In the Middle of Nowhere

When I signed up for a spring break service trip to Muchucuxcah, Mexico, they told me we'd be working in an impoverished Mayan village and Western amenities might be lacking.

"How bad could it be?" I thought, "I'll find a way to stay abstinent."

Turns out these people didn't have refrigerators, the closest supermarkets were in cities two hours to the north and south. I was told most of the people spoke only Mayan (they have started learning Spanish, which I know, only recently, to cope with the changing trade market). Phones, both mobile and regular, would not be a luxury I could expect. My leaders told us to pack light, but this was life or death.

I knew my parents would have laughed their heads off at my desire to lug a suitcase full of all the cans, veggies, scales, and cups I would need. So I reached out to GSers near and far and made a two-page list of proteins, veggies, and fruits that would stay edible for a week.

Two days before I left, I wheeled a large duffel bag to the bus station and hiked uphill to the nearest supermarket. I packed [food names] and some 70 single-serving sizes of the vegetable substitute into Ziploc baggies (to flex for both cooked and raw in the worst case scenario) and an oil that is bacteriostatic, i.e., doesn't degrade or spoil.

"What if I get sick and can't eat anything?" I asked my sponsor, and she told me what I could bring for the worst-case scenario. And of course I took anti-diarrhea meds, Pepto-Bismol pills, and heavy-duty bug spray (combing the aisles for abstinent ones) ... the chances of getting good medical care were slim.

As it turned out, I got quite lucky. Each student on the trip was assigned to a host family. Mine quickly got to know my needs; by the second day, they were making me an extra bowl of undressed salad. I schlepped my cans and packets each time and measured it all at the table. All the people were tolerant and accepting, and I was grateful to focus on getting to know them instead of explaining my weird habits.

While others on the trip were dropping like flies from cuisine-related illnesses, I happily ate my canned goods and stayed healthy all week, shoveling, decorating, dancing, and relaxing. We even had a refrigerator in the main hut, so I could preserve my leftovers.

But on the last day, my "healthier than thou" attitude got a reality check. The families, who had been cooking us vegetarian food all week for kashrut reasons, made a big farewell barbecue. They made me special plain grilled protein (truly free-range, the kind that runs around all over their fields) and grilled some vegetables that you could crack open and smell the sweet pulp for miles. I feasted, stayed out too late dancing and saying goodbye to everyone, and then spent all night packing instead of sleeping.

In the morning, the guards found me passed out with no clue how I had gotten across the room. I thought I had fainted and had a concussion, but I seemed okay and we had to get on a plane. I somehow stuffed the rest of my belongings into my suitcase (including all the leftover raws) and made it into the van and plane. The whole flight, I held my stomach and ran between the bathroom and my seat, trying but failing to throw up.

I used up all my emergency "GS foods for illness" (after resenting having to spend money on them because "I never get sick"), and when I landed, it was straight to the hospital. They pumped me with IVs and had me sleep all day, but at least I could finally phone my sponsor (!!) and stay abstinent. A lesson in preparedness and humility all around! 

Writer #3


This is one that isn't so much about the food, but more about the kindness of strangers in a situation that wasn't so great. It happened about four years ago. I was traveling from Taipei to Ohio to see my family. My sister had told me that my father was going downhill and I should come back and see him before his mind was gone. At the time, my daughter was almost two and just this wee little curly haired kid. Well, we made it to the airport safely and were on the plane. I had "placed my bags in the overhead compartment" when within minutes the cries let out. My daughter started howling. I mean just really letting it all out. I had become that god-awful parent with the screaming kid that just doesn't shut up during the flight. I looked around with panic in my eyes as the passengers stared at me with that "Shut your kid up because we're not putting up with this for 13 hours" type of look in their eyes. When I couldn't get her to quiet down, my tears started to flow. Everything was coming out - my fear of what I was going to meet when I saw my dad, my frustration with a crying kid, and my life as it had been for the past few years. Everything! But, as my tears flowed a man stood up and asked the guy sitting next to me if he could switch seats. Of course the guy was more than happy to not have to sit next to a crying mother and child, so he obliged. Well, God has put saints on this earth and one sat next to me. This guy along with three of his friends are heroes to me and I know that my HP put them in my life on that flight. They were soybean farmers from Missouri (they totally looked like good ole boys in my stereotyping mind) and had just been in Taipei on business. During the flight they all took turns holding my daughter. This allowed me to eat my weighed and measured meals (two kinds of food -- on the advice of a sponsor -- that give one gas. Enough said) and avoid blood clots from going to my lungs. I spoke with them and even cried with them. One of the guys had lost his 16-year-old son in a car accident a few years back and it was still raw in his heart. These were real men. They were kind, giving, and incredible. I've tried to track them down to thank them, but I haven't had much luck. I was able to make it home abstinently with a couple of hours of rest and a mind that was not foggy because of the kindness of strangers. 


I don't really have an embarrassing story with weighing and measuring. It's the life of eating and being caught before GS that was embarrassing. I guess I've never allowed myself to feel this way because I take pride in whipping out my scale. I guess having a don't give a F*&$ about what anyone things about my scale or what I do with my food is great. That may sound hard but I've always figured, these people wouldn't be there for me if I were having my leg cut off from diabetes or if I'm sticking my fingers down my throat trying to get the food out, so why should I let their feelings about my food matter? 


