Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Last night was one of those nights.  A night, which could equally have been one of those days, or those weeks, when I ate and ate and ate, because I was trying NOT to eat and eat and eat.

In my full house.  Full of the men in my life who are not “dieting” and who are certainly not in any way trying to eat what I try to eat NOR trying not to eat what I am (mostly successfully but often still with conscious effort) trying not to eat.  With my house full of not only the men, but also their food (and their clutter and their noise).  With my house full of temptation.

Which brings me back to last night.  I wanted to eat one of the delectable looking desserts that my husband brought home from the store… but I didn’t really want to eat it, if you know what I mean.  I wanted to eat some of the fudge that my mother-in-law had made at my son’s request for his “send off” party.  I wanted to eat (from the Costco size containers of) the M & Ms and red licorice that had been in my pantry all week.  And the pretzel chips.  And the tortilla chips.  And the pita bread, also left over from the party, that goes so well with the humus still sitting in the fridge that is just not the same on top of a veggie slice.  I wanted to eat the leftover pizza.  And the (home-baked but store-bought) bread sitting on the counter leftover from the previous night’s family dinner (when everyone ate it but me).  I even wanted to eat fro-yo that we didn’t even have in our house!

My mind was whirling.

An inner battle waged on.

I’d like to tell you I ate nothing.  But I can’t.  Because I ate.  And I ate something else.  And then I ate another thing.  BUT, I ate none of the above.  Not one piece of candy; not one bite of junk food; not one refined carb.  I ate “healthy;” I ate “on plan.”  I ate everything but the kitchen sink.

In my mind I was saying, “You’ll regret it if you eat that crap.”  In my mind I was saying, “I want.  I want.!”  In my mind I said, “Okay, Karen – eat… but eat something else instead.”  “Eat something on plan.”  “Eat something ‘acceptable’ if you want, if you must, if you are still jonesing for the treats.”

It wasn’t a binge.  It wasn’t a disaster.  It was a coping mechanism.  Or, at least, that’s what I’m going with.  It wasn’t horrible.  It wasn’t weight-gain-inducing.  But it wasn’t due to physical hunger.  It wasn’t how I want to eat when I envision my long-term “healthy eating that’s a lifestyle and not a diet” or my new normal.

And it wasn’t new.  I’ve done it before.  This excuse for a coping mechanism.  This lie I tell myself that it is better to eat everything and anything “on plan” than to give in when a bonanza of temptation is staring me in the face and screaming in my head, for hours, for days.

Eat this; not that.  Eat this; not that.  Rinse and repeat.

The good news?  Most of the time this situation doesn’t arise because there just isn’t this kind or quantity of food in the house.  And over time, when the temptation is there, I’ve succumbed to my “binge that isn’t a binge” less and less and less often.  The bad news?  I thought about not eating last night.  I thought about the fact that I wasn’t really hungry, in my belly, that is.  I thought about being stronger than the cravings.  But then I thought it was better to eat the sugar-free pudding and the “3 minute flourless chocolate cake” and the frozen yogurt bar and the apple and the fat-free cheese than to eat the other stuff.  I thought about chocolate.  A lot.  I thought about coping.  So I thought.

And, because, as you know, I over-think everything, now I think about how I can use this and learn from this.  Or if I even care.  Still thinking.

3 Minute Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 T. Smart Balance
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
2 T. sugar-free syrup (like DaVinci) or skim milk (or any combination; I use 1/2 and 1/2)
4 t. Splenda

Microwave the Smart Balance just until completely melted. Whisk the other ingredients in a microwave safe container; add the melted Smart Balance and blend completely. Microwave on high for about 1 minute.  Eat warm or let cool.

What have you been thinking about lately?  Do you have any coping mechanisms you’d care to share?




Filed under cheating/overeating, dieting, influence of others

43 responses to “Everything But The Kitchen Sink

  1. Your story sounds like a lot of episodes that happen to me. The nice thing is they are less frequent now than in the past but I definitely still have them.

    I don’t know if I have any new coping mechanisms to show but I try to keep myself busy so I don’t get bored. Night time snacking is one of my weaknesses so knowing this, I make an effort to be stay out of the kitchen after dinner.

    • Night snacking used to be my rough time too. I had gotten much better at it… most of the time. For me I think it is boredom and habit. And trying to keep myself awake until a decent hour!

  2. Jan

    Eat this, not that. A wise saying, and one I firmly believe in. So, that’s my reason for fully supporting your choice to eat rather than torture yourself until you ate the wonderful, er, horrendous food in the environment.

    My way of coping (when I can successfully cope) is to “eat this, not that” but stay at my calorie limit since I am still losing weight. I also will resort to those infamous 5 D’s (some hard to do with family around): distance myself, drink water, destroy the food; distract myself; deep breaths. I recently read about some other “D’s” – dance, delay, disgust (picture gross images about the food). I don’t like the disgust one. I’m usually in a crappy place, and more ickiness is not called for. (Nor is ending a sentence with a preposition.)

  3. Ann

    I have the same experience and luckily they are farther between and result in less eating even if it’s on plan. But for me it’s a lesson to myself that these issue are about so much more than food. As always your thoughtful posts are inspiring.

