Recovered Food Addict Erin K. Reflects on Her Sugar-Coated Childhood

Episode 11 of the Food Addiction: The Problem and The Solution Podcast: I Understand My Food Addiction is a Disease

Host, Susan Branscome:

When did you know that you did not eat like other people normally, as we say, and that you reacted to food, treated food differently than others? When did you start talking about your story?

Guest, Erin K.

Well, I had a sense that I was different around food, pretty young. And as a young teen, I started to think more about it. An event that really stands out in my mind from my childhood was when I was about six years old. I had an older brother, only a year or so older, and we would get our own breakfast. We had a new baby in the house and we’d have cereal and I would put about five or six scoops of sugar on my cereal.

And when my mom, who was trained as a dental hygienist, would find our milky, sugary coating in the bottom of the bowl, she said, “you cannot eat sugar. That’s too much.”

I’m hiding the sugar bowl. And I remember very distinctly in my mind at six me like, I will find the sugar bowl. But the weirdest thing was that my brother, 15 months older, did not seem bothered by a hidden sugar bowl. And the first thing I thought was, what is wrong with him? Like, there’s something wrong about him.

Now, as I grew older and became more self -aware as a young teenager, I started to realize that it was probably me that was different with food. And that came from a preoccupation with food. And when I was in my young teens, I had access to more food.

Like I said, growing up with a dental hygienist as a mom, we didn’t have a lot of sweet food in the house. But once I started babysitting and had access to food at other people’s houses, but more importantly money to go out, I was a free range seventies and eighties kid.

I could just go find my fix. I could find sugar in a lot of different forms and a lot of different places with my babysitting cash and a bike or a bus pass. I just got busy getting the food that satisfied that craving. I needed it to feel normal after not too long.

So consider I my childhood to be what I call sugar-coated. I would get sugar wherever I could get it, from my grandparents’ house, babysitting.

And in my high school years, I remember swearing off certain foods. I gave up M &M’s for a while just because they were running my life. And as a 14, 15 year old kid, I didn’t start dieting really until my teens. And that was really hard to do. I usually try to just over exercise because giving up food just did not seem like it was an option.

Yeah, I relate to a lot of what you said. I remember my birthday cake when I was five years old. I mean, today, I’m 64. I still remember my birthday cake. I remember the colors. I remember how it tasted. I remember I couldn’t wait to have it and have more. I mean, early. This is five years old. And the babysitting, I don’t know if you ever did this, but like I’m babysitting. Let me eat their food. You know, the ice cream in the fridge or the cookies or whatever. And I wanted to get away with it. One time they came home early and I was horrified. I put the ice cream bowl back in the freezer and thought, oh, they’re going to find it. No, I did that. Oh, yeah. Babysitting was free range. Lots of goodies. And then in our teens, you know, we’re women.

We go through puberty and the weight, you know, our hormones change, right? And weight starts coming on. And then that’s when my dieting really started. Did use you diets when you were a teenager? Well, I do remember going to a Weight Watchers meeting as a preteen. I don’t think I went to any more than one.

But again, dieting did not seem like a very good idea. Like I couldn’t handle the notion of not being with my food. It was my solution. So what was interesting was that at age, I went to my first 12 step meeting around food at age 16 and a half. I had a family member take me to my first 12 step meeting. So there was something innate in me that knew that dieting probably wasn’t going to work very well. And then I had a degree of powerlessness that could only be addressed with help. So that was age 16.

About Guest, Erin K.

Erin K, a recovered food addict was exposed to addiction and 12-step recovery as a child which she believes helped her realize that her food addiction could be alleviated through 12-step recovery work. She knew early on that she did not use food for nourishment, but rather to soothe her anxiety and to feel normal. Erin’s powerlessness and her compulsive behaviors around food drove her life. It was not until she surrendered to her disease at the age of 18 and stopped blaming others and taking responsibility for her life that she began to recover from the disease of food addiction. Later in her life, she had a relapse from abstinence and food began once again to dominate her life. Today she has 11 years of successive abstinence and through recovery Erin has freedom from food addiction. She recommends to anyone who cannot control their food or weight on their own to consider recovery and that there is freedom from being controlled by food.

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