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Grace Notes: Confessions of an addict

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By The Staff

I don't know this from experience, but I'm told all it takes is one hit of crack to become addicted. But that's not my addiction.

For me, it's watching food shows on TV. Not the how-to-cook shows, but the restaurant shows like "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network or "Food Paradise" on the Travel Channel.

When Guy Fieri pulls up in his convertible to some off-the-wall place like the Blue Moon Caf in Baltimore and watches the owner make (and then he eats) Cap'n Crunch French toast or he's at some dive and takes a huge, honking, obscenely drippy bite of a mega-juicy hamburger, I'm quivering on my couch.

There's an actual Wikipedia phrase that describes the spectacular visual experience of cooking or eating that arouses a person's desire to indulge: food porn.

It's often seen as a substitute for the actual experience of eating. That's how it is for me. I eat vicariously through watching Guy Fieri stuff his face with melty, cheesy goodness, all the while imagining that I am the one wiping barbecue sauce from my chin or licking buffalo wing residue from my fingers. That way, I can have the virtual experience of eating food without ingesting all the fat and calories and artery-clogging cholesterol.

Last Sunday was a food porn extravaganza. Serendipitously, it rained the day of a "Food Paradise" marathon - four hours of delectable doughnuts, gooey pizzas, spicy hot dogs and the nation's most amazing buffets.

As I watched, I ate my low-cal, low-fat, high-fiber bowl of turkey vegetable soup and did my step bench workout and bemoaned the fact that I've been seriously trying to lose 10 (now 11!) stubborn pounds that not only won't get lost but are actually setting up housekeeping and raising a family, being fruitful and multiplying.

I'm making light of this, but only to keep me from despairing. The world is in turmoil, gas and food prices are skyrocketing, people are in utter dire straits and I'm fixated on why I can't lose weight. I wish I cared about other stuff, but to be honest, right now I don't. That's why church was so good for me last Sunday.

I've been sensing - no, it's more than a sense; it's a knowing - that my preoccupation with my weight and my lust for watching food shows on TV is, shall we say, less than spiritually healthy.

In other words, I'm trapped. I'm an addict. My life revolves around food, the food I consume through my eyes and the food I don't consume through my mouth. And it makes me angry, spitting tacks angry.

I'm angry because I'm doing all the right things yet not only am I not losing weight, I'm gaining. I'm angry because lab tests say I'm fine and I'm angry because I think my doctor thinks I probably eat cake all day and I'm not. I'm mostly angry with God because he's the one who knows my body and knows what's messing up my metabolism and he's not fixing it.

I'm angry because I think he's doing it on purpose to get my focus off food and on to him, but I'm trapped and I can't do it.

At church last Sunday, the pastor talked about what made us spitting-tacks angry and I knew he was talking to me. He said the thing that makes us that angry is the thing that gives us life, our sense of worth and identity, our "meaning center," he called it. When we can't have it, we get angry.

He said freedom comes when (1.) we know we're tied up by the thing that makes us angry and (2.) when we come to the end of ourselves. I don't think I'm at the end of myself yet; I'm still spitting tacks and scheming about what I can do to make my body cooperate.

What I need to do, what the pastor said to do, is come to God, lay down my anger and believe that my true identity and true sense of worth is found in him alone and his utter and complete love for me.

Truly, I know that no one cares what I weigh. No one will think I'm a failure if I don't lose these 11 pounds. No one loves me or doesn't love me because of a number on a scale.

I know that, but I don't. Not yet anyway.