When the Peanut Butter Hit the Fan

525,600 minutes.

8,766 hours.

365 days.

That’s how long it’s been since I had my last lick of peanut butter.

And it feels… fine.  Heck, until writing this post, I hadn’t even been counting:)  But sometime about a month or so ago I realized that I was coming up on my anniversary of tossing the last jar into the trash.

Here’s how it all came about…

Once upon a time I ate peanut butter like a normal person.  Okay, I ate pretty much any and everything like a normal person, once upon a time.  But let’s get back to PB.  I might have eaten it with strawberry preserves on soft, white bread for lunch.  Or spread across some Saltine crackers for a snack.  Not too often.  Never too much.  It was the stuff that comes overly processed with added sugar.  The peanut butter of my youth.  All this before “healthy living” or even healthy eating was a glimmer in my eye.

But a few years back I started on my journey, or whatever I’m calling this thing.  The whole “lifestyle not a diet” and “no more yo-yo-ing” and “making healthy choices” yada, yada, yada, thing.  Peanut butter became a valuable tool.  A great protein source.  I switched to the “natural” kind with no added anything.  Just peanuts.  It took a bit of time for my tastes to change but eventually I came to prefer the thicker texture and the lack of sweetness.  I still ate it like a normal person. But now a healthier person.  Gone was the white bread and the Saltines, replaced by whole grains and my favorite PB spreading surface –  apples.

Somewhere along the way, as I stumbled and tripped, trying to find my road to “healthy living” or “being normal” or wherever it was I thought I was going, things changed.  For peanut butter and me.  I developed a bit of an obsession.  A craving.  And as the jar in my fridge called to me more and more frequently and more and more loudly, I answered more and more often.  No longer needing the excuse of a meal or a snack to partake.  No longer needing a surface on which to spread the delectable goo.  A spoon was sometimes my weapon of choice.  Fast to dip and easy to carry.  Reusable (but I did clean it in between; no double dipping for this germaphobe.)  And then there was the day the spoons disappeared.  And I realized my love of peanut butter had just maybe become a problem for me.

But that wasn’t the end.  Because nothing is ever that easy on this journey.  Realization rarely translates immediately into effective action for me.   But not long after I shared my PB obsession with the world my readers, the peanut finally broke the camel’s back.  In the form of a thoughtful comment left by a reader on a post about me twiddling my thumbs.

I wrote:  “I not only opened a new jar of peanut butter, but I finished it off already.”

And Tish said:  “For now, Karen, you’d better kick the peanut butter out of the house…”

And I replied:  “I am heavily sighing right now. You are all so right. I just need to do it. I am going right now. I really am!”

And I rose from my chair, walked up a flight of stairs to the kitchen, and threw out that last jar.

And never replaced it.

I missed it, my peanut butter friend, for a while.  Thought about it.  Wistfully.  Wished I had more self-control.  Craved a crisp apple with delightful smear on top.  And then, one day, I didn’t think about it.  Missed it less.  Craved it, not at all.

My husband still had peanut butter in the house.  The other kind.  The kind I ate once upon a time with less-than-healthy ingredients added.  Funny that I never once craved THAT.  Never felt tempted.  Then one day in the store, a few months ago, he reached for a replacement jar and decided to buy the exact kind I used to buy.  What?!  I asked him not to.  He had so many other jars to choose from.  Why bring my nemesis back into the house.  Why tempt fate myself.  He bought a different natural brand and I haven’t once felt the desire to dip into the jar.

Will I ever eat peanut butter again, you might wonder?  I’m asking myself the same thing.  I think so.  Maybe.  But probably only if there is a way to do it without having that jar back in my life as a constant temptation.  I’d like to think I could handle it now.  Return to the days of eating it like a normal person.  All things in moderation and all that crap.  But, you know me – moderation is NOT my middle name.  And now, neither is peanut butter addict:)

I want to end this post with a final thought for everyone reading.  For everyone who ever leaves a comment here or on another blog.  I want to let you know that one thoughtful sentence, one caring comment, one gentle nudge, one supportive thought, one kick in the pants… just might be the one that makes a huge difference.  Just might be the one that gets that blogger off her duff to make a change.  Just might be the one that resonates.  Just might be the peanut that breaks the camels back.  In a good way.

