Friday, May 17, 2013

Gateway Drug

No, I haven't become a drug addict...unless you count food as a type of drug.  I never really considered myself a food addict, but I do have massive issues with binging--when I have something in front of me that I like, I lack the self-control to stop myself from devouring it.  It doesn't matter if it's a 1-pound bag of peanut butter M&Ms, a package of twelve Peeps, a whole bag of chocolate-covered pretzels, or a loaf of day-old bread from Jimmy John's--I shovel it all in equally.  I don't buy a lot of things anymore, because when I have them in the house, I eat them--like an addict.  I eat until my stomach hurts and the package is empty.  Sometimes my stomach hurts before the package is empty, but I keep eating anyway, because there are only X number left, so I may as well just finish the whole thing.  I know this is my issue, which is why I walk right by that tempting aisle of candy in the grocery store--somehow, I can control myself enough to keep from buying them, but once they are bought, it's like I've already lost the portion-control battle.

When I started Challenge #2 back in January, I knew I had to go cold-turkey on the stuff that trips me the chocolate-covered pretzels, for instance.  I held firm the first few weeks, if not the first month, without eating any junk like that.  Then I was doing so well, I figured a chocolate-covered pretzel couldn't hurt me--so I started indulging in one delicious chocolate-covered pretzel at lunchtime.  It was sublime.  Even though it was only one pretzel, I really made an effort to enjoy every tiny bite I took, instead of inhaling a whole bag of them and not really realizing that I ate them at all.  The one-pretzel rule worked for probably another month, until I realized that I could afford at least 2 pretzels in my calorie count.  I stuck to two pretzels for a while, too.  But like an addict, the high eventually wore off, and I would eat 3 or 4 just to really feel like I was treating myself.  On a very rare day in the last few weeks (specifically, yesterday...), I've eaten a full serving of chocolate-covered pretzels in one day (that's 8 pretzels of the brand I buy)--4 at lunch, and 4 at dinnertime.  This usually coincides with when the kids have dessert--after their lunch and dinners, they each get one chocolate-covered pretzel as a treat.  While I was doling them out, I would help myself to whatever I figured I could afford that day calorie-wise.  It's such a slippery slope for me--sometimes it feels like all or nothing.  Once I broke my early cold-turkey will-power, I've slid down the slope of giving in to my less-than-healthy cravings.  Some days, that's okay--but I need to keep my eye on it so that it doesn't get out of control.

this cracks me up!

I'll come clean and put it out there that I've gotten out of control with the M&M's.  When I started potty training Alex, I picked M&M's as his reward for success, because they are quick and easy to hand out, and also because they aren't really a draw for me.  I love M&M's, but not usually the plain ones--the peanut ones and especially the peanut butter ones are my downfall!  I already had a bag of plain M&M snack-size packets in the cabinet leftover from Easter, so I was happy to use them up with the potty training.  Boy, did I underestimate the power of any chocolate for a deprived chocoholic like me.  At first, I had 2 M&M's with Alex when he was successful.  Then I would have a handful.  Then I would finish off the M&M snack packet.  Then I had to buy the 1-pound bag of M&M's because I ran out of snack packets.  Then I went through a 1-pound bag of M&M's in two days...and even though Alex has been doing really well with the potty training, it's not humanly possible to be that successful!  In other words, little Alex wasn't eating all those M&M's--I was.  It was bad.  I was at least being good about including the M&M's in my food log every day, so it's not like I was eating them and hiding that fact from my log (I haven't sunk that low yet).  They were really screwing up my calories and my saturated fat, though--I was blissfully unaware of how many calories each M&M has (almost 4 calories per tiny little M&M, in case you were wondering).  I remembered a story my mom told me a few years ago about how she used to count out 10 M&M's, put them in a bowl, and eat them slowly throughout the day.  At the time when she told me that story, I thought she was kind of nuts--who limits themselves to 10 M&M's?  I get it now, though--10 M&M's is almost 50 calories, and when you're counting calories and sticking to a pretty strict caloric budget, those 50 calories can hurt big time.  Needless to say, I was eating more than 1 serving (about 55 M&M's, FYI) in a day the last few weeks--for a whopping 210 calories per serving.  Ouch.  Again, I don't even really love plain M&M's, but I couldn't control myself with that open bag sitting on the counter.

yep, I needed a sign

I was feeling powerless over that bag, and I got frustrated about the whole thing last week--I would always start the day with best intentions to avoid throwing M&M's in my mouth, and then lose it completely and binge.  I decided I needed something more than a friendly reminder in my head--so I grabbed a scrap piece of paper, a Sharpie, and scribbled the above note to myself.  As I taped it to the counter above the bag, I felt really silly...but now, 10 days later, it's not silly--it works.  Will-power and discipline are such mind games, and it baffles me that this type of stuff works on me, but it does--I haven't eaten any M&M's since I put the sign up.  No difference in anything, except the sign.  There is something to this whole public accountability thing--I would never have gotten this far in my health journey were it not for this blog, and people encouraging me along the way.  I would be snarfing that bag of M&M's were it not for that note calling me out.  For now, I've won this little battle...but there will be another temptation to replace it, and I'm going to have to figure out creative ways to stay on track.

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