food chain

Vegetarian Curries: Chana Masala, Paneer Saagwala and Malai Kofta

I don't even remember the last time I binged on food. It has been years. It has been over 7 months since I last binge drank (alcohol), or consumed caffeine. In 7 months, I have only had alcohol once: I recently attended a 7 course vegetarian degustation with matched wines, but after that I managed to go back to my usual routine. The total amount of wine with the degustation was about 3-3.5 units over a 3 hour period. I wanted more after, but didn't have more. I don't know if I will lose control soon. I really want to drink. I do not plan on total abstinence for the rest of my life. I am hoping that I will travel to Melbourne, and that I will genuinely enjoy coffee, wine and food during my trip.

Couscous and dips (sweet potato, hummus and capsicum/bell pepper)

I would not call myself a great cook. However, over time I have managed to acquire, adapt or create a certain number of recipes that it is realistic for me to prepare on an ongoing basis, and occasionally I still attempt to cook something new. The photos on this page are here mainly because they all are somewhat colour-coordinated. To see some other vegetarian foods that (either GK or) I can make, see GK's blog entry Throw another Quorn on the barbie.

There are too many dire warnings on a daily basis on the internet regarding what you should and shouldn't be eating. For me, it's a great improvement that I've managed to live without the feeling of constantly being out of control. At the same time, I never feel sure it won't happen again. In recent years, the bingeing has been alcohol, not food-related, but in recent months I have purposely made an effort to lose weight, and I am not totally sure that there won't be some kind of food backlash in addition to alcohol at some point.

Leek and Potato Soup with grilled whole wheat pita bread

People are living longer than ever, and even if they acquire health problems, surely every person should have a right to decide for themselves if the pleasure of eating (and drinking or taking other drugs) outweighs the risks for them, and if they accept the consequences, including that they will be thought selfish for burdening the health system. How long will it take before the general consciousness is raised enough that people realize it's a very complex issue, and not one that is easily solved by warning people of the dangers, or labelling them selfish? Probably a long time, but ideally, more people will take some kind of stand in relation to it.

It took many years for me to push bingeing as far as I could, and to eventually find I craved some foods that were considered 'healthy'. For me, there was no shortcut. It was a long and painful process. I took in all the warnings, and I never felt cocky about anything. However, in spite of all the abuse I put my body through, the years of disordered eating, and the extreme binge drinking, I am still lucky enough that I don't seem to have done much damage. At present, my health seems pretty good. (This assessment is based on detailed bloodwork, blood pressure monitoring, and body composition testing.)

Roast Pumpkin and Feta Couscous with Walnuts and Balsamic Reduction

Maybe this is part of my pattern. I take things to the edge, and then for a period of time I undo damage and that keeps things relatively stable for a while when I go back to the more extreme behaviour. Perhaps in spite of the warnings, most humans can inflict a certain amount of abuse on their bodies, and keep recovering.

I think that a sense of stability affects all areas of life, including one's eating patterns. I have now lived in the same house for over 15 years, and I do think that stability does affect what I express through my relationship with food, but that it also affects certain kinds of progress and what I feel confident enough to try in all areas of life. I might still lack some essential types of stability that can't be compensated for, or, maybe I am very slowly moving toward addressing them in my own way.

In having ideas about the kind of life you want, the foods you might cook, the kinds of social experiences you might have, if you do not have certain internal and external resources, or enough of a sense of entitlement, your ideas might never connect in a practical way with reality.

After 28 weeks of not drinking, I was feeling that a binge of some kind could possibly occur. I decided to make a choice to get the most possible out of a binge, so it became a structured binge. I went out for a 7 course vegetarian degustation with matched wines. I have only had degustation dinners two other times. These dinners are extravagant, but have been extremely enjoyable on each occasion. This time was no exception.

It was a fantastic dinner, and I did enjoy all the suprises. GK took some photos, and might eventually post something about the dinner in his blog. In total, I think the amount of wine was about 3 or 3.5 units over 3 hours, and they probably work it out such that people can drive after the dinner. GK and I had taken a taxi anyway.

It still does seem to me that I need more 'special' experiences after more than 7 months of being 'in control'. I am hoping I can wait until I plan a trip to Melbourne, such that it can be an enjoyable time rather than an out-of-control binge. It is possible that part of what bingeing represents is a desire for a certain kind of social experience or contact, and that making an effort to plan something special might prevent the extreme bingeing of the past. That said, it's not like I haven't tried to plan that sort of thing in the past, and still failed. And, still eventually had a long, drawn-out period of backlash bingeing. I have never been 'in control' for 7 months. The backlash this time might be extreme.

I have acquired a prescription for Naltrexone. I read up on it, and thought it was possible it could help to reduce an all-out prolonged alcohol binge. Most of those who take it for opiate addiction or alcohol abuse take it on a daily basis, but it is also possible to take it a bit before you know you are going to drink (this doesn't work with opiates), such that you drink much less than you normally would. Naltrexone blocks the feeling of pleasure, whether that is through alcohol or opiates. You still get drunk if you drink as much as usual (or high), but you don't enjoy it. I don't really like the idea of blocking the pleasurable feelings, but I know what it's like when I lose control, and when I feel 'ready' to stop drinking, I have often found I can't. Naltrexone is now an option, which does seem to result in many people stopping at a moderate amount of alcohol. When I try it out, I will post more about it. For now, it remains something to try, an option, for when I am not doing as well. It is a strategy to possibly obtain a different outcome this time.

It is possible that Naltrexone might also help with food craving or bingeing, but so far it has mainly been tested with regards to drugs and alcohol. It has also been tried out with a few other addictions or related behaviours, including compulsive internet porn consumption.

Past behaviour predicts that I will eventually lose control, go back to old behaviours, and gain weight. Perhaps this time the initial period will be so extreme that it results in hospitalization or death. Perhaps I have stabilized my system such that I will be relatively ok for another few years, and things will simply continue on as before. Perhaps eventually I won't be able to undo the damage very easily, but perhaps I won't really be worse off than the average person.

When things level out again, it does seem that I have the structure of a life to go back to. I have a considerable base of recipes that I genuinely like. I have a room of my own, I have possums, and I have a friend who can put up with my habits and lifestyle. Ideally, I will be able to move to Melbourne when I try again, but if I am unable, I do realize that I have something of a support system here. I don't take that for granted. At the same time, I do realize that although the relative stability of my life over the last 15 years or so has made it possible for me to begin to progress in some areas that remained undeveloped in the past, I can't count on it not to change.

When it comes to alcohol, people usually think in terms of total abstinence if a person is compulsive with it. However, the drug Naltrexone seems to help people to reduce heavy drinking, but not eliminate drinking altogether. When it comes to food, weight and fitness, most people think in terms of failure if they lose weight and gain it back. I think in terms of aiming at allowing the regaining of weight to be enjoyable - although for me, the 'empty' calories are most likely to be comprised of alcohol. There are 'healthy' and lowfat foods I do enjoy eating, but I do not want to have to be extremely 'sensible', forever. I wanted to get 'far enough ahead' that I could maintain a weight I felt comfortable with, while still being able to enjoy things like coffee, wine and food. It is possible that there are now limits that will kick in when it comes to food. In the past, when I was alone in the house, a lot of food would have to be locked in a spare room (with an extra fridge), and in lockable cupboards in the kitchen. I did not think that would ever change, but it has changed, and the locks are no longer needed.

I do want to drink again, and at present it is something I am very much looking forward to. I am also looking forward to drinking coffee. And, to being on my own, in surroundings different from my everyday ones.


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