Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deconstructing

I have a little bookmark made of paper. It is yellow with brightly colored, markered words on it and a piece of yarn laced through the hole punched in the top. My son made it for me when he was six. It says, "I love you Mom" on it, and has little red hearts and a rainbow drawn on it.

It means a lot to me, that little yellow bookmark. It takes me back to the treasured days when my grown sons were little, still wanted to hold my hand and sit on my lap and have stories with me every night. That son is grown now, 21 in fact, and is away at college. I miss him.

The little yellow bookmark has a lot of emotions attached to it, because of who made it and what it stands for. But deconstruct the bookmark, and it is just paper and yarn. A practically worthless, old, faded piece of construction paper that no one would bother to save. It has no *real* value. I couldn't sell it in a yard sale or on eBay or to a paper collector. But to me, it has a lot of meaning and emotion.

Think about it. In reality, things are THINGS. Just objects, standing alone. They only have value and meaning if we *give* it to them. I have created in my own mind the emotion and reaction I have to that paper.

It's the same with food. Take cupcakes, for example. Cupcakes are crazily popular right now. there are cupcake boutiques and cupcake specialists at every turn. Why? Because they're cute. They seem fancy and indulgent and happy. We, people, have given cupcakes an emotional attachment. That's why when I walk past a bakery case and I see a variety of cupcakes, I want them. They are little and compact and have beautiful swirls of colorful frosting on them. Sometimes they have sprinkles or candies or sauce on top. They cost way more than a cake would, per serving, if you go to a cupcake shop. There's a place nearby that charges $3.50 per cupcake, and people flock to pay it. There's just something about a cupcake.

Sometimes it is a special food from our childhood that has an emotional attachment. For me, Reuben sandwiches make me feel close to my father. He is dead, and I never ate a Reuben sandwich when he was alive. But suddenly when he was gone they had an intense appeal. I still crave them sometimes, when really I am craving my father.

Take a second look at that food you are having an emotional reaction to. A cupcake is just flour, sugar, fat. A bunch of colors and flavors. It's nothing magical. It's just packaged to make you think it is. And a Reuben is just fatty meat and cheese and stuff on bread. Not anything emotional there. Just a dead cow and a bunch of stuff to clog your arteries. Really. If you take the time to deconstruct what you're craving, it sort of loses its magic, sometimes. The trick is remembering to turn your brain on and deconstruct before putting it in your body on an emotional whim.

I try very hard to think about what I am putting in my mouth. I want to see my food for what it is. It is fuel, first and foremost. Now, I have never been a "food is just fuel" person. Food is *way* more than fuel to me. And there is nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. We are meant to enjoy what we eat. And it is even okay to have the memories of grandma when you eat a slice of peach pie, or have a flashback to childhood when you eat macaroni and cheese. Just like there's nothing wrong with my emotional attachment to that little scrap of yellow paper. But THINK. Would I run into a burning building to save that bookmark? No! It is just paper! Same with food. Make an informed choice. Deconstruct it, and *decide* whether you actually want the food in front of you... the cupcake or the Reuben or the pie... or is the emotional attachment clouding your judgement? Just think first.

There is a book I read some time ago that got me started on deconstructing my food. I forgot about it for awhile, and just recently started paying more attention again. The book is called Twinkie, Deconstructed and it is just what it sounds like: a look at each ingredient that goes into making a Twinkie. Fascinating. (By the way, if you have a Kindle, you can download the first chapter of this book for free on Amazon.) It really makes a difference when you start to think logically about what is in front of you, rather than going on emotion.

Today I did my physical therapy and it was *less* painful than it was on Monday. It still hurts but wasn't excruciating. The best thing about PT is how quickly you see results if you stick with it. I am also biking 10 minutes every day, which I did yesterday and today already. I go 2.25 miles in that 10 minutes.

That's all for today. I'm going to eat my steak salad now!

10 comments:

Princess Dieter said...

For me, making a particular items(s) verboten means that a whole host of temptations are veboten. When I went gluten free...cake and cupcakes and pizza went off the table. (Normal versions, anyway). the temptation was then not to eat the rejiggered versions, which are harder to find, anyway.

I had gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, soy-free cupcakes and pound cakes at my birthday party last month. They are nowhere near as tasty as regular ones, so temptation is eased. :D

I do deconstruct. I hate that sometimes, I have to compromise. I don't like having seed oils. But eating out means seed oils. Any restaurant will use those (cheaper, more functional for their purposes), rather than olive oil or butter or coconut oil. And it always bothers me, but it's the compromise. I like eating out...:D

Cupcakes are tempting, but easy to avoid cause I think, "um, gluten, um sugar, um...trigger." And that scares me. Flour and sugar...processed oils...that makes it easier to say no. That mental deconstruction. Yep.

Anonymous said...

Weight regain is so easy, but so hard emotionally.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm hungry girl again...the one teaching myself that hunger is a good thing.

