Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Name Is Ivy, and I'm an Addict

Before starting this diet I went way over to the dark side. As I mentioned in my last post, I spent most of April overindulging in the South Pacific and failing to right myself once I returned to the Northern Hemisphere. But I figured I'd be starting the Engine 2 Diet soon enough so I decided to let myself go until the kickoff date.

And this past weekend was one hell of a last hurrah. Or horror... I ate as if I'd been cast as Renee Zelleweger's body double in the next installment of "Bridget Jones's Diary" and filming was starting Monday. I shoveled food into my mouth and drank with intent, cramming myself full of the things I'll be giving up over the coming weeks. Cheese, carbs, chocolate, wine.

And guess what? I took no pleasure in what I did. In fact, it make me feel like crap.

When I was a smoker I'd have an extra cigarette if I knew I wouldn't be able to have one for a while, regardless of whether I wanted it or not. I didn't enjoy it, but I was compelled to do it... just in case. This weekend I did the exact same thing with food. I ordered Pad Thai on Saturday and got a plate piled with enough food for four. Of course, I didn't eat it all at the restaurant, but by the end of the day the carryout box was empty and I was full - uncomfortably full. I could never be hungry enough to eat that much food - I just did it because I knew I wouldn't get the chance to have Pad Thai (because of the eggs) until June. On Sunday I ordered an omelet with cheese and devoured the whole thing. I rarely eat eggs, and I eat cheese only once in a while. But I was hell-bent on getting a cheesy omelet before I started down the dairy-free trail. I was full after about three bites, but that didn't stop me from cleaning my plate... just in case.

Just in case what?!!! All the eggs in the world would be eaten by the end of May? Just in case there's a cheese shortage in a few weeks? Just in case I'll go hungry during this diet? Just in case I'll feel deprived? Come on! The only issue worth addressing is deprivation and I've done 21-day cleanses a million times before - I know that feelings of deprivation are infrequent and short-lived. And character-building. So just in case what?
This weekend I behaved just like an addict who gets high on the way to rehab. In my book, that makes me an addict too. Anyone who's addicted to anything (drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping, food) understands the convoluted logic we concoct to rationalize bad decisions. And we addicts are prone to preemptive behaviors driven by the belief that loading up on our substance of choice might help alleviate the deprivation we fear we'll experience once we're on the straight and narrow.   

But why am I afraid of feeling deprived? For almost four years I've prided myself on following a truly healthful diet. I've gone vegetarian; borderline vegan. I've all but eliminated sugar, salt and gluten from my diet. I'm caffeine free. And I have a couple of glasses of wine once a week. But even so, it's pretty obvious I've still got issues where food is concerned. And they reared their cheesy, carby, sugary heads this weekend.

So during this challenge I've got a new goal - to work through my relationship with the foods I felt compelled to overeat and discover why they still have such a strong pull on me. I hope I find some answers.


  1. Ivy,

    From one addict to another: take it one day at a time, maybe even one meal at a time. It's much easier that way.

    I remember when I quit smoking (the hardest of several substances I've quit). I planned my quit date. I had decided (with the help of an American Heart Association class) what tools I would pick up instead of having a smoke, when I really wanted one: Cry, pray, deep breathe. Giving myself permission to feel what came up was huge. I let the emotions wash over me like waves. This too, shall pass.

    Good luck in your endeavor. You are an inspiration.


  2. Oh Ivy - this could inspire a book-long response - we've all been down THIS road a time or two, three or four! What IS it about eating that we feel will somehow fill the empty spot?
    Is food both a mental and physical instant reward somehow? You're right that it's an addiction. The problem it's perfectly legal, encouraged even, and the only victim is ourselves! Sometimes I feel as if I get in shape only to justify being able to get out of it and enjoying the trip. It's a bit of craziness that no matter how you change the route, you're still going to the same place.
    SO - how do you cook without oil??? :)

  3. Thanks, Maggie and Jenny, for your kind and wise words. You're both so empathetic and always know just what to say. I love having you guys around - even if you're in different states! Thanks so much for your insights! Next week when I start cooking, I'll let you know how the oil-free cooking is going.
    Hugs to my girlz!