This was after I had a miscarriage a few years ago. I was alone with my daughter that Friday when I went to the doctor and he didn't see a heartbeat. I was crushed as I'd been wanting another baby for some time. Knowing that this life was never to be just ate a part of my soul. I cried, called my husband, and proceeded to want to die. My husband was drunk and kept calling back to see if I was "telling the truth." Since my husband was at the beach with some friends and it would take time to get back, I had to have my neighbor across the hall watch C while I went to the doctor the next morning. I went, had the D&C and came home. My husband came home a while later drunk still and drinking. Through all of this, I committed my food and continued to weigh and measure my meals. I didn't want to eat, I didn't want to do anything but get in bed, but I couldn't. I ate, took care of my daughter, and moved on. I still feel pain around all of this because I have had a hard time letting go of the fact that I was alone through this experience. I do know that had I not weighed and measured it would have been even worse. 


The most dangerous experience I've had was going out to eat at a nice restaurant and them not having enough vegetables for me. At the time I was flexing (so difficult) and having 24 ounces of cooked vegetables was a pain in the ass. So, I wiped them out and then had to throw my own stuff on top. Wasn't so much dangerous as an eye-opener that I don't like to flex. It might have it's good points, but having a mountain of vegetables isn't one of them.

Writer #4


1. On a sunset boat cruise. Already eaten protein and open tupperware to discover that vegetable/salad is moldy. Miles and hours from shore. Pre cell phones. Eureka! Other passengers' meals are decorated with a steamed vegetable so I beg for lots and lots of decorations to fill my cup.

2. Mother's deathbed is within a few moonlit blocks of 'Grace's' restaurant where I order traditional Greysheet comfort food to take back to the hospital.

3. My 12-day-old son is in the ER. Ambulance to take us to NICU is late. We had to wait three hours until 1 am. I had called my sponsor on arriving at the ER and she said to eat dinner when I arrive home. So I did.

4. Last year when my son had a seizure and the doctor's office instructed me to call 911, I had the whole conversation with the 911 operator while eating the two hugest X fruits imaginable. I had thought I would be eating a leisurely Sunday breakfast at home and had no other fruit.

Writer #5


With some guy in Brown's in the U.K. First date asking for another 8 oz. of veg because it only came to 7.9 oz and I did not want to get out my back up and I knew he could afford it. 


Lunch was at 12 midday. I had finished my breakfast at 9am and so when we were due back at 1pm it was my lunch time. I had to ask the teacher if I could eat while he was demonstrating foot massage (not on me) and to watch the eyes of the curious while I tried to eat my food in a relaxed and slow manner as suggested. 


With a group who had been strangers only 4 days previously on a Dance of Universal Peace camp, with very judgmental AA friend. Coming back to camp after a horrid day at the beach (too much unstructured time with strangers) without checking if I had enough for next meal. Frantic to eat with others (I believed I had to do as much as possible to join in) to discover I did not enough. The man in the next tent -- who was with his girlfriend -- came to rescue and gave me vegetable. Otherwise it could have got dark - this was in 1998 and I have wised up since and gone with the whole lot of GS food. 


Trying to eat my dinner at around 11pm in a crowd of people at a seaside folk festival and panicking because they could not see me where I was seated. Never again, should not have gone. 


In 2003 in London with my 2 sisters after seeing "Vagina Monologues" -- dinner in a fast Italian place - canned protein and salad - boring and uncomfortable - never again - licked my knife and younger sister saying "I hope you don't eat like that with your new boyfriend" leaving my humiliated and in shame and in a sulk. 


In 2005 at goodbye dinner for AAer - getting my back-up veggie out 'cos not enough veg, seething with resentment. And another time, ordering meat and nothing else on plate at AA dinner - being stared at in horror, as the usual accompaniment of vegetables we don't eat obviously was not right for me and me getting out a tin and putting cold vegetables on the plate and then that humongous amount of salad.


In December 2004 making 18 meals to take with me on a Christmas yoga retreat. At home during breakfast got a huge headache (I never get them) at 9:30am. I had drunk more tea than usual and had a plan to hoover my flat before leaving at 11:30pm. Headache put me in a blind panic. Called to a greysheeter who was at home in her comfort zone and calmly talked through what I really needed to do that morning not the unrealistic list that I had written. Headache left me (also gave me an awareness of what my mother went through every day - she took anadin/aspirin all the time, and never talked to anyone about what could be causing it). Anyway I got to London and discovered I had I HAD LEFT ALL MY LUNCHES IN THE FRIDGE! When I arrived I did not get a smiley warm welcome - I got questioned as to why I had to weigh and measure my food - even though I had emailed this man and emphasized my needs to eat my own choice of food and not their 'healthy soups and dahls...") I managed, of course, but I was seething and full of blame all the time. I kept taking breaks from the structured varied yoga classes because in between I found it so hard to communicate with the 6 other strangers who bonded by cooking together and by attending all the sessions. I went to the park and listened to AA tapes and I walked miles to an AA meeting that gave me little solace. For some reason I thought it vital that I eat all my meals with everyone else - in spite of the fact I never ate anything they made. I was people pleasing. And another time, going to a new friend's house who had specially prepared food for me that I couldn't eat because she didn't get it right. 


