Archive for the ‘Day to Day Stuff’ Category

23 Months of Binge-Free Abstinence!

I can’t believe it, two days ago I hit the 23-month abstinence mark.  For almost two years I have been binge-free.  I have kept off my weight loss for 14 months.  I am SO happy to be able to make both of those statements.  It has certainly been quite challenging, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, but  if I can do it, anybody can.

Looking back on these past 23 months… In the beginning, I enjoyed going to one certain OA meeting once a week for about a year or so, but then I found out that a friend was also a compulsive eater and my daily email shares with her took the place of the weekly meeting so I stopped going to the meeting.  While it would certainly not hurt to go to the meeting, my work load has picked up, I feel like between this wonderful friend, my husband (and now this blog!), that I am able to talk about whatever is on my mind and put it out there in the universe. As my blog tag-line says, “you are only as sick as your secrets” and I find that really holds true for me.  When I come clean about my thoughts and any little slips I’ve had, it makes it much easier to move on as oppposed to keeping them bottled up inside of me.  My honesty sets me free.

I did not work all the steps of OA.  For me, the first two were enough (for now anyway) to put me on the right course.  The first two steps gave me the ability to take ownership of this eating disorder, which for the past 30+ years I didn’t even know I had. 

I know that I will have food issues for life.  I am a work-in-progress.  I know that once you are a compulsive (over)eater, you can never totally leave the “title” behind no matter how many years you are in recovery or abstinent.  I think that totally sucks, but I have taken ownership of it.  I do hope that with therapy and whatever else I can pick up along the way, that in the future, easier days will become the majority, and the hard days, the minority.  That is what I’m striving for.   I want to turn 23 months into 23 years. 

I know that I may never have a normal relationship with food, but I want to get as close as possible, so that food, and thoughts of food, will not rule my world anymore.

Holiday Cookies

Warning: there are some graphic food descriptions here, so beware!

There is a man at my husband’s office whose wife every year bakes these huge, decadent, multiple- types-of-chocolate-chunk cookies and gives them out to everyone in the office.  The couple also happens to throw a holiday party every year.  When we went to the party a few years ago, I totally gorged myself on these cookies that she had stationed, along with other goodies, in just about every room of their huge, beautiful home.  I hardly knew anyone at the party, so after eating one of these delicious cookies, the whole rest of my evening there was devoted to eating as many cookies that I could find, they were that good.  Never mind that I was completely stuffed to the eyeballs with them and feeling sick, those little details were completely irrelevant, I just had to have more.  I really had no one to talk to, as I’m not comfortable going up and introducing myself to people, but alas, the cookies required no small talk.

Last year, as a work-in-progress trying to stay binge-free, we got invited to the party and I told my husband to go himself, that the pull of those cookies was just too strong for me and that I didn’t want to put myself in that position.  While it was a hard decision, I made it and was proud of myself for doing something that was in the best interest of myself for a change.

Yesterday though, my husband brought home some of the cookies, that the baker’s husband brought to the office, for our two kids to enjoy.  Just seeing them made my heart palpitate.  I broke off some chocolate chunks that were hanging off the edges of the cookies (they were just asking to be pulled off!) for really, while the dough is good, the chocolate chunks are better, and I was content to just eat that part.   So the cookies are a bit misshapen now, but hey, my kids won’t care.  One was eaten by my son last night, so there are three on the counter.  They are not calling me right now, but you can bet that I will try to get my kids to eat the rest of them today just so they will be away.

And yes, I may steal some more of the chocolate chunks off, but I will account for them with my calorie intake and I consider (after much therapy) that to be a normal behavior. : )

Brownies Follow-Up

So after the whole birthday party episode on Sunday night, last night, after giving it entirely way too much thought, I opted to eat an m&m brownie for dessert.  This time, I put it on a plate, and sat down.  I was very conscious about my eating and focused only on enjoying brownie.  I took little bites, actually chewed and swallowed the bites, then took another bite.  In other words, I actually savored it.  I don’t do that enough and I know that. 

