"So would you mind terribly much if I started to talk your ear off about gluttony and weight loss again? For a little while?"
That was me, asking my husband if he is willing to step once again into the roles he willingly played while I was losing the weight. (Here's the guest post he wrote last year to tell his side of the story.)
Of course he said yes.
Check. One off the list.
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And of course I'm blogging about it. Check.
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Another list item: to think critically about gluttony, at least for a little while, so I can recognize it when it tempts me. I need a condensed version of this post in the form of a question. Something like, "That thing you're about to put in your mouth? Is there some reason you ought not to eat that, charity or manners or money or plain common sense, but that you're ignoring because you Just Want It?"
An example I was thinking of when I wrote that post: I like to eat pinches of shredded cheese out of the food processor (or these days, plastic resealable bag) while I'm waiting to flip the quesadillas. This isn't so much a problem because of the cheese calories. Instead, it's that I always drop some on the floor while I'm elegantly sprinkling the cheese into my upturned mouth. And then somebody steps on the cheese and tracks it into the living room.
Clearly plain common sense would say I should not sprinkle shredded cheese into my mouth while trying to cook quesadillas. The virtues of multitasking only extend so far. And yet, despite being aware of this for several months, and despite knowing what will happen at the very moment my hand snakes into the bag, I reject self-restraint, I continue to snarf shredded cheese by hand whenever I make quesadillas, and I continue to find inch-long yellow smears on the carpet.
That, my friends, is gluttony.
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In the maintenance blues post (#4 in this series), I catalogued which of my habits are still working, and which aren't. Now I'll take that one step past a catalogue and see if I can nail down what's going on.
A couple of the items have to do with availability: there's more of what I don't want, and less of what I do want, coming home from the store. That's pretty easily fixed, in our family that already knows how to make a list and stick to it.
- Note on the grocery list, "no sauces or flavors on the frozen veg." If I don't tell Mark what to buy, he has to guess what I want.
- Ask each verbal child to pick his or her favorite packaged cookie and buy only those three kinds for a good long while, rotating through them. Variety in real food is good; too much variety in junk food or treats is bad for everybody, not just me.
- Before cookies enter my pantry, preportion the big bags of cookies into Ziploc bags. Because I have four children, I don't have to make the bags single serving; I would guess, for example, that a standard bag of Oreos should be halved. And it's okay if there are a couple extra Oreos and I eat them. The thing I want to avoid is the open bag of Oreos sitting around waiting for the next snacktime. Because you know what? It never makes it that long.
These three commitments ought to be near effortless, as the decision point is at grocery shopping time. Not at a "will I eat this, or won't I?" time.
The remaining items are more about respecting my own pre-decided limits even when I'm tempted to ignore them. I've learned that I feel much, much better if I stop eating while the available food still promises me a little pleasure; and yet, the thought of the pleasure still attracts. I suffer, while sitting at table, from the illusion of being unsatisfied; after I get up from the table, I can see in hindsight that I have been satisfied. "Satisfied," indeed, is something I am only sure about in hindsight. Never "I can stop eating because I am satisfied," but later, "I stopped eating, and I have been satisfied."
(One reason why the "Eat till you're satisfied" admonition in Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family (reviewed here, here, here) leaves me shaking my head. For me it's more like "Eat till you guess you will feel satisfied.")
Anyway, these are the items that I should re-test, to see whether they help me regain respect for my own chosen limits:
- Stick to the mealtime/snacktime schedule. (The schedule itself may need tweaking.)
- Stop eating food that somebody else wasted. It's amazing how often I have to recommit to this one.
- Put the food on a plate so I can see how big it is and enjoy it more.
- One (1) plate. One!
Boy, I could print this up and put it in a fortune cookie and have room to spare. Remember the simplicity of "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"?
My fortune should say "Eat meals. From my plate. Then stop."
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I think that takes care of all the thinking. The next step, of course, is do. Or (thanks, Yoda) do not.