Treats

a puffy grey cloud
Credit: barnheartowl

Something has happened to me. Not sure when or how, but I recognise that something has changed, a great deal between now and the middle of my ‘black phase.’ I’m unsure of what else to call those few weeks of misery and low moral, but I’ll stick with ‘black phase’ until I find something better.

Anyway, back then, I was snarfing chocolate, wine gums and the other things I considered ‘treats’ as they were the only things that made me feel better. Problem is, they only made me feel better while I was eating them. After that, knowing I’d over indulged made me feel worse and sent me further into the terrible cycle of guilt > eating for comfort > guilt > eating for comfort.

I know and I can tell you from experience that is a horrible cycle to fall into and it feels impossible to climb out.

junk food
Credit: PeterBrough

Seeing Deepa for my last Get Healthy meeting made a big difference in that regard and helped me get back on track with small things, like the 10,000 steps (see to be doing pretty well there) and a more realistic expectation of myself. And it seems, just through doing that, my desire to snack on ‘treats’ has dropped dramatically.

Just the other day I had a choice between a grab back of salt and vinegar crisps, a 120g bag of popcorn and a 275g tub of fresh mango. I picked the mango (!). Now . . . I finished the lot (which was too much, really) but what fascinates me most about that night was the fact that I didn’t want the crisps or the popcorn. They are my sweet and savoury snacks of choice, but I didn’t want them. Hell, that packet of popcorn had been hidden away in my desk drawer for about three weeks. It’s still there.

Seems that taking control of other things around me has made it easier to make sensible healthier decisions with regards to food.

This is something I want to explore in coming weeks—I want to know if this change translates to the scales and if it continues—but I just wanted to put it out there so you know: it is possible to pull yourself out of the black hole of guilt > eating > guilt and it is possible to feel good again.

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Credit: skotan

All things considered, even though I still can’t run (though I do have a physio appoint at the hospital in a couple of weeks – at last!), I feel lighter and brighter now than I did through the whole of February. That’s something to cling to and, hopefully, use to pull me out of the next pit I fall into when something knocks me off course.

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Eating Your Emotions

No round up of the week today. The week has been rather shitty, which is exactly why this topic *points* is probably a good one to cover.

First up, that pain in my ankle? I finally went to the GP and she reckons it’s probably a torn Achilles tendon. She pressed her fingers to the back of my ankle and told me to bend my foot. I did it, but I could feel everything inside grinding as I performed the motion. Far worse, she could feel it too.

20160206_2219470.jpgFuck.

I’m not happy. This, obviously means no cycling, no gym and certainly no running, the one thing I was certain was going to keep me going. Yes, there are other things I can do (swimming, for instance, assuming I can get to the pool) but the news has really knocked me on my metaphorical and mental arse. And I haven’t gotten up yet.

What I have done instead, is eat. A shit load.
Yesterday I snarfed a mini Mars bar during my critique group without thinking about it and the night before that (the day of my GP visit) I guzzled a whole bag of microwave popcorn and an entire tub of salt and vinegar Pringles in front of the TV with my ankle propped on a gi-normous stack of pillows. There might have been a couple of Malteaster Bunnies in there too.

So I’d say that counts as ‘eating my emotions.’

I’m in a rotten mood because I can’t exercise the way I want, I’m feeling stressed because my work is suffering as a result, and I’m frustrated that I can do the fun things I usually do with my boys like rush up and down the streets with them and play chase games with their cars.

My learned response to those feelings is to eat terrible, terrible foods.20160206_222036.jpg

I’m not sure of exactly how I’m going to combat this, since my usual methods of coping are off limits right now (rigorous exercise, or at least a super-fast walk around the block), but I’m writing this as a means to acknowledge that I know what’s happening. I truly believe that acknowledging and accepting the issue is the very first step. Now that I’ve done this (publicly too, I might add!) I can now take steps to change the behaviour.

I’ve already started: instead of watching a film last night, I stayed up and worked on the editing for my latest novel. By keeping my mind occupied, I avoided the mindless hand-to-mouth motion that often happens when I watch TV. I’ve also made a specific point of staying away from Tesco. Since I know I’m fragile and weak willed right now, I know that visiting the store will only see me trundling home with more naughty treats. I even made sure I was in bed by 10:30 pm last night, something I know my body is already thanking me for.

