Struggle with Food Addiction – Part 1

I say part 1 on this post because I imagine it won’t be the last, who knows, maybe it will be a three part series like the Millennium Trilogy or a seven part series like Harry Potter. Clearly I love books 🙂

Nothing like a poor joke to make light of a serious subject. As I read in some of President Ikeda’s writing earlier this week:

In the midst of a genuinely desperate situation, he (President Toda) retained his sense of humour

– Indigo Magazine Jan 2018, page 30

Earlier this week when I really struggled to be able to manage my crazy rotation diet and sleep and work, I prayed with the determination that I must be able to do Gongyo, chant at least ten minutes, write here, have my food figured out and be able to get some sleep. For the last 3 weeks, sleeping at 2 am has really taken its toll on me.

Last night, I was ready to sleep at 9.30 pm. I still hadn’t written my blog or cooked lunch for today. I dragged my ass off the couch and somehow cooked and wrote. By the time I finished and got to sleep, it was 2 am again.

Oh wait I missed a step, after dragging myself off the couch, I ate. I ate even though I wasn’t hungry and had already eaten. It was a reward and emotional fuel to be able to do what needed to be done. I couldn’t do it without the emotional support food provided me.

This has been the story of my life for a long time. It got much worse in 2004 when I first started working in an office job and living in a situation where I didn’t have power to say no to food. I lived with my Uncle who ate dinner much later than I did and if I didn’t eat dinner, it was a big drama. Before that time, as much as I loved food and rewarded myself, I don’t remember eating dinner very often. I never felt hungry late at night.

Anyway, what’s happened cannot be changed. And when I embraced myself and stopped dwelling on the injustices and mistakes of the past, my realisation this week was that somehow this needs to change.

This morning when I couldn’t get out of bed and go to work, I felt helpless and it sent me into a frenzy of problem-solving. I figured that the solution is just to eat differently and less so I am not stuck in the kitchen. My body doesn’t need that much food to sustain me probably, my mind needed it a lot more.

As Nichiren Daishonin said in the Gosho ‘Letter to the Brothers’:

A passage in the Six Pāramitās Sutra says to become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you.

It was clear to me that it was one of those impasse/critical turning point moments. So far I have been rearranging my life to keep feeding my food addiction. I always found a way to problem solve to have enough food. If my comfort food was taken away, I could find comfort in some other food. I took pride in being able to cope with this problem and really do so much to look after what needed looking after. I could binge eat brussel sprouts, a feat not many can accomplish I think. 🤣

Nichiren Daishonin said in the Gosho ‘The Two Kinds of Illness

THE illnesses of human beings may be divided into two general categories, the first of which is illness of the body. Physical diseases comprise one hundred and one disorders of the earth element, one hundred and one of the water element, one hundred and one of the fire element, and one hundred and one of the wind element, for a total of four hundred and four maladies.1 These illnesses can be cured with the medicines prescribed by skilled physicians such as Water Holder, Water Carrier,2Jīvaka, and Pien Ch’üeh.3

The second category is illness of the mind. These are the three poisons and the eighty-four thousand illnesses.4 Only a Buddha can cure them; thus they are beyond the healing powers of the two deities and the three ascetics,5 not to mention those of Shen Nung and Huang Ti.6

My food addiction is clearly an illness of the mind, my allergies and everything else that’s happening is deep rooted in this addiction. I had been wishing for it to go away so I can everything, delusions causing suffering.

Daimoku works in mystic ways. When my prayer changed to focus on kosen rufu and my practice, life mysteries started to unlock.

After this realisation, I first spent time giving a pep talk to my mind that I can do this. I don’t need to eat so much and I will do well with less food that my body can process. For instance, people from Jain religion don’t eat after sunset, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for a month – people reduce food intake for all kinds of reasons and make it a lifestyle and live a fulfilling life. As for my health condition and how it will work, I decided to take it a week at a time and not make any unrealistic resolutions such as never eating dinner again. I decided to be kind to myself – go figure, that one doesn’t happen often!

Thinking about this from an addiction point of view rather than I am weak and I eat allowed me to have the wisdom as to how to seek for an answer. I have read a whole lot of literature on eating disorders, been through therapy, tried a whole lot of things but nothing worked. I knew I needed a different approach.

I searched for brain rewiring for food addiction. I knew neuroplasticity plays a big role in addiction research and rehabilitation, perhaps someone had extended it to food?

I am happy to report that I have found an online solution where they help you with tools and frameworks to help you rewire your limbic system that causes a person to indulge in emotional eating. Accepting that this is a problem I need to fix, that I can’t eat for a fix like many other people can, has been a huge step for me.

If I can find appreciation or my unique challenges, I can focus on creating value from my experiences and showing someone else that it’s possible.

My journey starts here… it will be an everyday practice. I commit to being by my side. I resolve to bringing my greatest self, my Buddha nature, to it every day.

I don’t need to worry about how. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo will show the way.



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