My friend Dr. B waiting patiently while I ran up and down the house with my scale and then taking ages to make elaborate meals taking me to restaurants twice going in a camper van with him for a weekend and him fully accepting not just my eating habits but also my yoga and meditation and writing routine. And also me losing my temper that he had inability to express any needs or preferences and indirectly wanted me to make decisions about what we did and where we went without telling me so. 


In 1998 at a male greysheeter' s wedding. Fully expecting a special table full of food just for the 5 greysheeters and discovering that we had to eat from the 'main selection - a buffet style - with no labels' table. Ending up at a table with 2 greysheeters and 5 people we did not know getting out a raw unpeeled veg, a whole veg and having to deseed it in public - what a spectacle. 


All of the above stories have prepared me in the last two years to not chance as much and never depend on Greysheeters in the way I think I can. It is better to be pleasantly surprised than go with what I think are ordinary expectations only to discover that is wishful thinking.

Writer #6


Probably the biggest was on my sailing trip last year when I was miserably seasick for days on end, couldn't hold food down and didn't have a way to call anyone. The Captain of the boat was pleading with me to eat Xs and sip soda with sugar. I was imagining that I'd have to be airlifted off the boat and fed intravenously. Fortunately, I had worked out some of these possibilities with my sponsor beforehand - though I had never imagined that it would be as horrendous as it was. But during the whole time, I really got to examine what NMW meant to me. 


My husband and I had spent a long day at Mystic Seaport - much longer than I wanted to be there. I was tired, bored, starving and it was pouring rain. We went to a Chinese restaurant and there was a vegetable on my plate that I wasn't sure was GS. I was pretty sure, but my cell phone was in the car and I just was NOT going to go out and get it. My husband kept telling me I had to call my sponsor and I refused. He went and got my cell phone and dialed her number. The vegetable, it turned out, was on GS - but what was dangerous was my attitude. 


Hmmm - there are so many. Here's one. I brought my favorite salad dressing (X with garlic) in a jar to a restaurant and then dropped it on the floor. The glass broke into many pieces and the dressing oozed everywhere. We were sitting by the doorway and I was trying to clean up my mess. "More napkins, please! More, please!" It took forever and everyone was tripping over me as I was cleaning up the mess. Plus it was a Mexican restaurant, and my dressing made the whole area around me smell like a Greek diner. 


So many times my husband, who can make disparaging comments about me doing GS, has been my GS angel in times of needs. Combining heartwarming with funny, one time I dropped a red fruit in a restaurant, which went rolling under a nearby table. We were with another gentleman and the two of them went diving for it. I just loved seeing two grown men on their hands and knees under someone else's table on my behalf.

Writer #7


I love this story and it could fit into big and embarrassing too. I just think of it so fondly. I was about 5-6 months abstinent. I had a job at the time where I traveled and in this case I was going to a conference in Chicago. I was speaking at a convention for my job. It was huge and I had a teleprompter and someone directing, etc. I was terrified and newly abstinent. I was with people from work and they were supportive, but still didn't really get it. My part was small but because I was part of the "show" and my business was considered an important client of some of these groups, I was asked to sit at the main table with all the VP's from various companies. There went the safety net of the people I knew from work! I went into the kitchen and w and m'd my food and they carried it out for me. I had all this extra stuff I needed in my bag and kept pulling stuff out. This guy sitting next to me was a big (body builder looking) guy who was the VP of AT&T. He was commenting on how well I was taking care of myself and eating "healthy". So as time went on someone dropped their utensil and was trying to get the waitress's attention and the guy next to me yells across the table, "Don't worry about the waitress, she (pointing to me) has everything in that bag of tricks under the table, I am sure she can pull out a utensil for you." UGH. We all laughed... The next day we were all at a cocktail party (this was your basic boondoggle) and a waitress walked up to me with a plate full of snacks and I hear a voice yell from across the room "Don't waste your time with her, she doesn't eat that anything on that tray". Embarrassing? Yah, kind of because I was new, but this guy was a sweetheart and a healthy body building type. I could tell he wasn't saying anything out of malice, which is when I get triggered by it. 


I have a couple of restaurant stories, but one my husband reminded me. He and I were at a restaurant and I was w&m'g my food and a waitress yelled across the room. "I can't believe you're weighing your food". YIKES... I couldn't believe she would say it. 


This wasn't my biggest, but it was hard. We were on our honeymoon and English was not the first language. I was only a couple of years abstinent and restaurants weren't my thing. We did have a kitchen in our suite, which was great, and went grocery shopping. We were tortured by the labels. None was in English. Then we went to a restaurant thinking we'd have a romantic dinner and I ordered my food. He brought it out and I couldn't eat it. I would return it and gently try to explain and he'd say he understood and then bring another one out almost the same problem. 3 times this happened and again I asked. This also activated my people pleasing because I had an expectation of romantic and now I was talking to the waiter and then the manager with tears in my eyes. I just wanted to give up... As it happened the manager did understand English better and I got what I needed... UGH ... painful. We didn't go out a lot on our honeymoon needless to say. 


