Saturday, September 24, 2011

Salad-Driven Cravings

Today was a pleasant day out with my little girl. She has been asking me to take her out to lunch, as we have not done that in awhile, so I decided to take her to this new place that opened recently near my home. It's a home cooking kind of place, and I did my homework by looking up the menu online ahead of time and making my choice for lunch. I have always been a fan of Cobb Salad; at home, I make it with lots of greens, tomatoes, black olives, a hard boiled egg, grilled chicken, cukes, mushrooms, and light cheese. If I have room in my plan for some fat, I go ahead and have a bit of avocado and crumbled bacon, too... just a touch, for the flavor. I saw that the Cobb at this place had "salad with tomatoes, avocado, chicken, egg, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, and blue cheese dressing." I figured I could alter it to lower the fat and up the veggies by saying "GRILLED chicken, no avocado, no cheddar, and please add spinach and mushrooms, with light Ranch dressing on the side." I usually pick off most of the bacon and leave a few pieces for flavor.

However, I got distracted while trying to help my daughter decide which kind of juice she wanted (which can be complicated for a 6-year-old), and while I got in most of my accommodations, I forgot to ask for the spinach and mushrooms and also forgot to say "leave off the avocado." So my salad was not quite as I wanted it, but I didn't figure that out until I was delving in and the waitress had disappeared. Oh well. I moved some bacon aside, decided a few bites of the avocado would be okay, and enjoyed my salad.

Apparently this (or something else? Watching other people eat plates of mac n cheese, burgers, fried sandwiches, biscuits and gravy?) set off the craving bells in my head, because later in the afternoon I was suddenly not only hungry but famished, and wanting to eat eat eat. It was not pleasant. I was doing the pace the kitchen thing. I was messing around in the fridge. I ended up doing a modified (4 & 2) Medifast day where you get to eat 4 Medifast meals and 2 regular meals (instead of 5 & 1). My second meal was also a bit too high in fat: scrambled Egg Beaters, tomatoes, broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and lean turkey sausage... smothered in melted cheese. Yep, the only thing off plan was the cheese, but boy what a caloric punch that packs. Anyway, I did fine the rest of the day, eating wise, stayed on plan, drank some diet sodas, hung in there. Visions of chips and cakes were totally dancing in my head though. I had to really fight not to give in, but I made it through.

I think the whole setup... reading a menu full of descriptions of tasty off plan foods, seeing other people eat it, smelling it, thinking about it... just doesn't work well for me. I am not sure how to handle it long term, except to be more careful about what types of places I will or will not eat. I already swore off fast food. I recently decided to avoid buffets. Maybe homestyle diners will have to be off the table, too. It kind of makes me sad that I am so weak that I cannot handle being around certain foods without flipping out about it later, but it is what it is. Pretending it is not an issue helps nothing. Thankfully I seem to have no issues at some other restaurants, where I can get perfectly on plan dinners like fresh fish, cleaner salads, and steamed vegetables, so I do still have options to go out with friends or family once in awhile. It just sucks that I have to cut out things I have always enjoyed in order to get something I have always wanted. I do believe it is worth it though.


Kelly said...

I wonder if I'll always have terrible food cravings or the desire to binge on carby things, kind of like an ex alcoholic still has a craving for alcohol but just doesn't give in. Ever wonder about this? Guess it's a daily choice, sometimes a moment-by-moment choice for the rest of our lives, isn't it? That's scary to me!

Karen said...

I find myself longing for high carb food like pizza or bread if I'm in the 30 minutes before I'm due to have a MF meal or my lean and green.

Looks like you are navigating the triggers well.

You go girl!!! :)

Patricia said...

You said "light Ranch dressing". Did you mean light as in not a lot (on the side) or low fat? Low fat dressings pump up the flavor with sugar a lot of the time and can have other hidden carbs as well.

I'll always go for the full fat version of anything to avoid hidden sugar/carbs. I know you know this. I'm only mentioning it because I know how sensitive you are to sugar and it kinda jumped out at me because of the sudden escalation in cravings.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you're weak, I think you're normal plus you have certain food pathways. I do find, as you have, that eventually old food pathways don't have the same pull. And yes that ultimately means eating at nicer establishments than fast food and diners.

Lyn said...


you are probably right. There may have been sugar in that dressing and that may be what has set me off. I used about 1.5 tablespoons on my salad.

Diandra said...

Do your cravings get better or worse if you restrict yourself more?

Lyn said...


it depends on what I am restricting. I had about 3 good weeks without much in the way of cravings and was quite restricted (Medifast, low sugar, low carb etc). Seems if I am exposed to foods that are not on my plan, it makes me want them. If I don't eat them, I still want them but it is easier to stay in control. If I have "a small serving" of something like, say, a brownie, it becomes nearly impossible to control the cravings, as it turns into obsession and a drive for more.