I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails regarding my last blog, “I Want To Be Smoochy,” especially those with different views because it really underscores just how diverse we all are in how we relate to food.
For those of you who also read Refuse to Regain, you’ll recognize this post. I wanted to publish it in both my blogs because I believe how we choose to handle indulgences is just as important while losing weight as it is in maintenance.
Granted, what I ate versus what I’d planned to eat on Thanksgiving were not two totally different things, but they were far enough apart to make me take notice of what motivated my choices. It was the two comments in response to my blog offering different points of view about indulgences that I wanted to address here, namely, I’d like to know what “indulgence” means to you in terms of food, and how and if you engage in it.
One reader wrote: “Get a grip, one feast day is not going to undo all the good work you’ve done. You are allowed to celebrate occasionally. You could have eaten A LOT more than you did and it wouldn't have made a dent, because with your steely determination you would have drawn a line under it instantly and been back to your, dare I say it, rigid program the very next day. Let yourself have some moments of indulgence now and then. It’s okay!”
Another wrote: “I think you should let yourself have days where you don’t plan and measure (and let’s be honest, stress about) every single bite you put in your mouth. From the outside it seems just as disordered as binge/overeating. …(T)he fact that you make your family food with “unhealthy” ingredients etc., shows that you understand the social/cultural aspects [of food], and you know one traditional one-day-a-year meal of indulgences will not kill you. To not let yourself share in that indulgence (when you obviously would like to) sends a message to the little eyes around the table as well.
I appreciate this kind of feedback because it helps me better understand food culture and invites me to look closer at my food issues. We all need to engage in that kind of mental housecleaning once in awhile.
So here’s what I know – as of today – about me and food. (Of course this is subject to change the further I prod along this path.)
Planning my food intake is essential. It is my safety net. So, too, is mindful eating. Mindless eating got me obese. Mindless eating fed my emotional issues and kept them suppressed.
So it’s safe to say that I am not one who can indulge mindlessly, and on Thanksgiving, that’s exactly what I did. (Not because of any emotional issues. The stuff was just darn tasty.) And so the problem with T-day wasn’t that I felt I couldn’t indulge, but that I didn’t think about what I was indulging in.
I was drawn to food that, when mindful, I know makes me feel physically ill. Within an hour of those few bites of stuffing and few bites of potatoes and more than a few bites of apple cake, my stomach really hurt. Granted it was a milder stomach ache than I regularly subjected myself to when I weighed 300 pounds and ate every meal mindlessly, but it was reminiscent enough of those old days to remind me of the promise I made when I began this journey nearly 5 years ago: to never again feel like hell after eating.
I don’t feel guilty for what I ate on Thanksgiving and I’m certainly not beating myself up. T-day was a wonderful learning opportunity and a chance to fine tune the way I engage with and relate to food.
Some folks can indulge without thinking about it and bounce right back. I need to plan my indulgences, and when I do, I indulge on food I know won’t make me sick. I had a plan on T-day that I strayed from. Mindless eating took over and my poor stomach paid the price. So while an occasional indulgence won’t kill me, without planning, it will certainly make me miserable.
Yes I know to some my eating regimen seems rigid. But it keeps me sufficiently fed physically and emotionally. Our food choices and plans are as unique as our fingerprints. My hope is that you all find or have found what works for you.
So tell me, does your plan include indulgences?