Bite Me

Seems to me that no matter how close to goal I am, no matter how well I am consistently eating, falling backwards is always just one bite away.

I don’t always know which food I might slip between my teeth that will unleash that feeling in me, the one that I am all too familiar with, the one that is followed by overeating of something, the one that might turn into a full blown binge.  The one that might be the beginning of the roller-coaster ride backwards, with me screaming in fright and frustration.  Just one bite away.

It’s there.  It’s part of my truth.  When I am being honest with myself.  I feel it – it seems visceral to me.  I put a food in my mouth and something happens.  I want more.  More might be another bite of that same thing or many bites of something else.  And something else.

But the good news is… well, there might be several things that are good, now that I think about it.  First, I have a pretty good idea now, with all my past dieting struggles, which foods might set me off and cause this reaction.  Second, it happens less and less, mostly because I just avoid said foods, and when I am going “off plan” now I am usually doing it away from home and away from other food with which to continue on a potential binge.  Time and distance helps.  Third, I know that I have this reaction and I try to avoid it.  I don’t fool myself into thinking I might be able to handle moderation.  Fourth, my desire to succeed might finally be greater than my desire to eat some food that I know will set me off.

Now lest you go thinking that I am strong-willed and strong-minded and well on my way to a lifetime of eating success… let me be clear that the whole purpose of this post was to explain to you how that is sooo not the case.  I am really just one bite away from a binge.  And in the back of my mind I am always one binge away from a landslide.

I don’t know if this will always be my reality.  Or if I will change.

But I do know that I’m not alone.  Leslie wrote a great post not long ago about her similar feelings.  As someone who is familiar with 12 step programs, she had this to say:  “‘Remember you only have to abstain from the first compulsive bite.  One bite only.’  Without the first compulsive, unplanned, risky bite, it’s much less likely that a really strong hard craving will set in that is hell to try and resist.  I don’t have to resist and leave out a whole sleeve of cookies or a quart of ice cream… I only have to not have the first bite.  This advice is the equivalent of not setting foot in an arena with a lion on the loose.  I won’t have to fight him (it) off if I don’t enter the ring.” Oh I love how she writes:)

So, for now, I’m going on with my life, towards my goal of normalcy with my eating, knowing that this one little thing, this one little bite, stands between me and a true “normal.”  But, as many of you have pointed out to me in the past, I can define my own normal.  A new normal.  Karen’s normal.  Not sure what it looks like yet.  Not sure if it will ever allow me a bite here and a bite there without those coming back to bite me in the ass.




Filed under cheating/overeating, emotions/emotional issues, maintenance

55 responses to “Bite Me

  1. Miz

    I struggle with ye as well.

    my normal is many many peeps’ wacky.

  2. One thing is for sure – you’ve got an ally in me! There is not one word in this post which doesn’t describe me to a “T.” But then, you already know that, don’t you? Sometimes it’s hard to be an “abstainer” amidst all the “moderation-ers,” but for now, that’s our reality and we aren’t alone!

    • Karen

      Even the word “abstain” seems so much more, I don’t know, “something,” when compared to the word “moderation.” But then, I guess it is a more drastic or radical approach. Back to my “all or nothing” “black and white” mentality.

  3. I’ve wrote about this over and over again last year. I certainly have not perfected anything, but I’ve learned to develop a healthier relationship with food. I read two books last year that helped. Geneen Roth’s “Women Food and God” and Bob Schwartz’s “Diets Don’t Work.”

    Roth’s book is all mind and spirit, gets you thinking about the mental aspect of food. (It can drag on after awhile!) Schwartz’s book is the practical, how-to side of not-overeating. I found they made great companion pieces – not sure how well they work by themselves, but together they’re great.

    Anyway, I lost 10 pounds after reading these two books, no changes other than being more mindful of my emotions when I’m around food. I can say that this summer, I could use a refresher, so again…still a work in progress! I wish you the best…it is a struggle for so many of us!

    • Karen

      I have read Roth’s but never heard of Schwartz’s so I am going to check that out. Thanks for the tip. It is always nice to hear that someone who experienced something similar is doing so well. Gives me hope:)

  4. Ewa

    Oh, you are so not alone in this.

  5. MB

    As I was shopping in CVS yesterday I noticed F1ips Chocolate Covered Pretzels were on sale 2 for 1, such a deal, how could I resist such a bargain? I stood in the isle staring longingly at the package of salty chocolatey deliciousness and debated whether I could control myself with this snack that has brought me down to my fat knees in the past. Could I eat just a few? If I got 2 for 1 would both bags be gone before I left the parking lot? I knew, even after 20 months, I still couldn’t trust myself with my drug of choice. I may have missed out on the bargain but I knew one bite, or two bags, would never be enough. Let’s stay off that scary roller coaster.

    • Karen

      Good for you! I usually have more willpower in the store and am much better off not to buy stuff that tempts me. Some days it is easy. Some days I see so many things in the aisles that I wish I could eat.