Has a comment, in person or on your blog, ever opened your eyes or invoked a positive change?



Filed under food, history (my past), influence of others

79 responses to “When the Peanut Butter Hit the Fan

  1. You have to be really strong to do something like that.. Good for you! I admire you!

  2. OMG! I had to kick peanut butter out of my house too! I actually kept it at the neighbors house so that I could make PB&J for school lunches. That became a hassle- so the peanut butter was out of our lives. About 6 months ago I opened the door again. My new love is sunflower seed butter. So far I have kept things under control. I have a new food that is not allowed in the house. Cereal! This is a harder one as Danny and Molly both eat cereal and it is so easy for rushed mornings. I just can’t stop myself. I need to tell Danny that it has to go… I just feel guilty b/c he does not have an issue with it!
    I love what you said about comments! It is the truth! You NEVER know when or how you are going to inspire someone!
    You just inspired me to tell Danny about the cereal! *hugs* for that!!!

    • Karen

      I never tried sunflower seed butter but have done other nut butters. I don’t like them as much as PB but still decided it was best not to have them around. Maybe when I test the waters I’ll do so with one of them. Thanks for the reminder.

      I cannot have cereal either. I might write a whole post about that since it was on my mind a lot on my recent road trip. I brought healthy cereal along. My husband eats it and I am usually okay with having “his” in the house. And my kids, when they are home, have cereals that I never eat!

  3. And sometimes an entire post does exactly the same thing. As I read this, I was thinking that I didn’t have the same issue with Peanut Butter (there are 6 unopened jars in my pantry right now), but there are a couple of things I’ve kicked out of the house and they’ve been gone for more than a year. But for the life of me, I can’t remember what they are. Now that’s a GOOD thing!

    • Karen

      Six jars! That got me thinking about what foods I stock up on myself. Hmm. Anyhoo… love that you can’t ree,,ber what you kicked out. I am pretty sure I could rattle off my own list. It would start with… bread.

  4. Congrats on kicking the PB habit. Re the blog comments. Yes they definitely motivate me to keep going. I also love the cyber friendships that I am making.

    • Karen

      Me too! I never expected the friendships. Or the comments, either. When I got my first comment I was in disbelief that someone even read my blog!

  5. Oh, that evil PB! I love it too – and not the healthy kind – the BAD kind. The kind that goes so well with marshmallow fluff! (Gasp!)
    I often think about items i should permanently break up with, but have yet to do so successfully. But you give me hope that it can be done.
    Oh, and as for blog comments – I totally agree – they make all the difference. Just knowing you have support out there and people are going through the same stuff as me is encouraging – I don’t feel so alone. And since it has been an eternity since I have blogged, I think I’ll go do that now!

    • Karen

      OMG fluff!! We ate that as kids. And had it around in college; I loved to swirl it with the PB and spread it on graham crackers.

  6. KLA

    Great post. Peanut butter is one of my traditional dieting foods. I have it in the morning on my whole wheat english muffin. After reading your post, I think I’ll try the natural stuff.

    Cravings are so tricky, they can get worse over time or go away and come back again.

    • Karen

      For me, the natural stuff really was an acquired taste. But I was trying to cut out refined sugars. I read so many “dieters” who eat it moderately like you do, and just sigh. Wish that could be me. Maybe again.

  7. Oh, peanut butter! We’ve had this discussion before. It’s the bane of my existence and the culinary love of my life (right up there with pizza and Chipotle).

    One of my many approaches is to buy the crunchy because I won’t just eat it right out of the jar — actually, I dislike the crunchy but at least it’s the right flavor. I’m definitely a texture person with foods.

    My latest idea for attacking the peanut butter/ almond butter/ or sunflower seed butter (better than PB – it’s sunshine in a jar) is to keep it in my office at work. That way, I’m more inclined to only eat it on fruit or something reasonable rather than stand in the kitchen with a spoon.

