the open, gave me another 24 hours to keep the disease at bay. But my shame of eating, of my body, was so huge that I found it impossible to share with others. In my memoir, Saving Sara: A Memoir of Food AddictionI once and for all detail how my food addiction progressed and became more unmanageable over the years. I found OA in 1979 but was too arrogant to let go and try it someone else’s way. Then I was introduced to  GreySheeters Anonymous in 1983. I knew immediately it was the solution I had been looking for. But being a hard core addict, hard- wired to do self-destructive things, I felt sure that I could fix myself on my own.

It took me another twenty-six years to crawl back to a GSA meeting, broken and beaten up.I was seven years sober at that time. I had been sitting in AA meetings wondering why I wasn’t happy, joyous and free. I had done the steps a number of times. But I always kept my dirty secret to myself: I couldn’t stop binge eating. Now, fifteen years later, I have been abstaining from sugar, grains and refined carbs. It helped to accept that I could only deal with food addiction with other food addicts. No matter how much my AA friends loved me, since they didn’t eat like I did, I felt they couldn’t understand. On top of community, what GreySheeters Anonymous gave to me was structure. If I did what my sponsor said, I had a good chance of arresting the bingeing. I weighed my food at every meal and ate the same amounts as the day before. GSA knew I had a life and death disease and that was what the GSA boundaries treated. Since food addiction isn’t discussed as often in our society, I hope Saving Sara will open the door for much needed conversations to arise.

To pre-order the book: https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Sara-Memoir-Food-Addiction-ebook/dp/B07VBKZK3Y/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3NEQDD6UPIVF4&dchild=1&keywords=sara+somers&qid=1587045620&sprefix=Sara+Somers%2Caps%2C337&sr=8-1&fbclid=IwAR0tQzP3fs3RkgrH4LbL3TuNg-lqaUiuSLzWV-qK319S8PvCjZmziSNV9_U

As always, ask your questions, make comments, this is a blog for all of us

Sara