The Spiritual Awakening: The Other Presence

By Laura Moncur @ 11:02 am — Filed under:

The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes at Amazon.comAs an atheist, it was difficult for me to come to Overeaters Anonymous. I knew I was a binge-eater, but I also knew that the program was heavy into spirituality and that kept me suffering with my disease for ten long years. After reading The God Gene by Dean H. Hamer, it’s easier to see why OA (and other 12 Step Programs) work, even if you are an atheist.

There is a reward in my brain when I overeat that is triggered by dopamine, but even stronger than that reward is the one triggered by spiritual experiences. One of them is the feeling that there is another presence. Most people feel that other presence and assume it is God, which is fine for them if their faith is so inclined, but for us atheists, we are uncomfortable with that feeling. We want to analyze it and worry that it might be a sign of mental illness.

It is not.

Ghosts in the Walls by pathogens d53ogduThat feeling of another presence with you is a natural reaction in your brain that can be caused by psychotropic drug use, electromagnetic fields, prayer or meditation. It is a reaction that happens so commonly in MRI machines that they literally warn patients that they will probably feel as if there is another presence in the room and to keep still despite that feeling. With meditation practice, one can conjure the feeling of another presence almost immediately with a deep breath, but why?


The physical reaction that comes with a deep meditation that can create the feeling of another presence makes your brain feel good. It feels even better than bingeing on the most sweet, salty or fatty foods you could imagine. If you do it every day, it can replace your craving for food and you no longer feel the need to overeat.

My favorite meditation for conjuring the feeling of the other presence is merely talking to it. I breathe deeply and imagine a part of myself that is all-powerful and in control of my actions. I thank it for the good things that have happened in my life. I tell it that I am completely incapable of controlling my eating and hand over all my food decisions over to it. I ask it for guidance on the things in my life that seem out of control. I send it all my love, kindness and affection. It doesn’t take long “talking” to that alternate part of my brain before it starts to feel as if there actually IS another presence there. THAT is the effect you are looking for. THAT is the reaction that you want to trigger within your brain to achieve a “high” that will be better than food could ever deliver.

OA depends heavily upon a spiritual awakening within its members for the program to work and the reason why is because that spiritual practice retrains the brain to deliver “feel-good” messages without eating too much food. It is the reason the program can even work for an atheist like me. If you have been avoiding going to OA because of the spiritual aspects of the program, read The God Gene and learn how spirituality is a physiological reaction that you can harness for your own benefit.

Overeaters Anonymous does not approve nor endorse this website or any of the views posted here.

Ghosts in the Wall image via: Ghost | A Faded Romantics Notebook


The Dual Benefits of my Silent Refeeding Alarms

By Laura Moncur @ 8:35 am — Filed under:

I have been on a refeeding schedule for several months now. I talked about the idea here:

Back then, I wrote:

After months of not being able to follow my plan for more than an hour each morning, I finally have a tiny modicum of success. It appears that refeeding works for anorexics and binge eaters alike.

Fitbit Flex from Starling FitnessI now have months of success following my plan of eating and I can honestly say that it has helped me. I’ve released 45 pounds over the last six months, taking life one healthy meal at a time.

My FitBit goes off at 7:30 am for breakfast, 10 am for snack, 12:30 pm for lunch, 3 pm for a snack, 5:30 pm for dinner and finally 8 pm for a snack. It’s a good schedule for me and I can always tell myself if I’m hungry that I can eat again when my alarm goes off. It’s never more than two and a half hours away.

My riskiest behavior is when I skip meals. My FitBit will go off and I’ll think, “I’m not hungry right now. I’ll just skip this one.” I’m usually okay if I just skip one alarm, but if I skip two, I’m too hungry and find that I’m tempted to eat way too much.

And then the intrusive food thought cameā€¦

Mike and I were going to Las Vegas last week for our anniversary. I wanted to eat in Vegas those foods that are just not available at home. That’s just fine and can be fit into my eating plan, but the bad thought came to me, “I’ll just skip breakfast and morning snack and then I’ll have more calories for lunch and dinner in Vegas.”

This, my friends, is THE definition of my binge-eating disorder. That single thought is what has undermined me time and time again. It’s the thought that triggers months of bingeing. It’s the thought that brought me to the weight of 231.8 pounds at my highest. I have gotten down to 185 pounds eating when the alarms go off, so I’m not about to sacrifice that success.

There is a dual benefit to my silent refeeding alarms on my FitBit. Not only do they keep me from eating between meals, preventing me from bingeing all day long. They also keep me from starving myself. They tell me to eat, even when I think that I can go without food. As long as I treat those alarms like a command instead of a recommendation, I am able to keep my food intake within my caloric restrictions. Paradoxically, by forcing myself to eat every two and a half hours, I eat LESS.

The Vegas trip, by the way, was a complete success. I realized that I was having an unhealthy food thought and ate when the alarm told me to. It went off at 7:30 am and I ate a small and healthy breakfast. It went off again at 10 am and I had a snack. It went off a third time at 12:30 pm and we still weren’t in Vegas, so I had another snack. Even though I wanted to “save” those calories for Vegas, I ate something. When we rolled into town, my 3 pm alarm was going off, so we had lunch then at the place we wanted. Because I wasn’t starving, I was able to share a dish with Mike, even though there was some weird ordering mistake and they gave us TWO entrees instead of one.

If I hadn’t had my breakfast and those two snacks, I would have eaten that second entree all by myself instead of sharing one with Mike. When you look at the calories, I would have eaten MORE if I skipped breakfast and snacks. Instead, we got a to-go box and put that extra entree in the hotel fridge and I ate it for breakfast over the next two days.

If you are having a hard time keeping to your plan of eating or if you feel like you are hungry ALL the time, try setting alarms for yourself every two and a half hours. EAT when they go off, without question. It doesn’t have to be a lot of food. It can be a snack as small as five almonds or a few carrot sticks, but EAT. And then, DON’T eat between the alarms. If you still feel hungry, tell yourself, “I can eat when the next alarm goes off.” It’s only two and a half hours away. You can do anything for two hours. You will be SHOCKED at how easily you are able to stay within your caloric restrictions.

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