    • Karen

      Hmmm. Wonder if crunchy would work for me too. Probably best not to find out. I make a lot of “pizza” now. I use whole grain flatbreads we get at Costco. Low-cal, low-fat, high fiber and protein. And now, thanks to my darn cholesterol, I use fat free mozzarella. Not as yummy as the real thing but pretty darn good. And works great when my husband and son were having the very unhealthy kind!

  8. I am so glad to see that other people struggling with peanut butter. It is so calorie dense — it can be extremely dangerous.

    People often use the “Its a good fat” excuse, but lets be honest — if you are trying to lose weight, it might be best to avoid altogether if you can.

    I recently starting making oatmeal in the morning and I put a tiny but of hazelnut or almond butter on it (only 1TBSP and it isn’t much — but it clocks in at almost 100 calories!)

    I used to eat PB&J all the time, but I was most likely using about 300-400 calories of PB and about 80 calories of Jelly — plus the bread.

    160 + 300 + 80 = 540 Calories… too much

    You would be surprised how small 2 TBSP really is.

    • Karen

      You are so right about the calories! Sometimes I’d measure out a serving and it was always smaller than I thought. I feel the same about nuts. I know they are a good fat and in theory are good for my cholesterol issues, but so calorie dense. They are one food I always measure.

  9. I make my own peanut butter. I love it on apples!! I like to think it is better than anything you can buy in the store, even the natural stuff.

    Comments rock! So many times, I’ve gotten a comment that hit me right between the eyes. I’ve thought, why didn’t I see that myself. Comments have kept me on the right path for sure.

    • Karen

      You make your own!? Yes, I’ve gotten eye-opening comments too. Sometimes I think about things in a totally different way afterwards.

  10. I don’t recall any “bolts from the blue” from other blogs, but there has been a lot of gentle nudging, small steps that have come from the group wisdom of others. “Been there, done that” can be powerful.

  11. I continue to struggle with peanut butter. I prefer the crunchy peanut butter but since I will eat it from the jar with a spoon, I buy creamy. I also prefer and occasionally buy the natural peanut butter with just peanuts and salt.

    If I have PB in the house, it is in the veggie bin out of sight. A lot of times that works. I do okay unless I have something stressful that makes me want to eat too much and then I sometimes end up having to fill the jar with water and throw it away. I know that is wasteful but it keeps me from having it on my waist.

    I tried PB2 and it was such a great idea but it was sweet. If they would make a version without the sweet taste, I would probably never buy peanut butter again.

    • Karen

      I’m not sure I’d have any place to hide the jar where I’d forget it! Wish there was. I have thrown out lots of things in the past. My husband would hate that, but I’d rather do that than keep overeating. I never tried PB2 since it had added sugar and I try to avoid that. But I know many “dieters” who very successfully use it. Lots of times in smoothies, I think.

  12. It is not peanut butter with me, but ice cream. I can not keep it jn thd house at all. I have learned over this past year to go out for it once in a while and of course count the cals. That has really worked for me!!

    I, too, love bloggers comments. Sometimes they are really insightful and help me to see something from a different angle. Ok ow you do not take your readers and followers and their comments for granted, neither do I. Love the encouraging and supportive nature of this blogging community. But I am not afraid or do I hesitate to kick some butt when j
    I feel it is needed. This getting healthy thing is important and not easy. I was guilty of making excuses for too long about why “today” was not the day to start. Because it took me too long, one of my role’s in blogglland is to push others. I do, just like I hope others will me.

    • Karen

      That is sort of my long term vision for maintaining. If there are food treats I want, like ice cream, I have to go out for them where it takes more effort and is portion controlled. And hopefully I would not abuse that!

      I admit I am often hesitant to kick butt in a comment. I have to feel I know the blogger well and that she’d not be offended. I few times I have asked the blogger if she preferred that or kind, supportive words.

