Thursday, December 20, 2007 | 19 comment(s)
But 'tis the season of holiday parties and Christmas cookies and a constant barrage of sweets, so (sadly) these are the words that have been bouncing 'round my head lately.
EmbarrassingIt's really embarrassing how much time I have devoted in my life standing over such a tray and waging a gut-wrenching mental debate with myself over whether to eat something or not.
Just last week I was confronted with a plate of chocolate truffles put out as samples at Whole Foods. I probably stood there for 2 minutes at a maximum, but boy, did it feel like an eternity.
I am proud to report that I somehow turned around and walked away from this tray of chocolate morsels without having eaten any.
Yeah, me neither.
"Can't" is a very restrictive word.
It smacks of authoritarianism.
Stripped of freedom and choice.
And, besides, it inspires rebellion.
A slightly less restrictive word, but in the same vein, is "shouldn't".
As in: "I know I shouldn't eat these, but... (fill in your favorite rationalization here -- my favorite has something to do with 'knowing' how many carbs are in a given delectable).
There's a bit of gray in "shouldn't".
As in, yeah, I know I'll regret this, but I'm willing to pay that price.
There's a judgment call involved.
Something of a quick cost-benefit analysis going on subconsciously.
It rarely works.
The sweets almost always win.
A much finer, much more effective, word is "don't".
I find that when I'm faced with temptations my inner voice starts chirping.
Silence is DeadlyGetting the inner voice to engage is a crucial first step to will power defeating sweets. The next piece (and overall point of this post) is the realization that what that voice inside my head is telling me matters.
One thing I know for sure, when there's no mantra-repeating pep-talk going on in my head, I'm sunk. Cookies consumed, ice cream eaten, candy bar devoured. Almost in a haze.
Mental illness concerns aside, the voice inside my head is a good thing.
"I can't eat that" is (like I said) way to authoritarian and I'm very likely to rebel just on principle and eat the damn whatever it is.
"I shouldn't eat this" is a step in the right direction, but it's as leaky as a spaghetti colander. The consumption of the sweet can almost always be (ir)rationalized.
Lately, I've found "I don't eat this/that because I have diabetes" to be a much more empowering sentence/mantra. There's a sense of independence and determination in it. It's a decision I've made. I'm stronger for making it. I know myself, I know my disease, I know my weaknesses, and I know what is right for me. Eventually it could evolve to simply "Cookies? Oh, I don't eat them," as if I'm talking about eggplant or mushrooms or anchovies or any other food that I'm not fond of. It has the potential to just become part of "who I am."
The Holiday Challenge (Again)Similar to last year, I've taken an oath of abstinence from sweets through the holiday season. Last year, I was desperate to obtain an A1c reading below 7.0.
FailureI didn't meet this goal. I know (now) that some portion of my failure has to do with stuffing my face with anything that didn't have sugar in it as a way to avoid eating anything with sugar in it (bad idea). Bottom line: Indiscriminate snacking of any kind leads to poor blood sugar control.
But for the most part I was clean -- completely off sweets for 4+ months.
This year, I'm doing it because I need to.
You see, I have a problem.
I'm a bit of a sugar-junkie.
I have an almost insatiable sweet-tooth.
I drink about 100 oz. of Diet Coke per day to help quench this sweet need.
If I make myself a cup of tea or a bowl of oatmeal, I put 3 packets of Equal/Splenda
They Taste the Same to MeI can't tell the difference. Even Sweet & Low does the trick for me. And if you believe what it says on the packets, that's equivalent to 6 teaspoons of sugar!
When it's put that way it I kinda gross myself out.
There is simply no such thing as "too sweet" for my palate.
My Achilles heel for sweets is ice cream. For quite some time now, we've had a household rule that bans ice cream from our freezer. If it's there, I hear it calling my name (it has a sweet, sweet voice, too). I wake up thinking about it. So (naturally), I have a nip for breakfast.
Megan has (mostly) been a good sport about this rule. But she too has a bit of a sweet tooth and has occasionally brought some ice cream in the house (which has lead to a few minor disputes). Our compromise has been that ice cream that I don't like is allowed in the house (e.g., coffee flavored ice cream), otherwise she goes across the street to a convenience store when an ice cream urge hits. And then there are the birthday celebrations or dinner with friends that we occasionally host and ice cream is often served. If we're on top of things we send folks home with leftover dessert items. Otherwise, the remnants of ice cream disappear
Depends on the QuantityIf there's just a little left, I've certainly been known to wolf it down. If there's 'more than a little' (admittedly, a vague measurement), I've also been known to fill up the ice cream container with water and dump it down the drain.
When the babies were born this fall, we had incredibly generous help from Meg's parents and they stayed with us for 10 days or so. On the night before they were leaving my mother-in-law baked a banana cake. I came home from work, I was exhausted, everyone else had gone to bed and I was still downstairs cleaning up, and I proceeded to eat much of the cake (it was DEliciOUS). There was also some left over ice cream in the freezer (the in-laws are inveterate ice cream consumers) that I had so far successfully avoided. When I opened up the Breyer's Neapolitan Ice Cream, thankfully all the vanilla was gone and only a spoonful of chocolate left (much of the strawberry was left, but I'm not a fan).
After this little binge, I was quite upset. Initially, I was angry at my mother-in-law, but also at myself. I dumped the ice cream down the drain (it was mostly symbolic since it was just the strawberry left), and I wrapped up what was left of the cake in tin foil and a zip lock and placed it with some of the things my in-laws were going to be taking home with them.
The next morning, I asked my mother-in-law if she wanted to take the cake home with her. When she declined, I was probably a little too harsh when I dramatically dropped it into the garbage can and told her that she couldn't just bring ice cream and sweets into our house (and I'm sorry about that).
She was a little shocked. Since then she has been worried about not being able to have that rule at her house during Thanksgiving or what we can do for the holidays when they're in town. I assured her that having sweets in the house for special occasions was fine, but that for every-day-run-of-the-mill life, I can't have it in my house. When I'm out-and-about, I'm frequently faced with food choices and tempted by sweets. And for special occasions, I can steel myself and successfully avoid eating sweets. But for day-to-day, I don't want to have to deal with these temptations
It's an AddictionHaving ice cream in the freezer and/or leaving cake/cookies/brownies on the kitchen counter isn't all that different from leaving a 6-pack in the 'fridge at an alcoholic's house.
I'm not ready for any sort of 12-step program, but I do realize that acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step toward dealing with the problem.
I know I'm only about half-way through peak sweets exposure season (aka, the holidays). I also know that abstaining from sweets is what is best for me. It's going to be hard, but I'm hoping the mental edge gleaned from this subtle phrase ("I don't eat that because I have diabetes.") helps me get through the season sweets-free.