Thursday, April 29, 2010

Like a Rock

I wrote last week about how, when I went out to dinner with my birthday boy, the freshly baked bread that was brought to the table didn't bother me. I described it as just being there, like a rock. And since then I have noticed this unemotional regard for food more and more often.

When I used to walk past the donuts in the grocery store bakery, I'd almost have an emotional breakdown because I wanted them SO BADLY. It was like they had some kind of *power* over me. They weren't just donuts... they were an entity with a voice that called... "come, come, eat me"... a presence that lured me in, grabbed me and pulled me over to them. Seriously. They were not "just" donuts. They were OMG! DONUTS!!!

When my husband used to buy candy bars and set them on the counter, or would sit eating bowls of ice cream next to me in the evening, I used to have this heightened, emotional reaction where the adrenaline was running, my brain was racing, and my mouth was watering, I was fighting in my head with OMG I WANT IT and NO I CAN'T HAVE IT. It used to bother me to no end. Having someone else eating food in front of me... seeing and smelling warm bread or french fries or candy bars... it was just TOO MUCH and often triggered a binge.

It doesn't feel like that anymore. I used to wish there was some medication I could take that would make me see food as FOOD and not as some mythical creature I had to chase. I wished there was some kind of brain surgery to 'fix' my brain to make it look at food like 'normal' people do... without the hysteria attached. Without the sheer desperation.

I think something is fixed. I think it's because I stopped eating sugar and most other refined carbs, stopped eating junk food, stopped eating fast food. I think eating low carb and high protein actually changed the way I think. I don't fully get why, but I have some understanding because of reading the book The End of Overeating by David Kessler. I have also done a lot of mental work with myself to teach myself NOT to react to food so violently. (I do think a binge is a form of violence against one's self).

When I go to the store and walk past the donut case, I see them. I smell them. I don't give a crap about them.

When I see people eating ice cream at the park, that's nice. Whatever.

When I take my child to a birthday party and everyone is eating cake, that's fine. I see it. It may as well be made of plastic.

When my husband, who is here at the moment, buys bag after bag of Ruffles potato chips, sets them on the counter, and eats them in front of me every night, he can have that. I don't flip out and want them anymore. If he wants to make that choice for himself, so be it. I used to ask him not to buy that crap. I used to have 'discussions' with him. He knows I don't like it in the house, and I will not allow the children to eat it. And now, finally, it has become a non-issue. I can't say I am fond of the annoying bag-crackles and jaw-flapping CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH every night for 20 minutes, but I don't care about his chips. He could just as well be eating tree bark mulch for all I care... I don't WANT it. And that's a big change.

When food lost its emotional appeal for me, I knew I had reached an important turning point. Being able to look at a plate of freshly baked, warm chocolate chip cookies as if they were a stone sculpture is a big deal. It makes eating well so much easier. It makes my days better, happier. I am not fighting myself all the time about FOOD.

I have to say I do sometimes *want* a food that I am choosing not to eat, but it is really fleeting. Today I was making my little girl some Cheerios treats that my mother used to make for me when I was a child: peanut butter, honey, nonfat dry milk, and Cheerios. I mixed them up with my hands and rolled them into balls for her. I smelled the peanut butter and the honey. I wanted to have some too. But it was just a want like "I want to watch The Biggest Loser on TV tonight," not like "OH MY GOSH IF I DO NOT GET THAT NOW I AM GOING TO COME UNGLUED!!" After I gave them to her and washed my hands, the *want* just gradually faded away. It didn't bother me. It was, I guess, a 'normal' kind of wanting. Not a desperation or a drive or an insanity that I could not control.

This is a GREAT help to me. I admit I am scared, on some level, that it won't always be like this. That someday, some time, the crazy cravings and HAVE TO HAVE IT feelings will come back; that those donuts that seem like rocks to me now will come back to life and start calling me again, and I won't be able to resist. I am pretty scared of that happening. But for now, it is NOT happening, so I choose to focus on the relief I feel now that those food demons are no longer taunting me day after day.

The obsession... it's gone. Maybe it's dead for good. Maybe not. But it is a darn good feeling to feel kind of normal and unaddicted for awhile, however long that while lasts.


Jules said...

Oh, please oh please oh please!!

Rub some of that mojo off on me.....

Awesome, by the way. Just so freakin' awesome. May the day come that I can do the same.

Project 55 said...

