Thursday, 17 June 2010

Fighting Food Battles.

I am finding this 'going without' regime hard. I KNOW I have to go without some of the foods I love in order to lose weight, and I know after a while it becomes easier to say "NO" but every now and then the cravings make themselves known - they linger - and attack me sometimes, when I go food shopping. Do they eventually stop?

Nine times out of ten I can talk myself out of buying something that I really shouldn't eat. I tell myself how sensible I am being, and that I am treating myself well by walking away. Today however a craving that has been niggling me for some time resurfaced. It prodded me time and time again and it's message was, "If you give in now, you'll lose the urge to eat that item in future. Get it out of your system." Hmmm.

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

I like that and for me, there is some truth in it. I suspect most of you might say "WRONG! WRONG! Find some self-control!" However, I think even if it was said in jest, Oscar was right. It makes sense to me, although you have to be picky about which temptations to yield to and which to walk away from. We have to live with ourselves afterwards, after all. Is doing something that will adversely affect your life worth the temptation? I'd say no. However, I think I can look my temptor in the eye and say "Come on then..Bring it on" knowing that I CHOOSE to be tempted. It's a choice I make, (I have to be aware of that - I think it's important) and in the case of food temptation, one which I have to conquer and want to conquer, completely. That's not an excuse or a feeble get-out clause for being 'weak'.

I actually think 'a little of what you fancy' is the most sensible approach to dieting. Trying to go cold turkey sets us up for failure I think. Can we do 'cold turkey' forever? Do we want to? Will some foods ALWAYS be on a DO NOT EAT list? And if they are, isn't that slightly sad?

I appreciate that some foods are just artery-clogging rubbish if eaten frequently, but perhaps the word 'frequently' is the key to all this? Don't we have to be able to say we eat them rarely? I am musing now..
Why do some dieters (and I know the word 'diet' has been outlawed) feel like the world has caved in because they slip up? I know we all approach losing weight differently but don't you hear so many dieters talking (and writing) about how naughty they were, or how weak they were because they gave in to the temptation of some food or another?

However, I also know that for some even the smallest slip-up can lead to a complete pig-out, a binge. I was thinking about that. I think the hardest part of this weight-loss business is finding a balance.  It's the frequently/rarely balance that has to be in place I think.

I have told myself that I'll cut out obvious junk foods. That's easy and I love it that I find anything wrapped in pastry just revolting. I see pastry as pure fat now, and I have no desire to eat it at any form. I haven't eaten pastry for ages..If offered a sausage roll I'd refuse it, very easily. If offered pie for dinner, I'd leave the pastry. French fries? Put some in front of me and I won't eat them. No problem. I have also stopped drinking alcohol. I asked myself if I liked the taste of wine and the answer was "no". I don't. I did like wine to accompany food, but that was a habit more than anything. Given a glass of it is quite calorific, I now see it as calories I just don't want. Why would I drink something sharp and sour when I could have a lovely icy cold fizzy water?

Anyway, back to the being tempted thoughts. I was struggling to go past the fresh cream doughnuts in my local supermarket...even though I thought I was over the "let me dive into a gungy cake' urges. I haven't had a cream cake for months now. Months and months. I have been walking on by the cake counters quite easily. And that's the way it should be. Today however I told myself I could give in. I could have a cream doughnut. They were sold in packs of two. Yes, I came home, made tea and ate one and a half...and enjoyed every last slurp of thick cream and every sugary crumb. Afterwards I was remorseful for all of erm...half a minute. I actually feel now I have those creamy doughnuts out of my system completely. I was fully aware of the sensation of eating them, the sweetness of them, the stickiness of them and as I ate them I told myself this was a treat, not a sin.

I really feel I shan't get that craving again for a good long while....and that slowly, slowly I'll realise that they aren't THAT enjoyable - perhaps just a bit too sweet for my taste - and probably not worth my while eating them. Now...hours later, I wish I hadn't eaten them, but only because the craving has been put to bed. It's vanished. I enjoyed them at the time and now I remember what it was like to eat them, but I have no desire for any more - and I am hoping that lack of desire, now that I have quelled it, won't resurface for a long, long time. Doughnuts...sorted. Ticked off the "Oh I MUST have 'em" list. They were OK, but certainly not something I want every day.