Emotional eating is a very real problem, something that sabotages my efforts more than anything else I might do day by day, week by week. If you’ve come to this post looking for help to combat it, I’m sorry, right now, I’m not in a position to help you do that. More that I want this post to let you know that you aren’t alone and that there are small things you might be able to do that will help. And, of course, once you get past the funk (which I hope to do pretty damn soon) you’ll have far more control over your eating decisions.

It might put you back a little but, isn’t the whole world about ups and downs?

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh

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Healthy Switch: Milk

I’ve resisted this for five weeks. Five weeks of listening to our LEAP leader insist that we scale down the milk we consume. Why? Milk is loaded with fat. -_- Just like everything else, right?

Well, I resisted because I don’t actually consume that much milk. I stopped having cereal ages ago (it’s boring!) and switched to fruit parfait (I’ll take about those another time) that I put together myself. But, last week, it was so cold in the morning and I knew needed something more substantial. So out came the porridge oats.

I don’t know how or why, but I’d forgotten how GOOD porridge is! To the point that I’ve had it every day since with at least 240 ml of milk.

In the LEAP session on Tuesday we got to see just what the ratio of fat to everything else is within milk. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. 😦

The advise cited by our course leader and by the NHS in general is to scale down:

Whole > Semi Skimmed
Semi Skimmed > Skimmed
Skimmed > 1%
1% > You’re probably doing fine 😉

I’ve always used semi skimmed; it’s what I grew up with. But since my boys switched away from my milk to commercial products, I’ve been buying whole milk, meaning there is always a blue-top in the house. On low days, or days when I just don’t care, I find myself ‘stealing’ from their supply and I must say, it’s really very pleasant.

But . . . ! Fatty as sin.

So . . . on Thursday I went out to replenish the fridge and thought: ‘I may as well try it.’ So this is what we have in the fridge right now.

Seems a bit excessive and I don’t think it will make that much difference. However, given that I’ve gone from no milk at all, to almost two-thirds of a pint every day, I figured it would be good to keep the fat content as low as possible.

What do you guys think?
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Soap Box Moment: ‘Bacon Is Evil?’

Heh, that title got your attention, didn’t it?

Okay, first up, I don’t know exactly why I’m doing this. My last Healthy Switch post got a lot of attention out and about and on Facebook, so I guess part of me wants to justify it (legacy of my anxious and eager to please personality?). The rest of me just wants to make clear some thoughts, not only for you fine folk, but for me. Writing about it, unsurprisingly, is the easiest way for me to do that.

So, bacon.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week you’ve likely heard the latest news from the WHO about the dangers of processed meats. If you haven’t, Google is your friend. I’m not here to go through that information and pick it apart. No, no, I’m here to talk about what I think.

Like I said last week, I love bacon. It’s salty, it’s crisp (when I cook it) and makes EVERYTHING taste a million times better (almost like cheese). I can eat it alone, in a sandwich, on chicken, on a burger, the list goes on and on and on! But, the treatments that go into creating the final product are dangerous and put it right at the top of the list of things that cause [bowel] cancer. As of whenever the findings were made, processed meats are a known carcinogen.

. . . I don’t care.

Let me say that again, for you guys in the back: I don’t care.

I’m still going to eat bacon. Hell, I’m still going to eat steak and red meat and all the other things that I know are bad for me. I like chocolate, I like wine gums, I like crisps, I like alcohol. All these things are bad for me in varying degrees, but I like them, so I’ll eat them.

The trick here, and I think this is something I was unclear about last week, is that the amount of these things are going to be reduced. Not because of what the WHO said, though if I can’t trust the World Health Organisation, who the hell else can I trust with questions about health and well-being? No . . . I’m reducing my intake of these things because I believe my body will benefit from it.

Too much of anything is bad for you. I’ve always believed that, even before people started showing me proof. Healthy eating and lifestyle change is all about sensible choices and eating the ‘bad foods’ in moderation is something you can do for the rest of your life.

