Saturday, March 10, 2018

How I Feel About Food

This week I went to a friend's house for lunch. There were several of us there to enjoy her delicious homemade chili and watch a movie, and since I am "lower carb" but not NO carb I knew I could fit a bowl of meaty chili (even with beans) into my day without a problem. What I wasn't expecting is that she also made a pan of her big, soft cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

In the past, I have had three different reactions to this type of situation:
1) I eat the chili, eat a cinnamon roll, feel physically triggered, go home and eat LOTS more carbs (because really, chili with beans AND a big frosted cinnamon roll is enough carbs to throw me into super-carbed insanity. It just does something awful to my blood sugar). Sometimes it would take days or weeks to get my eating back under control.
2) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll to be "good," feel emotionally triggered (the whole deprivation/obsessive food thoughts thing), and go to the store and buy cinnamon rolls, cookies, chips, frozen pizza, and soda because omg I must.
3) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll without any emotion about it, and go on with life, not thinking about the cinnamon roll anymore and feeling fine. (This is what usually happened if I was eating low carb already and feeling solid on my eating plan).

Now there is another option,
4) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll, and go home to look up keto cinnamon roll recipes, bake them, and have one a day for a few days before freezing the rest. Something they "bother" me from the freezer, and sometimes I just forget they are there.

What's the "right" way to handle this whole situation? Or rather, what is my goal and how can I achieve it? (By the way, I am figuring this out *as I write*. Writing this sort of blog post is like an exploratory self therapy for me and has helped me work through a lot of issues in the past).

So I have a goal of keeping my food sanity, having a calm peace about food, and not letting any food get "into my head" emotionally either by restriction or by becoming obsessed. That rules out options #2 and #4. Another goal is keeping my blood sugar stable so I have mental clarity about food and can continue to lose weight. That rules out option #1. So I guess the ideal response is #3... which happens to be what I did on this occasion.

But the way I feel about food... the emotional stuff that underlies all of the smart choices... still sometimes percolates up into my conscious. It's 90% gone (which is saying a lot since I used to LIVE those emotions and let them rule me in a most destructive way - see early blog posts for details!!) but every so often, I start to feel like I am restricting. I'm really not; I let myself eat the foods I want to eat, just in small portions and in the overall lifestyle of lower carb eating. So I *could* have part of a cinnamon roll... probably about 1/4 of one... if I really wanted it. But I knew that having it with bean laden chili would be physically too much. Having it with a steak and broccoli would work much better! This is part of my "no restriction" approach to keeping obsessive food thoughts away.

I am making a change, though. Lately I find myself wanting to whip up a quick keto dessert for myself in the evenings. I tell myself it's one of the keys to success for me, because restriction at the level of "never again" really does conjure up those obsessive food thoughts and feelings. But I have to admit that eating a bowl of heavy whipping cream beaten into "keto mousse" with fake sugars, cream cheese, and cocoa is really not a healthy behavior and is becoming a nightly habit. (And this is frankly one of the reasons why I am not doing the actual keto diet. I don't feel it is healthy for me to eat loads of fat and very little produce each day. So a moderate, lower carb way of eating works better for me). The change I am making is to stop with the nightly, single-serving desserts and making any dessert, keto or otherwise, a rare treat. I might have 1/4 of a cinnamon roll that someone else made once in awhile. Or I might make a keto cheesecake to share with the whole family or a group of friends on a special occasion. Baking a real keto cake or dessert takes a lot more effort and time that just whipping up a bowl of keto mousse or a keto mug cake (which takes 5 minutes and gives instant gratification, while actually baking a keto cake, letting it cool, frosting it etc takes some shopping and several hours of time). And the other essential part, for me, is that whatever I make is *for sharing.* Not "all for me" to be divvied up, saved, frozen, eaten for days. It must be shared, eaten, gone.

I feel like this is my next step towards a maintenance plan that will work. Not restricting, but making rules for myself that guide me into more rational food choices. Not letting myself *become* obsessed or triggered, but also treating myself with respect. I am starting counseling again soon and will run all of this past the counselor and see if they think I am on the right track, or just walking myself down a road to regain yet again.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like if one whiff of a cinnamon roll brings up all these questions, it's good timing to get in front of a counselor! Good job on following your questions / logic. The bigger conversation might be, why is there even a need for a reward? And a reward every day? What is being rewarded? And certainly, why food as a reward?

What about self-care? Identify activities that bring joy and find moments to enjoy them.

You're on the right track about sharing with people. Share your time. Spend time with your children, family, animals, church, community. That's reward. And one that benefits everyone.

If you're wrestling to this degree with one food decision, it's time to establish good boundaries for your plan.

You mention maintenance. Does this mean your weigh loss journey is over and you're looking to maintain? Check in with Karen P at or try Sean Anderson's support group (A Better Weight) at

Anonymous said...

Trying to understand, why do you have a produce guide if you don’t eat produce?

Lyn said...


Well, it's not really a "reward" in my mind. It's just food I like. It tastes good and is "keto" so I just tend to think it's okay. But in reality, over-indulgence in anything is just not a good habit to foster, right? I'm trying to be sure and notice any new habits or thought patterns and decide whether they are good for me in the long term or not. This one's not, for sure! I'm not buying heavy cream anymore unless it's for a specific recipe for an occasion where the food will be shared.

Self care, I think I do well at outside of not getting enough intentional exercise and sometimes eating food for comfort. I adore my church family and meet up with some of them at least 3-4 times a week. Church has been the biggest improvement in my happiness! Next best is the volunteer work with my dogs, rescue, and fostering (which I am getting back into slowly after a break to reduce stress). Dog people are amazing and we also meet a couple times a week to do "dog stuff." My kids, too, bring me lots of joy! I think a big part of the last decade has been taking the emphasis off of self (and food) and putting that energy and attention into relationships and service. (This is getting long and could be a blog post! Maybe I'll write one about this topic sometime.)

As for maintenance, no, I'm not at what I'd consider a maintenance weight (for me) yet, but it *could* be within 25 pounds or so. I'm working on adopting strategies that will work for me for the rest of my life and help me maintain when I do reach a weight where I feel healthy and happy.

Thanks for the thought provoking comment!

Lyn said...

last Anon~

I do! Hope that helps you understand :)

LHA said...

I could have written what you wrote about the decision making in your lunch situation. I'm still experimenting, and my goal is the same as yours in terms of being able to walk away from a very tempting sugary food and not obsess over it later. Sometimes I can do this, other times not so much. I had to laugh also because cinnamon rolls are a special weakness and great temptation when I am confronted with them. There is a place in Chicago I can hardly go near without succumbing to cinnamon roll madness! Anyway, good luck in figuring this out and I will look forward to reading about your insights. I always learn a lot from your blog so thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

The habits you are practising now will shape the next steps of your weight loss.

Josie said...

Next time you're in the situation remind yourself...I've had cinnamon rolls thousands of times before. I know what they taste like. Cinnamon rolls are not leaving the planet, I'll have them again sometime, just not right now when I'm trying to lose weight. Not right now while I'm trying to remove carby cravings, not right now while i'm on a weight loss drug.

Trust me, you'll have them again. Making them 'keto' is just gaming the system. You're a big girl. Put on your big girl pants and choose another option that tastes good and that doesn't sabotage what you're doing.