Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Was Just at Dairy Queen

WARNING: this blog will explicitly mention some serious binge foods, so beware!

So I went out to dinner with my husband and kids last night and had an abstinent dinner.  We decided to go to Dairy Queen for dessert for my son and me.  I got my usual fat-free fudge bar – 50 calories, hits the spot, works well with my calorie count for the day.  My 7-yr-old son told us while still at the restaurant, that he had his eye on the brownie fudge sundae in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.  Music to my chocolate-loving, compulsive overeating ears. Because he ate a really good dinner and it wasn’t that close to his bedtime (didn’t want to over sugar him up on a school night) we decided to let him get it for the first time.  Already, at that moment, I felt a physical yearning to have some of his sundae.  My compulsive brain was already fixated on my son’s dessert before we even stepped foot in the Dairy Queen.

We placed our order and the girl at the counter turned her back to us and put it together.  When she was done, she turned around and holy cow, there was this huge chocolate treat on the counter in front of us. Brownies, hot fudge and ice cream dripping over the sides of a chocolate dipped waffle bowl.  Heaven on earth!   I knew that after eating a whole dinner he would never be able to finish the sundae, no matter what size it was. I had to do everything within my power not to embarrass myself by drooling in public.  The physical urge I already had prior to even seeing it, grew stronger upon seeing this delight and I practically had heart palpitations knowing there was no way he was going to be able to eat all of it and therefore the leftovers would be mine. 

 It’s insane, I hadn’t even eaten any and already there was no turning back, my mind was made up. 

We took it home for him to eat.  I got him all set up at the kitchen table and then tried my best not to lurk over him watching him.  To my credit, I didn’t do my normal routine of asking every two minutes if he was done yet.  I tried so hard to occupy myself with other things waiting for my son to say the magical words that he couldn’t eat anymore so that I could swoop in and eat it because I was obsessed with having it.  How I wish I was normal and could have just been like – oh, you’re done, I’ll just toss it in the trash. 

I never ate a waffle dipped in chocolate, let alone had one of these sundaes in one.  Well, I dug in, and as is often the case, with this huge build-up I had in my head, of course the treat was not as good as I expected it to be (I don’t think the brownies nor the waffle bowl were fresh).  But did that stop me from spooning it into myself over and over again?  No, of course not!  I still inhaled it like it was the last meal I was ever going to eat because I was simply obsessed with having it.  Thank goodness, in total, I only ate about 1/3 of it, which equaled about 325 calories.  So I went over in my calorie count by about 300 calories, but my indulging didn’t progress any further.  So to me, I ate compulsively, a slip if you will, but to me i have kept my abstinence because it didn’t lead  to my eating everything in the house that wasn’t nailed down and I am right back on my normal track of eating today.

Just goes to show that even with just about 22 months of abstinence, I still fight this sickness every day.  The only good part about any of this is that I actually offered to share this dessert (a rarity on my part!) with my 9-yr old daughter and she agreed.  I’m always hyper concerned that all she sees is me eating small portions and in a bizarre twist, was happy that she saw me going to town on this dessert.


Before You Take that First Bite…

One of the things that really sucks about this addiction is that when trying to be abstinent, you know that you can’t even eat just one or two of something because you know that one or two is not enough.  I mean, who can really eat just two m&m’s or two potato chips and be satisfied?  A person who has a normal relationship with food can, but not us lucky folks who are compulsive overeaters.  One of the key sayings in OA – “before you take that first bite…” is not a key saying for nothing.   They are truly words to try to live by because that first bite always gets you into trouble.

It’s really, (no pun intended!), hard to digest that there are some foods that I will never be able to eat for the rest of my life if I am to live abstinently/binge-free.  Take for instance, one of those delicious gazillion-calorie blizzards at Dairy Queen.  If I were to indulge in one, two things would happen:  1) I would literally eat up 1/3 to 1/2 of my allotted calories for the day, which would leave me pretty darn hungry for a good part of the day (which would suck!), and 2) I fear that eating it would send me over the edge into bingeland .    Neither of these things would be a good situation.   I don’t want to lose almost two years of abstinence and start from scratch again.  No enjoyment of food, no matter how good it is, for a mere few minutes, is worth that.

This being abstinent thing is something that I want to do for the rest of my life, because I don’t want, for so many reasons, to go back to binging.  And to be abstinent, there are foods that I will probably never eat again for the rest of my life and that kinda sucks.  But being abstinent is a not just a temporary diet, it is a life change.  It is a life change that has many benefits.  So while it’s quite difficult, almost impossible sometimes, I believe it is worth it.

Be Kind to Myself

My therapist, who I’ve been seeing for a couple of months in order to try to deal better with my compulsive overeating, reminds me that I need to be kind to myself.  One aspect of my life that I can apply this to is deciding which eating habits are acceptable and once I figure those out, I need to let them slide and stop beating myself up about them. 

