Weighty Matters

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Compulsive Eater’s Equivalent of a Dry House

on January 21, 2013

Recovering alcoholics are urged to keep “a dry house” which means that they need to not keep alcholic beverages in their homes.  That way if they get the compulsion to take a drink, their drug of choice is not readily at hand.  Perhaps instead of grabbing their keys and driving to a bar or a liquor store, their recovery practices will kick in and they’ll grab the phone to call an AA friend or sponsor or drive instead to a meeting.

I’ve needed to adapt this to my home.  It is ridiculous for me to think that I could have M&Ms or a batch of my own homemade brownies in the house and not eat them compulsively.  I wouldn’t have to be upset or hungry or sad or bored.  I’d want them just because they were present.   Over November and December, I wasn’t as careful with other tempting foods.  I had some things in here that I foolishly told myself I could handle or would be good for an emergency.  It doesn’t matter that I bought the 100% whole wheat English Muffins, for example, or that I only ate half a one at a time.  Because they were readily available, I found it too easy to justify smearing some peanut butter on that half and calling it a healthy choice.  Is it a horrible choice?  Not under the right conditions, but doing that twice in one day or grabbing one late at night when I wasn’t really hungry made it unhealthy.

Same thing with those packages of crackers and cheese product or crackers and peanut butter.  They were on sale at the supermarket and I thought that on those “rare” times when I needed something quick on the run, I could grab a package and have only a couple.

Yeah, right.  If I grab and open a package, the contents will be eaten.  Maybe not all at once, but within an hour for sure.   For me, having these things around all the time is not keeping a dry house.  It does not set me up for success but, instead, gives me easy access to failing.  If I think I can keep them in stock, I am not taking good care of myself.  Bottom line, someday I will be able to eat more carbs in a day but right now is not that day.

Yesterday I mentioned cleaning out my pantry cabinet.  I tossed some things that were past their expiration or “Best if used by” dates.  I also found a few things that I knew would be better off out of my house completely.  I packed those up and took them into work today to palm off on my co-workers.   I haven’t brought in any inappropriate carbs to keep in stock since I got back from my Christmas vacation.  I knew that I’d gotten complacent and sloppy in my food plan and I’d promised myself that I’d get back on track.  I’ve kept that promise.  So far I’ve lost another ten pounds since New Year’s Day.  This picked up the pace that had slowed and I attribute it to being more vigilant with the carbs.  To keeping a dry house.  Instead, I get most of my carbs from the healthy foods that I eat like fruit, some veggies and the like — and not so much from breads, potatoes, crackers and cookies.  If I eat any of those, it’s in very small portions on an occasional basis.  They are not incorporated into the majority of my meals.

After my pantry clear out yesterday and my kayak trip, I needed to stop at the supermarket to pick up some greens and goat cheese.  At each entrance to the store, Girls Scouts had staked out some territory and were selling cookies.  I love Girl Scout cookies.  Peanut Butter Sandwiches, the chocolate covered peanut butter ones, thin mints and shortbread varieties are all favorites.  I have absolutely no will power around these cookies.  Not one speck of will power, I tell you.

Walking from my car toward the store, my mind tried to sabotage me.  I heard it saying, “Buy a box.  You can limit yourself just like you do with the Weight Watchers products.  You’ll be fine.”  Thankfully by the time I stepped up on the curb, I’d silently cried, “Bullshit” on myself.  I bypassed the table and went in to complete my shopping.

I have to admit that I felt guilty.  I was a Girl Scout.  I know how hard girls work to sell these products and raise money for their troops.  It made me feel awful that I wasn’t supporting their effort.  I got to the register and, just before completing the transaction, asked the cashier to break a $20 into smaller bills.  On my way out, I asked a Scout if I could please make a donation instead of buying cookies.  Of course the answer was yes.  Dilemma resolved!

