Thanksgiving Dinner on My Mind

Thanksgiving is approaching and I’m already trying to wrap my brain around how I’m going to try to deal with the dinner.  Typically, we host so it’s easy for me to sort of control the menu and I can easily sneak into the kitchen and weigh/measure my food so I know exactly how much I’m having.   As you probably know by now, I’m a calorie counter and there is a certain amount of calories that I shoot for each day.  I count my calories not only so that I don’t go over my calorie count, but also so I don’t go too far under.  If I end up to be under, I am thrilled to be able to eat some more to get up to my allotted amount.

So eating at someone’s home is stressful for me on a couple of levels.  First is because I cannot use my scale and I have to eyeball the quantities of most things that I eat.  After all these years of measuring and weighing, I’d like to think I have a pretty good grip on roughly what things weigh by eyeballing them, but it still bothers me not knowing exactly how much things weigh and subsequently how many calories I’m having.  I’m well aware that this control thing is part of my compulsive eating sickness. 

Why don’t  I just bring my scale, you ask?  Because I do not feel comfortable weighing my portions in front of everyone, especially my children.  And I don’t want to draw attention to myself by getting up from the table with my plate, pulling out my scale, weighing everything and writing it down.  Also, as I’m still a closeted compulsive eater, I do not want people watching me or whispering about me.  Perhaps at some point I will come out and I will bring my scale, but until that day…

The second level of eating at someone’s home that stresses me is that it is really difficult for me to be done eating my dinner (because I (stupidly) eat too fast and I don’t eat a lot), is that I end up sitting there with all these serving dishes of foods in front of me.  And while the food itself may not be calling to me, I find it very difficult to just there and do nothing.  I feel compelled to eat.  If there was a bottomless bowl of salad with light dressing for dipping that I could keep shoveling in, I’d be happy as a clam.  However, that is rarely the case. 

If I were in my own house entertaining, I could easily get up and start cleaning up, doing dishes, etc.  I can certainly help out in someone else’s home, but it’s just not the same as being in your own home.

I need to frame this properly and not make it into a big deal.  I need to come up with a game plan of what I’m going to eat.  Those are things I can try to do.  But I’m not sure how to deal with what to do when I get done eating and everyone is still enjoying their dinner.  This happens to me all the time in the almost two years I have remained abstinent.  I have confidence in myself that I will get by again with this meal as well, but boy I wish I could figure out a way to make it easier.  It’s not a pleasant feeling to have some level of dread when going to someone’s house to have a family/holiday dinner.

Suggestions, anyone, on how I can deal with this in a socially acceptable way?

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.

Why I Eat Salad When we go out for Dinner

My husband asked me the other day why I always eat salad as my entrée whenever we go out to dinner.  The answer was a no-brainer for me – I get to stuff my mouth repeatedly with food, which fulfills my desire to feed my face, yet I get the most bang for the buck – I eat tons of food which doesn’t equate to a lot of calories.   Volumetrics I think it’s called.  Seriously!

I usually just get a whole plate of lettuce with either grilled chicken or shrimp on top, with a light dressing on the side for dipping.  I get to eat what appears to be an awful lot of food, I can totally eat every morsel of the food, I will feel full and wallah, I have calories to spare for some dessert!  What could be better than that?!!?!?

On top  of all that, I have been, and still am, a very picky eater (something sadly that my 10-yr old daughter has gotten through the gene pool from me).  Anyway, I really only like a handful of vegetables (and that is pushing it) and a handful of fruit.  So to me, eating a dark leaf /spinach salad is filling the void of the lack of other vegetables which I tend to skip otherwise.  Once again, in my mind, a win-win situation.

So that is the reason, honey, why I always order salad as my entrée when we go out to dinner.  It’s working for me, so why fix it if it ain’t broken?

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.

