Eating in Moderation Doesn’t Work for Everybody

I went to see this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, “12 Years a Slave.” I knew it would be an intense film but I was not prepared for how upset I’d be when it was over! I think I was caught up in the drama and then it all hit me at the end. I was overwhelmed with the urge to SOB and I had trouble getting myself out of the theater! As I collected myself and walked out, I realized I was becoming overwhelmed with an urge for something else. I was feeling anxiety and stress, not just from the intensity of the movie, but also from feeling so emotional in public. It was taking me a long time to calm a desperate need to cry. That’s when my head started filling up with thoughts of bread.

Yes, bread.

I started to really, REALLY want chewy bread, like a bagel. I was out because we’ve finally had a break in the vicious winter weather so I decided to walk for awhile before getting on the train. It was sunny and quite pleasant out so I walked briskly and tried to get calm. I figured I could walk off the bread thoughts. Then I passed a bagel shop! I could see a bus down the street so I decided to get on it and just get outta there!

I accepted a long time ago that I have a Food Brain—I am wired to think of food at any time, in any situation. It’s what my brain does. I have been better able to deal with it since I’ve acknowledged that I know it will happen. It is not an “emotional” hunger to stuff some comfort food in my mouth; I always think of some specific food. I have also acknowledged what I know is likely to happen if I go get that specific food that’s bouncing around my noggin. I’ll be triggered to eat something else. Then something else and something else…so I know I’d better do whatever it takes to not go there! I know myself very well so I have figured out what I have to do to short-circuit my own toughest tendencies.

A well-known obesity doctor published his highly-anticipated diet book this week. It was in the works for a few years. He’s often quoted in the media so he’s already gotten a lot of reviews. I have not read the book but I’ve read several of these reviews including one that features what the doctor calls his “Ten Cardinal Rules.” Each review I’ve read mentions that the doctor “writes prescriptions for chocolate.” Also ice cream and cookies. His advice is to eat whatever you want, including sweets and treats that are usually considered “bad” or “forbidden” food. He advises just to eat these foods in the smallest portion that will help you feel happy with your regular diet. He also advises to eat every 2.5 to 3.5 hours, even if you have to set an alarm to do it.

Plain and simple, I would LOSE MY MIND. I’m sure this will work fine for a lot of folks but I’m not one of them. First, I could not have food punctuating my day every three-ish hours. I need to minimize my interactions with food and keep it very simple. I keep it nourishment-focused as much as possible otherwise, I become literally distracted by thoughts of food. And eating indulgent foods in small portions? I had to face the fact a long time ago that the “eating in moderation” thing as a way to treat myself does NOT work for me. This goes double, maybe even quadruple, for those times when specific food cravings come into mind like what happened today. Giving in to that is just asking for trouble! Indulging a craving makes my brain light up like a Christmas tree and my head would literally start BUZZING with thoughts of all kinds of food as well as the bargaining strategies for convincing myself to go ahead and indulge.

I have to do what works for me and I have to avoid what doesn’t work for me. I’m grateful every day that I’ve figured that out. What works for you?



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    • JoAnn on March 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I’d go mad too. I think you have to find a way to not feel deprived which is common if you’re somewhat strict. You have to figure out which foods trigger mindless eating and which foods are okay. Situations also count-there are things I might eat in a restaurant but try to avoid having in my house.

    I definitely categorize cravings. Sweets provoke the desire for more, so best to avoid in general or have some protein available to counteract it. If I think about the same thing for days, then it’s better to give in. It seems to go away as soon as I give.

    I know you don’t like the idea of emotional eating, but seriously my friend, you get so upset by 12 Years a Slave, you push down tears and you immediately think bagel? In my world that’s emotional eating, but tomato/ tomahto! 🙂

    1. Hmmm, I’m going to have to explain my concepts better. You’ve given me ideas, thanks!

    • Michele on March 26, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I’m at my mom’s house in CA right now, and her cupboards are full of foods that I crave and love. My cupboards at home do not have these same items, for a reason. The more I sit here and try to work, the more the chips, crackers, fig bars, cereals call my name.
    I’m with you- there are just certain foods that I cannot get started on, because I could eat my daily allowance of calories on just those items, in about 10 minutes.

    1. So many people say that food “calls to them”!!! IT DOES! I have to know myself well enough to know what I cannot keep in my house either!! I notice that you mention cereals—I’d eat certain boxed cereals like a snack so that’s a big NO! Breakfast carbs are real triggers for me so I stick with eggs or steel-cut oats are OK for me. I’m not turning my own kitchen into a danger zone!!

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