It was very good and I enjoyed the brownie very much.  In the end though, it was short-lived enjoyment.  It was just a piece of food.  Gasp!  Did I really just say that!?!??!?

I Got into the Brownies

So last night we hosted a handful of my daughter’s girlfriends and our immediate family to celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday.  Double digits!  My daughter opted not to have cake, instead she wanted brownies and ice cream.  If this were a few months ago, I would have said that brownies are my kryptonite.  If I have learned anything from my therapist, it is that how I frame things, like using the word kryptonite, has a huge impact on how I look at certain foods.  So I will correctly then say that brownies (especially homemade ones) are one of my favorite things on the planet.  My daughter and I made two batches – one plain, and one using m&m’s to spell out “happy birthday” on the top.

Well, I was doing great serving it to the kids, barely had a taste of the moist, chewy good stuff.  My husband ate a m&m brownie and told me it was really great.  Thanks, honey!  Ten minutes later he tells me the same thing.  All good intentions of course, he was just praising the chef, I get that and appreciate it.  (Although at the end of the night, after mentioning a third time how good the brownies were, he realized, being aware of my sickness, he should not have kept mentioning to me how good they were.  Isn’t hindsight great?!?!?) 

So where was I…. oh, so I was serving kids brownies and ice cream and I’m thinking – deep breath, you can do this, girl, but the need to eat some was starting to really grow.  It soon got to the point where it was practical to combine the plain brownies with the m&m-covered brownies to make more room on the table, so I consolidated and took one pan (the ones that had the plain brownies in it) into the kitchen, to, well, quite frankly, eat the stuff left behind and then wash the pan. 

Though there wasn’t a lot to eat, maybe a brownie’s worth of scrapings, I ate them down so fast.  Instead of slowly enjoying every bite and savoring, I ate them quickly because I did not want someone to walk in and catch me scraping every last crumb of the left behinds from the baking pan *sigh*. 

So when the party was wrapping up and I was bringing everything into the kitchen to clean up, etc, there sat front of me the 1/2 full pan of brownies that had both the plain and m&m’s.  The m&m ones, which my husband raved about, were calling to me.  Unfortunately, my sickness clouded my rational thinking and I answered the call.  My husband was right, they were really good. 

I ended up eating two of them and all told went over in a calories by a little bit, but not too terrible (thank goodness I ate a small dinner knowing that I could get in to trouble with the treats we baked).  Once again though, dammit it, I inhaled them, instead of savoring them.  On a good note, I am pleased to say that after eating the two I was able to put on the brakes and the brownie eating did not go any further.  

There are still about a dozen or so sitting on my counter right now.  They are not calling to me, but that can change at a moments notice.  I will do my best to be strong.

Dealing with Being Hungry

I am less frenzied and hungry today than I have been lately.  I wonder if the extra craziness has been my hormones.  Anyway, today I am making a concentrated effort to slow down when I’m eating.  I’m trying to be more conscious of not inhaling my food and trying to swallow it first, before putting more food into my mouth.  This is easier said than done.  I always have a million things going on in my head so it’s hard to just stay focused on eating slowly.

I dislike being hungry.  I think my therapist would tell me that I need to frame that in a different way.  I need to stop looking at it as a negative, as something to be addressed at that moment.  Being hungry won’t kill me.  Logically, after eating throughout the day, I know that some hunger later in the day is not harmful to me.  But for some reason, the second I feel hungry I feel obligated to put something in my mouth.  I know that if I just wait 10 minutes or so, that the feeling will go away.  I know this, but I still have trouble dealing with it.

Whereas someone may just say in response to my feeling hungry – just eat something.  I don’t want to eat more and go over my calorie count.   I have maintained my weight for a little over a year now and know exactly how many calories my body needs to stay at this weight.  So eating more food is not an option.