    • I did wonder, Ann, what it was about. The food or something else. It felt like it was about the food. But I really didn’t think about any emotions at the time… just the darn food.

  4. So I have a question…what it is that you were trying to cope with? The fact that there was all that food in the house and you wanted to eat it all? Or is there something else on your mind that you’re having difficulty coping with? Because I have just figured out why the past three months have been a binge fest for me…it’s not because I wanted to eat junk, it’s because I felt insecure and unsure and vulnerable to attack due to being in a situation where I am responsible for my Grandmother’s care and afraid that if I make a mistake, “someone” will get mad at me.

    • That is a great question, Karen. I don’t know. It might really have been about the food. But, then again, it is pretty crazy here right now with everything going on to get ready for my son’s move. So maybe there was some emotional stuff that I just wasn’t thinking about.

    • I think you’re right–the binge is always about something else but the food, if we’re honest with ourselves. I’ve been there with the responsibility for someone’s care, and the feeling that you’re a target for “someone.” …very stressful!

  5. I love just looking at those photos.. but some might call you a cruel temptress!
    One of the things I love about knowing you is that you are exactly like me and it doesn’t matter one bit that you’re “thin”, “normal”…. It can be so easy for me to tie my eating disorder in with feelings of being fat and all the negative delusions I have about that… like that it means sloppy or lazy. I’m neither of those things, but I feel like a secretly hideous beast sometimes and all my wisdom doesn’t change it.
    Somehow you help me keep a kind of perspective. Does this make sense? I mean it as a compliment or at least in gratitude for you sharing your inner eating issues.
    You did great here!!! I hope to emulate as I go along. I can say that I did not indulge in even the one donut hole my husband and daughter brought home yesterday. The kid always gets them to throw in extras! Stephen had only gotten One donut for each of them on their excursion (wisely) and then she threw in three!! And I gave it to my Mother in Law. Ha!

    • Sorry! “They” say we should have images on our posts:)

      I’m glad you said what you did, Teresa, because one of the reasons I have never “talked numbers” about my weight on here is that I really feel there are so many things that I have in common with so many readers that have nothing to do with how much we each weigh. As I once said in a post title – I only look normal. One thing that has become very clear to me through writing this blog over the past couple of years is that I have some issue or disordered relationship with food.

  6. IMHO forget about it and go on! Once again, you are living in a “temporary” situation and things will be back to normal fairly soon. With the boys home and more transitions happening, don’t be so hard on yourself when you aren’t perfect. I think you did great and your way of dealing this time shows tremendous progress. You know how to reach me if I can help in a moment of crisis!

    • Oh if only the food would vanish NOW! But it will be months yet. Sigh. I need to get back to ignoring it. Not quite sure why it was so hard the other night. Now my focus is just on getting through next week while I’m away from home.

  7. Love the productive self talk that you went through. Excellent progress, my dear. A win win for you. Wahoo. Yippee!

    See you can lick this yo-yo diet stuff.

  8. KarenJ

    Yes, it is definitely a coping mechanism, and there are behaviors I call “bridge” behaviors which are those that you use until you can stop eating altogether. So eating the so-called “healthy” stuff is better than eating the junk. Yes you are still eating, but it is HUGE that you had all those goodies around and didn’t eat those. It’s hard to come up with a coping strategy if you don’t know the feeling(s) that trigger the overeating. The first thing that I came up with was that your son was leaving, so maybe you are feeling sad? If so, distraction sometimes helps, especially if you can do something immediately to perk yourself up like phone a friend. BTW, WOW, a 3 minute flourless cake? That’s some dangerous information there 🙂

    • Maybe I need to try to be introspective and figure out, if possible, what makes me want to eat in that moment. I don’t think that I’ve felt sadness yet, about him leaving, but I can say that I’ve felt stress at all that is going on here now to get him ready!

  9. I think I have written this post in my head about a zillion times. Except, I end up eating all of the good stuff and THEN, going after the bad because none of the good stuff was satisfying. I essence, if I’d added all the calories up, I probably end up coming out even. That’s me, though – and like you, isn’t about food. It’s one of things that just happens sometimes (Thank God not all of the time) and we do what we can do.

    • I’ve thought about that before, Ellen. I know some would suggest that you just eat whatever it is, in moderation, because nothing else will satisfy you in the same way. Of course moderation is not something I tend to do well:(

  10. My solution was to give in and acknowledge that there will always be times like this, and I’m actually grateful for them because they’re usually created by something festive going on. For some reason, that switch in thinking gave me a modicum of power over the situation, and I usually cope pretty well. By my definition of ‘well’. 🙂

    • That might work for me too if this was a temporary thing. And it is, sort of, but the food, or some variation, will be around at least as long as my teen which is through August. Sigh.

  11. I have been having similar issues. But I give in and eat a little so I am not a miserable shrew with the poutyface and folded arms over my chest stomping around the house. I always feel punished if I cannot eat at least one thing I want in a house full of goodies. For crying out LOUD yours was a hell house of heavenly hash. I would not have been able to sleep in that house.