This is such a powerful post. It's wonderful that you have reached this point - I truly wish I had.

I think I need to read the book you mentioned since binging is something I really struggle with.

Today for example I went into a meeting and saw three leftover cookies on the plate from the meeting beforehand. I knew I shouldn't eat the cookies, so I didn't. I sat through the entire meeting without touching them but an hour or so later they were still in my mind. I took my cell phone into the boardroom and made a personal call while sneaking a cookie, then another, until all three were gone.

I don't know why I felt compelled to do that. It was like I literally couldn't concentrate on anything else while I knew there were cookies sitting in the next room. And then once I've started I start to wonder what else I can grab on my way home from work so I can settle down in front of the TV and eat all the other foods I tell myself I'm not allowed to eat.

Wow, that clearly was long enough to be a blog post all of its own but I really hadn't thought about the emotional and physical cravings I seem to get towards food until reading your words.


- CJ

Christine said...

It's great to know it can be done. Thanks for the encouragement.

Banded Girl said...

You know, I typed out a comment but think it's best if I post about this on my own blog. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm so happy that this is a recurring theme for you now :)

lindalou said...

It may be the balance of protein you have now in your diet...not those highs and lows with the sugars, insulin, etc. It's workin' ...lucky you...go with it!!!

Carissa said...

It was really good to read this post. I still struggle a lot with those violent cravings, so it's nice to see that one day it might subside for me, too.

Congratulations :)

Anjum said...

I am SOOO looking forward to reaching this stage. Right now I see cookies and my head still screams OOH, WANT! and I can never have just one. I am glad that the sugar cravings do go away if you stay away from it long enough.

Anonymous said...

I've never been a binger but, well, I love to eat. Too much. I have lost twelve pounds and then come to a standstill for the last couple weeks due to relaxing my calorie limit and exercising less. So, consequently, I've felt a little depressed. I want this to be the time I lose the weight...and keep it off!

Deb said...

I really think it is sugar, when I eat absolutely no sugar I find my binges just disappear! The trick for me is to not eat a bit of sugar. none. nada. I can be a world class binger but that just stops when I go lo carb.
I find your blog just so inspirational and poignant. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Lyn: This is a great post. After years of yo-yo dieting, I also cut out the refined carbs, processed foods, and sugars about a year and a half ago, and I agree it is like a miracle. I also cut out foods with fake sugar. Somehow, you just have to get your mind to understand how addictive these foods are, and understand why it is critical just to cut them out. Seems like you are getting to that point. The people who seem most fragile in their maintenance and dieting are those who think they just can't cut these foods out, and I see them struggling so much with this. It's like saying that heroin addicts are to blame for being addicted to heroin -- it is not just willpower. Cutting the foods out is the key. Like you, I wonder how long this can last. I can tell you that for me, it's lasted 18 months, and I truly do not binge or have the cravings that I earlier had. I still eat more than I planned from time to time, but I get full and I stop. I feel like I am in control of my life. So glad you are feeling good. Best wishes, Becky.

tabby said...

I feel as if I have the tiger in it's cage right now. I was actually at the store last night walking past the donuts and I made a joke "demons get away from me" lol and I put my hand up to just block them out. But I did walk by and walked away from them, which for me is alot of progress. I usually start to feel teary eyed! Yes, teary eyed if I don't buy them and leave the store with them, as if I were punishing myself. It's really how I choose to think about these foods though and I think it's a start.

Beetnik Mama said...

Have you seen that commercial, the one where the woman is standing in front of the bakery counter telling off a cake? That image came to mind reading your post.

Good for you for getting to this place. I would wager that simply feeding your body the good stuff you have been is making a boatload of difference. Such a big step to take care of yourself like this.

And you know, if those old, scary feelings come back, you now have the tools you need to overcome them.

Anonymous said...

I am having a similar experience with my Primal way of eating. Many days I have to practically force myself to eat more food simply because I don't want to lose weight too fast. Also, the cravings for food in the evening are completely gone. After an early dinner, I'm done with food for the day and have no desire to eat more.

Why would I want to reintroduce carbs into my diet when this way of eating has given me back my life? Brownies, cookies, ice cream, chips? *shrug*

Anonymous said...

Lyn, when I stopped using sugar and white refined carbs 2 years ago, I experienced the same thing precisely. All those foods are uninteresting to me now.

