This Cup Runneth Amuck

In my kitchen lives a purple cup.  It’s plastic.  It sits, mostly unused, on a high cabinet shelf with a collection of other plastic cups.  Many are souvenirs.  From sporting events, for example.  Many are much larger.  A few are a bit smaller.  The kind of cheap cups that are good to have around because you never know when they’ll come in handy.

But this particular cup… NOT handy.  Unless one is referring to just how easily it finds its way into my hand and then my hand finds its way into the cup!  Dangerous.  Because of how I’ve so often used it in the past.  Not for drinks.  For that I use a glass.  But for snacks.  The kind that you can’t hold in one’s hand.  The little nibbles.  Like…. cereal.  Or chips.  Or Goldfish crackers.  But mostly cereal.

For months on end the cup sits forgotten.  Like thoughts of those little nibbles themselves.  Maybe because there are no Goldfish in the house.  No chips.  Maybe because I’m eating well and my mind is on track and not thinking (dreaming, obsessing) about my husband’s cereal sitting on its own shelf on the other side of the kitchen but still within waving distance of the purple cup.  Cabinet doors remain closed.  Thoughts of nibbling run to apples and cheese and maybe a single carefully measured serving of nuts.

But then… boom… out of nowhere.  The craving hits.  Pow.  Resistance proves futile.  My mind reaches first for the cereal.  My hand follows.  I read the nutritional information and consider the serving size and how easy it would be to pour into a measuring cup.  Nah!  “Measuring cups are for ninnies,” says the little voice in my head.  “Purple cup.”  “Purple cup.”  “Purple cup.”  No measuring.  Portion control only limited by the size of a plastic cup much larger than the actual recommended serving.  And by how many trips I make back to fill it again.

Have I ever used a different cup?  Maybe.  Surely?  What is it about THIS one?  Yes, I like purple.  (You might have guessed that from my blog design.)  Yes, the cup is a great size to rest comfortable in the crook of my arm when I’m supine on the couch with a book in my hands.  Yes, the rim is just wide enough to allow my whole hand to reach in to the bottom of the cup for every last piece of cereal, although sometimes I raise it to my mouth to get the little crumbs that settle.  But I suspect it is like many things for me connected to food – an association or habit or conditioned response.

Today the cup sits, as it has for the past few weeks.  As it had for months and months on end until a little blip in my willpower last month led me to reach up for it.  To fill it.  and then, to ponder it.  Such is my life as a blogging, musing, yo-yo dieter – finding the most obscure things to ponder and about which to write.  A purple cup?!

And, oddly, or not, sitting here, typing, thinking, has for the very first time made me think that maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the cup.  I know there are others that could be used in its stead.  But, I have just a little notion that maybe if the next time I reached for the cup it wasn’t there, I’d stop, think, rethink, and that would be that.  Maybe.



Filed under cheating/overeating

63 responses to “This Cup Runneth Amuck

  1. HUGE step Karen! Congratulations on even pondering the possibility.

  2. Aren’t our little rituals funny? Mind you, on finding the cup is no longer there, I’m likely to just shrug my shoulders and put the cereal/nuts/treats in something else; although not seeing it would probably remind me of why I threw it away.

    Can’t wait to hear what you decide to do.

    PS. We don’t have goldfish crackers here in Oz, but I recall their mention on The West Wing, when a journalist bought a White House media adviser a goldfish cos someone told him she liked them (meaning the crackers)…. 🙂


    • I haven’t had Goldfish in years, probably. They actually are pretty low-calorie. I remember that when I did eat an actual measured portion, it was like 67 of those little fishies! My boys used to like them so we’d have them around when they were younger.

  3. Ewa

    Is this up for a vote? I think it is time to say bye-bye to the cup. Tell it it’s been fun, tell it you still love it, tell it whatever so it does not feel bad and then just get rid of it.
    There, I voted.

    Now that would not work for me. Temptations in the house often spell doom, cup or not. Oh, well…

  4. Haha, I have my similar rituals too.. It’s pretty funny how we get tied up in things like that!

  5. You are strides ahead of where I’ve often been….why bother with the cup when you can eat directly out of the bag or box??? LOL! Think of the extra effort one has to exert making trips back to the kitchen to refill the cup!

    Seriously, I’ll have to ponder this one for awhile. Yes, getting ride of the cup might be symbolically significant, but wouldn’t necessarily reflect a true and lasting change of mind. There will always be other cups and there will always be bowls, bags, boxes, etc. The change has to come from within. And I know YOU – YOU CAN MAKE THAT CHANGE!

    BTW, purple is my favorite color. You could give the cup to me!

    • It would be a crutch, at most, but my thinking is that not finding the cup when I reach for it might give me pause to rethink. It is odd that I tend to go for the cup and not the box or bag. Maybe because it doesn’t seem so “bad”?

