Saturday, March 01, 2008

Addiction (3 of 7)

I've talked before about how eating is the the last refuge of hedonism for so many in our culture. It's the last place that we can completely indulge in our fantasies without any real (short term) social consequences.

But I was thinking the other day how it might be about something else, too.

It's kind of about control. I may not be able to control my own life - I have people all around me telling me what to do and how to live. I have responsibities that dictate how I need to live my life.

But what I eat is something I can control completely. Or at least that's the illusion I allow myself. I can eat what I want, whenever I want. You may tell me I can't buy that car, I can't go on that vacation, I can't have that job. But you can't tell me I can't eat that pounder bag of M&Ms. You can't tell me I can't indulge in that bacon double cheeseburger or the sinfully delicious 7-layer chocolate cake. It's all about the little bit of control we have left to exert over our own destinies.

Is this why we're emotional eaters? We eat when we're upset, frustrated; when we don't get what we want. We can't always get what we want out of life, but we can always get what we want on our plate.

Of course, this ends up being an illusion because the addiction takes over, and while we think we have complete control (I can quit anytime!) it ends up taking over, and we've lost all control.

I've heard people say, "I just can't lose weight and I don't know why." That's never been a mystery to me. I eat lots of food that's bad for me. I eat very little food that's good for me. I'm not really that active. It's a simple equation. I may not have control, but at least I know it. And knowing is half the battle! (Thanks G.I. Joe!)

But it's so dang hard. I know I was just talking about that a couple months ago, but it hasn't gotten any easier since August. It's easy to compare to an addiction - but an addiction that you just can't quit cold turkey. I know that can sound like a cop-out, and I'm not trying to use it as an excuse - just trying to figure out why it's so difficult. Well, besides the fact that eating poorly is so stinkin' easy and cheap and it's thrown in my face every billboard and television commercial.

Addicts talk about the pink cloud. It's the time when you're first trying to kick an addiction, and it's actually easy. There's this feeling of euphoria, along with a sense of "I-don't-even-want-to-go-back-to-that-lifestyle." It's the same with eating healthy. I can go a good 6 weeks and not even want to pick up a cookie, a candy bar, a bottle of soda, a hamburger, a chocolate-covered donut, a massive plate of french fries slathered in ketchup...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. But then it wears off, and the food calls again.


It calls from the cabinet.

You know you want us...

It calls from the refrigerator.

Just a little bite...

It calls from the Krystal's drive through.

And that's the problem - it's not "just a little bite." If it was, I wouldn't have a problem. You know that marketing slogan, you can't eat just one? They got that from me.

Even my not-yet-one-year-old son knows how to pace himself. He can take an entire piece of bread, and eats it bite by bite, not taking another until he finishes the last. I'm having to learn too much from my own kids.


  1. One of my big problems is that I am a huge night eater. I eat a small breakfast, a medium lunch, and a big dinner. I also snack a lot from dinner to bedtime. This is backwards according to the nutrition gurus...

    I've also gotten into a strange habit of waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (I've had that habit for along time) and then I will somehow wander into the kitchen, grab some cookies or some other sweet snack, and sit on the couch and eat while I'm half asleep. I've tried to break this but it is challengng...

    I feel better now that I have confessed all this :)

  2. That last comment was from Jud. Sorry I forgot to sign my name.

    --It would probably be easy to confuse my cravings with a pregnant woman :)

  3. I do that middle-of-the-night thing, but usually, I take a swig of something sweet so it can stay and work on my teeth all night - like coke, or juice, or kool aid.

    I'll have to call you up - maybe we'll be up at the same time sometime!