Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chapter 4 Exercises

Chapter 4 in Anne Katherine's "Anatomy of a Food Addiction" is titled "The Great Escape". It talks about fight or flight syndrome and how food may become an escape, particularly for female children, who are often taught to be nice and helpful and not openly fight or express anger that male children can usually get out through rougher play, sports, etc.

The author uses psychologist Abraham Maslow's famous "Hierarchy of Needs" to illustrate why some folks make the choices they do in their lives. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is as follows, starting with the most important needs at the top of the list:

1. Body needs--air, food, water, temperature
2. Safety and protection from harm
3. Status, approval, love, acceptance, belonging
4. Competence, adequacy, security, self-esteem
5. Curiosity, to know and understand
6. Order, structure, system
7. Self-actualization, exploration, newness, values, artistic expression, self-fulfillment, meaning

Katherine goes on to say that when we see our most basic needs ranked in this way, we can see the courage and support that are necessary to swap a visceral need for a more abstract one, concluding that generally, we have to substitute something that feels similarly fulfilling in order to affect change.

At the end of the chapter, she writes: "even though experimental results aren't yet clear enough to explain exactly what happens in our bodies step by step, enough is known to conclude the following:

--We overeaters have bodies that are chemically delicate.
--Our bodies respond to subtle deficits in minerals, vitamins, light, energy, and needs.
--We are probably eating to correct deficits, but what we eat is not making the correction.
--Eating is an effort to self-medicate. Eating is caused by biological pressure."


Assignment 4.1

Here is the second part of the disease inventory that began in Chapter 2 on page 46. This part is designed to help you become more conscious of the direct and indirect messages you received as a child about food, eating, and weight. Your awarenesses will become more clear by first writing them down then sharing them with another person or group of people.

Identifying the Message

As a small child, you were taught about food and eating with words (what your parents told you), actions (what your parents showed you), and consequences (how your parents rewarded or punished you). Write down what you were taught as a small child:

--What did your parents say about food, sugar, eating, and weight (yours and theirs)?

--What were meals like—warm times of sharing, love, and laughter? Were you tense, pressured, fearful? Were you captive while being disciplined?
--Were meals regular, predictable, and healthy, nutritionally balanced, haphazard, sporadic, at no fixed time, late and unappetizing because you had to “wait for father”, of questionable nutritional value?
--How was food a part of family celebrations, both daily traditions and holidays, celebrations, and weekends?
--Where and when did you learn about nutritional balance, nutritional content, cooking?
--What mixed messages did you receive as a child? For example, “Eat! It will make you healthy!” “That girl, I keep letting out her clothes!”
--What was the family’s attitude toward appearances? Were appearances important no matter what was happening? Was it more important for the house to be neat for the neighbors than for you to be attended to?

--What were the rewards or punishments for eating the way your family did, or for not eating the way they did?
--How were you rewarded or punished for the way you looked, the way you ate, the way you were the same, the way you were different from the rest of the family?
--Think about your childhood. In what ways did you suffer from the addictiveness or compulsiveness of others? Take plenty of time for this part of your inventory. Be as detailed as you like. Write about the experiences you went through as a result of the disease in others.

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