Does anyone have any suggestions or tricks on how they get past that pseudo-hungry feeling without eating? 

The Witching Hour

I remember when my kids were young and there was a time in the late afternoon – early evening that the pediatrician used to call the “witching hour” where babies often cry for no particular reason and parents want to pull their own hair out because they can’t get their baby to stop crying.

Well, my kids are a bit older now and while they no longer have a witching hour, I sure do.  The hours from about 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm are the worst part of my day.  I’ve eaten all of my abstinent snacks by then and have to wait until close to 6:30 to eat our family dinner.  This is the time of day when I’m always put to the test.  Of course, certain situations like out-of-the-house parties, events, etc., no matter what time of day they are, are always a challenge, but on a “normal” day when I work out of my home, that 4-6 time is the roughest part of the day for me.

I inevitably get hungry (or at least think I am) and I really don’t have any calories allotted to eat at that point.  Lord forbid I should be hungry and not do anything about it!!!  I will drink water, hot tea or have a diet soda, but that doesn’t seem to do it.  My next move is to suck on a 8-calorie hard candy.  Sometimes that does the trick, sometimes it doesn’t.  I recently just started to drink a cup of decaf coffee with artificial sweeteners and a touch of fat-free cream.  Somehow that has more “umph” to it than the tea, like it is one step closer to food.  Once I start to cook dinner at around 5:45 – 6:00, I’m usually fine.  So getting over that hurdle without getting into food that is not in my plan, is a small victory for me.  I am grateful each day to make it to that point. 

I guess it doesn’t help that my kids are both home by 4:00 and they both like to do their homework in the kitchen and that my laptop/desk, where I work,  is in the kitchen.  The kitchen is the mission control for me, which now that I think about it, could be part of my problem.

Why Can’t I Just Slow Down?

As a compulsive overeater, even while abstinent, I have a terrible habit of always eating like it’s the last food I’m ever going to be able to eat, and if I can eat it fastest I will win some spectacular prize. 

I know I’m supposed to slow down and savor whatever it is I’m eating, (and I do enjoy all the abstinent foods I eat all day) but I find it very difficult to slow down and enjoy it.  I mean, my geez, sometimes I don’t even swallow my food  before putting the next bite into my mouth.  It’s like I can’t shovel it in there fast enough. 

I know the tricks like taking a drink, putting my eating utensil down or wiping my mouth with a napkin between bites, but these things do not come to me naturally.  I have to consciously think of doing it and while I may be able to be conscious of it for a bite or two, it quickly flies out of my consciousness and I’m back to scarfing mode.   Why is that what comes naturally to most people, is so difficult for me?   

Most everything in my world is rush-rush-rush, go-go-go, so it makes sense, I guess, that I subconsciously apply that mentality to my eating as well.  I’m always in a rush to finish up so I can move on to the next thing.  I gotta slow down, but how?

Why Can't I Just Slow Down?

As a compulsive overeater, even while abstinent, I have a terrible habit of always eating like it’s the last food I’m ever going to be able to eat, and if I can eat it fastest I will win some spectacular prize. 

I know I’m supposed to slow down and savor whatever it is I’m eating, (and I do enjoy all the abstinent foods I eat all day) but I find it very difficult to slow down and enjoy it.  I mean, my geez, sometimes I don’t even swallow my food  before putting the next bite into my mouth.  It’s like I can’t shovel it in there fast enough. 

I know the tricks like taking a drink, putting my eating utensil down or wiping my mouth with a napkin between bites, but these things do not come to me naturally.  I have to consciously think of doing it and while I may be able to be conscious of it for a bite or two, it quickly flies out of my consciousness and I’m back to scarfing mode.   Why is that what comes naturally to most people, is so difficult for me?   

Most everything in my world is rush-rush-rush, go-go-go, so it makes sense, I guess, that I subconsciously apply that mentality to my eating as well.  I’m always in a rush to finish up so I can move on to the next thing.  I gotta slow down, but how?

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.