  6. I’d have to think about this one for a while too. The cup can become a symbol of self-control. Yes, or no. I will fill it or I won’t.

    I’d keep it.

  7. Don’t worry, Karen, as long as you don’t become like Toby Keith in his song “Red Solo Cup,” you will be fine 🙂

  8. Well, very interesting post & comments! Diane has a great point & I was all ready to tell you to get rid of it.. you know yourself best & what will work for you! Me, I don’t need no stinking purple cup for that! 😉 I just eat if I decide to! 🙂

  9. I don’t have a cup that is so closely associated with moments of overeating. I’m trying to imagine what my therapist would suggest to break the association.

    Why not try putting other food in it other than cereal? How about grapes? Or chickpeas? Or even water? With practice you can turn back into a normal cup…

    I love purple too…

    • Interesting to consider what your therapist would say. I might be going in that direction with my idea to get rid of it, or at least move it. Because it would have a similar result, I think. When I reach for the cup it would be gone so I’d maybe rethink the whole action that is leading to the reaching?

      • So I’ve been thinking about this more. I think your cup, is like me and Oreos (historically labelled as a “bad food” and perceived as a binge trigger). The cup represents those times when you allowed yourself to eat food that you view as a trigger food; a gateway to overeating.

        But, I actually think it is about your history of restricting and limiting food….

  10. 1) I love goldfish, so I understand this post entirely. I can’t keep them in the house because an entire box WILL be gone within a matter of days.

    2) I tend to just skip the bowl/cup/dinnerware when it comes to snacking. My pantry is just a few close steps away (unfortunately….)

  11. Maybe just moving it – laundry room? – would interrupt the snaking auto-pilot long enough for you to override. Then again, maybe moving it would just make you think of snacking when you were thinking of something else entirely. I’d be tempted to get rid of it, but if you want to keep it, why not start to use it for something you can associate with making a healthier choice, like drinking an entire purple cup full of water every time you go to have a snack. Maybe you should get some paint pens and decorate it with drawings of yo-yos? 🙂

    • Someone else suggested filling it with healthy stuff too. I hadn’t thought of that. I think I’ll consider both that and moving it to another cabinet where I won’t see it when I go looking in the old spot.

  12. Oh my gosh I can totally relate. Isn’t it funny how when we reach for certain foods we need a certain dish, even though others would do fine. I find myself doing this and am laughing now. I have a few “purple cups” too.

  13. Your speaking of these cravings makes me think about the ones I had yesterday for something sweet… anything sweet… didn’t know what it would be… nothing in the kitchen… would have to go buy something… hmm, Starbucks cake pops… anything sweet… NOW.

    But then I kept doing what I was doing, and the craving really did pass. I thought about how this comes back to that whole being in the moment thing that’s just a bit overrated. If we’re totally in the moment, it’s easier to give into those cravings, impulses, or whatever you want to term them. Instead, we need to focus on the big picture… and ask this question, “What’s interfering with my rational judgment and discretion that would allow me to consider this poor decision?”

    Yeah, seems like a crazy question. But it kept me at 1500 calories yesterday.

    • We’ll have to talk about this because what strikes me is that usually when people talk about being in the moment its a GOOD thing! And I love that you had nothing in the house! For me, that’s usually the end of it.

      • We will have to talk about this. I do believe that as with everything else, too much “in the moment” is just as bad as not enough. Too much “in the moment” can lead to giving in to whatever, while looking at things from a broader perspective lets us make more informed decisions.

        I’m not suggesting there isn’t a proper time and place for being totally in the moment; I just don’t think it can ever be a basis for decision-making.

  14. Isn’t it great to have an epiphany while blogging? For me, I wish it would happen more often, but I’m certainly appreciative of it when it does.

  15. Change happens in the moment. Not one minute ago and not one minute from now.

    My purple cup is a small wooden bowl from which I can eat similar snacks…including cheesy popcorn, for which I use my tongue so my fingers don’t get gooey.

  16. If we’re voting, I think maybe it’s time to let the cup go. Or, as Karen wisely suggested, use it for another purpose.

  17. Very interesting! I don’t have a favorite cup or anything but I did used to have a lot of rituals surrounding my sweets habit. I think it is a comfort thing.

    I think you should throw it out! 😦

  18. Isn’t it weird what kinds of objects/ cues get tied into food cravings? Every single day I crave I giant grilled turkey Rachel sandwich, because every day I pass the deli that I used to buy them from on the way to work. Sigh.

    An alternative to throwing it out which may or may not work: what about putting measuring lines/marks on the cup in permanent marker so that at least if you use it you won’t be kidding yourself?