  13. When I saw your post title, I thought, oh no, Karen and peanut butter! It’s so funny to me, the unique kind of friendships and intimacy this world brings us. I care about you and your peanut butter.
    So glad the post isn’t about a “problem”.
    I’m so proud of you.
    This might be a gateway food, but have you tried almond butter? I still haven’t but might try to switch us to it.
    Every comment on my blog has been kind and positive. They have all kept me connected to the part of myself that wants and believes I deserve health.
    They have all supported me and changed my life for the better.

    • Karen

      Oh you make me smile:) Thank you for being such a great blog friend.

      Yes, tried other nut butters. Don’t like them as much but still might overeat them. So… they are out too. But I am thinking that when…if… I decide to try again, I’ll start with one of those instead of PB.

  14. Wonderful post, as always. We have peanut butter (Jif Crunchy) in the house for my husband. It doesn’t call me at all, until I have some and then I want more – but generally processed PB is okay.

    BUT – like you, the natural peanuts-only variety is total crack. I love the grainy texture, and try to pour off as much oil as possible in the beginning and store it in the fridge upside down so it’s really to thick to spread. OMG – thinking about it is quickening my pulse. I CANNOT have it around. Not within a 5 mile radius of my sentient mind. Ditto almond butter, and worse yet – Trader Joe’s Almond butter with flax seeds mixed in.

    Good to hear you got the peanut monkey off your shoulder 🙂

    • Karen

      Jif won’t call me either:) I also store it upside down. But I never poured off the oil because I told myself that was the healthy fat part. So… I guess this is the benefit of abstinence:)

  15. Can’t believe it’s been a year. I haven’t had to kick PB out of the house as it’s been behaving (maybe because I haven’t switched over to the all-natural stuff yet). I did eat a whole cantaloupe by myself yesterday, though, but that was because it was either eat it or toss it as it’s not allowed into the USA.

    • Karen

      That is a very healthy food to have chosen to do that with, Siobhan:) PB is just one food now on my growing list. Sigh.

  16. Marlene

    Maybe not so much a peanut butter but Nutella. Nutella is the biggest problem in my house. It a sweet version of cocaine and i weak, i need a rehab.

    The worst thing is that the bigger the Jar the FASTER it disappears! Not slower – faster!

    • Karen

      I have not had Nutella in decades, literally. But I did win some samples of Jason’t PB that was chocolate flavored and … OMG!!!

  17. Karen, I am so mad that I keep forgetting about Thursday posts & like GoDaddy, the reminder for yours comes later so I try to get to it early – forgot again. I am blaming age! 😉

    I do remember your PB probs very well! I hope one day you will be able to do the moderation thing but if ya can’t, stay away! 🙂

    I love comments & sometimes I think I am a nobody in the world of wonderful blogs & then 1 comment makes me feel like I am getting thru to 1 person. I don’t think people really know how much of an impact they can make!

    • Karen

      And I thought of you and your “tough love.” You find a great way to be supportive but also to push when a push might be what is needed. Thanks for being there for me:)

  18. Ewa

    Karen, this is a wonderful post. Anyone who is addicted to any type of food should read it.
    Pat yourself on the back for not craving your hubby’s peanut butter. My hubby has not kicked his food addictions and for me it is not easy to keep away from them.

    • Karen

      Thanks, Ewa. I feel pretty good about this. But I know that for some, the concept of abstaining instead of moderation seems wrong. I say we each gotta go with what works for us. This is working for me right now.

  19. i love peanut butter but thank goodness it’s not a trigger food i can control it. love it with bananas

  20. You know what’s funny? Before I changed my life I rarely ate peanut butter- I didn’t even care for it. Then when I started dieting and eating it more often for protein I did start feeling the same way. I really had to tone myself down and not eat pb for a while. But NOW I’m craving a pb and j sandwich! lol. I think I’ll use one of my sandwich thins tomorrow and make one :p

    • Karen

      Glad I’m not the only one who changed like this! I used to love it spread on sandwich thins, open-faced. Very healthy. Then the overeating of both things. Sigh.

