For nearly fifty years, Sara Somers suffered from untreated food addiction. In “Saving Sara” (She Writes Press, May 12, 2020) Somers’ intimate memoir, she offers readers an inside view of a food addict’s mind, showcasing her experiences with obsessive cravings, compulsivity, and powerlessness regarding food, with the hopes of educating her readers and promoting life-saving conversations between loved ones and those suffering with addiction.
“Saving Sara” chronicles Somers’s addiction from childhood to adulthood, beginning with abnormal eating as a nine-year-old. As her addiction progresses in young adulthood, she becomes isolated, masking her shame and self-hatred with drugs and alcohol. Time and again, she rationalizes why this time will be different, only to have her physical cravings lead to ever-worse binges, to see her promises of doing things differently next time broken, and to experience the amnesia that she –like every addict– experiences when her obsession sets in again.
Here is her interview:
- You’ve written a powerful and evocative book detailing your experiences with food addiction. When did you know you needed to write your story? Did you always have in mind that you would share this book with the world?
I learned from my experience in 12 Step programs that telling my story is not only very healing for me, it also helps others who are in trouble to identify with me, and learn about a solution to their problem. Most addicts of any kind will only listen to others’ input when they believe their addiction is understood. I never planned on writing a memoir. Friends read my story and encouraged me to share it with the world. Those of us in recovery from food addiction want word of the solution to get out.
- Although your memoir presents your personal and individual journey with food addiction, what general truths about the disease can readers learn from “Saving Sara”? Are there any myths about food addiction that you hope to dispel?
*The first truth about food addiction I want to stress is that it is an addiction. People like me are told all our lives to just muster up some will power, eat less, exercise more, and all will be well. Even after spending thousands and thousands of dollars on diets and therapists, without success, we keep chasing that myth. Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, and Anorexia are all described in the DSM-V as eating disorders. With little doubt left about the problem, another truth is that there is a lot of disagreement about the solution.
Designers of diets perpetuate the myth that the solution to being fat and to binging is easy for everyone. For most people who are addicted to food, the solution is not easy. If a food addict wants to take the weight off and keep it off, that person likely has to make major life changes, for example, behaving differently in response to emotional pain and stress, and thinking differently about their relationships in the world. Without these changes, they will go back to binging when the first significant challenge comes their way. To make these changes, most food addicts need to get into some sort of recovery program.
- What effect do you hope your memoir has on readers? What would you like for them to take away from the book?
I want to offer a solution to a number of different audiences, starting with bingers who are still suffering and don’t realize there is a solution, and bingers who have found the solution but still treat it like a diet. I want to reach the bingers’ family members, who feel helpless and powerless. I also want to reach medical professionals, including psychotherapists and people working in the field of addiction. I want the people who want to help the addict to know they can send their loved one to the experts on ending the binge-eating cycle: recovering food addicts themselves.
- In addition to sharing your personal stories, you’re also taking on other projects and means for helping those suffering with food addiction. Can you speak a little bit to what you’re doing? If a reader also wants to take action and stand in solidarity with those suffering, how would you recommend they do so?
Although it’s not a “project,” I do as much service as I can in GreySheeters Anonymous, which is the particular 12 Step Program that I belong to. I want to help this program grow and attract more and more people.
I will also be writing a blog about binging and eating disorders, addressing questions that readers have, but I want to stress that I can only tell my story and my experience.
Any readers, whether those with food addiction or those who love them, can visit an “Open” meeting of most Anonymous programs. There they will hear the stories that are devastating as well as the stories of recovery. They will hear the joy of coming back from a certain death. They will gain a better understanding of addiction and recovery.
- Do you currently have plans to continue writing? If so, what can readers expect to see from you in the future?
As I mentioned, I will write a blog that addresses questions that readers have. And already people are asking me to write more about my recovery. That is always a possibility! But I want to stress that this book is just one person’s story of food addiction and recovery. The real ‘star’ is the solution to the misery and hell of food addiction: Greysheeters Anonymous. My writing about recovery will always focus on my experiences in this life-saving program.
A raw account of Somers’ decades-long journey, “Saving Sara” underscores the challenges faced by food addicts of any age – and the hope that exists for them all. Learn more and get your copy of Saving Sara here: https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Sara-Memoir-Food-Addiction/dp/1631528467