Last night, my hubby went out for dinner with his PhD advisor, so I was left to my own devices. I carefully prepared and enjoyed a beautiful, healthy salad, logged it in my nutrition tracker... and then went into the kitchen and ate 6 tablespoons of Bettern PB.
Immediately, I felt ill, both because of the extra 300 calories I had consumed and because I had broken my binge-free streak. 300 calories of low fat nut butter might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of binges, but that doesn't make it ok. It's just another binge (albeit a small one) in a long line of them. For all my healthy lifestyle changes in the past few years, this is one bad habit that I haven't totally shaken yet.
As I was trying to fall asleep last night, I decided to retrace my mental steps. What made me binge? What ever makes me binge??
Step One -- I make a really good decision.
Last night, I not only made a really healthy salad for dinner, I also weighed and measured all the ingredients with my food scale. One time, I was too busy to eat lunch, so I figured I'd just have a small snack before dinner and save some calories. Another time, I decided not to go out for drinks and a late night meal after a performance.
Step Two -- I really wanted to do something other than the good thing I did.
Last night, I had really been wanting something ethnic but ate the salad instead. When I skipped lunch, I was ravenous and wanted to eat a ton of food. Even though I decided not to go out after the show, I really wanted to!
Step Three -- I get the idea to eat "just a little" of something. Sometimes I even track it!
Last night, I started with one small spoonful of Bettern PB. When I skipped lunch, I had a greek yogurt for a snack. Since I wasn't going out after the show, I went out to buy some cheese and crackers to share with my hubby.
Step Four -- Instead of stopping at "just a little", I keep going.
Last night, I went back to the kitchen 3 TIMES for giant spoonfuls of PB. The lunch time, I followed up that yogurt with a bowlful of granola and milk, chocolate chips, and then a protein bar. When I got to the store, I bought cheese and crackers... 3 kinds of cheese, that is, plus salami, olives, and soda.
Step Five -- Instant Regret
This is pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes it involves hiding the evidence. That can be literal (burying protein bar wrappers in the trash so my hubby won't see them) or figurative (consciously deciding not to track the binge). I will say that I have gotten much better about this lately; I almost always track it, even if I wait until the next day.
Aside from the obvious part when I eat a bunch of extra calories, where am I going wrong? I can see 3 big ones:
Mistake #1 -- I take a good choice too far, creating feelings of deprivation.
Mistake #2 -- I use the really good decision as an excuse for a bad decision.
Mistake #3 -- I ignore the voice in my head telling me to stop/I decide that I've already screwed up, so I might as well keep eating.
SO. I first need to learn to listen to what I really want. If I'm craving take out, there's totally a way to satisfy that without going nuts, even if that just means making something a little more exciting at home than a salad with grilled chicken. That's the first checkpoint. The second checkpoint is when things get out of control... and that's where I'm stumped.
It's really easy to say, "Oh sure, just listen to the honest part of you that knows it's a bad idea and stop! There is no justification for continuing a binge!" It's harder than that, though, if you're feeling out of control. Sometimes if I talk to myself aloud (i.e. "No, you do not need that! You're not even hungry!"), then I can keep from starting to binge. Do any of you have any good ideas for mid-binge?
One last big component of all of this -- It's ALWAYS when I am alone. Last night, my hubby was out. He was at work when I binged after skipping lunch. I went to the grocery store alone after the show to buy cheese, etc. This is no coincidence; it's because I KNOW what I'm doing is wrong! Maybe I should reach out to other people (my hubby, Spark Friends, etc.) if I am alone and I feel that restless, bored, deprived, binge-y feeling coming on. Maybe that will keep me from doing any real damage.
Oof, ok, that was long, but I feel better now. A binge may feel out of control in the moment, but it's all surprisingly simple in writing. I'm a smart, strong woman... I should be able to overcome this, right?
That said, if any of you have any insightful ideas, I would be grateful to hear them!!