  6. I think we each have to define how we want to live, what helps us feel comfortable and ‘in control’ and what feels like a joyless existence. The goal, I guess, is to be aware of where we want to live along that spectrum and then buy a house there. 🙂

    • Karen

      Oh – liking this concept of it as a spectrum. It is interesting to me that when I think of the future I debate if I could just be happy to never eat a bagel again, or if that makes me sad.

  7. I LOVED YOUR TITLE!!! And man, I love Cammy’s comment! Karen, it is all about finding what works for you & screw what anyone else thinks about it! As long as it works for you – that is all that matters!

    I think many of us are just that bite or step away – at least in our mind. People think the things I do are crazy but they work for me. I don’t ask or tell others that my way is the way – I tell them they have to find their way & what works for them.

    • Karen

      I agree that we each need to find what works for us. One size does not fit all! You and Cammy both work well with moderation. Maybe I will someday; maybe not.

  8. I definitely support the notion of figuring out your new normal — I don’t think it has to always be rigid. Life can’t be rigid and be lived well. I know a man who lost a significant amount of weight and hasn’t attended a social function in many years because of his rigid eating habits. He avoids all social eating situations; I find that sad. He’s losing out on two of the joys of life — social time and social eating. I think learning to balance it will always be challenging. It’s hard to be overweight, and it’s hard to maintain weight loss. We just have to decide which “hard” we prefer, and learn to find a little balance — a little give and take.

    • Karen

      You always strike me as so wise and so… well… balanced:) I do tend toward that rigid side. Being an “all or nothing” thinker like I am. Funny thing, since you mention those two “hards” – maybe maintenance has always been harder for ME since it is, in theory, less rigid. Hmm.

  9. Another excellent post, and thanks for the shout out.

    Normal? What the hell is that? But I love your owning your own brand of normal…the new one that includes awareness of your truth – and our truth changes continually as we move through the days. I sure hope my truth changes in a good direction!!

  10. Super post! I don’t have one bit of moderation in me for food or for much else. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be a person who could be moderate at something. I’d be better off with don’t take that first bite rule.

    🙂 Marion

    • Karen

      There is that old expression – one bite won’t kill you. But for some of us, one bite leads to a lot more and all those bites can add up!

  11. Such an excellent post as always Karen…I too cannot do the moderation thing with certain foods. One of which is carrots. Probably less harmful than binging on cookies but I will eat an entire 4lb bag over the course of a day and a half. Not good. Certainly not normal…at least not what I want my normal to be!

    • Karen

      Carrots! That would not be my vice:) But I sure can manage to overdo it with many other “healthy” foods.

  12. You are not alone!! I think that we all suffer from this… at least I do!

    Visiting from SITS, make it agreat day!

  13. How is it that you know me so well! 🙂 I am on the quest for moderation and it is a slippery slope. I have little successes followed by little failures.(binges) I think the failures are shorter lived than in the past and the periods between the failures are getting longer and longer. I see this as growth and I am hopeful that one day I can live live my life and be able to handle moderation!

    • Karen

      I see personal progress too:) And in my mind I have always imagined that long-term I do have certain foods to enjoy that right now I avoid. But maybe that is just not realistic for me. Time will tell.

  14. Hang in there! Be tough! Visiting from SITS!

  15. I think that even beyond that first bite, there is what we are feeling beforehand. For me that’s the bigger deal. But, while I work on getting that under control, the first bite really helps me keep things under control.

    • Karen

      Hmm. Interesting. Something I never thought about. For me it has always been the reaction to the food, I thought, but maybe it is the emotion before the reaction? Or not… maybe it is habit. Sigh.

  16. Ann

    You are definitely not alone. I’ll tell you one bite or one splurge of the wrong thing is definitely the road to binge city for me. I KNOW coke will do it. WHY? I don’t know. Memory of previous binges perhaps or just plain brain programming. It’s so important to identify those triggers for all of us. Great post!

    • Karen

      That is an interesting question, Ann. Why some foods and not others. Science would suggest it makes sense that sugar and fat and salt can lead to wanting more, I know that. But sometimes it is food that is “healthy” that gets me going. I know a lot for me has to do with texture, if that makes sense. Like the breads that I avoid now. There is something about sinking in my teeth.

  17. I totally get it. Love the clip art, by the way!

  18. Mel

    So well written, from the core. What is the definition of normal? Normal weight, normal height, normal bmi? I think it’s all about perceiving that we fit in, being accpeted, though as I grow wiser my bottom line is am I happy?

    • Karen

      For me, I AM normal by all the markers of weight. (Height, nope, I’m short!) Someone looking at me would never guess that on the inside I am so NOT normal. For me I am defining it having to do with my relationship with food and my thinking about eating. And I agree – let’s be happy:)

  19. Jan

    Something has changed for me, and I don’t know what. (Doing out loud, head scratching here.) My binge urges are gone. (Ignore the breast cancer bit, surgery, etc.) This happened before. Somehow, some way my binge lobe has been sealed off from the rest of my brain (hopefully obliterated). Perhaps it’s because I won’t eat certain foods; maybe it’s some newly found ability to rely on inner me rather than outer food; can’t blame it on an exercise regimen as I have none right now; maybe it’s a miracle (ha!). Wish I could bottle it up. Hoping it sticks around forever – NO, planning it sticks around forever as long as I do my part. I just can’t figure out why it has taken 30+ years for this to occur. (Rushes off to go write.)