  19. This post made me smile. I’m still in the learning process and realizing my food rituals. I have had to through a disch or two away also. Luckily, now that the hubby has decided to be vegetarian and also wants to eat healthier..we no longer have any snacks that are unhealthy in our pantry. Yay! Happy dance. But, I can totally relate to this post! 🙂

    • Unfortunately my husband is also doing a semi-vegan thing right now and he is eating almost the opposite of me! He’s having lots of cereal and pasta and I am trying not to eat either. I eat a lot of lean protein and he’s having none of the animal ones. Sigh.

  20. Jan

    As my therapist would have said, you get rid of the cup, or not, your choice. If you do, I think a good-bye ritual would be in order. Then… cremate the sucker. Or less drastic – plant something in it; give it away; draw on it with feeling and symbols and see if it is still has the same appeal. I think you have undergrown your cup like many of us undergrow our clothes.

  21. That cup might look innocent, but it has clearly become an enabler for whenever the carb demons strike. Get rid of it now and maybe buy a lovely measuring cup to take its place for accountability the next time you’ve got to have cereal. 🙂

  22. I was ready to say toss the cup- then I read all the comments. Hmmmmm?? I think I would toss the cup- but I really like the idea of planting something in it- so you can look at the cup and let it know who is boss!!!

  23. The visual of you sitting with a book in your hands and purple cup in crook of arm is priceless. But it sounds like a great idea to the cup the old heave-ho.

    And what is it about cereal????????? Oh yeah – mostly simple carbs – popability (into one’s mouth), and great variety. And it’s healthy breakfood food, for Pete’s sake!

    Love Jan’s comment about having a goodbye ritual – I was going to suggest the same thing. Because it will be a big deal.

    • Cereal, sigh. As you say, popable. I like snacks that let me nibble like that. More sighing. Really I am worst when I read on the darn couch! So maybe I have to stop that too. If I read sitting in a chair I can at least sip hot tea for my oral fixation.

  24. We may not all have a little purple cup but we all have our little rituals/comforts/rewards. If symbolic stuff
    works for you (like weaning the kids off their pacifiers?) then a goodbye ritual is what comes to mind for me. I have gotten rid of some things and put others off out of sight.

    I agree that you never know what may create blogging inspiration!

  25. I totally understand that “little blip in willpower” phrase. I’ll be doing fine until suddenly, I’m not. Sigh.

  26. If I had that type of an affair with a purple cup, if it was no longer around, I would find a substitute. Better to keep that purple cup and NOT use it than have to worry about what you might replace it with. You could open a huge can of worms here with a new substitute: is it bigger (holds more), smaller (holds less) or does my hand fit in it the same way??

  27. Maybe it is better to keep it. Those other tumblers look bigger. You would burn that much less in between snack scavenging.

    Or you could jab a hole in the bottom and plant lettuce in it.

  28. My husband also loves purple…

    I have been snacking like mad on food I shouldn’t be lately, but right now I could care less, not a good attitude to have I guess… *shrug*

  29. I’ve got nothing for you. I can see both sides. For myself I’d probably want to keep it around just to prove to myself that it is an inanimate object, not part of some evil plot to make me gain weight.

  30. The cup may have some bad mojo attached to it. Getting rid of it would perhaps create a fresh start for you and no more visual cues the past uses of the cup!

  31. Those simple little carby things are the worse of the lot!

    I say toss the cup as a symbol for stopping mindless munching.

    My hubby has “popcorn” bowl and if anyone uses it for anything else he becomes a little annoyed and we have to wash it so he can have his popcorn. I have wondered if his popcorn bowl were ever to go away if he would no longer be able to eat popcorn!

  32. We are creatures of habit, I guess, so maybe not having the cup around would be a good thing. It’s interesting what can trigger us to eat. loved this post!

  33. If it were me it might be best to get rid of it or re-purpose it, as so many have suggested, because whenever I’d see it, I’d want to snack – or it would remind me of snacking at the very least. Cereal is something I have to be careful with too. It’s the only food (other than ice cream maybe) where I like to fill up my bowl more than once.

    One of the things that helps me is giving myself permission to “waste food”. If I am able to come to my senses before I finish off the whole portion (or empty the whole cup!) I throw the rest in the garbage and walk away. I do not have to wait until I finish all my food to get a grip!

  34. I like your “maybe” idea. It’s a very good one for prevention. Also tempted to ask you to send me cup.

  35. Barbara

    We have regular sized mugs, and then jumbo mugs. I’m definitely guilty of going to make a “small” bowl of oatmeal. I tell myself I’ll get a mug instead of a bowl so that I won’t get as much. Then I grab a jumbo mug! (And I’m pretty sure the jumbo mug might hold more than our bowls.) Oh the mind games we play with ourselves!

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