Yesterday I did something really dumb. I went to the buffet. The one I used to binge at. You know the one, a national chain where they always have fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, and of course tons of salads. And the dessert bar... do not forget the dessert bar.
Why? Why do I continue to put myself in the path of an oncoming train, standing on the tracks, ignoring the blaring horn, bending down to sniff the little flowers growing between the ties and then jumping up, shocked, as I finally notice a train is bearing down on me and I AM ON THE TRACKS!
I am not stupid. I know going to ANY buffet is risky for me. It is riskier than it is for your average Joe, even though most people who go there overeat OR eat unhealthy things (simply because it is not a health buffet... it is a cheap, fatty, salty, sugary food buffet). Everyone tells me not to go. I tell myself not to go. But there I am, having a busy day shopping and wanting to just stop and have a quick lunch with the kid or two who are with me. It used to be McDonald's or Wendy's or Arby's. Now it turned into the lunch buffet, because with the free kids coupon it is almost as cheap as fast food... and it IS fast. The food is already prepared. I don't want to take a lot of time (and money) to go in to a sit-down-and-wait-to-be-served restaurant. So we end up just "popping in" to the buffet because, I think, "they always have salad and chicken!" Yeah...
It's a bad habit. It's one of those old "roads" I wrote about yesterday, that I learned about from Dr. Kessler. When you overeat or binge eat, you form pathways in your brain. And there are "cues" that trigger you to go down those old pathways over and over again. The cues could be opening the fridge and seeing chocolate pudding (which triggers you to WANT it, and then EAT it). It could be going to the grocery store and walking down the junk food aisle, triggering the memory of past binge runs (like I described yesterday; that was me being "cued.") Or it could be walking in the door to a buffet where you used to ALWAYS eat loads of fried foods and six desserts. THAT is a cue. I did that to myself yesterday. I took a step on the wrong pathway, with good intentions, and as soon as I got in there and saw all the other people loading their plates with fried potatoes, gravy, onion rings and macaroni salad, I was cued. Hard.
The cue led me to *consider* eating a piece of fried chicken, simply because I was on that neural pathway just by being at the buffet. But I did what I described yesterday: I made an EXECUTIVE DECISION to NOT eat fried chicken, but to choose baked chicken. I made an EXECUTIVE DECISION to override what my lower brain was telling me to eat, and I used my intelligence to choose something better. I did in fact have a nice large, on-plan salad, a serving of green beans, 2 BAKED chicken thighs with skin removed, and a small (like 2 ounce) piece of steak. I DECIDED to ignore the screaming inner brat, which in fact is my amygdala calling for stimulation, and I drank ice water with a slice of lemon instead of sodas or other sugary drinks. I used the frontal lobe of my cerebral cortex to DECIDE not to listen to the amygdala in the limbic system (learn about your brain here) and not be derailed onto an old pathway. I began a new pathway, one in which a buffet does not signal overindulgence.
When I took the kids to the dessert bar (where I allow them to choose ONE small dessert, unlike the crazy people who let their six-year-olds go crazy with cookies, ice cream, brownies and cake simply because it is there and it is free), I looked for sugar free Jello. There was none. There was sugar free PIE, but there is no way that is on plan for me. So I asked a staff member if there was sugar free Jello, she checked and said no, so I DECIDED to skip dessert and have another glass of ice water until everyone else at my table was ready to leave.
Now, I am in no way advocating going to your old binge haunts (like buffets) to see if you can win the war with your emotional brain. No way. In fact I am trying to back up and make a new pathway for myself that begins BEFORE I enter the buffet. Perhaps bringing along a little cooler with healthy foods in it when we are shopping, or scouting out a healthier, but still cheaper and faster, lunch option in the vicinity. Going to a buffet is STILL a dumb choice *for me.* I know I am not always strong enough to resist that pull. One of these days I'll be to tired or stressed to go down the new pathway and will revert to the old. So I need to not cue myself and be in that position (in the general area of fried chicken and other hyperpalatable foods in limitless amounts) in the first place. But, I AM saying, we... all of us... are capable of learning that those desires and wants and screams from within for FOOD can be overridden with an EXECUTIVE DECISION. That is my new mantra. "I am making an executive decision." That is my higher brain talking. It is taking charge. No more base, impulse "I can't control myself" behavior. I mean, like I said, I will screw up, I am sure. But this is my new perception. I... the higher thinking brain....am in control and will DECIDE my own behavior instead of giving in to base impulse and desire. And I believe all of us can, once aware of how our brains are functioning, make those decisions at least most of the time.
As a result of eating slightly higher fat than normal (thighs, not breast, and higher fat dressing than I have at home) and lots of sodium (which is ubiquitous in buffet foods... you shoulda tasted those green beans! Salllllllty!) I am up a pound today. I know what it is. It will come back off with less salt and more water.
Enjoy your day!