  21. Dang Karen. I have one thing to say. December. Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Or is that my failing (I always thought I wouldn’t like it until I tasted it)? I don’t have peanut butter in my house. No reason for it. No one really eats it – even the kids. The last time I bought peanut butter was for my late dog (to take pills). But the ice cream part I love to death.

    All I can say is you have been better than me. I’ve been having asthma issues and to drown my woes I’ve been eating lemon squares. Really bad for me.

    • Karen

      Lemon squares would so not be my poison! Sorry you are having issues. I have had PB ice cream. Baskin Robbins has a yummy one. Mmmm. And, yes, we did it for the dog too. She got the super cheap brand though:)

  22. Good for you! Your post made me think of pb & jam on saltines – and squeezing the stuff through the saltine holes! Haven’t thought of that (or done that) in years! (good thing I can’t eat saltines)…I love pb but I can control myself around it. Chocolate, on the other hand? Nope. Not a full bar. It doesn’t stand a chance!

    • Karen

      Oh I never added jam on the saltines. Hmm. So.. chocolate. We’ve had it in the house a lot this past year. (Husband.) And I can usually handle not eating it. I think for the the difference is that the chocolate he buys is clearly the “unhealthy” “off-plan” kind, so I can walk away; the PB is in theory both healthy and on-plan. I can overeat the most healthy of foods:(

  23. Happy Anniversary Karen, a year w/o peanut butter and no immediate thoughts of returning. My favorite ice cream is Peanut butter & Chocolate. It’s been at least a month or two since I had any. Not only are you a talented and creative writer, you are also a very supportive commenter. Whenever I see a comment coming through from you, I instantly feel good. I think your sincerity shines through with each comment and sometimes it really helps to know someone out there cares. Thanks Karen 🙂

  24. I am okay with peanut butter, but I have to put other foods on hiatus from time to time when I start cracking out on them (granola, cashews).

    • Karen

      Oh – granola. Yep, that’s not one I can eat with moderation either. Actually, all cereal has become a problem for me. Cashews, not so much. Because if I eat too many my throat itches. The doctor says it is reflux and not allergies, though.

  25. First a note on that last shaded bit you added. So So true. Many a time I had my arms firmly folded across my torso only to have them gently loosened by a thoughtful comment. Or to have someone chuckle knowingly with me. Feels So good to have that. Karen. : )

    Glad hubby did not try to “reason” with you about peanuts being peanuts no matter the label. That leans to foot stomping at my house.

    I used to put peanut butter on a spoon, roll it in chocolate chips and then each bite I would dunk it in rice crispies. Then I discovered Nutella… which I dipped on spoon two and ate it every other peanut dunk/lick. Strangely, I am not tempted by the Nutella. It still lives in the cabinet.

    Even though I have PB2 – it is not the same as traditional PB. I do not venture near it even though torturer in chief refuses to put it back in the cabinet after gobbling it. Skinny twerp.

    • Karen

      Have you tried Jason’s nut butters? There are flavors, like chocolate. I won samples in a giveaway and after tasting one, gave the rest to my vegan niece. But they have added sugar, as does PB2 I think, which is not something “on” my plan. So I am pretty good about avoiding that when I am on track. Which, finally, is more often than not.

      You, my dear, are an amazing commmenter. And you obviously come back to see what I say in reply. I suspect most people don’t and would like to add back the feature that emails to you. Not only are you thoughtful in what you say, but as I have shared before, your sense of humor often brings a smile to my face. Love that. I actually just recommended your blog to someone because of your great style.

  26. I can leave the PB alone, but I absolutely, positively refuse to have Oreos or those thin mint cookies in the house. Even after all these years! I completely get this whole post.

    • Karen

      See… I can have those here and not eat THEM! Funny how people are so different. Not that I want the cookies to tempt me!!

  27. Good for you! I wonder if I would ever have the willpower to do something like that…with candy, or soda. Hmm. There’s a reason I can’t keep them in the house, but when I give in, it’s ugly.

  28. Hi Karen! I totally relate. This happens to me with quite a few foods when my husband does the shopping trip. He buys so many sweets.