    All I can tell you Karen is that binge thoughts, urges, actions can be put away or put in a place that we can live with.

    • Karen

      Well I hope when you figure it out you let the rest of us in on the secret! Maybe you have just found something else to focus on right now? I do know that the longer I go without eating certain foods, my triggers, the less I think about them or crave them or want them. And I’m happier that way – without them.

  20. i’m the same way i was rolling along juse fine then had three weeks of gaining then this week lost i just try to keep focus and not let it cause me to give up. hang in there.

  21. I have come to accept the fact that I will always be one bite away from a potential binge as well. That is my normal. The sooner I accept and embrace it, learn to deal with it and cope with it, the better I’ll feel about just learning to accept myself for these flaws instead of fighting them all of the time.

    • Karen

      Well, I think I have shared before that you and I seem to have some very similar thinking going on inside our heads. And on the outside our bodies could give the impression that we meet societal norms. But on the inside there is a whole other story going on!

  22. I’m exactly the same. I’m trying to work on it, but I just keep coming back to the same conclusion: I have “just one” and feel fine, but then any others left start SCREAMING at me from the fridge/cabinets. I know they’re there, and I’m obsessed. Can’t stop thinking about them ’til they’re gone. It stinks, but you’re right, it’s easier to just abstain.

    • Karen

      “screaming” – oh yes, I have used that same word to describe it! So much better even not to have the stuff in the house at all!!!

  23. Roz

    You are so NOT alone Karen. What is “normal” is a very grey area isn’t it? Love this post. Have a great day!

  24. you are so not alone….
    i’m tweeting you a pic that will make you smile 😀

  25. True and well said! I really like how Leslie said it too… I shall remember this. Thanks!

    • Karen

      If you have not checked out her blog, you should. I think someone referenced you in the comments not long ago so I sent Leslie your way.

  26. I sure hope that I will end up like Jan when the day comes that I am closer to goal – I suspect I will be more like you and many of the other people out there who are one bite away. I agree that avoiding that first impulse is going to be the key for me – for life.

  27. I think I am in a similar place as you, but maybe a few steps ahead since I have more confidence that I won’t slip into a landslide. I mostly don’t buy trigger foods. When I want to indulge, I tend to do it a restaurant or bakery where I can get one order of whatever it is I’m craving. I can sense when a food might trigger mindless munching and often can walk away, but when I don’t walk away, I am better at getting back on track instead of going into a downward spiral. I think I have accepted that occaisional munching is part of my “normal” and that’s OK. I battled this for almost 10 years, and think I finally can claim victory, since victory does not mean perfect.

    • Karen

      I think my vision of my future looks kinda like you describe. 10 years! I’m looking forward to 10 months!

  28. This is one of your best posts at least hitting home with me anyways. I truly know where you are and understand it. The words “I’ll do better tomorrow” I am so tired of I want to abstain every day, but I give in. Its truly an endless cycle.

    • Karen

      Interesting – I never know what I write something who will related. Well, that’s not quite true, a few bloggers I now know are pretty darn similar to me with eating issues.

  29. Karen, great post! Well, you know I’m with you in this. At the age of forty (11 years ago) all I could look back on definitively in my life were all the years I had dieted and binged, and I could track my life according to when I had been thin and when I hadn’t. That was really a sad way to live. I’m not a moderation person. Even now, whenever I try to tell myself I can handle nuts, for example, I can’t. I start trying to figure out how to eat all my day’s food in nuts, etc.

    I just want to point out one difference between making a decision to abstain, as you have, and actually working a 12-step program on this stuff. When you work a 12-step program you never actually WANT your binge foods again. The obsession of craving for them is GONE. I haven’t eaten my binge foods for 11 years, and that includes chocolate, pizza, fried foods, french fries, and desserts but not because I’ve been sitting here resisting them. I could never do that. I couldn’t even diet through lunch time when left to my own devices. I’ve never wanted them again. That’s the miracle of working a 12-step program. You’re relieved of your compulsion. 🙂

    • Karen

      I actually told another blogger about you just the other day. She is sort of working the 12 step program and I thought she might like a success story:) What you explain is rather appealing… but… I just can’t get past the idea of the higher power thing. That is so not me.

  30. I wrote about something similar because you are so right. Sometimes just taking the first bite is the worst mistake you can make!

  31. during the summer, at least, it is about so much more than just the food for me … it’s the whole experience, the people, the atmosphere, the freedom, and the fun, that makes it so easy for me to lose control with the food. by being vigilant (and because I’m much more active) I usually manage to not gain, but I struggle to lose at all.

    • Karen

      Well, as I’ve shared before, social eating is a huge struggle for me. More the food available and my emotions though, I think, than the other stuff.

  32. Oh if it were only as easy as simply avoiding a bite. SOUNDS so easy. A bite means so much more.

    And then there is the long list of foods that always taste like more.

    If only we did not have to eat to live… I might then be able to set aside living to eat and maybe have a bit of serenity.

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