From now until I transition to maintenance, I will continue to maintain my dry house.  If I have friends over or need to bake brownies for an occasion outside of my house, the carbs that aren’t good for me will come in only temporarily and will exit as soon as possible — and not by me consuming them.  Outside the home, a few carbs sometimes are consumed, but I’m able to keep them at a minimum.

The bottom line is that it’s easier for me to “Just Say No” to my drug of choice if I don’t have it calling to me from my own kitchen.

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6 responses to “Compulsive Eater’s Equivalent of a Dry House

  1. pampeekemd says:

    Be sure to read the ingredients on your “safe” treat foods as well. They can be as sweet and palatable as regular junk food and can cause you to crave more. This is even true of artificial sweeteners.

    But cleaning out the pantry is a great act of courage, as if passing up the Girl Scouts, whose cookies, alas, are definitely in the junk food category and very expensive for what you get. Better to make a donation!

  2. Hope says:

    I read a great article the other day about how it gets harder and harder to make smart decisions as the day goes on. It talks about how successful people don’t necessarily have extra willpower that the rest of us don’t have… they’re just smart about setting themselves up for it to be easier to make the right decisions. Like keeping tempting food out of the house.

    Personally, I know that we can’t keep chocolate in the house or I will find it and eat it.

  3. Skye says:

    Living with Awareness is said to be living a full life. You are living with an abundance of Awareness, brought about by your eating disorder and everything you have done and continue to have to do with your weight loss and surgery. You just shine with it. I don’t get any feeling of you being sorry for yourself because you can’t bring the girl scout cookies into your house. I see you resolving such issues in ways that give you satisfaction. You are doing so wonderfully.

  4. Pink Pelican says:

    Go you for avoiding temptation yet still making the scouts happy!

    As for “until I’m in maintenance …” … my experience is that I’m getting close to maintenance, & the things that sabotaged me before maintenance will ALWAYS have the potential to sabotage me.

    Last year at Christmas, 5 months after my surgery, it was wonderful. My tummy was truly tiny, I truly had no hunger, one cookie was enough to make me groan in misery. Last year, Christmas/holidays were a breeze.

    This year, my capacity is such that, while I can’t eat a whole box of girl scout cookies in one sitting, I can graze throughout the day on my various forms of food porn crack. That made Christmas/holidays this year much more difficult, because the temptation was stronger and I could do hella lot more damage to myself.

    What I am learning is that surgery has not changed the fact that I love hot Krispy Kreme donuts & homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (etc. ad nauseum), & I will until the day I die. Surgery has not changed my weakness for these items. What surgery has done is:

    1. Given me respite from the temptations & helped me invent a new life & discover all the wonderful possibilities.

    2. Given me the chance to spotlight my problems & start working on coping strategies.

    3. Helped me highlight the things I will have ongoing problems with, before they got out of hand.

    I have learned that once I hit maintenance, I will still need to keep a dry house, devoid of those things over which I am weak. Or if I bring them into the house, it will be with the awareness that they can only come in occasionally, for special occasions, in small amounts. “Maintenance” will be about incorporating all of the successful behaviors I used for losing the weight and getting healthy, and tweaking them just enough to find that balance for maintaining the weight in a narrow range while keeping to the wonderful healthy life-style.

    There was a time when I saw the idea of reaching my goal weight as the end of the journey. Once I got there, I would be “fixed”. I would be healthy & active & normal sized & then it would be just a normal life like everybody else’s.

    What I have realized is that reaching the goal weight is the end of the first leg of the journey. It’s like graduating from high school. The next step is advanced education; it’s starting the new business; moving out on your own. I learned the basic lessons during that stage of the journey. Now I take all of those lessons and put them into practice in the real world and make of myself what I can. That’s where the hard work comes in, and where all the deep education will take place. But the things that “broke” me in my old life? They aren’t “fixed”. They’re still there. My foundational work was becoming aware of them & learning how to cope with, circumvent, or redirect them. it’s those skills I will be building on in the future.

    I hope.

    Hugs to you!

  5. Susanne says:

    Go Mary go!!!

    Susanne

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