    🙂 Marion

  29. Congratulations on the one year “anniversary”! 🙂

    I have to say I often wonder if I will ever be able to eat like a “normal” person again. I hope it is possible, someday. Let me know if you find a way!

  30. I love peanut butter too!! I use to eat Jiffy by the spoonfuls and could gain 5 pounds in a week. I finally stopped eating it and didn’t look back…until I read how good PB is for you as a protein and how it fills you up. I thought long and hard to buy that PB again, this time it was the Natural No-Stir PB and I like it, but I have started adding it to my Weight Watcher snack at night when I shouldn’t. So, here I go forcing the PB to stay in the fridge instead of getting it out regularly.

    No, I don’t get too many comments I wish I had someone that could light the fire under my butt sometimes.

  31. I am starting to truly get “over” many of my former trigger foods. I’m still not totally immune though. I don’t have an issue with PB, but when my husband fixes himself a sandwich and leaves the jar open on the counter (!) it doesn’t take long for a craving to hit.

  32. Hi Karen,
    First time commenting – I’ve been interested to read about how you deal with triggers. I’m not too bad with PB but have fallen in love with PB2 (that stuff is expensive to ship to Australia) – it doesn’t taste all that great on it’s own but is great with chocolate protein powder in oatmeal.

    Granola is also a trigger for me. I usually avoid keeping it in the house.

    Cheers Liz N

    • Karen

      Granola – major trigger for me too! Actually, that now might apply to pretty much all cereals, I am sad to say. Sigh.

  33. Sable@SquatLikeALady

    Karen. This is WONDERFUL! And you are so right — sometimes it’s just that ONE comment you need to read that changes your whole outlook!

  34. Hiya Karen, I just finished catching up with all of your posts that I missed over the past few weeks. Darn. You wrote about so many fun and interesting things that I would have liked to comment about. Loved the photos of you and your son, and of your younger self. Enjoyed reading about “Hope” — are the two of you still enjoying rides together?

    Now, as to peanut butter — I remember your trials and tribulations with it a year ago. I, too, give it up for months at a time. And every time I think of eating it again, I think of you. Yesterday, I examined the contents of all of the “natural” and “organic” peanut butter brands when I was shopping — and I finally bought a small jar of one of them — the first I have had in months (maybe 8). I wanted to have something in the house that I could fall back on when I wanted a quick lunch — let’s hope now that the whole jar doesn’t become one lunch!!

  35. That is the one thing about peanut butter that’s so seductive: you don’t even need silverware. A finger will do. I sympathize, Karen. And good for you for keeping it at bay until you know you’re ready to bring it back.
    As far as encouraging words by my readers, I have to say that there have been many. They usually come in waves and leave me feeling like the luckiest woman alive. In other words, they come when I need them most, and it’s usually from everyone who drops a line on that particular day.

    • Karen

      I have to admit I have never dipped my finger! But probably because it it just seemed less efficient:)

      • As a recovering addict – the finger never worked for me. Too messy, took long- i could easly by caught pb handed! And I couldnt scoop as much with my finger as I could with a spoon!

  36. UGH…I had to call my PBA (peanut butter Anonymous) sponser last week and again throw out the jar. I dont know why i had it in the house. why i broke down and bought it and then openned it. So I have started over again! I will be blogging about it late tonight.

    • Karen

      I wondered if you would read this. You were on my mind:)

      • total relaps Not proud but moving forward! you can set a clock to it at 730pm and 915pm i am walking around in the kitchen looking for something to satisfy my craving. Something to make me forget that I am jones’n for a fix. you know whats crazy – my face is so broke out – i wonder if its from the oil in the PB.

  37. oOooh man, I just had this talk with myself regarding the amount of Nutella I’ve been eating…it’s come to spoonfuls & now within 3 days one jar polished off like it was nothing.

    Eeeeeeee I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog! From one Peanut butter addict to a Nutella addict I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one.

  38. Wow, there’s so much stuff I need to kick out of my house. Like chocolate and sugar and flour and bread, etc. I find it frustrating that sometimes when I focus on eliminating one bad habit I replace it with another bad habit.

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