(Anytime I think I don't have to make a call, I have to tell on myself. That is always dangerous to me.) I did have a time when I had gum surgery, one of the many, and the stitches popped and my mouth filled with blood at about 3/4 in the morning. I sat up all morning waiting for my husband to wake up because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't stop the bleeding. Needless to say, I had the emergency number of my Dr. and called him (husband did) at 4am. I couldn't talk. SO he said to meet him at 8:00 am in the office. What to do for 4 hours? So my mom came over and brought me and all I could think of was what was going to happen and would I be able to eat my breakfast. I couldn't call anyone because it was so early. My mouth kept filling up with blood and I had cotton in there. My mom brought me and as it worked out, I was numbed and out of the office by 9:30 and able to have breakfast. PANIC. I knew I could have had my mom call someone and I think she did and be on stand by, but I definitely didn't want to miss a meal.

Writer #8


1. I remember going camping early on, with another GS'r. We both brought our own food. We took it out and both had a green vegetable, but different variety or something and she said "lets swap pieces" and I about had a heart attack, said, NO. She was shocked, but I kept my food that was weighed and committed.

2. On my second week on GS, my husband and I went to the beach in Charleston. He had to run back to the condo to get my cup. What a sweet guy. He is still that sweet!!

3. For a year my slightly "demented" (as in dementia) Dad lived with us. He is a CO, I know!! But on more than one occasion, he grabbed at either my cut up fruit or raw veggie. I got to smack his fun and grab it back.

4-7. I have eaten late, just before midnight. I have made my meals when sick, thankfully a very rare occurrence! I have backpacked with 3 days food, just grateful for each meal so my pack would get lighter. I have eaten plenty of dirt too...not really enough to go to a day one, however!

Writer #9


I came into GreySheet abstinent on another food plan. My body had started feeling too full and bloated when eating grains and starch so I switched to greysheet and have been back-to-back greysheet abstinent for just over a year. My situation is a little unusual in that I've been mostly homebound this past year and a half. This means I have not eaten out in a restaurant or traveled on greysheet. I have weighed and measured at home in front of guests and eaten different food than they were eating, but I haven't had any really embarrassing moments. I have taken meals with me when I have to be out for any length of time or going, for instance, to a holiday party. I will be eating at a restaurant next Monday and plan to bring my scale and some back-up. For some reason I am anxious about this even though I have lots of experience weighing and measuring in restaurants with my other plan. Greysheet really steps up the expectation and the surrender. 


Sometimes, on my sicker days, the idea of eating is really repugnant. Other days I don't have the energy to want to prepare my meals. I've learned in this program that we do the things that are good for us whether we want to or not no matter what. There has also been a lot of drama (very unpleasant, scary, and endless drama) over the past few years with our youngest daughter. In the past I would have eaten or inappropriately not eaten over these things. The one NMW I can remember happened when this same, 18-year-old daughter called to say she was in the hospital. My impulse was to rush out to arrive as soon as possible. Instead I took the time to weigh and measure my food for dinner and pack it up to take with me. I don't do anyone any good when I don't protect my abstinence. I have dropped food and picked it up. I have spilled oil in my salad and had to start over. All part of the learning process and most likely everyday experiences on this GS plan. I get major cognitive symptoms along with my chronic fatigue syndrome and I have several times measured the wrong amount of veggies or protein. Thank you, God, I caught it both times before I ate much and was able to subtract the extra.

Writer #10


The family went down to my mother-in-law' s condo in Florida. My husband had gone out golfing or somewhere and I was taking the two kids to the beach. Daughter was under 3 years old (didn't walk yet...toddled) and son was about 7. I packed everything ... toys, towels, sunscreen, food for them etc. and my w'd&m'd lunch ... thought ... great! I'll eat on the beach. The condo was about a 5 minute walk to the beach. E could walk next to me but I had to hold C...or, very patiently let her attempt to toddle. I was also wearing a tensor bandage on my ankle or something that affected my mobility ... so, if you can visualize, I was carrying an infant, with a kid next to me, beach stuff hanging off my shoulders and like, limping with a bum ankle...etc. etc. Got to the beach and set up. Everyone's happy...I pull out my lunch. I start eating and realized I left part of my protein back at the condo. Because I had started eating, I knew I only had the hour to work with ... didn't have cell phone to make the call. Was I pissed that I didn't have a stroller. And, I have to admit here, I did think about asking some stranger to "watch" my kids!!!! Somehow and with God-given grace, I managed to pack everything up ... hobble back to the condo with the two kids in tow ... and eat my lunch within the hour ... and REMAIN abstinent. 


I had left my dinner in the car when my husband and I went to a party. I chose to not eat at the party. We got to talking and it was getting late. I have fears of eating past midnight. We got on the highway to head home around 11:20 (the drive should've taken about 25 minutes) ... there was serious traffic ... thank goodness I had my meal in the car with me...I was able to eat and finish before midnight...phew! 


