Cookout Pigout


Here is how I used to act-out my food addiction at the typical family cookout in my ‘tweens…

My first order of business was always to volunteer for the jobs that would allow me to “feed” my habit.  I usually got my way, too, since I was the oldest, and because I was just a little too overly-concerned with this issue, whereas my two normal-eating sisters could care less.  Anyways, I would always volunteer to “make” the potato salad.  Sounds nice, right?  Helpful?  NOT!  First of all, the potatoes and the eggs were already cooked (my parents always did that part).  The salad just needed to be put-together.  So it was not only an easy job, but it also allowed me to be the taste-tester.  Plus I’d get to lick the bowl.  (I’m sure this habit would only appeal to a real food addict – – most kids at that age would only be interested if cake batter was involved!)  Next I would volunteer to “plate” the party pizza and the desserts.  This meant that I had an all-access pass to boxes of baked goods.  The whole time, I would be arranging with one hand and stuffing my face with the other.  And I would think nothing of it.  When all the prep work was done, I would get dressed for the party and then conveniently wait for the guests to arrive by pacing in front of the food table.  I’ve heard people in program call it “guarding the table.”  If I think about it, I did look very much like a German Shepherd patrolling a stretch of fence.  My mother would have to keep an eye on me and constantly tell me to stop eating the food so there would be enough for everyone else, or to make a dish and stop using my fingers,…  Embarrassing the first 100 times.  Not so much after that.

My next task was to get the grill lit as soon as the last guest arrived by “casually” giving my father hints that “everyone” was really hungry.  Back then we had one of those round charcoal grills that seemed to take forever to heat-up, so the sooner I could get the process started, the sooner I could get more food.  Next I would volunteer to take orders for hamburgers and hot dogs (and add a few extra of each under the guise of being prepared in case someone wanted an extra item) and to collect all the cooked meats, and to be the person to announce that it was time to eat.  Of course, somewhere in the middle of all that, I managed to eat a couple of hot dogs before anyone even saw them come off the grill.  Then, when it was clean-up time, I would be eating whatever was leftover (since, as I reasoned, it was just going to be thrown-out anyway).  By the end of the meal, I’d say I would have consumed an average of 5 hot dogs (3 with buns) and 3 hamburgers (2 in buns) without even batting an eye.

But the biggest draw for me were the s’mores.  My mother would have to literally hide the packages of chocolate bars from me or else I would get into them like a rat and she would have to run out on the day of the event to replace them (which happened more than once).  But when dessert time finally arrived, all bets were off.  I would make myself double-s’mores (by doubling the “inside” ingredients) and then go around trying to entice everyone there to at least have a toasted marshmallow so I could continue to make a few more for myself.  After eating 3 or 4 s’mores, THEN I would have dessert.

This is the way I spent every single family cookout – – obsessed with trying to figure out how to get the huge amounts of food I craved without anyone noticing how much I was eating (even though I am sure it was quite obvious!).  I knew the amounts I wanted were insane, but I also knew that I had to have them!  The sickest part of all?  I was only TWELVE YEARS OLD when I started doing this!  And since I would spend, not just cookouts, but all family gatherings doing this same type of food-hoarding behavior, it is probably not surprising at all that, to this day, I have trouble mingling at social events.  I’d rather disappear into a game with the kids at the party, or hang-out with the family pets.  And even now I still tend to “guard the table,” even though I am not eating the way I used to.  Also not surprising is the fact that after every cookout, I would be physically sick.  I wouldn’t purge, but I usually got really bad constipation and oftentimes ended-up with bad stomachaches and indigestion.  If the cookout was on a Saturday, I would do the same thing all over again the next day with the leftovers.  If it was on a Sunday, I would think about the leftovers all day at school and then raid the fridge the moment I got home…and THEN I would eat a full supper!  But either way, I would have a horrible night’s sleep and would end-up being irritable and groggy the entire next day.

To me, all of this is a clear depiction of what The Big Book refers to as one of those “mental blind spots” where, despite being mercilessly haunted DAILY by my obsession to be thin,  I would somehow “forget” about all that during one of these family gatherings, binge my brains out, then “snap out of it” and wonder how I could have done such a thing AGAIN!  The shame, guilt, and remorse were almost unbearable.  And yet I would repeat this behavior, event after event, month after month, and year after year.

May 3, 2012 This post was written by Categories: Tales of Terror: My Days as an Active Addict Tagged with:

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