    Yet another reason to admire you. SO strong. Better to eat a pile of good things than crap if you can manage it.

    • I don’t usually do very well with moderation. I guess it goes back to being so “all or nothing” in my thinking and my behavior. Too often I have just that bite, thinking I can, and that bite leads to a binge.

  12. Sounds like you did a good job. I’d not allow myself to eat what I want… eat everything else and then go back and eat what I wanted in the first place (anyway!).

    The ‘If Not Dieting’ approach I’m trying to follow talks about not seeing one day or one week in isolation… perhaps that will help.


    • Hmmm… I’ll have to think about that. It is sort of how I have been approaching social eating lately, maybe. And how it impacts me with maintaining.

  13. Yesterday was the same for me. Unfortunately, I did not cope as well as you did. Fortunately, I still lost some weight this week. Despite having had an extra thousand calories yesterday.

  14. Miz

    more than anything, Karen, I wanna leap in the car and take you out for coffee so we can TALK.


  15. I consider what you describe here as a victory. Also as a “Meh, whatever. It’s over and I have no regrets. Back on track now.” I’m trying to channel my inner Roni (who I know you read) with these thoughts! But boy, can I relate to the mental chatter when food’s in the nearby periphery and calling to us!

    Coping? Well other than the obvious that I usually don’t navigate nearly as well as you, going to an AA meeting is always a good way to get out of my head and out of my way. Or calling a friend and unloading my drama du jour.

    • I agree… meh whatever, it’s over. But, that’s the thing about having a blog – I move on but the words are still on the page. Makes me think twice now about some things I might write about.

  16. Michele @ Within Reach

    Wow, Karen, this is really intense. I’m wondering if this is more about all the things — mostly good but still major stressors– going on in your life right now. Is that possible? And here’s something else to consider — these kind of events don’t come around all the time. So what if you just really ate whatever you wanted whether it’s according to a plan or not? Even one 4,000 or more calorie day isn’t going to cause you to gain tem pounds. It’s what we est routinely snd not on rare occasions that really matter. Of course, if it isn’t stressful to eat on plan mo matter what, that’s great. But I don’t think most people operate that way. My fear is that excessive obsessing over food in rare big social situations removes all the joy from the togetherness that is such a rare gift in this world where we all live so far away sometimes from the people we love the most.

    • My thinking about maintaining is that I CAN splurge with special events. But unfortunately, this stuff or stuff like it will be around all summer while at least one son is home. So, I need to get over it now and not think about the Poptarts and pretzels and other stuff that comes with my son:) But you are also right that stress might have played a role. There is a lot going on!! As for social eating, that’s another thing altogether. This was solitary. Well, my husband was here eating his treat:) But social eating… sigh. I keep thinking I need a post about that.

  17. Karen I can relate to this post on every level. Been there and had the same thoughts, internal struggle and dialogue with myself! Sometimes I cave and eat some of the junk which fills me with remorse.

    Other times I sub a big bowl of lite popcorn or a huge bowl of fresh veggies, an apple with peanut butter or some other healthier food snack. Yes it is eating outside of hunger. I recognize that and know it’s not a perfect solution but am I always going to go through life only eating when I am hungry? Most likely not. At least the healthier noshing doesn’t lead to an all out carb fest. I will take the healthier eating outside of hunger option even if it isn’t the best thing to engage in emotional eating.

    In my humble opinion you did good girl!

  18. Karen, at least you did not eat the really bad stuff to excess! 🙂

    You know me, I plan in advance what I think is really worth it – meaning if some weight gain OR feeling UGH will come from it & stop there. I have lived the eat way too much of the sweet stuff in the past when I was in my healthy life BUT would go overboard in these situations. Not only did I feel mentally bad after, I felt physically like crap SO I remember those times.

    I have had a lot of practice at just taking what is right for me & stopping there so that is what I do. For example in your situation above, I would have chosen 1 or 2 things I really wanted, ate them in a portion controlled manner & been done… if I had really wanted them – not because they were there. Although that flourless cake sounds good!

  19. I’m eating and eating and eating everything in my aunt’s house! I’m also trying to exercise, but I’m snacking way more than I normally do in my own house – mostly just because the snacks are there. It’s tough! I don’t know how to come up with a coping mechanism as yet!

  20. It’s so hard when you have the stuff around you in bulk!!

  21. I still have times like that Karen. I try to just put it behind me and move on. I also really watch myself when I have overeaten for a day or two because it can be easy for me to “get on a roll!”

  22. Lately, I’ve been thinking about all of the chocolate we indulged in during our trip to the UK and two weekends spent celebrating my fiancee’s 40th birthday. So last Sunday, I decided to kick-off a Sugar-Free Summer, seeing how long I can go without eating processed sugar (natural stuff is fine). so far this is day eight, and I’m just going to keep at it, until I don’t for some reason.

  23. Tortilla chips, I can never say no to them! I’ve started weighing myself daily, not to be obsessive, but to keep myself in check at night with the treats. Knowing I am stepping on the scale first thing in the morning helps me to stay away from the sugar at night.

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