Food Police, Give Me a Break

Police signMany of Us know all too well the long-term problems we’ve had dealing with our weight and food issues.  We don’t deal with those in isolation:  we have families, friends, work colleagues, doctors, WW leaders, casual acquaintenances, and strangers on the street who all feel it’s their right and responsibility to show us the error of our ways.  Sometimes it’s done with love; other times with harsh words of judgment and failure to live up to expectations – often of things we set for ourselves.  The same comments mean different things depending on whether we’re in the zone of sticking to food plans and eating “good” food.

My experience has really only been as the fat person being criticized, er, supported by the healthy perfect person reminding me that chocolate is bad, that my portions are too big, that I didn’t have enough fruits or vegetables, that eggnog is full of fat, that candy canes are pure sugar, that I should drink water instead of soda, that a cookie will destroy my food balance for the rest of my life.  Okay, they don’t say that part, and usually the statements are made one at a time.

But honestly, do the people saying things to the fatties not realize that we’re not stupid and that we already know that stuff?  We’ve heard it most of our lives and it’s as though we put hands over our ears and sing “la la la la la la” while they say the same thing over and over. It’s not that they’re wrong.  It’s that it’s a judgment and a reminder that once again we have failed.

Which, in my case, usually means I reach for another cookie, tho I’m trying not to.

I do understand that people who are in a healthier place than I am do not want to enable me or those like me to continue eating to our destruction.  I get it, really I do.  At some point, though, your words to prevent enabling simply become thorns in the side or ignored completely.  The epiphany to change happens inside and rarely in response to a same-old same-old “you screwed up again” comment.

I love you heartsSo if I may make a suggestion going into the holidays — try just loving the person as they are right now, warts and all.  Just for a little while.  Without constant criticism or judgment, without reminders of failure, without suggestions that now would be a good time to go on a diet.  Have healthy options available, from small yummy clementines to lean proteins and fresh veggies.  Note that low-fat ice cream is a healthier option than the full-fat kind.

But also remember that, for most people, a Christmas cookie or two won’t kill us.  And often being able to eat something tasty in public, without evil eyes being cast, means there’s less of a craving to sneak into the kitchen when everyone is occupied to stuff the face with half the cookie jar just to prove that we can eat what we want.

Of course we could overdo things.  Trust us, we’ll know it when we do.  Love us anyway – and tell us so.

Happy 4th

This being July 4th and a day for picnics and parties and fireworks in celebration of our nation’s birthday, I was invited to a picnic by a buddy from the morning bus.  She asked me to bring a dessert and in my laziness, I decided brownies were the way to go.  Open a box, dump in some eggs, oil and water, stir, bake, and voila! Brownies.

Feeling virtuous, I didn’t even buy the box until this morning and whipped up a batch when I got home from the store.  Unfortunately by the time they were cooled, the picnic was cancelled because of expected thunderstorms.  Which meant there was a box of ready to eat brownies sitting on my counter.

Did I do the smart thing and demolish them in the disposal?  No.  Did I smush them up so they were unrecognizable?  No – and anyway, that wouldn’t change anything because they would still be brownies, just in a different shape.  Did I pour dish soap or some other revolting (and sick-making) substance on top?  Yes, but not until I ate about 1/4 of the pan.  Okay, maybe 1/3.  No, 1/4.  I made myself sick overeating something I didn’t even expect to have in the house and wouldn’t have bought or eaten if I’d been anywhere else. The remains of the pan are now in the trash, liberally squirted with Dawn and worchestershire sauce, but the damage is done.

The bad news is that I ate them without listening to my body enough to know that it was saying, “This is enough, you can stop now.”  The good news is that they are now in the trash, I have healthy groceries in the fridge, and tomorrow is another day.  And there is WW on Sunday morning, where I will step on the scale and hold myself accountable.  I don’t have to wait until Sunday to be more in controlle tomorrow.

Since I didn’t go to the picnic, I worked on The Closet Project today and have now successfully weeded through the closets and cedar chest. I still have the dresser and a box of reserved smaller things to evaluate.  I must say it’s pretty liberating to use the lens of “would I buy this again?” instead of “would I wear this again?”  My bags of clothes will go in the car tomorrow and popped into clothing donation boxes so they don’t get in the way.  Someone else will be thrilled to have the things that have no more value for me.  A Win-Win situation for everyone.

