Saturday, July 13, 2013

Let's Talk Food Addiction, Moderation, and "Treat Foods"


Let's do a quick test.

Look at that picture...all those sweets and sodas and chips.

How do you feel looking at that picture?

Do you look at that picture and feel excitement?  

Do you look at that picture and feel guilt?

Do you look at that picture and feel disgust?

If you just chose excitement, chances are you're someone that doesn't get confronted with options like this very often...and you are possibly 5 years old.  In which case, I am very happy that you are able to read this... although I'm sure there's much more interesting reads for a 5 year old - and no, I'm not giving away the candy to a kid who can read this and then answer questions about it.

If you chose guilt, chances are you are recalled back to times when you'd dive in to that pile of junk and have a hay day....or maybe you ate a candy bar yesterday and are now thinking that it was a terrible thing to do.

If you chose disgust, chances are you're someone that has battled weight loss and have found the righteous path to clean, healthy eating... or you never had to worry about it in the first place and have always been on the righteous path.

And, chances are if you look at that picture and all three choices are valid options... there's a good chance you might be somewhat of a food addict.

Now, I'm not a doctor.  I'm not about to diagnose or attempt to tell you what you should or shouldn't feel when you look at that picture.  I can't even tell you what it means if you feel a certain way about that picture...the only information I have to go on is my own personal background that applies only to me.

It seems that lately, there has been a buzz among the weight loss blogging world about moderation and "treat foods" and food addictions.  I've read.  I've processed.  I've agreed and disagreed with lots of thoughts and opinions.  But, at the end of the day, all I've been able to do is compare and contrast those situations to my own.

Am I food addict?

Honestly, when I look at that picture, I start to automatically pick out the treats I enjoy and the ones I don't.  

Sure, I'll take the Snickers and the Dr. Pepper and the Peanut M&Ms.  Not interested in the Doritos or Sprite or the Skittles.

That was my first reaction.  Not excitement, guilt, or disgust.  I start making choices... which ones would I pick if the items were really in front of me.

My mind doesn't automatically start telling me "NO! YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY OF THAT! YOU'RE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT!", until I actually make myself be reminded that I'm here writing about that.  

It's just my first initial reaction.  

In order to feel some kind of feeling, I have to step back and focus.  How do I feel when I look at that picture? 

Well, I feel a little excitement.  I think about how much I enjoy eating a favorite candy bar.  And then I start thinking about how long it's been since I've had a Snickers bar...I love them, but haven't eaten one in a while...maybe I should.

Which then triggers guilt.  I feel guilty about thinking about eating a candy bar.  Just thinking about it.  If I was that serious about losing weight, would I start thinking about eating candy bars?  What about that Diet Dr. Pepper I drank yesterday.  That wasn't good.  I shouldn't be drinking soda...even if it is diet.

Which then triggers disgust.  Eating and drinking crap like that is what got me in this trouble in the first place.  I'm fat because I fell in to the trap of enjoying candy bars and sodas.  I feel disgusted that I can look at that picture and feel anything but disgust about how much sugar and crap is pictured.. the disgust comes only from myself.  

As Jeff Foxworthy would so rightly say.... if you look at that picture and your mind starts racing in a thousand different directions, You might be a food addict.

Because the truth is, I know that I got this way and continue to be this way because I'm addicted to food.  Not near as bad as I used to be... but still pretty bad.

My eating is controlled by my feelings.  And I'm not talking about the feeling of hunger.  I'm talking about my emotions.

Happiness leads to eating.  Anxiety leads to eating.  Sadness leads to eating.  Boredom leads to eating.  Content leads to eating.

All directions point to the center: Eating.

I have, and probably will always be a firm believer in "Everything's fine in moderation".  

I've said it and heard it thousands and thousands of times.  But, what is moderation?  

Is a candy bar a day moderation?  How about one a week?  Once a month?

Is replacing all but one of my drinks a day with a Diet Dr. Pepper moderation?  Or should that be left to once in a while when I just feel like drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper?

If I chose to consume some alcohol with friends and family... is one moderation?  Three?  What if I only drink once in a blue moon?  Can I have more alcohol on that one night because of that?

The truth is, moderation is one of those words that has a different meaning for just about everyone you ask.  If I go an entire week without eating any junk food, and then I eat at McDonald's one day... I've eaten in moderation.  Even if it was a Double Quarter pounder with cheese, large fries, and a large drink.  I went a long time not eating that stuff, and now I'm eating it.  Moderation.  Right? (*That's sarcasm, I don't really believe that)

Of course my brain disagrees.  But, who writes the guidelines for moderation?

To someone that consumes food to excess..and for emotional reasons... using the word "moderation" is like playing a game of Russian Roulette.  Having a little of this and a little of that now and again should be OK.. but unless we have some kind of rule book defining exactly what moderation means, we start making our own guidelines.  And that's never really good.

