Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Facing the Forbidden

Yesterday I dealt with a variety of "forbidden" foods. My reactions were interesting (at least to me).

My daughter and I went to the grocery store because we needed some basics (milk, lunch meat, etc.). I decided to let myself browse at foods I'd normally consider verbotten and buy them if I really wanted them. Mabel needed more breakfast food, so we headed down that aisle and after grabbing her cereal she also grabbed a box of toaster pastries. The flavor she picked was one I'd never eat, so I picked up the blueberry ones and gave them a long, hard look. I decided to put them back, not because of fat or calories, but because my reaction to them were just, "eh."

Down the dairy aisle I glanced sideways and noticed the snack cake assortment. I spotted the little cherry pies I used to adore when I was a kid. One year for my brithday instead of cake, I had my mom get me a whole bunch of these pies and other snack cake stuff for my party. As far as I remember the kids thought it was a neat idea.

I held the cherry pie (actually a turnover if you want to be technical) and thought about how much I coveted these things when I was first getting fat and certain foods were becoming taboo. This was one of the main items I would buy when I'd sneak off to the grocery store or gas station to buy contraband. But I also recall that within the last few years I had picked one up for old time's sake, and it just wasn't as good as I remembered.

Then, without even thinking about it, I flipped the bag over and looked at the calories. 480! I didn't even get any farther down the label I was so dizzy. But instead of flinging it back on the shelf in horror and running away, and I stopped and asked myself, if calories weren't an issue, did I really want that pie? Again, my reaction was no.

I did finally pick up something -- another box of snack cakes that are individually wrapped and not so high in calories. Of course, they're smaller, too. But this snack is one of my favorite binge foods -- I can easily polish off the whole box if I'm so driven -- and seemed like a good test of this IE business. When I got up this morning they were still sitting in the grocery bag where I dropped it last night, and I put them in the pantry without even the slightest temptation to tear the box open with my teeth.

After supper Mabel begged me for ice cream. The soft serve place is down the block, so I walked and she rode her bike there. The whole way there I was wrapped in a swirl of anxiety and analyzing. I had just finished supper and was satisfied but not stuffed, so I felt bad about going for dessert when I wasn't truly hungry. I was also worrying about what to order; if I was "good" I'd order a baby cone. If I ordered my favorite, the Katie Sundae (with peanut butter sauce and chunks of peanut butter cups on top), would it send me on a binge? Would I feel stuffed after I ate it and feel miserable and hate myself?

I got in line, looked at all my options, then ordered the small sundae. We sat down at a picnic table nearby and ate, since Mabel couldn't eat her cone on the bike, and I focused on savoring the sundae. As I watched other customers order and get their treats, I told myself that lots of people -- people I would consider "normal" eaters -- get ice cream after dinner, and they don't spiral out of control by emptying their fridges when they go home. They don't call themselves names and feel horrible about it. They eat it, enjoy it, and get on with their evening.

Which is what I did. The small sundae didn't stuff me but was enough to satisfy me thoroughly. We walked home, did our evening routine, talked to a friend on the phone, and visited with the neighbors and their dog before bedtime.

And guess what? The scale didn't scald my eyes this morning; in fact, I was a pound lower. While I do eventually want to greatly reduce my weigh-ins, this was an example where it helped to relieve my anxiety and fears that not restricting and denying myself the foods I want will make me gain tons of weight. So maybe this positive reinforcement will enable me to relax a little and start skipping days, then weeks.

I'm not kidding myself that this process will always go this successfully. I fully anticipate finding myself falling into binge or dieting behavior and having to work my way through it, because those are the moments that will really teach me the most. Because let's face it; mastering intuitive eating is a lot of work, and like anything else that takes a lot of effort, I won't always be at the top of my game. There will be down days, times when I'm sick of thinking about it and checking in on my body and feelings. Those are when the successful days will hopefully pull me through and give me the encouragement to keep trying.


Ty said...

Keep up the great work!

Lori said...

You know,I think that for all of us, we are going to have moments when we slip off the rails and eat something in a fit of anger, loneliness, or something. The trick is what we do AFTER we've done it. You should give yourself credit for pretty much always getting back in the saddle and going back at it.

That's something for you to be proud about. And it seems as though the IE is going pretty well. You also should appreciate how thoughtful you are about things; even when you're being "impulsive" it seems as though you have thought about it.

Beula said...

Your and lynette's posts make me want to jig around my computer and then hug someone. Hope for a normal life is what you are showing me. I am still too scared to try it, but I am gathering courage.

P.S. You are not slouch with the ole phraseology either.

Tree Lover said...

Great post! I love your attitude and expectations for intuitive eating. When I first started, I hadn't let go of the whole all or nothing diet mentality yet, which made it much harder. You don't expect perfection, and that is great!