I had prepared all of my meals for my hospital stay when I was having the twins. It felt great to be ready. And yet, you can never be ready for labour and delivery!! I didn't have a scheduled birth (all 3 kids were vaginal and then our son -- the last -- was a "C"section) so scheduling my meals around my eventual labour and then delivery was going to be tricky!! I was most concerned (okay, aside from everything else) about my MEALS ... I didn't want to have to give up ANY MEAL ... turned out I delivered around 7:00 at night ... had an emergency C-section and so basically missed dinner (for a CO missing a meal is ... well, you know ... serious business). The NEXT MORNING I was RAVISHING ... I probably was more emotionally hungry than anything else...but.. .gosh darn...I WANTED MY FOOD. Nobody told me that you can't eat after abdominal surgery if you don't pass gas!! The nurse on call had a VERY heavy accent ... she kept telling me "you must pass gas, you must pass wind" ... I had NO CLUE what she was talking about ... all I was thinking about was my BREAKFAST and that I wanted to EAT. When the doctor did rounds (9:00 a.m.!!! I had been up since 5:30) I ATTACKED him. I said, "look, I am hungry...all I want to eat is two X and one fruit" and he said "ok"... sigh ... I ate ... was so happy ... my stomach was happy ... and, my bowels were relieved ... eventually. 


You know it's funny ... or at least, it's a good thing ... I've never had my kids pick anything out of my meal (you know those stories where someone just helps themselves) ... I've also never had one of my kids "ask" me for something on my plate that was w'd and m'd (guess they know). I did have to eat "lighter" when the twins were newborns ... I had fear of not being able to finish a "heavier" meal (and having to go and attend to them). I've been camping and other places ... can't recall any serious mishaps ... I know that I will try to pick off debris and eat it if my food falls on the ground (nothing too gross).


I was eating my w'd and m'd meal at, of all places, the cafeteria at the NYC round-up. I realized -- while I was MID meal -- that I was actually eating "two" lunches (I had prepared all of my meals for the weekend in advance and somehow brought two tupperwares when I only needed the one ... I got confused). I stopped, found someone I knew that could sort this one out. She told me what to do (I had to throw out the remainder of the meal) and ... I THANKFULLY was still abstinent. For me ... making the phone call, turning it over, is MUCH easier today than LIVING with the guilt-ridden thoughts of "what if" or whatever. I love NOT having to decide around my food.

Writer #11


I knew not a soul ... was abstinent about 3 minutes ... at a heavy drinking wedding first date ... it may not have been exactly the first date, but close enough. I bought food at B---- & Circus to bring to this wedding since they guy I was going with wouldn't find out what they were serving for a meal. Sitting across a big round table from the loudest mouth in the room. YOU BROUGHT YOUR OWN FOOD TO A WEDDING????? he asked. Yes, I replied. I was mortified, but abstinent. And I never saw any of those people ever again. Thank God. 


W'd and m'd while interviewing for a job. oh yes, that was priceless. I had to drive 2 hours to get to this place ... the person who saw me doing it never said a word, and the other guy was oblivious ... and yes, I got the job! 


Four years ago ... went to a place in Taos for lunch ... I sat him down before we left, showed him my scale, told him what I'd have to do...he asked, "Do you mind if I have dessert or X?" No, I said. "Let's go," he said. While there, my salad arrived before his, and after I'd painstakingly measured/weighed my salad, he had the nerve to pull a piece of green off my plate. "You can't do that," I told him. "I can't let you do that. I have to have every single thing on my plate." Wow, he told me later that he said to himself, this is going to be different.

Writer #12


(1) The first time I measured my food at a restaurant I was in Florida with my brother and his wife. Very little protein in the salad I ordered so I used my back-up small portable proteins. I didn't have them in a container so they kept rolling off the plate onto the floor.

(2) Having my GS lunch disappear at work from the faculty refrigerator. I was running around like a mad woman only to find out someone had moved it to another refrigerator.

(3) Staying at motels while waiting to move into my RI house, stressful, frantic. Came back one night with my dog. Both exhausted. I found out I didn't have enough oil for my salad so I had to redress and go out again.

(4) I still find measuring in front of people in restaurants difficult. People are talking to me while I'm trying to measure my food. Last year while visiting Fairfield, CT, I ate dinner with a friend. The diner manager told me that I wasn't to come back with my own food again. Glad he didn't tell me while I was eating. I'm often looked at with surprise or humor when I'm measuring. Still bothers me, which is why I seldom eat out. I also prefer my GS food.

Writer #13


It had to be within the first month of weighing and measuring because it was still warm enough to have lunch on the beach, and I came into GS on August 17th. My husband and I were having a picnic and two pieces of green stuff fell in the sand. We didn't have cell phones back then, just an old bag phone in the car for emergencies. Well, I started to walk up to the car and my husband exclaimed, "You're not going to call your sponsor! You're a bright woman and you know what she will say." I didn't answer and went up to the car. She told me to just let those two pieces go. When I told K that, he said that I'd known what she would say. And then from SOMEWHERE I got this answer, which is still good to this day. I told him, "Yes, you're right, I did know. But what if half my salad had fallen on the sand? Or what if the entire plate dumped over? Where on the CONTINUUM would I then decide that I didn't know the answer and would have to call my sponsor?" And he looked at me and said, "That makes sense." 


I was at a potluck dinner with women from a P.E.O. group I belong to that raises scholarship money for women. And I put my food at a card table and went to get a soda. I came back to find the nicest woman munching on two little orange things and one red thing from my salad bowl! She had thought this was for the whole table. I said, "No, I'm sorry but they're already measured" and grabbed my two dishes to take out into the kitchen. Then I slunk into the hostess's family room to surreptitiously call my sponsor. (I was brand-new at this.) She again said to let the food go, but I've always been aware of not leaving my food on a table (unless there are only GSers attending). 


