Now, all this led me to think about the mentality that gos with eating disorders, both anorexia and compulsive over-eating. I was thinking about how obesity does in fact, generally has a relation to eating more than recommended for ideal body function...how the attitude can generally be one of a love of food, and finding comfort and pleasure in consuming rich food.
I got to the thought, of an 'obese' person's love of food being similar to that of a smoker's love of cigarettes. Both, should not ignore while they consume their respective vices, the terrible medical conditions that can come as a direct result.
Someone who consumes too much, and finds comfort and pleasure in consuming rich food, should not equate the food in front of them to comfort and pleasure - they should equate and picture, hypotension, diabetes, etc etc, all the miserable medical conditions that can be caused as a result of overconsumption. A smoker should not equate the cigarette they are about to smoke to comfort and pleasure, they should see the lung cancer, bronchitis etc etc, all the miserable medical conditions that can be caused as a result of their smoking.
Now, I'm a smoker. I have been since I was a teenager. I smoke at the moment around 10 cigarettes a day and more when I'm out socialising. I know the mindset you can get into as a smoker, where you understand in the back of your mind that it is a terrible thing, you see the "Smoking Kills" warnings on cigarette packets and you still smoke. I would like to stop smoking, but I know that I've tried several times, and it just never happens, and ceases - I always go back to the store eventually and buy another packet. Hell I've even torn up cigarettes and thrown them away, while promising not to smoke to my (ex) girlfriend, only to go to the store the next day and buy another pack.
I'd like to stop smoking. Much in the same way a lot of obese people would like to be a healthy weight, and change their patterns of behaviour...
It was in examining the behaviour of my eating disorder that I may have stumbled upon an answer for myself to quit.
I developed a 'disorder' which started from the point of being very miserable, and the heaviest i've ever weighed. I wasn't obese or significantly overweight, but it was enough to affect my behaviour to the point I developed 'disordered' attitudes towards eating. I would see myself, and feel terrible about my body, and what I saw in the mirror, It would get me down, and people started to notice my weight gain, which coupled with undergoing some huge events such as death of friends and relatives and losing my job, led me into some really dark places.
I started to find a drive and determination in beating the weight I was at. I've always been quite fit and athletic, and active in sports, but I decided to take it to another level and push myself to achieve the low body fat that I so wanted, and was far away from. I absorbed myself in facts and advice on foods and calories...I was about to write that I *slowly* became obbessed with food and calories,...but that common term doesn't seem to fit, - I didn't slowly become obbessed, looking back, it seemed like I became obbessed in a flash, almost overnight.
I restricted my calorie intake, exercised more. I grew my confidence back standing up in the mirror. I was uplifted more and more each and everytime I stood on the weighing scales and saw the needle fall down from where it had been.
I grew an absolute disgust of food. This is the main point here that I can only take away from this disorder, and seek to apply in a positive way elsewhere - smoking....but first more on this disgust of food....
I stopped finding any enjoyment in the consumption of food. I would restrict my intake to a level I saw in my head as acceptable to exist on. I would restrict my intake to foods I felt were the best available in terms of low fat, and the best nutritional values I could get out of a restricted calorie intake. Any food I would take in within my restrictions would be the best quality fuel for my body to live on.
I would look at other people around me, in work, in social settings, eating rich, fatty foods and professing how good they tasted and how I was missing out, and how it's only a treat - "it's ok to treat yourself once in a while"...I would see and hear them and think - "You fools...you can't see the path you are on. You don't realise how terrible those things you are putting in your mouth are. You can't see how good I am for not consuming these horrible things - they will kill you and make you fat! Can't you see thats why you constantly moan about being fat?! It's because you're treating yourself all the time and justifying it!!"
I grew an absolute disgust of food. A phobia. It's one I'm still struggling with, and still I will have to admit has a grip on me.
But it's something, a behaviour, which I can use and adapt to make a positive in terms of my smoking.
I was thinking, why is the disgust of food so strong? Why is it that when I was at my heaviest, I was able to grow a disgust of food and let it latch on to me and affect me to the point of me resticting my calorie intake - how was it effective and powerful over me? - why can't I do it with smoking?
I began to see that you can understand that smoking is bad, you can want to quit it, you know it will kill you, but it's all too hard to act on it. With eating, I knew it was bad, I could see it, I could see the extra weight I was carrying in the mirror - I could hear my friends when they asked me if i'd put on weight...I felt terrible and I could not get away from it, my mind was bombarded until I changed my mentality and behaviour towards food. I no longer came back from work feeling terrible and with thinking go to a packet of potato chips...I was aware of my behaviour and it's detriment to my health and I stopped consuming.
Now with cigarettes, you don't see the damage to any signifant effect, you know about it, you hear about lung cancer, but practically, you don't see the effects until it's actually there and has happened. You can't think, oh I can feel my lungs being significantly damaged, I think I should quit....I remember my father telling me, he smoked, until he saw my mother's uncle die in front of him in the hospital from lung cancer, and the terrible pain he was in. - I understood it, but it still does not stop me from smoking - I wasn't there to see this guy die, I wasn't alive at the time to know him.
With cigarettes, If I can only equate the terrible illness that comes from smoking them, I think I can stop it and quit smoking. I want to build up the same hatred and disgust I built up to consuming food. How did I build up that disgust? - every time I saw food, I would equate it in my head to being fat, and the weighing scale reaching record highs..........
I can't feel lung cancer, I can't equate any illnesses from smoking to the cigarette I have in my mouth, like I can equate being fat to the food that is in front of me. I need to find ways to equate the illness, I need to shock myself. It was then that I remembered hearing that there was plans to put pictures of diseased lungs on the front of cigarette packets - It is only now, having examined my patterns of behaviour, that I understand the great effect such pictures would have on my smoking habit. So I will start with keeping a picture of a diseased lung in my wallet like this:- http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070829/capt.c7413f42bf5e40759737c7eef5aac3b5.britain_smoker_pictures_lon806.jpg
I will start with that, and look for other things that i can attribute and equate to every cigarette I am about to put in my mouth. I'm hoping that I find the same behaviour pattern that led me to restrict my food consumption and restrict.
I feel this is the only positive thing I can learn and take from my eating disorder. If I can take my strength in manipulating my behaviour from my eating disorder and apply it in a different way to manipulate my behaviour into being disgusted of smoking, then I will be happy.