For instance, finishing off my son’s two spoonfuls of frosted flakes in the morning, is that really such a bad thing?  Is that really a terrible example of my compulsive overeating or is just a ‘normal’ , typical thing that a lot of moms often do?  I’ve spoken to some friends and found out that this behavior was normal.  Same as when I pack snacks for my kids to take to school. Is it really so awful to take a couple of goldfish or teddy grahams because it makes me happy at that moment and doesn’t lead to a an out of control binge? 

I’ve taken my therapist’s advice and decided that these are things that I can live with.  They are acceptable behaviors to me, they do not make me gain 20 lbs in one day and I don’t have to beat myself up them.  It feels good to have made that decision.  Progress.

So Hungry Lately

I don’t know whether it’s my hormones or from a new workout (that used some unused muscles) that I did on friday, but man, I have been ravenously hungry lately.  It’s tough to be a compulsive overeater in a normal situation, but when you are starving, it makes thing even more difficult than normal.  The little tricks I use like sucking a low-calorie hard candy or drinking no-cal fluids don’t work when my appetite is this strong.  I have somehow been managing to get through it without binging, and for that I am grateful.  Every day is a struggle when the “demons” come calling and tempting me.  Fortunately, I have been stronger than the demons and have not broken my abstinence.  One day at a time, one meal at a time, one hour at a time.  I have made it through so far and hope to continue.

Less Than Two Weeks Until Halloween…

What used to be one of my favorite times of the year is coming up – Halloween.  While it is really fun to take your kids trick or treating , to see and enjoy the holiday through their eyes, it is also fun to hold their candy bags for them (which of course always get too heavy for them to carry halfway through your trek around the neighborhood) and be able to take and munch on your favorite treats. 

It’s so easy to justify that you are doing so much walking, surely you must be burning off the calories from eating X amount of candy bars, right?  Then you have all that candy sitting at home – the stuff your kids collected, plus the stuff that you gave out to trick-or-treaters.  Talk about a nightmare for a compulsive overeater!

If that wasn’t bad enough, in an attempt to make things even more fun and memorable for the kids this year, last weekend I decided to bake a pumpkin pie with them and to roast the pumpkin seeds we scooped out of the pumpkins we carved.  While it is a good thing the pie came out tasty, now it is sitting on the counter beckoning to me, along with the different flavored seeds we roasted.  

If I could just grab a few seeds or cut myself a small sliver of pie and be happy, all would be well with the world.  But of course that is not the case with me.  The sickness in me rears it’s ugly head and has me going back for more.  Though I count the calories as best I can, work them into my day and at the end of the day it all works out fine, it’s this crazy compulsive, addictive behavior of mine that I wish I didn’t have to deal with.  It would be so easy to just devour all the baked goods and subsequent candy that will be all over our house soon, but I have to stay in control.  I need to reach another monthly milestone of remaining binge-free, abstinent.  It’s just not worth it, to break all my hard work and start over again.   The delicious taste of the food for the 30 seconds it takes to scarf it down, isn’t worth all the digust and fullness I feel afterwards.  I don’t ever want to go there again, but it’s hard.  Every day is a challenge, halloween season or not.

Eating Popcorn at a Comedy Club

Such as this sickness does to me, I’m already thinking about how I’m going to handle eating out at a comedy club a couple of weeks away. 

The last time we went there, they had baskets of  popcorn on each of the tables with endless refills from the waitress.  So for me, it was either have none or go to town.  There is no in between.  I went to town.  Was popcorn the worst thing to have a little too much of?  No.  It wasn’t like I was gorging on chocolate, put it was still eating food compulsively simply because it was there.  It’s the behavior, the principle of it.  When I got home, I had to do by best to guesstimate how many cups of it I scarfed down to get an idea of how many calories I consumed.  Lord forbid if I couldn’t count the calories so I knew what I consumed.

Ok, so now I know the popcorn will be there so I can plan accordingly.  I will skip dessert after dinner. I can research how many calories are in a cup of popcorn and then the question is, how do I measure it in front of our friends without looking like a complete kook.  After giving it way too much thought, I have decided to bring along a plastic solo cup, scoop the popcorn into the cup and keep track of how many cups I consume.  If they think I’m a kook, so be it.  I have to think of what is best for me first, right?  Maintaining my abstinence is paramount to my recovery.

I find it sadly ridiculous that I use even one brain cell to think about this.  I feel pathetic.  I feel like no-one else worries about this type of stuff, though I know through OA I’m not alone.  Still, I wish I just had a normal relationship with food and could just enjoy some popcorn (that didn’t come out of a microwave bag so I know exactly how many calories are in it) and be able to push it away after having a moderate amount just like most people do.  I am hopeful that maybe one day that will be the case.  Until then, I am just taking it day by day.

How I Told My Husband I was a Compulsive Overeater, Final

Here is the final part of the letter, part III, that I gave to my husband close to two years ago, when I realized I was a compulsive overeater and food addict.

