The Diet, Week 3.5: Looser Clothes But So Bored Of Plain Yogurt And Lettuce!

Chips (BE), French fries (AE), French fried po...
Bad, bad, bad, bad!!!!!Image via Wikipedia

If you’re going to cheat — it had better be worth it!

Greasy, not very good French fries, no. A small portion of apple clafouti, yes. And, yes, I had it with ice cream; I have been extremely careful and this was my first major transgression.

Ongoing lessons:

1) Eating with someone else, someone whose company you enjoy (not a job interview or a scary blind date), slows you down and makes you both happier and more aware of how quickly (or not) you are eating. Reading a magazine or watching TV has the opposite effect. Eating alone all the time is lonely.

2) Food and drink offer very real emotional comforts and denying this only short-circuits the process of reducing your intake and changing what goes into your mouth. Fellow T/S writer Nathan Deuel, mourning the recent death of his father, blogged recently:

I managed to get out the door before it got really messy, but en route home, I found myself walking down the middle of a Tribeca street, sobbing, attempting to eat a cupcake. Crying while eating: It’s so right now!

Author and former restaurant critic and Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl titled one of her books “Comfort Me With Apples.” (I’m thinking cheesecake myself.) No one, sorry, no one reaches for a 1/2 cup of cooked green vegetables when they are feeling broken, sad or despairing.

3) You cannot use food as a reward or a weapon. It will hurt you either way.

4) Hunger is a feeling. It is neither bad nor good. It may be an unusual sensation and it is not, frankly, fun or cute or amusing to walk around really wanting to gnaw on someone’s arm. It can be very distracting. If you let it.

8 thoughts on “The Diet, Week 3.5: Looser Clothes But So Bored Of Plain Yogurt And Lettuce!

  1. john

    3 and 4 are definitely keys for me. I know it kind of sucks going from a world where cheesecakes awaits you after accomplishing goal A1, A2, and A3 on your to do list, but the cold hard reality is that food is fuel. Any other mentality leads to the dark side. Fine dining excluded, of course. But seriously now, food is fuel. If (and that is an if with a capital IF) you can shake the idea of food as reward, or food is pleasure, it forces something really interesting to happen to your wiring. You begin to seek and find pleasure somewhere else. Sure, there is pride in you looser clothing and the image that comes back to you in the mirror, but I mean finding sincere pleasure in other areas of your life that do not involve a fork or a spoon.

    But that state is not easy to achieve. First, advertising is a total lying bitch. It can make any nonsense food appear to be orgasmic. Ooo and the way those actors snarf down those burgers and beers over and over. I hate ’em because I love burgers and beer!!

    And Second, food *is* pleasurable, and we should enjoy it from time to time in every orgasmic sense of the word, but the problem is we humans don’t have a keen sense of moderation.

    As we attempt to live moderately, our marginal utility for cheesecake grows exponentially, until we get some. And then, just when our marginal joy from a bite of cheesecake is at its peak, what do we do? We eat it, and with every bite our joy decreases until our marginal utility for cheesecake equals that of plain yogurt. And then we ask for seconds(!) in a vain attempt to re-acquire the same incremental joy as our first bite. But it never comes again, until we go through another cycle of moderation.

    In other words, if you eat cheesecake everyday, cheesecake is no longer as pleasurable as cheesecake is when you only eat it once a month. Somewhere in these observations is the key to eating well & orgasmically, Caitlin. And yet there are still times I wish I could turn into a puddle eating ice cream all day long. . .

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    Interesting. I agree that this forced de-focus from food as a primary source of pleasure is instructive.

    I see your points and can’t argue them.

    But I’ve seen I would rather live a shorter life enjoying my meals than to live for years like this. The vicious monotony of ploughing through mounds of vegetables makes me feel bovine and the lack of variety is madness. I had a long and helpful conversation with a friend who is vv thin and once was heavy and we agreed how much we loathe “diet” foods like sour wet plain yogurt.

    I have found a new dietitian and hope to use her as a longterm coach; the one who put me on this regimen never bothered to show the basic courtesy of asking my food preferences.

    I know this issue is deeply cultural. For me food is much more than fuel and to rob eating and drinking of pleasure seems crazy. It doesn’t mean cheesecake daily or even weekly but it also, for me, isn’t seeing caloric intake like gassing a car.

  3. john

    I didn’t mean to imply that eating should be devoid of pleasure. In fact if you’re eating plain yogurt for your protein in the morning that’s rather bland and boring. But toss in some organic blue berries, or toasted almonds, and now you’re talking. Perhaps this new nutritionist will have give you more ideas and other foods so you can mix it up. That said, this fixation with the equation food = pleasure is problematic, and altering your perception of it can be helpful. I’ll give you two strategies I use. One is to look at breakfast and lunch as fuel-type meals, and reserve dinner for pleasure. The other is to use the weekdays for fuel-type meals and the weekend for pleasure. We’re not really designed to deny ourselves all the time, and you have to find something sustainable for yourself. This idea of combining periods of moderation and indulgence really works for me personally, as it gives me the best of both worlds. And as I eluded to early, when I allow myself my indulgences, my marginal utility for them is nearly always peaked, and I love that.

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    john, thanks. I agree that this nutritionist has, for me, been a disaster on several levels — one of which was the basic lack of information on what these new/much reduced foods were doing (or not doing) metabolically. I work very well with lots of data; am mulish when treated like I’m stupid.

    Now accustomed to much smaller portions, that is easier.

    I appreciate your suggestion. Some of the allowable foods are really OK (salad for lunch today of chickpeas, black beans and artichoke hearts with some dressing) and don’t feel like punishment. Yet I remain alcohol-deprived for yet another 30 days because of my oral steroids — so that’s an easy saving of 100-200 calories a day!

    I saw my surgeon today and told him I HAVE to find some fun in my life, and being deprived of all athletics and outdoor/social sports has been misery for months. I am going to try 20 mins of biking 2x week (he wants to be very conservative) plus pool aerobics. It makes me insane that I have such a weak/damaged hip that forces me into some geriatric life to postpone the inevitable hip replacement.

    I have lost weight. I do, at least, see very definite results. And, I think I have shown myself I have the self-discipline to stay 85-90% on the wagon and that’s a lot.

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