So . . . if I want a bacon sandwich at the end of a hard week, or if I’m out and decide I’d quite like the Hunter’s Chicken instead of the Ceaser Salad, I’ll damn well have it. I may even wash it down with a glass of wine or a bottle of girlie fruit cider (I certainly did at the carvery last Sunday). Because why not?! Those small amounts aren’t going to damage me. But what I won’t do is then come home and have a bacon roll cob for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I’m not interested in flash diets or ‘quick fixes’. Everything I’m doing now, from the exercise, to the changes to my food choices are things I can do forever. I won’t have to stop ‘when I’ve done too much’ and there won’t be any ‘bounce back’ as I return to my ‘usual eating habits’ because they will become my eating habits. Reducing fat and sugar, watching the processed stuff, balancing different foods across my plate is actually really easy too.

My health has reached a point whereby I’ve been concerned that I might not see my children grow. I’m 31 . . . they’re 3. I want to see them grow, I want to see them have children of their own (if they so wish), I want to watch them achieve all the amazing things I know they’re capable of. More than that, I want to be strong enough, fit enough and healthy enough to enjoy their success with them. The only way to do that is to look after the body I have. I’ve only got one and I intend to make it last until I’m done with it.

This week, three of the five meals I’ve cooked have somehow ended up vegetarian (I know, right! This from me, the self-confessed carnivore!). Despite that, the meals have been filling, balanced across the food groups and more importantly, freaking gorgeous! I’m not even sure of the last time I ate bacon but I’ll be honest with you: I don’t miss it. There are currently two packs of smoked bacon in my freezer. I have no idea when I’ll finally crack them open, but when I do, I’m reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally going to enjoy eating them. 😉

So is bacon evil? Maybe. Am I going to eat it? Hell yes. It’s just one of those small things in life (alcohol, caffeine, bad erotic novels) that I love and enjoy. But just like I wouldn’t have an alcoholic drink every day, I see no reason to have bacon (or a red/processed meat) every day.

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Healthy Switch: Bacon

Okay, sod crackers and cheese, it’s bacon. I love bacon. SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!

But it’s pork. It’s fatty. It only really tastes its best when you fry it (come on, admit it, you know it’s true!) and it’s far too easy to have too much of it.

One of the substitutions suggested by Deepa, my Get Healthy coach is trading red meat (and pork, which I believe actually counts as white?) to white meats and/or poultry  as much as possible.

Hmm. I like chicken as much as the next person, but it does get bloody boring after a while.

However, I’ve discovered these things:

turkey rashers
*nom*

Now . . . stay with me here, because I know a lot of you are thinking, ‘Swap bacon for turkey? Piss off, you mad bitch.’
Yeeeah, I know.
But this stuff actually tastes nice. It’s very obviously light when you take it from the packet, grills up really nicely (don’t over cook it though, you’ll regret it!) and is delicious between a couple of slices of bread, or, in my case, a wholemeal pitta bread. The best part? That I can eat four of those bad boys and only clock up 104 calories. That’s right, a portion (two slices) is only 52 calories.

. . . I guess I can handle that for my regular bacon wants.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll certainly treat myself to the real stuff every now and then. But isn’t that the point? To make your every day eating healthier and to splash out every now and then on something less good for me?

So far, this works.
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Healthy Switch: Crackers And Cheese

I love crackers and cheese. It’s one of my favourite snacks.

Tescos water biscuits or Jacobs crackers, slathered with butter (salted of course) and topped with (huge) wedges of the strongest cheese I can find.

I remember when I was younger, I used to love making myself a plate of four crackers: grating the cheese and then doing a fifth on top. I’d carefully work my way through them, until the last which usually had the most cheese on. Heaven.

Somewhere along the line, five crackers turned into six, into eight, into twelve. Now . . . if I have a plate of crackers and cheese, it’s usually stacked two deep with enough cheese to feed me, my sons and my other half.

Bad. Bad, bad, bad!

know this is wrong and I know it’s damaging me. All that fat (cheese is MEGA fatty) and sooooooo many carbs in one large hit . . . it’s a wonder I can move after I eat it.

