On the Sunday before Christmas, many of us are in a hurry. Last minute gift buying. Parties. And of course football. In the week to come we food addicts will face a number of potential threats to our abstinence. Even if we are not religious, many of these threats and triggers will be present for us:
- Celebratory meals: Christmas dinner, out with friends, whatever, especially ones with specialty items we used to look forward to all year.
- Shopping: We don’t know what to get our assistant, so we go to the local chocolatier or liquor store to get something genial that everyone likes…but that we like too much.
- Parties: Office parties, open houses thrown by friends, and our own shindigs have one thing in common. There’s always a ton of food and booze, and it’s usually a prime grazing opportunity.
- Goodies brought in by coworkers, vendors, clients, etc: The print vendor sends their annual basket of sweets and carbs, or maybe it’s a medical supplier, or, if you teach, it’s parents. If you work in an office, or your spouse does, you’ll likely be faced with open boxes of delectables that you really want to eat but really really don’t want to eat.
- Stocking stuffers: Your kids want to share a chocolate Santa or two with you. Or, gee, you’re giving them your favorite candy. And, that advent calendar with the pop-out chocolates needs attending to….
- Holiday food and beverage gifts: Uncle Jedediah gave you another bottle of Baileys? Auntie Shinnelle signed you up for the cake-of-the-month club? At least they mean well.
- Family: Nothing triggers us like family. They know how to push our buttons because they put the buttons there in the first place.
- Old eating/drinking buddies: Seeing old school pals over the holiday? And being around them reminds you of all the times you went to the diner or the bar in your hometown?
- Memories of holidays when we ate compulsively: Why limit ourselves to feeling threatened by this year’s holiday when we can hammer ourselves with guilt over all the other holidays where we ate without our permission.
- Cooking: Whether we’re trigger by the pressure of getting a meal out on time, of a million people in the kitchen with us, or we just find ourselves suddenly drawn to the beaters of a mixer, a spoon laden with stuff, or a piece of what we’re cooking that no one will ever miss.
- Smells: You’re at the mall shopping and you walk within 100 feet of some cart roasting this holiday treat or that. These smells can be powerful triggers. We can almost taste them.
- Feelings: Of any sort, but especially ones that lead toward self-pity.
These and many other people, places, and things may call to us this coming week. What do we do about it? For one, we don’t ignore those thoughts or dismiss them. They are a danger to us. We must acknowledge them and deal with them appropriately. In the midst of all the hoohah, what do we do?
Why, we use the Steps and Tools of OA, of course!
If we have established a relationship with a Higher Power, we find a way to quickly remove ourselves from the triggering situation. Maybe feigning a pee break? We use that time to reach out to our Higher Power and ask that he/she/it/they relieve us of the obsession and give us the willingness and strength to stay away from the food. If we feel fear, we can use the fear prayer in the Big Book:
God, please remove my fear and direct my attention to what You would have me be.
If we are still new in OA and haven’t yet made spiritual contact with our Higher Power, then we can use OA’s tools. Most convenient is the telephone. We can call or text an OA pal to bring the power of the fellowship to our situation. We can excuse ourselves and quickly read a piece of OA literature we’ve brought with us just for this reason. If a meeting is available to us, online or in person, perhaps we can attend it. We can use any of the Tools we want, but we must them if they are to work for us.
But what might be most important to us in the next week is simply having a plan. If we just blithely hope for the best, we are liable to be caught off guard and highly susceptible to the first bite. So we think through what tough situations are likely to occur, and we talk to our sponsor to make a plan for dealing with them. Don’t have a sponsor? Talk to an OA friend about it. But do get a sponsor!
No matter what, however, we can take a good piece of advice from the Big Book. Wherever we go or do in the next week, we can try to bring a good time to those around us instead of sitting hangdog wishing we could chow with impunity. Because we can’t, so we might as well bring some of the joy, love, and peace that the holiday season is supposed to be about.