Our primary purpose is to stay abstinent and to help other compulsive eaters to achieve abstinence. For that purpose we explore together the utilization of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous in arresting compulsive eating. What is GreySheet Abstinence? We define abstinence as three weighed and measured meals a day from the GreySheet food plan, with nothing in between meals, except black coffee, tea, and diet soda.
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I weigh and measure three meals a day from the Cambridge Grey Sheet, write them down, commit them to my sponsor or another qualified person. Abstinence is the most important thing. Compulsive eating runs in my family, and I believe I was born with the predisposition toward food addiction.
I also saw compulsive behaviors around the food. My mother weighed about 83 pounds and was considered a finicky eater while my grandfather, whose weight reached over pounds, ate large quantities. Whether by nature or by nurture I have the disease of compulsive overeating. Nearly as far back as I can remember I wanted more sugar. I never wanted one bite or one item. When I was in first or second grade I traded the items on my school lunch plate for the sugar dessert on the plates of my classmates.
I traded food until I had about four desserts. After finishing the X I wanted another. The other two children had continued playing; however, I was preoccupied with how I could get more sugar. I could never be sure that I would be served enough at the dinner party to quell my insatiable appetite. In grade school I looked forward to lunch, and I remember events by what foods I ate. I also enjoyed hoarding food, trying to make the Halloween sugar last until the Christmas sugar and the Christmas sugar last until the Easter sugar.
I wanted to have a stash. I remember exactly what I liked to eat at the kiosk at the public pool. I loved going to the fair, especially the excitement of the different things I wanted to eat. I know what sugar I chose when we went to the pharmacy after doctor visits, and I remember the sugar drink I always got after a trip to the dentist. I tried to save sugar even if it melted because I wanted to eat in isolation.
My food was not monitored during my pre-teen and adolescent years. The cupboards were mine from which to dine, and I did. I was often home alone in the afternoon, and I snacked and snacked and snacked. My binge eating seemed to kick in even more when I was about twelve years old. This was around the time my mother re-married, and I suppose I may have eaten to stuff the myriad of feelings.
It was with Paula that I got into trouble with someone for whom we babysat. We ate something the women wanted to serve to others. I also began eating things meant for multiple servings. So, I ate another. I would eat entres meant to serve an entire family.
Throughout this time I tried many diets. I believe I tried to diet beginning at age eight. Though not obese in the very early years I felt fat; eventually I was chubby and told not tuck in my shirt nor wear horizontal stripes. I always felt odd, different, and heavier than others. I tried counting calories, carbohydrates, and fat grams.
I tried fasting, Slimfast, and cutting down, and eating these things called aids. I did lose weight as a child and as an adult, but I could never keep it off. It all led to frustration and shame. The shame in my heart and the distortion in my mind about my body size was excruciating.
As a little girl there were times I was proud of my eating. I was also very religious. I considered being fat to be a moral issue. I prayed for forgiveness about what I ate and was ashamed to be overweight at church.
I heard there were seven deadly sins, and one was gluttony. I figured I was a pretty big sinner if I continually indulged in gluttony.
I got my photo in the newspaper in an ad for Diet Center; therefore, I felt the whole town was watching as I quickly gained back the weight. At age seventeen I was wearing a girdle and desperately trying to suck in my shame. Having gotten down to a size six earlier in the year my Spring prom dress was a size 13 or College continued the yo-yoing.
I was a Drama major, and I suffered greatly under the critical eye of the costumer. I kept getting bigger and had difficulty finding clothes to fit my out of proportion body. My weight became a sight gag in plays. In a dinner theatre comedy an obese young man and I were directed to get stuck in a doorway. I handled it good naturedly, but inside I was dying. Throughout my life there were occasional barbs hurled at me both intentional and unintentional, and all of them stung like a thousand wasps.
I went to graduate school and got an M. Throughout grad school my weight was an issue. My solution was binging and purging with laxatives or eating all week and then fasting for a day or more before weigh day.
When blood came out in my stool I was referred to the outpatient eating disorders program at a local hospital. Though I received therapy I also received information that was not true for me. I was told to eat whatever I wanted in moderation. This failed miserably. Eventually I gave up on all diets. I tried to just be happy being fat. But the food had me. By the time I was in my thirties I was sixty pounds overweight and was hungry all the time.
I could not quit eating. My mother had a health scare with heart problems. I knew I was in line for such health issues, and I used this and the fact that a friend had lost weight to once again try dieting. I went gung ho exercising and counting fat grams. I was eating diet food and still ingesting sugars, grains, and starches. Eventually I began to binge on diet foods. At some point I had been introduced to OA. I identified with eating alcoholically but I judged the organization to be cult-like, and I dismissed the Big Book as sexist and old fashioned.
In short, I was not yet ready to hear the message. When I began binging again I decided to go back to OA; I had lost weight on my own but knew I could not keep it off without intervention. In OA I learned about the disease concept.
I re-read literature with new eyes and became open minded to what others shared. I kept asking for a food plan, but no one would give me one. They suggested I ask my Higher Power what I should eat. Had I been able to successfully do so I would have succeeded all those years ago as a pre-teen trying to pray my weight off. I needed a black and white food plan, not an ethereal idea.
It was also suggested that I listen to my body. I now know that my body is broken, that the full button does not work and that if I listen to my body only, it will say, "more food! A therapist, who was also in OA, helped me define a food plan of 3 meals a day, nothing in between, and no sugar. Since there were no amounts given, I tried my best to muddle through, often undereating. The diet mentality was strong in my mind, and the distorted body image continued; anorexic thinking began to dominate.
Friends grew concerned,; acquaintances pulled me aside questioning my skinny body, and my family worried. It became difficult to find clothing small enough to fit me. I joked that the good thing about me was that people could buy clothes for me from a size 2 to a size 20, and I would eventually be able to wear them.
I was holding on for dear life, white knuckling and terrorized by the food. I knew the dam would burst. When it did burst, the first place I went to was the health food store. I told myself lies like, "this isn"t really sugar" even though it was among substances I now avoid on the Cambridge Grey Sheet. Then came the literal hell of binging, purging with laxatives, fasting, and dieting.
Now came compulsive eating as I had never know. I would diet or fast during the week. Friday came and along with it the hideous, ritualistic eating. If I thought of a food, I was compulsed to eat it.
Overview of the Grey Sheet Diet Plan
Michelle Kerns Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis. View Work Distributed by Overeaters Anonymous to its members until , the Grey Sheet Diet was a meal plan that received its name from the grey-colored paper on which it was printed.
Therefore these foods cannot be eater at all! We suggest three measured meals a day with nothing in between but black coffee, tea or no-calorie soft drinks. Overeaters Anonymous offers a choice of three disciplined eating plans: For losing weight Plan "A", low-carbohydrate this pamphlet or Plan "B", basic-four food groups.