But, then, I look at the alternative.  I should eat healthy foods 100% of the time.  Clean, fresh, wholesome foods that are good for me.  No junk.  No white sugar or flour.  No fried foods.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.

Do you know what happens then?

I go just fine for a few days.  I am proud of how I've eaten.  I feel better..physically.  Then, I do something stupid like eat a cookie or a piece of white bread or drink a diet soda... and all those nasty feelings of disgust and guilt come flooding back.  I torment myself because I broke the cardinal rule.  I am NOT ALLOWED to eat any of that stuff, and because I did I feel like a failure.

Then, what do I hear... "It's OK, everything is OK in moderation"

And BAM... back at square one.

I know there is a science involved with healthy eating, and eating to live rather than living to eat.  It's out there... it's worked for so many... it's just getting to the stage where I can accept it and apply it to my own life.

Because, that's the secret.  

It's all my own doing.  It's all up to me and me only.  I have to chose the rules and play by them.  I have to sacrifice and commit.  Or I end up right back here singing another "poor me" song about how I failed and let go.

The sad truth is, I know that I can't go the rest of my life never putting sugar, white flour, or fried foods in to my mouth.  I can say I can... I can try... but it will just never happen.  

And I know that sounds like failure before I even try.

It's not.  It's acceptance.  It's understanding the been-there and done-thats of my past.  

So, I have to create my own definition of Moderation:

Focus on eating healthy.  Chose foods that are healthier.  Read nutritional labels.  Plan meals.  Count calories.

And, if you eat something that contains any of those nasty ingredients that you are avoiding... don't beat yourself up.  Move on.  Be mindful about what you eat and how you eat it and why you are eating it.  There's no such thing as "eating by mistake".  

I am a person that has spent many months not going a single day without putting a hefty load of junk in to my mouth.  I started out by consciously putting less junk in to my mouth each day.  Then, I went a couple of days without any junk.  

And that's about as far as I've gotten....

But my journey can and will continue.

If I go two or three days before eating any "junk", I tell myself that's a small victory.  If I pass up two items I shouldn't eat and then succumb to the third...that's a small victory.  If I am ready to up that number to five before I succumb to eating it...that's a bigger victory.  And so on and so on.

That's my definition of moderation.  I'm not eating every junky item I'd normally eat.  I'm cutting junky items out of my diet...slowly.  I'm not jumping on a band wagon of banning certain foods...yet.

I just can't do the Cold Turkey way.  It doesn't work for me.

Do I know that it will take longer to lose the weight thinking the way I do?  Sure.  But, what if it takes longer but lasts forever?  Isn't that worth it?

It took me a year to lose 80lbs a couple of years ago.  I went cold turkey.  Dived right in to healthy eating and healthy living.  I did a great job.

It took all of 6 months to gain back 60lbs.  Just from slacking off on the "NO JUNK" diet.  I started to let the foods I banned back in to my life.  One by one by one...and then the weight was right back again.

When I started running back then, I couldn't just walk out my door and take off on a 3 mile run.  I had to ease myself in to it.. slowly.  First a 15 minute walk, then 30 minutes, then light jogging for 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 5...and eventually several months later I was running.  Really running... for miles.

Why can't that work with the way I eat?  Slowly easing my way in to it.  Reducing rather than increasing.  Still building stamina for how long I can go not eating certain foods, or certain amounts of food.

I know people will read this and call me an idiot.  I know they will think I'm trying to cop out and make excuses for the foods I still continue to consume.  

But, just like no one else can tell you how you feel about that picture up top... no one can tell me if it can or can't work.  Regardless if they tried it or not.  It might work for me.  

I've tried so many programs that other people have tried and succeeded with... but they didn't work for me.  Why can't I try something that not many people would agree with?  Maybe it agrees with me.

It's a trial.  A test.  It's either going to work or it's not.  But, history tells me that the other way doesn't work either.

And that's my thoughts on moderation, "treat foods", and food addiction.

Till next time!

a/k/a Mad, Fat Woman


  1. Have you heard of Vegan Before Six? Mark Bittman. Check it out!

    1. I have looked in to this. It looks interesting, but my problem really isn't with eating meat.. it's the carbs. I eat dairy, but mainly my Greek yogurt during the day. The rest of my diet is eating too many carbs and not enough veg.

      When I tried Atkins, I had great success with losing weight. The problem was the follow through. Instead of following the program and slowly introducing carbs back in, I just stopped.. and ended up gaining the weight back.

      I know that I really wouldn't have a problem doing his program because I only really eat meat once a day... but the carbs would kill me. Being that his program is pretty "Loosey Goosey", is might be something I could adapt and work with.

      Thanks for the info!!


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