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.