My high school friend was visiting with her boyfriend about 5 years ago and we were in the kitchen. My fruit (last one) was cut up in a bowl 'way on the back of the counter, and as we went by, she reached back there and grabbed a piece out of the bowl! I shrieked (I don't know how loud), "No, Midge, you can't have that" and took it out of her fingers as it was just touching her lips! She looked startled (no wonder) and I then had to explain. She was very gracious and has visited other times, but it was so embarrassing. And yes, I ate that piece. 


A college friend was visiting us at the beach cottage and I served (as I always do to guests) a 100% GS meal. And she probably wasn't used to having protein, cooked vegetable and a salad for lunch, so when I asked her if she would like a smoothie made from a large fruit at the end of the meal, she said no, she was stuffed. So I made one for myself (my husband having declined too). It is made from a fruit, [I get more than one fruit a day to maintain my weight], some iced tea, some sweetener and a ton of ice, and so it makes about 20+ oz. I'd guess. I get ready to have mine and you can guess what happened. She sweetly said, "Oh, I would love to just taste it to see what it's like." Well, a sip probably would have had about 1/1000s of the fruit in it, so "normies" couldn't understand, but I know GS is an all-or-nothing program. So I offered to make her another smoothie and she could just have a bit, but she declined. Again, she still loves me. 


Went to a monthly GS meeting in another state and a GSer there raved about this wonderful "orange diet soda". And she gave me one she had and it was yummy. On the way home I stopped at their local supermarket to get a six-pack, and had a couple on the way home. Later that day I went online to find out where I could buy this diet soda locally, and when I read a description it said it had 10 calories! Oops, another call to my sponsor to find out what to do. (Throw out the other four and don't order any.) But that's when I started to reread the GS and saw that it says we can have "no-calorie diet soda" so I now read the labels all the time even if says a soda is "diet". When I called the woman to let her know what I've discovered, I could tell that this was NOT important to her, and I've never seen her again. 


Our grandkids were visiting and Jack (around age 3) was watching PBS in our bedroom. I went up there and found my husband's pill box on the floor with the pills spilled out by a curious little boy. BUT we didn't know if he had eaten any. Called Poison Control and they suggested I bring him (and Carly, age 1) to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped. It was about noon and I didn't know how long it would take, so I took two minutes to throw together the MOST basic lunch (2 oz. dairy protein, 8 oz. prepared raws, 1/2 oz. tan substitute for cooked vegetables, 1 T. fat and one fruit) and rushed out the door. Nutty huh? No! Because then I kept calm, could have my lunch (somehow I think I brought something for kids, snacky, but I can't remember) and was patient until we were able to come home FOUR HOURS later, around 4:30 pm. 


The second time I was up at Bates College for a quarterly Board of Trustees meeting, I'd learned that the lovely catering staff was willing to help me get what I needed. Yay! And I was a really new GSer so I told them I would need 12 oz. of salad at this fancy-schmansy dinner they were having in the Museum of Art. I'd brought my backup, but when they brought over MY salad, it was literally in a ceramic serving bowl the size of a huge Tupperware one would use to take a salad for 10 to a picnic! And of course it was 99% greens. I panicked, but then I asked for a dinner plate and took off 6 oz., still 3x what I usually eat, and then added my 6 oz. of backup. But I was embarrassed and thought that eating this part of my meal took forever. I learned from then on to suggest that they give me only 2 oz. of greens and whatever heavy fresh vegetables to make 12 oz. (and I still brought backup and of course reweighed my food). 


Seating at Board dinners isn't planned, but I was "lucky" enough :-( to be seated next to the president of the College for three dinners in a row! And he was such a gentleman and made conversation about my scale, but I would have felt blessed if I'd been seated next to someone else. And by the third time (probably 8 months later) when I'd shrunk in size, he was very nonchalant about what I was doing, a class act. I kept remembering, "Another GSer w&m'd her food in front of President Clinton", so this was easier. 


I was traveling alone to Colorado for the wedding of one of my best friends' son, and the day before I left I saw a black spot on my toe. Figuring it was a splinter I took an unsterilized needle, flicked it off, and thought no more about it. On the plane, my toe began to throb and by the time I was at the B&B it was RED and huge and ugly. I immediately thought, "Oh my, that might have been a deer tick" and I went to the emergency room ... but outside New England (at least in 2001 or so) no one believes in Lyme Disease, and these doctors were no exception. They gave me a VERY mild antibiotic and it didn't help. I was so sick that I went to bed in the B&B and knew that I was too sick to attend the rehearsal dinner. Instead, I slept from 2 pm until 9 am the next morning, just getting up to go downstairs and put a simple GS dinner together. I ate like this: lifted my head off the pillow, took one bite, lay back down and chewed and chewed. Got the strength to lift my head, took another bite, lay down and chewed. It took so long but I finished the meal AND I believe that the protein and vitamins helped me heal so that I was able to go to the wedding the next day. Not perking, but able to attend. And when I got home, my wonderful internist diagnosed the Lyme Disease, gave me heavy antibiotics for the next three weeks and I was prevented from having any other symptoms, thank God. 


