Dancing with tigers – we have to learn to do dangerous things

Imagine you have been fighting a tiger, the toughest fight of your life. But when you’re finished the fight, you’ve somehow, against all odds, won against this massive, ferocious beast.

You’ve captured the tiger and put it into a cage.

But then you learn that you have to get into the cage with the tiger, every day. To live a life worth living, you have to engage with the tiger, maybe three times a day.

That’s recovery from food addiction.

Getting back into the cage with the tiger is recovery from addiction where you still need to engage with the pathways of addiction whilst staying sober. (Sober meaning not falling back into addiction, staying clean no matter the addictive quality of your choice.)

With many other addictions, you can simply swear off the substance or process, whether it be gambling, or cocaine or whatever. You simply (not saying easily) say no and don’t put yourself in situations where your addictive poison is present.

But food?

We have to eat every day, several times a day depending on whatever food plan or diet you’re on.

A food addict has to get in the cage with their tiger several times a day. Not just be in the cage but choose to interact with the tiger. An alcoholic can go to a bar and not drink, that’s getting into the cage, but it’s not interacting with the tiger.

A food addict has to eat. They have no choice but to engage with their tiger.

Food choices have to be made, healthy or not, good or bad. (I don’t like labelling food good or bad but for simplicity’s sake I’m doing it here)

And that’s a tough thing to do every single day, several times a day when you’re fresh from the fight and still craving numbness, the soothing comfort of oblivion. It’s tough, choosing to stay strong in your decision to not turn to poor food especially when you’re tired, or in a hurry or out somewhere that hasn’t got great options for you.

Even more so on days when you’re feeling your feelings and they’re not good and you want to hide from them. And you still have to eat on those days! The tiger is always there, waiting.

It’s so easy to give in and say, yeah, I’ll just have a sandwich, when you’re committed to being gluten free, carb free, non-processed food.

Its hard to turn down cake when everyone at work is tucking in. Same with sweets and chocolates. You can already taste it on your tongue, feel the rush as the sugar dissolves in your veins.

It’s a goddamn bitch sometimes.

Why me? Right? Why do I have to be the only one who’s allergic or the only one to put weight on, or the only one who gets bloated, or feels sick or, or, or….

Even now, with years of knowing how badly I react to processed foods and sugar, I still get cravings, especially when other people are staying in the house and I buy biscuits, bread and cakes for them.

Why can’t I eat it when they’re all eating that stuff without ill effect?


I don’t believe they don’t have ill effects or that they won’t have them eventually. Poor food choices catch up with all of us.

And here’s the other thing. I don’t like the taste of most bread and cake and chocolate anymore but I still crave the sugar. Natural foods actually taste a whole lot better. But I forget that and want the crap food that tastes sh!t.

Why? Cravings, conditioning, old thought and behaviour patterns. The soothing comfort of oblivion. But it comes at a high price. Self esteem, health, not being the person you want to be living the life you want to live.

That’s why it’s so important to stay committed, to renew your promises to yourself. To remind yourself why you started down the road of changing your habits in the first place.

Maybe it was for health, or to look good and drop excess weight.

Maybe you simply wanted to be healthy and live longer and make better choices.

Maybe you were fed up with cravings and being in thrall to something poisonous and engineered to make you want more when you had a taste of it.

Which is kinda the same with all addictions. Most of which have been engineered to make us want more, including the legal ones that make fortunes for their pushers, whether it be alcohol, sugar, processed food or even technology and social media.

Many of us have to climb into the cage with our tigers again but none more so than food addicts. So we have to learn strategies that allow us to be present with our addictive foe and not give in to it.

Mostly that involves staying present, remembering what the addiction cost you previously, whether its health, money, relationships it will have cost you something.

Remembering your RWID manta, having an affirmation that acts like defense against the power of your addiction. Whether it’s ‘That’s not my food, I do not eat rubbish.’ or ‘I value my freedom from cravings and I choose to be healthy.’ Or simply words that mean something to you, which for me recently is ‘ Love, Home, Success, Amelia, Faith.’

The tiger is real, and you can never quite tame it but you can learn to coexist in the same space and not rile it. And the longer you go without and the more you practice the discipline of staying present, processing your feelings and keeping to your daily disciplines of self care, the more control you have.

Yes, of course, all that control can go out the window when you’re under particular stress. That’s where the daily practice comes in. Because you catch yourself before you fall down the hole too deep and get back on your path.

The tiger is real, but you can be stronger. You are stronger. It hopes you forget your strength. I’m reminding you of it now.

Whatever changes you’ve made in life, stay consistent, keep going, one step after another. You can change your life by changing your thinking, it starts within. That’s where the tiger is caged, within you.

That’s where you learn to dance with your addiction, where you prove the strength of your mind, your will to be free, your desire to live as the best of you. It always starts within.

Loving yourself is always the antidote to whatever poison you chose when you were hurting and scared and wanted some relief from the pain.

Start loving yourself today. And show yourself you mean it with your actions. Start with your thoughts, speak kindly to yourself and give yourself the love and approval and attention you need.

Kindness starts with you. Be kind.


Cynthia xx

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