A common thought pattern that helped keep me stuck in gluttony was always: You don't just want to eat this food, you need to eat this food. You haven't had enough [some nutrient] today, or at this meal. You need more of [that nutrient]. This food will give it to you.
I have learned to challenge that thought.
Today I baked bran muffins with dried cherries for breakfast. (Muffins are easier than I ever realized as a breakfast food, by the way; recipe at the end of the post.) I am still working on dropping a pound that I gained, so I thought I'd have my signal breakfast of 1 boiled egg and 4 oz. tomato juice, and perhaps save a muffin for my midmorning snack right before my swim.
And then while the muffins were baking and the egg was boiling, I thought: Muffins are best when they are warm out of the oven. I don't want to eat the muffin cold in the car on the way to the gym. I am also working on sitting down and truly enjoying my food. I will enjoy a muffin for breakfast and have the boiled egg for my snack instead.
Tomato juice and muffin sounded gross, so I poured four ounces of milk instead. I sat down and slowly enjoyed a hot buttered muffin and sipped my milk. I used a fork and concentrated on the crumbly texture of the muffin, the flavor of cherries plump from the moist heat, the silkiness of the melting butter. The milk was rich, cool, and creamy. It was good. I felt satisfied.
Then the voice in my head started: No way is that enough protein. You should eat the boiled egg too. And you didn't get any vegetables! You should have a glass of tomato juice. You know you are working on getting lots of vegetables. There weren't any vegetables in that muffin, now, were there?
So basically, the voice in my head was telling me to eat both breakfasts. The one I had just eaten, and the one I should have had.
This is ridiculous. I really try to concentrate on how ridiculous it is.
(You see why I have had so much trouble keeping fast days? That voice in my head is convincing me all day that I am special, I shouldn't fast because I am hypoglycemic or whatever, if I don't eat I will be mean to people and that will be uncharitable and that is worse than not fasting, yadda yadda. Ridiculous, I'm telling you.)
Anyway, I said to myself, Self:
(a) There is, in fact, protein here. (I counted later: Four grams in the muffin and four in the milk. There are only six in the boiled egg.)
(b) True, no vegetables, but there was some dried fruit, and a nice hit of fiber. I don't have to get every single nutrient at every single meal.
(c) I HAVE ALREADY EATEN BREAKFAST. And, what with the whole milk and all, a higher-calorie-than-usual breakfast. I do not need a second one.
So I set the egg aside to eat it for my midmorning snack instead of the usual handful of nuts, and got a cup of coffee.
I have encountered this sort of internal dialogue before. Another way I have solved it in the past, when the breakfast I planned is warring in my head with the breakfast I suddenly decided I really wanted to enjoy, is to split the difference and have half of each breakfast. That can be a little dangerous, though, if there is no one around to eat up the other halves.
Easy morning bran muffins
THE NIGHT BEFORE....
mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup oat bran
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons (or less) maple syrup or honey plus milk to make 1 cup*
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil**
Measure 1/2 cup of raisins or dried fruit pieces and leave them on the counter next to the bowl of dry ingredients. Put out a rubber spatula. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and leave that on the counter too.
IN THE MORNING
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and start your coffee or unload the dishwasher or whatever while you're waiting. When the oven comes nearly to temperature, take the jar out of the fridge and shake it to blend, then stir it quickly into the dry ingredients in a few swift strokes. Fold the fruit in. Divide among the 12 muffin cups and bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool 5 minutes in the tin before removing. Eat 'em hot. 125 calories, 18 g carb, 5 g fat, 4 g protein, 2 g fiber per muffin. (calculated with whole milk, coconut oil, 3 T maple syrup, and dried cherries.)
* You can use sugar instead, up to 4 Tbsp. Add it to the dry ingredients and use a whole cup of milk.
** If you use a solid fat like butter or (my choice) coconut oil, you will have to melt it in the morning and add it to the jar of wet ingredients right before shaking.