A few months ago I was measuring some liquid protein into a small container and I'd committed 4 oz. Well, I emptied out the carton and it came to 3 7/8s oz. And instinctively I put in a few drops of water and it read "4 oz." on the scale. I used the liquid and felt fine ... until about 2 hours later when this gong in my head went off and I thought, "WHAT was I thinking of? Even though X has water in it, I did NOT measure 4 oz. of it!" And then I knew I had to tell my sponsor. I really was sure that this might be a Day One. Well, she was gracious and judged that I hadn't done it willfully, but it really raised my consciousness about how vigilant I need to be. 


Three weeks ago, I had a Japanese dinner out with an old OA friend, and as our first course was served, I reached into my bag to get backup raws and realized I'd totally forgotten to pack my scale. I ran out to the car but the scale I keep there was missing too. So I drove down to a Bed Bath & Beyond store to buy another scale (unneeded, since I have many). Luckily the store was only 5 min. away, not 45 min. This woman eyeballs her meals and called in to her sponsor while we were at the table, so I am sure that "GSA" isn't looking very civilized to her at the moment! But I do it NMW and she is still struggling with the last 40 lbs. after "being abstinent" for a year and a half and losing 70 lbs. My gratitude for this GreySheeters Anonymous fellowship has no bounds.

Writer #14


One recent NMW, heart-warmer to me, was last Saturday when I was leaving my parents' home. First problem: lost/possibly stolen or misplaced US passport. I have an Irish one with me as well, but as I'd entered the US on the US passport and had no visa stamped in the second passport, getting out of the country might be a problem. I was searching everywhere and getting out of the house late. My mother carried my food bag with my packed lunch and my scale on her shoulder, the lightest bag: she wanted to help as she couldn't carry anything else with her bad hip/ arthritis. We packed the car, and I drove off: all of us more sad than usual: the good-byes are more poignant as they age and as we've all lost my brother... they don't like saying good-bye to their children. I drove off, made it to the airport, car return... feeling sad leaving "home" of my childhood, extended family, etc. At car return place, I see several messages from my mom. Phone had been on silent. She is panicking into the phone: X, X, please answer, please pick up (she thinks it's like an answering machine... that I was screening calls or something). She had my lunch bag and scale and was frantic for me that I wouldn't get my lunch or scale. I realized I was okay, I had a back-up scale on me and I had a hostage meal for next day's lunch accessible... I called her and calmed her down, she was so touchingly worried for my abstinence, she was really panicking for me... I told her it was my fault, my responsibility to have that bag on me, not hers... just to please try to help me not make that mistake again another time. She really gets it, she sees what effort and commitment abstinence takes and really supports it as much as someone who is not GS can. I ate a #3 meal, but was just grateful to make it through the security, etc... (I had some trouble about the passport, but they gave me a waiver...).

Writer #2


BE PREPARED! Always bring full back up. Pray to do it with "grace and ease". Let go of what other people think. To thine own self be true, and I KNOW this is really really good for me. I went to Mexico with our youth group. I'd always wanted to be a "missionary nurse" (ego). I hadn't brought enough wg or veggies, or protein. Wasn't assertive enough/deem it important enough to ask anyone to let me take the van to the nearest store or ask the place where we were staying for hard boiled protein, etc. Couldn't do it. Hated w&m'ing in front of others. Called my husband crying, and he (just wanting to support me and me be happy) was like, just quit this! So I did. And it felt good for about 10 minutes. And then all the old reasons why I needed a program like gs came back...Still didn't feel like I belonged anyway ... felt cut off from my HP and had lost that comfortable still small voice behind me telling me what to say next or do next...overate and underate to "make up" for it - told myself I was FINE because I hadn't gained weight ... but I felt crazier... So after six weeks off GS, I ate my last non-abstinent meal. I had more protein than what was allowed, fruits that weren't on it, smaller salad not weighed or measured, AND THE EMPTINESS in my soul sucked ... I thought, this is NOT "worth it". So I came back - I was graced with the willingness. Now I firmly believe, if I can't do it abstinently, it is NOT my HP's will for me to do it. (One woman left GS because she insisted on eating in-between meals so she could run more and run marathons. She gained 10 pounds the first month she left despite upping her running...)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I went to Prague for a conference and we ate in restaurants all week. Luckily, my roommate was Czech, and with her help and the little mini-dictionary I had with me, I checked ingredients and got by, weighing and measuring in front of diplomats, NGO heads, and senators. But one time, we were out for an early dinner before a ballet at a famous theater. When the cooked veggies came, I measured and saw that there weren't enough, so I plopped some of my extras onto the plate. I ate a little, then got the bright idea to ask the waiter (more like sign to him) to heat it up. When he brought it back, gone were the extra veggies I had added; there appeared to be more meat on the plate than I remembered, and my messy pile had been rearranged to look ornamental. I was sure that he had just thrown out whatever was left and brought me a new order. I spent several tearful minutes talking to him, his manager, and the chef, stepping semi-discretely away from the main table. I begged him to admit that he threw out my food and demanded he return it to me (I saw him put it in foil to heat up, so I was sure it was still all together in some trash can). Ten minutes of shouting and crying later, I was getting nowhere. They kept insisting, in broken English, that they never threw out my food. I couldn't call anyone from my cell phone because it was out of battery; my calling card and list of European GSers were back at the hotel (we had just arrived a few hours before and I was jet-lagged and foggy), I was making a scene and my group members were tapping their watches because it was time to go. There was no time to go anywhere else to look for extra food. I had no idea how much I had left on the thrown-out plate, so I couldn't weigh out whatever I had left. I swallowed my doubts, ate what was on my plate, and told my sponsor later. Since I did it with a good heart, she didn't send me back to Day One, but I learned from that never to let my food leave my sight if I can't explain myself perfectly to the person I entrust with it, no matter how unpleasant it may be to eat cold meat and veggies. 


