Home Anorexia & Bulimia Seeing the Big Picture

Seeing the Big Picture

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I’d never understood how someone who is anorexic could have the same problem as someone who is obese. This morning, though, I woke up with the realization that my friend and I do have the same problem: a broken “thermostat.”

On her thermostat, the trigger that tells her it’s time to fuel her body is broken. It never clicks on, so her body becomes undernourished and suffers all the consequences that go with starvation. I have a thermostat too, but mine has a hair-trigger that is instantly tripped by behaviors, certain substances, buried feelings, and my spiritual disease. I am powerless over my compulsive eating. Once I take that first bite and my thermostat trips, I do not know when to stop.

Routinely, I’d eat way beyond full, even after I’d consumed more than enough calories to fuel my body. If there was a shut-down signal, I’d ignore it. A “normal” eater might occasionally override their thermostat trigger on special occasions, but it kicks back in under normal circumstances. Not mine. All my eating occasions were special.

I see this same pattern in many other areas of my life. My house has a wonderful air conditioning and heating system that keeps me comfortably cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Its thermostat is activated by the surrounding temperature, and I manually adjust that thermostat when needed. When it’s healthy, it functions well with no intervention. When it breaks, I replace it.

In program, in an act of surrender, I use my food plan to manage my body’s fuel thermostat. HP does the heavy lifting, but I do my part with a food plan. I plan ahead so that my thermostat maintains stasis and turns on and off with no cravings. For me, this is a healthy thermostat.

I have learned, too, that this thermostat is not to be left on autopilot. Airplane pilots don’t just leave autopilot on without occasionally checking course and speed. My program is like that. Even if I have a plan that works, I cannot ignore it. I must always remain vigilant for the good orderly direction that comes from my HP, who sees the big picture. Occasionally my plan needs to be tweaked because what used to work has changed with age or circumstances. As some say, “I cannot stay abstinent today on yesterday’s program.”

I stay vigilant through working the Twelve Steps, going to meetings, giving service, and working with others. The portion of my brain that regulates my eating cannot be swapped out for another or left unattended. I believe this is true whether we under-eat or overeat. At the end of my day, I want that safe landing, that cool house, that healthy body that allows me to do the will of my Higher Power and have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

— Marie B., Florida USA

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