My cat (Theo) has taught me all sorts of things over the years! How to be simultaneously annoying but lovable. Why it’s OK to need constant affection. The importance of being a reliable, consistent presence in another living being’s life…but more recently I’ve learned something absolutely fascinating about recovery from food addiction from Theo.
See, for all the years I’ve had him, I always kept his food bag on a high counter. This way I could just reach into the bag and fill his bowl with a few handfuls each morning. Yes, I know I should’ve been sealing it up hygienically in plastic or something, but hey, I’m a bachelor and we never had a bug problem with it or anything like that… and besides, that’s not relevant to the issue at hand…
A few months ago though, the counter I kept it on was full, so I just left the bag on the floor next to his bowl. I left the top with a wide gaping opening in it, just to see what would happen. And you know what happened? ….
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DIFFERENT!
It’s apparently NEVER occurred to Theo that he could just help himself to the food in the bag which is just sitting there next to him with a big hole in it. I’m SURE he can smell it. I KNOW he can reach it. But somewhere along the way he learned that the food he is SUPPOSED to eat has to come from me. So every single morning he wakes me up and literally screams at me until I walk into the kitchen and put his two handfuls of food in his bowl. He seems to have NO idea that he’d be empowered to feed himself if he wanted to.
Theo has thoroughly embraced the illusion of helplessness and dependency with food. He thoroughly believes he NEEDS me to feed him what he’s supposed to eat to take care of himself, even though the facts are blatantly staring him in the face. Nothing else will do but Glenn scooping up the food with his hands and putting it in his bowl.
Now, here’s the thing… I initially chalked this up to him being a cat. “I guess cats just aren’t as smart as us humans. Stupid cat!” I thought…
But then I got to thinking…
Every time I go into NYC I get a little panicked about food, as if it weren’t possible to find healthy food in Manhattan. See, for almost 40 years I was in the habit of stopping at Zabar’s to get potato knishes, which almost always led to a 5,000 to 10,000 calorie binge on all sorts of other things on the upper west side. Year after year I’d park on Riverside Drive then walk right over to Zabars on Broadway. It was like an automatic program…
And I never stopped to think there was a salad bar right along the way. I’d learned to let the nice lady in Zabar’s give my my knishes, thinking there were NO other options for feeding my body what it needed, when, in fact, it would’ve actually been EASIER to get a big healthy salad. (There were almost never any lines at the salad bar, whereas Zabars almost always had a big one at the time of day I went there.)…
I’d conditioned myself to believe that ONE pattern was the ONLY way to eat when I arrived in Manhattan, even though an easier, healthier option was right there in front of me. I’d embraced the illusion of helplessness with food.
Now, whenever I go anywhere, I research healthy food options at my destination and along the route. It’s as easy as googling “produce store 11020” (insert the appropriate zip code). Or “salad bar 11020”, etc.
You do NOT have to live on autopilot with food. You do NOT have to embrace old patterns as your food bible. You do NOT have to accept your dependence on junk food, overeating, and bingeing as a way of life. If you’d like help, click below now to learn more!
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