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Truths About TV's Mike And Molly

Maura Kelly caused a firestorm with her Marie Claire blog regarding how she felt distaste for the overweight couple, Mike and Molly, on the hit CBS show by the same name.

Maura later apologized for expressing her opinion because she was accused of being a bully and received thousands of hate filled comments on her blog. There was even a call on the web for a boycott of Marie Claire magazine for allowing Maura's blog to remain.

(Image of Molly with her sister and Mother - CBS.com - All Rights Reserved)

Putting all the issues of obesity aside, how realistic is the story of Mike and Molly? Is Overeater's Anonymous really a great place to meet the potential love of your life? Can two people dealing with the many challenges food addiction brings put them aside to live happily ever after?

I personally went to my first Overeater's Anonymous (OA) Meeting on a Friday morning in a well-known Dallas church meeting room in 1988. I don't remember much about my first time other than the fact I alternated between silently crying and sobbing throughout the entire hour. I was too afraid to admit it was my first time and thankfully no one pushed me to talk. At the end of the meeting one woman gave me a hug and simply said "please keep coming back."

It was hard for me to really accept that fact that I had been battling an eating disorder that cycled through phases of starving, purging and overeating since I was 13 years old. It was even more traumatic to realize I had a real disease. Yes, any type of eating disorder is a disease and the people who suffer are ill.

Luckily with the help of the OA program, a great sponsor (thank you Nancy) and years of therapy I have achieved many years of serenity and recovery from my food addiction.

Obesity Is Often The Result Of Addiction

As the battle about obesity rages on in the United States some people lose sight of the fact that a large majority of people who are suffering from weight problems (either too thin or too heavy) have an actual disease that is not necessarily physical in origin.

Although I had always planned to follow Mike and Molly because I adore actress Melissa McCarthy, I was also curious to see how the show portrayed the reality of OA meetings and the challenges of two people with eating disorders working through a relationship together.

In some ways Mike and Molly is very realistic. In other ways, not so much. Overeaters Anonymous is a 12 Step Program along the lines of Alcoholic Anonymous. The famous AA blue book is actually used in OA meetings and the principles for recovery are the same. The key difference is the drug of choice.

Overeaters Anonymous Is Not A Diet Club

Just as AA is not a club where you exchange recipes for variations on Skinny Margaritas, OA is also not a diet club. When OA members share about their lives they are encouraged to address core emotional or life issues rather than how many calories they consumed or their latest exercise regime. Many OA meetings prohibit any mention of pounds gained or lost or foods consumed.

What many outsiders may not realize is that humans don't need alcohol or recreational drugs to survive. Humans do need food and nourishment. That's a given. When someone is addicted to food as their drug of choice it makes recovery a much more challenging process. You can't stop eating or you will die. Which makes food addiction even more insidious.

Dating Other OA Members Is Often Discouraged

Hard core OA members, like AA members, work towards finding a sponsor to help them travel a long term path towards abstinence from addictive behaviors and long term recovery. Dating other OA members is often discouraged because it can be a major distraction to achieving sustained abstinence. In a real life scenario Mike and Molly's individual sponsers might actually discourage the relationship as a distraction from the food addictions.

Just as AA members are discouraged to date other AA members because of the danger of drinking together, OA members are often discouraged from dating because of the very real danger of eating, starving or purging together. Yes it does happen where two people of all sexes meet in 12 Step Meetings but romance is usually discouraged.

Danger Of Falling Into Similar Addiction Traps

People with the same disease often feel an immediate unconditional acceptance which can pave the way for love and romance. It can also bring the real danger of falling so deeply into the disease together that recovery becomes even more challenging. Just as alcoholics are discouraged from going to bars or being with friends who helped them practice their addiction food addicts are counseled to avoid similar traps.

Recovering from food addiction is not about losing weight, gaining weight, being fat or thin. It is about finding the root mental, emotional or spiritual issues that drives the members to use food as a drug to soothe or mask the pain.

Mike And Molly Show Real Issues

Some of the Mike and Molly episodes have shown glimpses of real issues that often plague food addicts including dysfunctional family relationships. Both Mike and Molly struggle with dysfunctional mothers and related issues. Molly's sister has obvious sex addiction issues. Even the food Mike and Molly's family and friends push upon them (warm gooey chocolate cake, pizza, etc) are very real issues food addicts often deal with.

Although TV shows are ideally created as a form or pure entertainment their message may help to usher in social change. The very fact that Mike and Molly's obesity has triggered a fire store of controversy means that people are thinking about the issue and not just from the viewpoint that the story is cute and romantic. This is definitely something the show's producers should be proud of.

Obesity is not normal and it's not healthy, but neither is drinking a quart of bourbon every day or taking handfuls of prescription or recreational drugs.

Food Addicts Can't Easily Hide Their Addictions From Society

While many alcoholics and recreational drug users can hide their addictions, food addicts have a much harder time keeping their disease in the closet because the amount of food you eat, throw up or avoid, will show up on your body in some fashion.

Just as Portia Di Rossi (Degeneres) bravely exposed her own food addiction secrets in her new book, Mike and Molly are exposing a realistic side to living life with obsesity and eating disorders even though the goal of the show was probably just to provide entertainment.

If watching Mike and Molly makes someone uncomfortable it might be because the show's message is making them think about how they deal (or don't deal) with food in their own lives.

Ultimately, in my humble opinion, I think Mike and Molly is a fantastic opportunity to share a very important message to a society where so many people are in pain and using food as a drug to bring them relief. Kudos to the producers and the actors (Melissa rocks) for having the courage to share this story.

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