Getting Honest about my Food Addiction

Here is a letter that I submitted, and was subsequently printed, in OA’s “Lifeline Magazine” in April of 2008.:

One principle that has made a difference in my life is honesty. Ever since I can remember, I have always loved sweets and sugars. I could never get enough of them. My mom used to hide them from me because she knew I couldn’t control myself to eat a “normal” portion. It never occurred to me that there was something wrong with my mom hiding food from me. It never occurred to me that the quantities I ate were a problem. I never thought that, when I was teen, buying sweets, eating them and burying the empty packaging in the trash so no-one would see them was a problem. I simply had a sweet tooth, right?

Throughout my entire adult life, when I went to any kind of social event, my goal for the evening was not to enjoy the event or my friends, but to enjoy the deserts over and over again. Each time, I would feel awful and disgusted with myself and told myself I had to stop doing it. I just had a sweet tooth, right?

It wasn’t until I was close to my 40th birthday that a thought occurred to me one night. I’d like to think it was my Higher Power who thought I was ready to face the truth about my sweet tooth and popped the concept of compulsive overeating into my head. I immediately got on my laptop and started doing some research. I quickly found myself at the OA website and the list of questions that ask “are you a compulsive overeater?” Wow. I answered most of the questions with a “yes.” The honesty was finally beginning.

I devoured the website and then began to compose a letter to my dear husband to tell him what I have discovered about myself. I was a woman possessed writing down all my food-related secrets. The truth came pouring out of me. Finally. I was completely honest with myself. It was such a catharsis. The reality of what had been going on in my life for over 30 years was now set in front of me. A few days later, after I digested this information within myself, I read the letter to my husband. I cried while I read it, I cried while he held me for a long time afterwards. I continued to cry as I revealed to him even more of my eating habits and secrets that I have never told to anyone.

Now that I had this knowledge, I had to do something about it. I found the OA meetings closest to my home and I started to look for a therapist. Within days, I went to my first OA meeting and had an appointment set up with a psychologist. I clearly remember sitting at my first OA meeting with my eyes filled with tears throughout the whole meeting. These people all had the same problem that I did. Amazing. One woman, J, who I never met before in my life, hugged me at the end of the meeting. Little did she know how much that meant to me. I went out to my car and cried some more. I cried the whole drive home. I cried more the following day for no particular reason.

I heard somewhere, maybe it was on Oprah, that when you cry a lot, it means that you really had something buried deep in yourself. I had no idea that so much emotion about my so called “sweet tooth” was inside of me. This honesty was very powerful and was the beginning of my recovery. Thank you Higher Power for helping me to realize that I had to get honest about my so called “sweet tooth.”

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?

Eating Popcorn at a Comedy Club Follow-Up

So to follow-up on my blog from a couple of weeks ago about my concern over how I was going to deal with eating the popcorn at the comedy club, here is what happened… 

I brought along my little plastic cup and was armed with the knowledge of the amount of calories per plastic cup.  I knew I could have up to five cups if I so desired.  So, giddy with anticipation of both the popcorn I would get to eat, and the fact that I had an acceptable plan in place, off we went.

Turns out that they no longer had baskets for the replenishing on the table, the new system was you had to pay a dollar a bag.  No problem!  Our table of six ordered two bags, being not quite sure what to expect.  So the waitress brought our drinks and the two bags.  Well, surely the calorie gods were smiling on me because there was actually a nutrition label on the bag.  This was my lucky night!  I did not have to bear any funny looks for using my little plastic cup and I knew exactly how many calories were in the bag.   I could not believe my luck!!

As I was sharing the bag with a girlfriend who was just nibbling, I knew that I could order another bag when this one was finished.  I relished being able to get a second bag, eat most of it, and still be within my allotted calorie limit.  So when our bag was almost empty and the waitress came by to see if we needed any more drinks, I asked if she would please bring us another bag of popcorn.  Her response was – we are out of popcorn. What?!?!?  How can that be? 

Needless to say, after all of the build up (from myself) I was very disappointed to not get the treat that I had totally planned for.  On the bright side, well, not at that moment but in hindsight, there was nothing else available to eat so I came in at a lower calorie count for the day.  That worked out well because the following night was Halloween and I went a little bit over my calorie allotment that night.  See, things always happen for a reason.  The man upstairs wanted me to have chocolate, not popcorn. : )