A Life of Esteemable Acts


It used to be that I would do one of two things to make myself feel better–either I would overeat or I would spend money.

I overate to the tune of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41 and I overspent in the thousands. With the addiction to compulsive eating and debt to income ratio on the rise, I hid perfectly well in society. I was fat and so were you.  My debt matched yours.

With the higher weight and the higher debt came the greater shame and embarrassment. I crawled into a meeting for people addicted to compulsive overeating. I put down the food.

Five and a half years later, I still weigh and measure my food and instead of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41, I am at a healthy weight with a BMI of 21.

No longer is there shame attached to my eating.

Today, I pay my bills. No longer do I throw them away in the hopes that the creditor will forget all about it. Yes, I really used to believe that. It makes perfect sense in a world where burying your head in sand seems like a good idea.

My husband, in all of his wonderfulness, does not know this part of me. He finds it hard to believe that I used to be that way, despite the evidence of what I’ve shown him (pictures, defaulted student loan notices, etc.) He knows me as the woman who keeps a clean and organized home, sticks to a regimented food plan, goes to meetings a few times a week, and pays the bills on time (mostly).

What happened? How did I go from being a slothful glutton to an organized and detail-oriented person?

A few years ago, a special woman entered my life. We talk everyday, I tell her what I’m eating for the day, and we talk about life in general.  She is a decade younger than me, but we have similar backgrounds. Our mothers are Irish, fathers Italian. We’re both bad at being Catholic, but love the Church warts and all. Our mothers were alcoholic. And we both have the disease of compulsive overeating.

One day, she said to me, “All the positive talk about ourselves and taking our inner child out to play is all bullshit. Want to know how to build good self-esteem? Do esteemable acts. Get your ass up out of bed every morning. Don’t overeat. Be honest.”

It’s really that simple. Today, my list of esteemable acts has expanded to include other areas.

Be available to those who truly want (not need) my help.

Shut up when they don’t.

Pay my bills on time.

Spend within my means.

Save for my retirement.

Save for a house.

Show up for work on time and ready to do the job.

Tell my husband I love him.



Do you want better self-esteem? Do an esteemable act.

The Farmer’s Market

Feeling better, I donned my usual winter uniform–Irish sweater, jeans and loafers, and trekked out to the newest farmers market in town. It being winter, there were just a handful of fresh produce stands.  Hand-baked goods and exotic olive oils dotted the suburban mall landscape.

Actually, this farmer’s market wasn’t new at all. It exists from Spring to Fall at the town green. Only this year, they chose to open in winter at the local mall.

Thank goodness, if only because we have another place to go other than the super market. Guilty-conscience, though: super market and a big box store were a part of this trip. But they’re not as interesting to write about today.

Usually, I pass by any baked goods stand because I have the double-whammy of being gluten-sensitive (but not intolerant) and sugar-free (recovering addict). But I had to stop at The Dragon’s Nest because of the cool name.

The baked goods looked delicious. I wanted them. Today, I no longer buy everything I want. Walking into a Twelve Step meeting 5 1/2 years ago started me on the road to minimalism and moderation. For years, I had abused the privilege of eating sugar. That privilege is revoked, never to be gotten back. After all, a pickle can never return to being a cucumber. I’m okay with it. I’ve tasted every ingredient in those farm stand baked goods before.

Today, I leave those savory items for those who can eat them or for those who have not yet reached the depths of hell.

May they take a bite and know that hope and help exists.


If you are suffering from food addiction or know someone who is, here are some helpful Twelve Step organizations:






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