Feeling Good about My Week

I tried the innovative step of staying on my food plan for the last seven days and lost a pound.  But really, I didn’t care what the scale said.  What mattered to me is that I just did it this week, follwing the plan without obsessing about food (seeing, tasting, eating, smelling, tracking, or regretting it).

I’ve been trying hard to not navel-gaze, as my friend Phyllis calls it.  It’s hard for me to do because I’ve spent most of my life worrying about food things and my frustration with my body and my eating habits.  And of course the result of what the eating actually does, which just gets me into an unhealthy spiral.  Yeah, I know all about the need to understand why I’m doing what I do so I can put new habits in place to change.

But honestly, what do I not know about my eating?   Not much.  My problem isn’t the not knowing, it’s having the self confidence and sense of commitment to myself to actually do something.  It’s a lifetime problem and it won’t be resolved overnight.  Which is fine.

What matters is that I remember each day why this is important, for my health, comfort and appearance.  I am a work in progress; today is just another step along the way.  I feel really good about how the week went and didn’t care all that much what the scale said.  I pretty much ate what I wanted, including a pad thai lunch and meals out with friends.  I read labels and made the choice to not eat some snacks and meals because I knew they weren’t worth the short-term taste.  I never felt deprived or overly hungry.

I feel good about myself today.

What I’m eating and not eating now

Eating donutsI came back from my conference tired and with a sore, scratchy throat. For the last two days I sounded like a frog and had no energy to do much beyond watching old movies on Lifetime.

I did go to my WW meeting Sunday morning, just to weigh in. After two weeks away, I wanted to get back to the routine and discipline of stepping on the scale, getting the number recorded, and moving on. I gained 0.6 lbs after eating out in restaurants 3 meals a day for 10 days, so I’m not bothered at all. The weekly weigh in let me touch base with my roots and I really did head out with a clean slate.

Yesterday I ate a lot of potato rolls. Martin’s potato rolls come in an 8-pack that look like yellow hamburger buns and are yummy; the flavor is very rich and satisfying and I can usually content myself with one to make a small sandwich or eat as bread with a meal. Or a snack. Really, any time is good for a potato roll. But mostly I can restrain myself. Yesterday was another story. I looked at my food log and saw “potato roll” listed with every meal and a snack, which is a little bit of overkill.

Those nifty 100-calorie packs that are showing up everywhere with teeny tiny tastes of things I used to eat whole packages of – just make me want to eat the whole box of the little bitty ones, too. These clearly are not good “have on hand for a snack” foods for me. I just don’t get enough satisfaction from one little bag so feel I need to eat more.

This isn’t healthy, so I’m not doing it. The Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream bars? Forgettaboutit. Tried it and failed. Even the WW Toffee ice cream bars don’t work – a serving is 2-3 and at 3 points each, it’s a waste. I can manage having Skinny Cows or Healthy Choice Premium Fudge Bars, and can eat one of those and stop. Most of the time.

Those pre-packaged snacks are really just reminders of things I used to eat, not things that I find particularly satisfying now.  I’m not totally convinced that an apple will taste better than a bag of Fig Newtons, but I understand that I don’t like the way I feel when I eat the cookies.  Pavlov would be pleased that I learned something in the last 5 years.

I guess my biggest pre-processed snacky thing right now are the Fiber One Peanut Butter bars (3 points). LOVE them, though I can’t eat more than one at a time because there is so much fiber that I’m full and don’t want more. Unless I’m stuck on an airplane, when I will eat anything within my reach not nailed down. Something weird happens to me when they close the door and I’m stuck inside.

The smartest thing I did this weekend after going to WW was to hit the grocery store and replenish the fridge with the healthy things that are the staples of my normal life food plan: fat free plain yogurt + cheesecake pudding with strawberries (aka Pudding Yogurt), cans of black beans and corn with avocado, tomatoes and salsa for my salads; peppers, Vidalia onions, grape tomatoes and mushrooms to roast and eat with everything; broccoli to steam; fizzy water; ground turkey to add to Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice for several meals. Egg Beaters and Kashi Go-Lean blueberry waffles for breakfast. Fresh cherries and bananas.

And potato rolls.