A friend of mine wavers between Cambridge GS and weighing and measuring with exception in OA. We were both GS abstinent this summer, but by the time she invited me to visit her a few months ago, she was back in OA. But she said she knew my needs and would take me out to a yummy GS lunch. I was ready for lunch at 1, but the buses ran late, so I called and asked her to wait for me. I got to her by 3, but she had to run a bunch of errands first, so I arrived at the restaurant ready to eat a horse at 4. She explained to the waitress what I needed, but it took many protests and not-okay plates being brought out before I started my long-awaited meal at 5. It wasn't so much the hunger that made this so hard as my anger at my friend and at myself for trusting another GSer so much that I didn't think to bring backup. I had been out to dozens of U.S. restaurants abstinently before and was always able to request steamed veggies, large salads, and basic proteins, but here in Israel, the meals are almost always served "the way they are" and people look at you like you have two heads if you ask for something as simple as putting the dressing on the side. So here, when I looked at a menu item with a lot of salad and a little cooked vegetable and asked the waitress to bring me the salad and a large pile of that same cooked vegetable on a different plate, she had to first get "special permission," then acted like it was a huge favor "just this once" to do it. Now, I always bring full backup everywhere; even if it sits heavy in my bag all night unused, at least I have the assurance that I will stay abstinent no matter what happens around me. 


In almost two years of abstinence in CT, I used maybe two scales and was incredibly lucky that they were all long lasting. But a week after I got to Israel, two of my mechanical scales fell apart (including one really cute, small one that was a going-away present from a very dear GS friend; I never even got to use it!) and my digital scale got all wet one day and stopped working. Thankfully, my Israeli sponsor knew a GSer who sold discounted scales locally and got me a replacement. Two months later, that one broke, but the GSer she bought it from picked me up, drove me on his motorcycle (another first for me; only in abstinence!) to the repair shop, and when it turned out that it had been a counterfeit scale (of all things!) and they couldn't fix it, he apologized and bought me a replacement. A month later, I took my fancy replacement scale out in my backpack (against the advice of the repairman, I didn't put it in its box with Styrofoam support), and opened up my bag minutes before dinner to find that the pretty glass plate on top of the scale had popped off. I grabbed my remaining mechanical scale and it broke right there in my hands. I panicked for a few minutes, then called up a GSer who lives in my neighborhood (this busy lady just happened to be home and live 10 minutes away!). Even though she is not currently abstinent, she graciously invited me to come and borrow her extra scale, so, hungry and resentful as heck that I had to wait another half hour for food, I picked it up. But wait, that's not all . I used that scale for three days (a challenge, because it only weighs in grams and I'm not used to the exorbitantly high conversion rate people use here). My sponsor said to get my old one fixed stat, so as soon as I got a free moment, I schlepped to the repair place. "We'll get you a replacement in a week," he said ("What, you have none in stock?!" I almost cried). This was right after lunchtime, when I had noticed that the borrowed scale was wobbling. When I went to check it again, I almost cried in frustration when I saw how I could put food on it and the read-out would show one number, then slowly start ascending, gram by gram, without me adding a crumb. Dinner was coming and I had three broken scales in my possession, but not a single good one. I went to two or three stores GSers told me might have a good one. One just happened to have run out of stock that day; another only had ones that were ridiculously expensive. Thank HP for my sponsor, who calmed my panicked self down and told me I could eat cupped meals until I could find a scale. Now, I have had bad experiences with overflowing my cups and was scared to go back there, but at least this would keep me abstinent. But on a whim, thank HP, I thought to go to one last hardware store before they closed and they just happened to have an affordable, lovely, digital scale that measures in ounces! I bought it just in time to join my friends for dinner at a restaurant and had a delicious abstinent meal that night. 


I have W & M'd out camping in pitch dark by bonfire (thank God for candles), had half my pre-weighed, pre-dressed raws stolen by someone's hungry puppy out in a park (walked home and reweighed), and eaten out on a date with a normie (called in advance to request an a la carte meal, then took that last 0.3 ounces of cooked veggies from his plate with his blessing). I have W&M'd on Shabbat in strictly religious households, where electricity is forbidden (I explained that I had to do it to save my life, and sometimes had to schlep to their homes ahead of Shabbat and pre-weigh all my food). I have dealt with countless nosy relatives, fellow compulsive eaters asking me a zillion questions and making fun of what I do, staring waitresses, and even screaming GSers from other lines who kept telling me my line "does things wrong" (does "keep your eyes on your own plate" mean nothing anymore?) and stayed abstinent. I had a sponsor who taught me that, when eating in public, you put your head down, say the Serenity Prayer, and don't put your head back up or talk to anyone until all your food is in order. I still do that today, and I'm working on perfecting a graceful way to say. "I don't talk about my food *with anyone but my sponsor* or *while I'm eating*" in a polite way. When you pack your commitment first, there's a way!

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