I’m pleased to say that since paying more attention to what goes into my mouth that both the quantity and frequency of this snack has reduced significantly. But I’ve gone one step further and, with this entry I begin a sporadic selection of posts called ‘Healthy Switch’ in which I talk about what I used to eat and how I changed it into something a little healthier.

Today’s switch:

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Crackers and cheese becomes Ryvita slices covered in light Philadelphia and topped with two slices of ham, shredded and shared across the four slices. I also had some apple in there because I was particularly hungry. I’m not entirely certain why I put the Pilgrims Choice in the picture, because I didn’t have any that day. o.O Maybe because I fed it to the children . . . meh . . . anyway, how’s that for a substitute?

And I tell something: it’s probably the most delicious substitute I’ve made so far. And I don’t need much of it either. Something about the texture of the Ryvita forces me to eat it slowly, meaning where I’d usually have twelve or fifteen crackers, four of these things is more than enough for me.

Not bad going, right? ^_^

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Comfort Food

When I’m ill, I eat. When I’m angry, I eat. When I’m sad, I eat. When I’m happy, I eat.

junk food
Credit: PeterBrough

. . . there is a phrase to describe this, used by my Get Healthy coach and by the nurse I used to see back in 2013: ’emotional eater.’ There are tonnes of blogs about this—I’ve even read a couple connected to the MyFitnessPal app—but what they’re really bad at is telling me how to change this.

Oh, they have plenty of tips:

  • Divert the need to eat into something else
  • Substitute the junk foods for healthier alternatives
  • Exercise instead

But honestly? If it was as simple as that, they there wouldn’t be any overweight ’emotional eaters’ because we’d be able to apply those tips and trim down.

The obvious solution is to work on the things that generate those emotions in me, but that doesn’t seem to work either. At least not quickly.

I’m not exactly sure of what I’m trying to get at here, but I think writing these facts down so I can see them in black and white will help me acknowledge and truly admit that this sort of eating is a problem for me. Knowing something in your head is very different to saying it out loud.

I have made some changes; swapping big bags of crisps for multipacks, so I only have a pack at a time; substituting milk chocolate for dark chocolate, in the hopes that I eat less of the latter; making those multipacks of crisps a ‘lighter’ or ‘baked’ brand, so they have less fat in; keeping any sweets I do have in a hard to reach place, meaning I have to put in effort to reach them. I’ve even started going to bed earlier hoping that will stave off the snacking I tend to do while watching a movie late a night.

I don’t know if any of this is working or having an affect, but at least it feels like I’m doing something. And, for what it’s worth, here is my advice on ’emotional eating.’

Yes, finding the root cause of whatever your current emotional issue happens to be is a good thing, but also accept that blindly trying to just ‘cut the things that comfort you’ is hard. So hard that when you don’t manage it (and you won’t immediately), you’ll do nothing but make yourself feel worse: a failure, a fool, destined to be overweight forever.

Instead, work with yourself and allow yourself to have the things you want in moderation. Make yourself work for them.

If you want crisps, have them, but make yourself leave the house and walk to the shop to buy them. Then, if you can, buy a small packet. If you want chocolate, do the same and test yourself: have a nibble and put it aside. You may find that after one bite or two, you feel better.

If you don’t need to eat the whole packet to achieve the effect you’re looking for, then by all means, stop when you feel better and put the remains of whatever you’re eating in a hard to reach place for next time. Better yet, give it to someone else to finish so you have to start from scratch next time and walk to the shop to load up again.

I’m finding, as I do this, that my desire for these junk foods is steadily decreasing anyway. Yes, I’ll still have a bag of crisps (or three!) if I feel rotten, but by the second pack, there’s a niggle, a little voice in my mind telling me that I’m okay now. And, if/when I get to the end of that third bag, I recognise that I didn’t need it. Yes . . . I’ve eaten it by that point, but I consider it a personal victory to be able to acknowledge that I didn’t need to because I felt better. To understand that eating it was an automatic reflex rather than a need/desire. Next time, I’ll eat the first bag, and pay attention to how I feel before I even consider opening the second. Maybe I’ll eat two next time; but it won’t be three and that, no matter how you spin it, is progress.

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Credit: libberry

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