To the posters above who are wishing for this experience--you can all have it, too. Quit the sugar and white refined stuff. You are addicted, and you can be free. We have done it, and you can too.

I continue to be so pleased for you, Lyn.

WarMaiden / Sarah

Julie Lost and Found said...

You are such an inspiration!! Thank you, once again, for an awesome post!

I so relate to those cravings. When I first started back in November..oh my goodness, the cravings in the grocery store were UNREAL. I would stand having arguments in my mind with the carrot cake in the bakery section. Finally able to walk right past it..not that I don't have other battles..but it IS getting better.

Thanks so much!

Tammy said...

I eat pretty low carb (because of my diabetes) and definitely high protein (too much meat), but I have to say I still don't feel normal yet. I've still got that emotional drive to overeat. I haven't had a binge in quite a I think that's progress...but normalcy hasn't happened yet. Hopefully soon...and I'm so glad you're there. :)

Anonymous said...

Great news. Just be careful as time goes by. The refined sugar, or much sugar of any kind and refined carbs will hit you like alcohol hits a recovering alcoholic, if they fall off the wagon. You will be back in the fog and it could be years again before you know it...there is such a disconnect when the addiction is in control.

Stay strong!

Moving Mertle said...

This is such an inspiration and reason to avoid those processed sugars and carbs. I started trying to lose weight again because I had that NEED. like you'll die or the house will catch on fire if you don't eat the rest of the ice cream.

I've definitely been on both sides of this and that sugar can really suck you back in. It's so great that you're in control!!! Stick with it!! and remember how dependent you felt before and how POWERFUL you are now!

This definitely gave me something to strive for and something to look forward to.


Kathleen said...

I think you'll be surprised how the feeling lasts. I've been without sugar, wheat or flour for 2.5 years, and the feeling of no cravings still amazes me.

Miz said...


five small yet mindblowingly powerful words.


Anonymous said...

I refuse to see people who knew me before I was fat. It does help that I am on the other side of the world.

I want to be where you are.

Mother Of Many

Fat Grump said...

That must be a really good feeling Lyn - knowing you really, really don't want to eat a certain food. That is real progress, isn't it? I have managed to wean myself off some foods - they have no power over me any more, but coincidentally, I wrote this morning about giving in to temptation! I succumbed! It sounds like you aren't even tempted in any way by things you used to eat - which is wonderful! That's the place I want to be. I am going to check out that book you recommended. It sounds interesting. I am a great believer in getting to know myself better.

Anonymous said...

Since I have lost weight and stay away from junk food, I too have lost my cravings and don't really care if I see it or see other people eating it. I think it is a part of the chemistry of the body because that fat that I lost was making powerful hormones that caused be to want crap and not to move. It's a vicious cycle though. It's hard to move the initial phases but worth it.

Hope @ Hope's Journey said...

I'm so proud of you Lyn, and I hope you realize just HOW far you've come.


Lori said...

I've made a step in that direction, but haven't considered myself there yet - mostly because of the absolutely incredible FEAR that the desire will return. I haven't mentioned it on my blog because I don't want to jinx it. I know that is really elementary school thinking, but I'd rather have that label now, than fat!

Leslie said...

This is great Lyn. I'm really happy for you. I really did a double take when you said that a binge is an act of violence against oneself. I've said that myself - after certain binges, I realized it FELT violent.

You pondered whether the change is guess is that it is as long as you don't re-introduce certain foods that set you off. For me, once I eat something with sugar, it becomes excrutiatingly difficult AGAIN. If I just don't go there, it doesn't. So for me it's a choice. I can certainly have a piece of cake or candy if I want it, but it's with the knowledge that I can't predict where it'll take me. For now, I still have times where I decide to have something that sets off the emotional response. I hope to get to the place someday where I just am content to leave it alone.

Kel said...

Your blog is my absolute favorite and you gotta keep going, year after year! We love you!

Kristi-Bisti said...

That's amazing. I am so happy for you and loved reading about your emotional freedom.

I agree with you: celebrate the relief instead of worrying about if the struggle will return. If it returns, it will. But don't lose the lightness of a clear mind in the meantime!!

Blessings to you

MB said...

It's such a great feeling when food is just food and not a drug that we must consume immediately. Congrats on all your progess.

Kristi said...

Thank you soooo much for mentioning The End of Overeating. I ran out and got a copy and love it. My kids are already sick of me saying, "Sugar, fat, salt" when I see junk food.