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Dear Friends, Family, & Beyond

Saturday, September 15, 2012

There is a particular suggestion that comes up frequently in my life, addressed typically by friends and family or even health-related articles. It comes up enough times that it is often on my mind. This letter to you is an attempt to organize my thoughts on the matter but I would endlessly appreciate if you do read it all the way.

In discussing my plans for the weekend with a friend I mentioned that I will be reserving calories for a planned social event. My kind friend’s response was to inquire if I allowed myself days to indulge, aka cheat or treat days, with the implication that I should do so.

I understand that these words are offered with the best of intentions, but this is a loaded issue for me to deal with.

Just that day, unbeknownst to said friend, I had eaten a muffin with apple butter, blue cornmeal pancakes, two fruit hand pies, a cup and a half of chili con carne, two brownies, and half of a protein bar. Around 1700-1900 calories total, which is the range necessary for me to maintain my weight. This is a typical day of eating for me.

Where am I supposed to be allowing additional indulgences, cheats, or treats in there?

Maybe instead of adding indulgent types of food, for a day of indulgence I should give myself a day free of calorie restriction and counting.

What you might not realize is that to allow myself to naturally eat what I want in a day, it would be around a 3500 calorie day. Maybe more. Does that amount seem ridiculous? There was a very good reason I was nearly morbidly obese three years ago and it wasn’t by accident. Eating entire boxes of cereal, cookies, and crackers are not accidents. One pound bags of candy consumed in a sitting are not accidents. This is a range I eat at intuitively.

To offset one such 3500 calorie day of indulgence I would need to restrict myself down to around 1200 calories for the rest of the week. No-and-way.

But maybe that’s not what is being suggested by indulgence. Maybe instead I should allow myself to consume an occasional 500-600 calorie meal as an indulgence.

That’s cool, I can manage that if I can also restrict myself the rest of the day.

Through trial and and error, I’ve discovered I function better on meals of around 300 calories, six times per day. To allow for double the calories in a single meal I do need to cut back elsewhere in the day or offset it with increased activity. It is necessary to plan in advance for such occasions, because I don’t want to restrict myself.

Believe me, I do not fail at indulging myself. I excel at indulgence. Rather, my failure is to restrict myself.

I fail to achieve cleanse days. I fail to keep away from the sweets. I fail to not eat everything in front of me. I fail to stop always desiring to eat. I fail to cease always thinking about food.

I am not dieting, I am an addict. I may look okay on the outside but I am still very much a work in progress inside. My relationship with food is beyond complicated and cannot be managed without massive amounts of planning and consideration invested. I need to think deeply about even the most innocent of food-based suggestions and intentions, more so than you might realize when even just offering to go grab a bite to eat.

If you’ve made it this far, you are a rockstar and I owe you a day of you-appreciation. Get back to me on that.

For now, there are still many ways in which you can help me out. Please encourage me to achieve cleanse days, please help me avoid overeating, please help me control myself. Please distract me from thinking about food with other activities. Please offer to split restaurant orders, drinks, and treats with me. Please do not shame me for avoiding the standard American diet.

Most of all, please cheer for the moments I am restricting and controlling myself. Please celebrate with me the deficiencies I am able to attain in the face of this unending addiction to eat.

It takes a lot of work but with your help I can manage.

Thank you.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Excellent blog!

    I'm always amazed at the calories you're able to eat to maintain your current weight. That shows me that you didn't damage your metabolism with dieting. Your metabolism still works correctly, and you lost all your weight the right way. I'm so proud of you! I wish I had done the same.....

    I love that part: "don't shame me for avoiding the SAD (Standard American Diet.) I'm going to have to use that one..... because my family and friends do this to me all the time
    1988 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/16/2012 12:24:31 PM
  • BILL60
    You're a "Rock Star". Hang in there.
    1988 days ago
    This is why it was so liberating to read your food log and see that it IS indeed possible to incorporate some foods that I love into my life. In addition to having a highly addictive, extremely dysfunctional relationship with food... I also have a rebellious temperament and am incredibly stubborn. I've convinced myself through the weight loss process that I have to restrict and deprive myself in order to lose weight or keep it off. This leads to inevitable binging! If I want a burger or a cupcake... then dammit I'm going to have one (or rebel and have 10)!
    I'm in the process of learning to control my addiction also, and have been told that in order to appreciate true freedom and recovery I have to give up the scale and the calorie-counting. I understand there may be some truth to that but I am unwilling to give up these tools. Granted, I can learn to not let them control my life or take over my identity... and I'm working on that. But I simply HAVE to count calories and keep an eye on my weight. I completely understand where you're coming from on this one. I am a bottomless pit when it comes to food. I'm an addict. And since, unlike people who are addicted to other things like alcohol or porn, I can't completely abstain from food... it is imperative that I keep an eye on my intake. I don't want to be obsessive or trade one addiction for another (which I admit, I am guilty of). But I'm desperately trying to find a way to make peace with food without losing control. Intuitive eating sounds heavenly... but it doesn't work for me. Perhaps someday. But I'm not at that point yet. I need behavior modification.
    1988 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/15/2012 4:27:40 PM
    I've found the difference between me and others who have a more natural relationship with food are the commonsense rules that were established regarding food during their childhood. No chocolate for breakfast, no ice cream until after dinner, etc etc.

    And LOL! No worries on the brownies. I do not avoid sugar and conventional foods, I do not follow a clean/organic diet. That is my choice. But I do control the outcome by cooking, baking, and correctly portioning my food at home 99% of the time, including allowing myself homemade Salted Caramel Brownies from Cooking Light cut into 1-inch square servings.
    1989 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/15/2012 3:43:49 PM
    I applaud you for your efforts to stay away from overeating. You have a lot of people here rooting for you. I have lost and gained and over again dealing with faily issues. But this time I am getting it together. I have started eating fruites and veggies for lunch and snack instead of cookies and ice cream. Although they are tempting as Ihave children that eat it for desert. As with everything else it is a constant struggle.
    Eating six small meals a day as you do is great but I am worried about the browines you consume. Try something different. The amount of sugar in brownies is high. Cornmeal pancakes I have never tried them so I can complain about them. But I have had sweet potatoe pancakes and they are good with banas on top with a little honey instead of syrup.
    Good luck with maintaining your weight.
    1989 days ago
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