Thursday, September 08, 2016

Letting Myself Eat is Scary And Other Sinister Food Thoughts

The stuff of my nightmares
This allowing myself to eat anything is scary. I mean, all these years of control is hard to let go of. From counting calories and fat grams to categorizing foods into healthy and fatty-fat piles, I've trained myself to, well, fear food. And don't get me started on being indoctrinated to believe that certain food was my enemy.

Yeah, my enemy.

How so? Well, for example, have you ever heard that processed foods are designed to make you eat more? Lose control? I'm sure you've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you looked at the ingredients of a lot of processed snack foods not so long ago, you would have found HFCS somewhere in that seemingly endless list. The story goes that HFCS somehow messes with our hunger and satiety hormones, turning up the hunger and interrupting the satiety.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD states in this article that HFCS "can strongly affect your brain's satiety center--in a bad way." It's also the famous article that spurred a worldwide debate, which in turn prompted some food manufacturers to remove HFCS, which in turn prompted the Corn Refiners Association to initiate a damage control campaign in defense of HFCS.

The assertion I embraced: because of certain ingredients in processed food you never feel full and that's why you eat the whole box or bag.

See? My enemy. Food designed to make me overeat against my will.
How's a gal to lose/maintain weight with sinister stuff like this on the shelf?
The answer? Avoid it. At all costs.
This article that appeared on Huffington Post says I should never, ever eat HFCS again.
As long as I live.

In the interest of fairness, here's a link to the European Food Information Council reference to a study that seems to show that this is not true. You can check out the study for yourself and do some digging. You be the judge.

Flash forward to today...

Today I went for a long walk with a friend. We tend to talk nonstop and before we knew what we'd done, we'd walked over 7 miles. 7 miles! I thought, oh wow, I'm going to be famished. But strangely, I wasn't. Maybe it was the coffee with real cream and coconut oil, the full-fat coconut and almond granola, or the fabulous Indian food from the night before.

My next stop was the grocery store and I hesitated. What if I'm hungrier than I think and I go in there and buy a crap ton of fun foods? I took a deep breath, told myself to chill out, and marched into the store. I needed ingredients for a BBQ chicken salad, as well as a couple afterschool snacks for the kids. I grabbed the salad ingredients and found myself in front of the snacks.

Oooo boy. I was already sweaty from my walk in the 90 degree sunshine, but I definitely upped my sweating quotient as I stared one of my long-time enemies in the package.

Baked Lays.
I loooooove Baked Lays with Helluva Good French Onion Dip.
I mean LOOOOOOOVE them.

While neither of these favorites has HFCS in the ingredients, I have been known to eat an entire bag with dip. Obviously, I had no control with them. Obviously, they were my personal enemy. And guess what?

Hunger roared.

My stomach growled like a dragon who has just woken from one hundred years of slumber. And it wanted Baked Lays and French Onion dip. That. Bastard. At first, I walked away and grabbed the two items my children had requested and headed for the checkout. Mid aisle, I halted. Was I serious about this intuitive eating thing or was I playing with the concept?

I knew how to walk away from "bad" food. I'd been doing it for years. Most of the time. Until I didn't and succumbed to the terrifying and temporary beauty of a gorge fest.

Wasn't one of the exercises of learning to eat intuitively actually listening to my hunger and cravings? As scared shitless as I was, I went back, grabbed the bag of Lays and headed for the dip.

I have to stop here to tell you I was also irritated. I mean, I was irritated with myself for even wanting this pointless, nutritionally vapid food. Pointless. Vapid. Right. There were those negative terms that demonized certain foods that aren't nutritionally dense. Another lesson I'm trying to learn: stop demonizing food. Food is not the enemy. And, yes, the only purpose of Baked Lays is to taste good. No nutrition. But...

Another precept of intuitive eating is when you ignore your cravings and force yourself to restrict foods you really want, you will eventually cave. You will run back to that callous, abusive lover and devour them, their socks, and your own soul because you've made them off limits. Forbidden sweets are sweeter, right?

I decided amidst the Reese's Peanut Butter cups and discounted Krispy Kremes that I was serious about intuitive eating. I embraced my craving and bought my play food.

That was around 11 am this morning and I have yet to open the bag. It's sitting on the coffee table. Right now. Staring at me. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to do it.

I am.
I'm serious.

I'll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Am I a freak? The only one who fears certain foods because they are "bad" for me and I can't stop myself once I start?

Please tell me I'm not alone.


  1. All the time. I tried to be very aware in the grocery store today. I saw cupcakes. I paused and asked myself if I wanted them. I really didn't so I walked away. Had it gone the other way I would have bought them. Being intuitive requires constant awareness at this point for me

  2. The constant awareness thing is so true! Maybe that's the lesson. Maybe one day it'll be more natural for us. Thanks for sharing. And I think we're both doing great. I am cautiously optimistic about this intuitive eating thing.