“Yellow-Light foods” and What I’ve learned.
In my quest to ‘discover’ what foods are driving my eating disorder, in other words, to clarify what foods are leading me back to the cliffs (see Cliff walking), that place where I reach a threshold and binge, I was asked to make my list of Red-light foods: the foods I know to be binge foods, Green light-foods, the ones “I’m positive” (Note to self: Really? Are you sure?) I can handle, and my Yellow-light foods, the ones we identify as “I’m not sure they are a problem.” These foods are the ones I have held onto with a vengeance!
That about sums it up. “Get back in there: I can control this, and I’m NOT GIVING IT UP, It’s Mine, Mine Mine!” It wasn’t till I joined a 12 step recovery group that I started to identify ‘what exactly is the problem,’ calling them, “MY” (MINE, MINE, MINE!!!) ‘Red-Light, Green-light and Yellow-light foods.’ After 33 years in this program, I have finally learned, if they are ‘Yellow-light foods’, they are, most likely, ‘red-light’ foods you are holding onto. I had heard this before from one woman, but she said it in such a ‘matter of fact’ way, I dismissed her as being ‘nuts’, ‘wrong’, and gave it the old, “Thanks for the information” (Pg. 39, Anonymous), ‘See ya!’.
To be clear, my Red-light foods have always been: any form of sugar and flour. I added artificial sweeteners and concentrated sugars (100% pure jams, raisins and other dried fruits) later. There were a few more things that I noted I couldn’t eat per the prescribed servings (rice cakes, peanut butter, etc.). But my Yellow-light food list was a whole new level of struggle (MINE, MINE, MINE!) Pop-corn, coffee & dairy (I gave this up piece meal, holding onto feta-cheese till the end). I won’t give the ‘exhaustive’ list. I like the way my ex-husband used to say it, “I have a general idea of what you can’t eat. Tell me what you can eat, that list is shorter!!!”
In a nut-shell, my Yellow-light foods, now Red-light, include: Sugar, artificial sweeteners and concentrated fruits, flour, salty-Crunchy foods, fats, dairy, and caffeine.
I had a really hard time parting with some of these foods. In fact it ended with quite a weeping and wailing session!! (I’m such a ‘foody!’) I realized, I’m back at Step One with regard to these foods. My Yellow-light foods have provided wiggle room. In fact, I realized that, instead of closing in on my goal weight, I was gaining weight (Creeping compromise will do that!). I called my registered dietician (lisamerrill.com) and said, “Something is wrong with YOUR food plan! I’m gaining weight!”
” She switched this and that and moved things around. There really is no wiggle room in my food plan. She’s an acrobat and she clearly is too kind to say, “Could it be you’re not weighing and measuring” or “Perhaps, you are eating extra food?”. It was me, sloppy about weighing and measuring and sloppy about fats and sloppy about food behaviours: Eating while standing up, eating while walking around or sitting on the coach, in bed or on the toilet. I remember when I fessed up to eating in the bathroom to one dear friend and she said, “Sally, lots of people do their best bingeing in the bathroom!” I realized then, this too, must stop. I must eat at the kitchen or dining room table. Look, we have all heard, ‘You are what you eat!’, and we wear, in many cases, our behaviours as well!
Ok, so, I prayed, ‘God, what should I do?’ And, ‘God, you will have to do this for me. I will never give up coffee or all of these yellow light foods in my own strength. It’s as hard as giving up sugar; I’m powerless!’ A Peace came over me. I was of a broken and contrite heart, for sure! The peace came, in part, because I was in mourning over the loss of some of the last ‘party in my mouth’ food items. But also because I was in complete surrender. Step one is so freeing! ” …the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my ‘alcoholic’ condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be.” (Pg.42, Anonymous)
Yellow-light foods are such a sham! They just provide wiggle room. And wiggle room = creeping compromise. One fellow introduced me to this important phrase: Awareness leads to Acceptance which leads to Action! My prayers yielded an answer, even a concrete solution. I believe that God has already removed my struggle and I have made the decision to turn, get off the train I was on and I have laid down every food that I have struggled with, been sloppy with (almonds) or just plain not eaten according to my food plan. This awareness and acceptance (born of severe honesty!) has led to some hard-core actions. What’s most notable about Yellow-light foods is that you can’t be sure! It requires open-mindedness, willingness, severe honesty and humility (the abscence of self-assertion) to reach the awareness required to start this part of journey. I believe that those who ‘fall off the cliff’ back into the food and ultimately, lose their abstinance, lose it because they simply won’t let go of their yellow light foods which really were always.
When next you are struggling with food and in fact, find yourself walking a tight rope and determined to keep ‘certain’ foods that create a hint of ‘the effect’ (AA BB xxviii) (most likely on your ‘Yellow-light
list’), remember Fred. ‘He was positive!’ too (Pg. 40, AA BB). It’s time to surrender. It feels good to surrender, throw up the white flag. There’s no such thing as a ‘Yellow-light food list’. It’s meant to be a temporary measure. Write them with pen and ink on your ‘Red-light foods’ list. It felt good to take this action. It felt good to stop and admit i
t and to take Step One again: ‘I admit it, I have been struggling….. here I am, yet again, at severe honesty (the principle behind Step One). (All quotes are taken from AA Big Book, Fourth Ed.)