I can see how anorexia can become a thing, because it's the control that hunger gives me right now that makes me feel really really great. In control and I know that I will not let it go to become anorexia or another food issue, just the intermittent fasting plan thing. I have spent years at a time so tired and achy that I could barely get through my days. Thank heavens I have a desk job, so it never kept me from working in a career that I love. The control I feel from not eating more than a few times a day comes not only from how much better I feel and how much smaller I am, but from a few other things, as well. I am a food addict, and only eating one big meal a day keeps me from obsessing and I am at a point where I don't think about food throughout the day, unless I truly feel big hunger. Then a glass of V8 veggie juice solves that until meal time. And I enjoy my meal time very much. I never ever thought I could have a life like this several years ago, as my day was filled with obsessing about food All Day Long. I was sick, I was weak, I was in pain, I found it hard to find joy in anything. Some of us with the painful muscles and joints, headaches and obsessive cravings I believe have livers that are just so taxed by our eating all day long lifestyles, our metabolic syndrome lifestyles, that our bodies never get a break and our livers can't do their job, leaving toxins in our systems that cause inflammation and the insulin surges we cause all day long cause so much inflammation that whatever we eat can become a bad thing. Rest your body, within a few days I bet your pain will subside, your outlook will improve with worry and depression becoming less and you will feel stronger and more in control and ready to live the way you want to live. I'm not craving a thing right now, had a V8 and will have a very nice dinner with my family. No knee pain, no shoulder pain, no muscle aches, no headache, no bloating, no acne, no bad feelings. I know this is not for everyone, certainly I don't want my children to have to live this way and thankfully they have their dad's genetics in these areas and not mine and as young adults eat what they want and are slim and strong. My grandma, mom and aunt are like me and for some of us with taxed systems suffering from my sorts of fibromyalgia/arthritis/acne/depression and just plain horrible life problems, we may need to really examine why we are in pain, why we feel so badly at times. I know with Medifast you had times with no pain. I don't like Medifast because of the difficulty people have getting off of it, no matter how hard they try. I know one can lose weight with it, but I think a body gets so messed up during that process that something really bad happens with the transition. Maybe liver function changes while on the Medifast food, and becomes difficult to get back up to speed in transition? I don't know, kind of like the "garbage in, garbage out" phrase...something bad happens.

I am so relieved to have my issues under control, I can have bad food in the house, I can live with other adults and not worry about what they have here at home to eat, I can eat a fully balanced meal for dinner even with dessert and have great results. And by the way, we are really very healthy food "foodies" here, not really wanting a lot of junk. But it happens. I hope you can find something similar, I know your pain.

Lori said...

That is an interesting perspective. I'm going to try and use that next time I get a major craving.
Lori

beerab said...

*hugs* to you Lyn.

Chocolate in general calls out to me, I've spent the last few days at work avoiding a HUGE chocolate cake someone brought in. It was HARD, it looked great, it called out to me, etc. But I told myself I wasn't going to eat it and I didn't :)

Lindsey said...

Nice post! I totally agree. Food carries so much emotions with it. The things we crave are often about the feeling we think we will have then the feelings we have. We feel tired, bloated, stuffed after we eat junk food. But before we are upset or stressed and think that food item will bring us peace. I like this thought. It is a good one.

Holly from 300 Pounds Down said...

Never heard of this book and I love my kindle so I'm definitely going to check it out. I think this is the way to look at food b/c it's important to see it for what it is.

InWeighOverMyHead said...

I will ahve to check that out. thanks! I too have a SERIOUS emotional attachment to some foods.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:30 PM. You are right, this is not for everyone but it was for me and it literally felt like my life of suffering and insanity came to an end.
Somebody suggested Fast-5 at a time when I was completely out of control and desperate. I felt like I was given the key to regaining control. My experience was exactly like yours and one of the greatest gifts for a compulsive overeater whose every moment seemed to be focused on food: when, what, how much, where, with whom, how often, etc. Once I started eating once a day, in the evening, all that came to an end.

Anonymous said...

Hi, hungry girl here--to anon "fast 5", it is good to hear that it's just not me that this works for. I swear, this country went down the tubes with health and weight issues when we were told back in the late 70s that we should eat low fat, and the food industry went with that taking advantage of what low fat meant and created grocery stores full of processed, high carb faux-food items labeled as "low fat and healthy". Then the "grazing" 5-6 meal a day plans were pushed and where is this country now with health and obesity issues? I tried so hard for years and years to do right by what our society said was right. I finally sat down, while in the lowest pit of despair and illness, and remembered how things used to be. That's all I want to try to communicate with my long diatribes. Some of you may be too young to remember how we ate before the 80s, I was in High School in the late 70s, had my first child in 1981 and that's when things went bad for me, as I tried to lose baby fat with a "low fat" regime. I'm sure this is what made me a simple carb and wheat food addict. Now I live with the consequences, but it's ok. Unlike a different addiction, I must eat everyday to live, I can't go cold turkey. So I go cold turkey for most of my day, and the monster sleeps, and I am well.