It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. But I had hoped it wouldn’t be this bad. It was bad.
This weekend I fell off the healthy-eating wagon, and I fell hard…not just into the road but off a proverbial cliff.
I spent the weekend with my sister and four of my female cousins in a house in the woods that my family owns. The place is a getaway, with no cell service or internet access. And since my family loves to eat in the first place, the cozy little cabin is the perfect place to hang out and spend the whole weekend eating. Which is what I did. I ate so much that I felt sick the whole way home in the car.
I knew there would be desserts aplenty, but I didn’t plan well enough, I guess. I thought I would let myself have one chocolate chip cookie and one bowl of ice cream. I brought lots of fruit and planned to eat that along with a half a bagel or something at breakfast. All of these ideas failed.
Here is my attempt to figure out what went wrong.
1. Sweets on the counter. Chocolate chip cookies are my worst weakness. My sister loves to make them, and she always makes enough for everyone to have dozens. There’s a smal hallway in the kitchen of this small house, and when you go practically everywhere you pass a counter where traditionally the foods for the weekend are stored. That’s the fateful place where those cookies sat, covered only loosely with foil. They were relatively small, so it seemed like only a small breach to steal one in passing. But when you do that ten times, it really adds up. Solution? Even if there are mice in the cupboards (which there are), get those puppies out of sight. Put them in the fridge or the freezer. Get them in a tupperware so that if indeed my crazy brain goes in search of them, I can’t just nab one quickly before my better judgment sets in. While others have this willpower, I do not.
2. Eating to be social. After a fun time at a great mountain festival, we came home and everyone else was hungry. I wasn’t — I was stuffed with all the cookies I’d been sneaking. There was no reason to eat anything else before dinner in three hours, but when a huge tray of nachos was pulled from the oven and everyone sat around the kitchen table pulling cheesy pieces of tortilla chips and chatting away, I couldn’t resist. Solution? I know full well in these situations, when I’m full but the food looks so good, that I shouldn’t eat. Some ideas to reinforce that might be to brush my teeth or suck a mint while others are eating. Get a big glass of sparkling water and drink the whole thing. Sit a little further back from the table so the food isn’t in arm’s reach. Take “breaks” from the table to get up and walk around – if it seems like I’m being antisocial I can always blame my bad back and tell people I need to stretch.
3. The day’s already ruined anyway. Another factor in that nachos debacle was my state of mind. I’d already pigged out on cookies, so my self-esteem was low. The weekend’s already a failure, I think. I might as well just keep eating. At least the food makes me feel good in the moment. Solution? This is a tough one. An idea might be to catch myself and track my foods to really show that no, it’s not all going into some abyss of bad calorie intake that I can ignore — it’s actually still adding up in a horrible way. There’s no internet at the house, so I couldn’t use my Weight Watchers tracker. But I should have planned for that and tried to estimate and write it down on actual paper.
4. The deliciousness of it all. Gooey soft-baked cookies. Nachos with full-fat cheese. Ice cream. Huge New York-style bagels. Macaroni and cheese from a box. These are all foods that will still exist when I get home from the mountains. They will still exist until the end of my life. But somehow, that plate of cookies or the pot of macaroni screams – I’m SO DELICIOUS! Get more of me before I’m gone! Solution? Try to think of an event in the future where I will have sweets again. A special occasion, like a Halloween party or Thanksgiving. I’ll have sweets that are just as delicious as these then, I should tell myself. Perhaps looking forward to that will help me hold back on the ones I have now. As Andie in her wonderful blog has said: Sweets will exist tomorrow, so no need to stockpile your stomach.
5. Nothing to do. When a lot of the weekend is spent sitting around, it’s easy to grab food and snack on it. So what to do to not eat? Perhaps the solution is to just physically stay away from the food. Make sure I have a book or something to read for the down times, when waiting for people to get out of bed or get ready to go somewhere. When sitting and chatting with people, have a glass of something I like to drink, tea or sparkling water, available to sip on. Or even make sure that the good munchies, like the fruit I brought and ate very little of, is cut up and ready to snack on. A cut-up apple is just so much more appetizing than one I’m chomping into.
Dear me. Please look back at this post when getting ready for the next big event where food will be a main fixture. Take the time to think ahead and plan specifically for the problems listed above. It’s ok to eat a sweet or two, but not ok to let all your hard work go down the drain. Love yourself and your body and remember that feeling you had yesterday, when it felt like your stomach was throbbing in protest all day. It’s not worth it. No food is worth that sense of self-loathing.