Weighty Matters

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on April 3, 2013

I was so proud of myself the other day for deciding to make my own snack mix.  I’ve bought the pre-mixed containers of nuts and fruit, but then decided that I could do better myself, particularly if I bought stuff from the health food store.

So, I brought home the ingredients and dumped everything into a large, re-sealable bag.  Today, I filled a smaller container with some of the mix to take and keep at work for one of the snacks that I eat a day.  Remember that I eat something every couple of hours so that means I need a mid-morning snack, something for lunch, and then a mid-afternoon snack while I’m at work.

All of this was a supremely excellent plan in theory.  In practice, however, I forgot one elemental thing about how my eating disorder manifests.  If I get into picking mode, I don’t instinctively stop.  I’ll keep going back time and again.   Even if I only eat a very small amount each time, those small amounts add up until, pretty soon, I’ve overeaten.  I don’t need to be hungry.  I can all too easily lock into a pattern and keep repeating when the snack food is so easily available — like in my desk drawer.

The thing about this compulsive pattern that’s even worse is that once I’m in the zone, it is very, very difficult for me to break the behavior.  Even when I recognize what I’m doing and consciously discuss it with myself, I may still continue.  The compulsion doesn’t give a good damn about rational, conscious thought.  It laughs in its face and continues on its happy, munching way.

Suffice it to say that I’ve had far too many nuts and craisins today.  My stomach feels like I’ve consumed pebbles.  My head’s just saying, “You idiot.  You know better.”

That kind of accusatory thinking does me no good, so instead I’m trying to decide on a workable plan of action.  I can pick up the rest of the large re-sealable bag and empty it into the outside garbage can.  However, not only do I not want to waste the stuff, but it’s basically a good, healthy snack.   I think in the long run it is more helpful and healing for me to have a strategy that allows me to have this mix in my orbit without sliding into eating it compulsively.

I don’t think that it’s the actual food item that triggers the behavior.  Unlike pizza, over which I have no control and will always binge on it if left alone with it in my house, I can live with snack mix in my pantry cabinet.  There seemed to be something about having a full container in the close proximity of my desk drawer that made it easy to reach for snack after snack while I was working.

So, here’s the solution I’ve worked up.  I’m not taking a container to work with me again.  Instead, when I’m planning my other food choices for the day, I’ll put only a single snack’s worth of mix into a small bag and bring that to work.  I can’t eat what I don’t have, right?  If I really want to control the behavior, I’ll keep the snack bag in the fridge with my other food for the workday.  The distance between my office and the kitchen makes it more difficult to give into picking and picking as a compulsion.  I have more time to interrupt the pattern before I jam another handful into my mouth.

If I do these things, I should be okay.

What food or behavior challenges you?  What have you done, or can you do, in order to meet the challenge?


3 responses to “Picking

  1. Hope says:

    I need to find the right balance between having options at work for when I’m hungry, and having too many options at work and eating because they’re there. I think I’ve struck that balance, but it’s tough. Not enough snacks, I get ravenous and go searching for unhealthy options. Too many snacks, I consume too many calories.

  2. Susanne says:

    I like the bowl rule.

    You can see through zip-lock baggies, so I put stuff like that into a canister that’s solid (can’t see through it — sorry, I’m fuzzy-minded this morning). It’s great to make your own trail mix because I find the store bought stuff can be rancid. Mine has only good stuff that we like in it.

    I have small tins (canisters) that the treat of the day goes in. Somehow putting the lid back on it helps – out of sight, out of mind.

    Having said that, I’ve begun snacking at work – something I never used to (the trail mix is for my husband). I’m hooked on those Welch’s fruit gummies. I need to find something better to nibble on.

    I’m not too bad about mindless eating, but salty things are my downfall. We rarely have chips in the house because of that.

  3. Egads says:

    For that very behavior we have instituted the “potato chip and bowl” rule at my house. It applies to any snack food. You take a portion and put the bag away. If you want more, you may get it, but you never eat from the bag. It’s just too easy to mindlessly snack when you have the whole bag sitting right there. For nut type snacks we use fiestaware bouillon bowls, which hold about as much as a cupped hand.

    Also, if you’re eating something with wrappers, leave the wrappers there in a pile until you are done. Seeing the remains of what you have eaten makes you more aware. Studies have been done on it. People eat less when they can see evidence of what they have eaten versus when it is cleared away as they eat. They eat one third to one half as much.

    This “picking” behavior is absolutely human nature, Mary, so don’t blame yourself. Just change strategies.


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