I think I am learning lots of lessons that work for me. I have learnt that I am not a binge-eater really. Once satisfied, once the taste has been experienced that's enough...I even left half a doughnut. (OK, so I licked out the jammy, creamy bit then threw the remainder in the bin.) I could have bought two packs of doughnuts. There was a 'buy one, get one half price' offer on them. No. Not interested in FOUR cakes. I also know I don't have the iron will or excellent resolve that some people have. I wish I had, and I have tried to develop it, but it has been counter-productive for me. Complete denial just doesn't work for me. There HAS to be an escape hatch of some sort, otherwise I'd lose interest in getting my eating right. That sounds weird, I know, but all or nothing isn't my way. I know an unsatisfied craving (and they are rare, my cravings) will turn into a "This isn't fair - why can't I have a cream doughnut??!!" episode that will fester and fester until I decide I am not going to lose weight anyway, and to hell with it all. Yup. Madness, but that's how I tick.

I also know I have to live in the real world where I'll face food temptations most days. What I have to do (and am doing to some extent) is to discover and mentally note that, like wine, I really can do without some 'tastes'. The sweet taste of a doughnut has been properly explored - in an almost scientific way! I hope my desire has been satisfied, along with the knowledge that those babies really were VERY calorific...and once gone, were they worth eating? Today I enjoyed them. Tomorrow, if offered them I'd happily say "No."  I KNOW I would. The craving has gone. I no longer desire doughnuts. Now what I have to learn is that I can also do portion control. One doughnut  - one anything - will suffice..two is piggish and perhaps I ought to have put it in the fridge for later? Nah. Later means I go to a cake twice in one day. I didn't want to do that. (I also didn't want to throw a perfectly good cream doughnut in the bin either - LOL!) Would most people have got a grip and thrown the second doughnut away?

Anyway, no remorse, and I'll have oatcakes, salad and hummus tonight to try to end today well. Today I have eaten

One banana
A cereal bar.
Two hard boiled eggs
One small orange
Tuna, onions, tomatoes and watercress with the tiniest bit (really) of pesto pasta for lunch
Three glasses of water
Three mugs of tea.

Not too bad...and no doughnut regrets. I expect many would find my 'self-control' a bit dubious, but I am happy. Today I have been learning again. Fresh pineapple just wouldn't have sufficed as a sweet substitute. I told myself in the supermarket that's what I SHOULD have. I'd have STILL been thinking about doughnuts tonight and tomorrow and for days and weeks to come if I'd taken the sensible, fruit option. I yielded to the doughnut temptation, but funnily enough, if a battle was fought at all, I think I won it.

Does that make any sense at all? :)


  1. Yes it does. Perfect sense. Good point, and backed by Oscar too.

    It'd be miserable to think you could never eat certain foods again. I think part of me would die with the prospect of no Chinese takeaway ever ever ever. I hope when I get one in front of me again, that I'll be able to treat it with the same moderation you did with the doughnuts.

  2. Make sense? Yep. Sure does to me.

    Your point about finding balance is a good one. I too feel there's no point 'banning' certain foods forever, particularly the 'old favourites', as they'll sneak into your consciousness in a weak moment to trip you up. Allowing yourself a 'small' amount of them 'infrequently' makes much more sense to me.

    The only person who can do this (losing the weight and getting healthier) is you, and whatever method suits the person you are is the right one.

    A step forward is a step forward - who cares if someone else can take a bigger step or more of them. Your final destination is all that matters.

    Keep up the good work :-)

  3. I used to have the mentality that there would be foods that I simply couldn't have. I coudln't be trusted around them.

    But that IS sad.

    And honestly? What does that mean I'm telling myself? That I can't be trusted and that I'm not trustworthy. Awesome pep talk, no?

    So, instead, I'm trusting myself around all foods. Sometimes I do better than others...and sometimes when I reach for certain foods, I'm aware that I'm actually feeling something else.

    But still, I trust.

    Keep up the great work - you're going to lose these 80 pounds - I just know it.