I do not eat in order to live, I live to eat. I think about food all the time, what I’m going to eat and how long until I can eat it. What I’ve learned is that there has to be a reason why I compulsively overeat and I need to find out what the reason (or reasons) is. I am apparently eating to fill up a void or emptiness in myself, something I feel like I’m lacking in myself or in my life. It may be some kind of insecurity, I’m not sure. I do know that I have to figure out what it is so I can get a hold of it instead of letting it keep a hold of me.

I hope that admitting this to myself and to you will be a positive thing for me. I recently ordered a book by overeaters anonymous so I can maybe help myself that way and get myself started in the right direction. Maybe I will eventually need to go to speak with someone. So at this point, you probably have a couple of things going through your mind. The first is probably, geez, what kind of whacko am I married to? Hopefully the second thing that is going through your mind is – what can I do to help her? This one I can assist you with. Going forward, would you please stop bringing treats home for me? I totally recognize that you are being thoughtful bringing home something you know that I will enjoy and I appreciate that. However, I hope you now understand that treats are often a problem for me. I’m sure that with your love and support, I can conquer this.

Thanks for reading this. I love you.

How I Told My Husband I was a Compulsive Overeater, Part II

Here is a continuation, part 2, of the letter I gave to my husband upon discovering that I was a compulsive overeater close to two years ago.

I do eat because I’m hungry. In fact, as you may know, I don’t like feeling hungry. But there are many times that hunger has nothing to do with it. I eat because I love how the sweets, doughy, or sometimes salty, foods taste. I become out of control and have a single-minded purpose of eating more even though I’m not hungry and may already be full. I just can’t seem to stop myself.

I’ve tried to explain to you that once I start eating junk, something in my brain switches on and I go into an eating frenzy. When I overeat, I feel disgusted with myself afterwards and vow to stop, but each day, each hour, each minute is a challenge. Some days I am successful at eating sensibly and at the end of the night I feel like I’ve accomplished a little victory. Other days, the “switch” flicks on and I’m out of control. I try not to let you or the kids see me when I’m in the middle of a frenzy because it’s disgusting and embarrassing.

While during those few golden years I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I had great willpower, was really on-point with my eating and I was comfortable with my body. That willpower has since left me for the most part. I overeat when I’m stressed; I overeat when I’m restless and don’t know what to do with myself. I overeat when there is a lot of deserts available to me, such as at a function or party. I’d rather eat sweets than talk to people sometimes. Ok, it’s more than sometimes. In cases like those, my main focus, even while I’m speaking with someone, is – when can I go back to the desert table?

In any situation where I am compulsively overeating, in my head I keep saying to myself – stop, you’ve had enough! I eat another one. And then it goes to – ok, this is the last one, and I eat another one. Then it’s – ok, THIS is the last one, and I eat another one. Then it’s – ok, this is REALLY the last one, and I eat another one. This usually goes on until I feel physically ill and/or physically uncomfortable, and sometimes I still don’t stop even though my body is clearing telling me I’ve had enough.

I will post the final part of the letter within the next few days.

How I Told My Husband I Was a Compulsive Overeater, Part I

I’m not quite sure where to begin.  I didn’t know I was a compulsive overeater until close to two years ago.  I thought all the sweets (among other things) that I filled my face with were merely due to a sweet tooth and a love of doughy, sugary food items.  I didn’t realize that I was in fact binging or had a food addiction.   When this realization hit me at the end of 2007, I poured out my heart to my husband in a letter.   It was a huge catharsis for me.  I cried off and on for days.   Here is the beginning of the letter.  I thought it would be a good way to start this blog.  As I don’t want to bore everyone with a manifesto, I will publish the rest of the letter over the next few days.  Here goes:

Hi Honey, I need to share something with you, about me, which I have recently admitted to myself.  This is not easy for me, to admit that I have a problem, a weakness, which I can’t seem to get control of. 

 You and I have casually mentioned in the past that I have food issues.  If I had to guess, I would say that you think my food issue is about my counting calories and weighing food.  (I have come to learn that in actuality, my counting calories is a good tool that successful dieters use, but that is not the point here.) When I went to see the chiropractor about my lower back/knee a few months ago, I gave him the readers digest version of my weight issues, how I have gained 10-12 pounds over the past couple of years, etc.  You’d think someone who worked out four days a week like me would not be gaining weight but I told him briefly that I have eating issues.  The doctor said to me – you do know that you need to get some help for those issues, don’t you?  I of course yes-yes’d him but knew I wouldn’t follow through because well, I didn’t really have a problem, I could handle it.

 Well, apparently I can’t.  I’m not sure what sparked my realization, but after doing some research I have come to grips with a sad fact about myself.   I am a compulsive overeater. It’s something that I’ve done for most of my life except for the few years between having our daughter and when our son was a toddler, when I was losing weight and eating sensibly.  I have a problem and I need help.  I can’t seem to help myself anymore, both literally and figuratively.   I know when you think of someone who compulsively overeats you picture someone who spends their day in the drive-thru line at fast food restaurants and weighs over 300 pounds.  As my on-line research has indicated, that is not always the case.