Dogged Determination to Get It Right
December 26, 2007
There’s nothing better than celebrating a special holiday with balance. A bounty of food and alcohol may abound, but the best approach is to simply eat well, eat with a level head, and enjoy the abundance without going overboard. Wake up the next day feeling great, ready to take on the day as if the previous night’s festivities never happened. Hmmm. . . too bad I wasn’t able to accomplish that this year.
I’m guessing it will likely take a few days before my body feels like itself again. Despite the best of intentions, I must have taken the wrong cue from The Girls, eating as if I might never again have the opportunity to fill up on any of this stuff (and really, some of it wasn’t even worth having again! “Dump Cake“?? Whatever possessed me to acquiesce to my HH’s wishes for that thing? And then–eating two portions of it? Even if I did buy organic cake mix in a meager attempt to convert it to something a smidgen more salubrious. . . Gak.)
(“But Mum! Everything was wonderful–we just loved Christmas! And what’s wrong with eating something special once in a while? Or on every occasion you can get it? Turkey, Mum–Turkey. We. want. turkey.”)
The ideal experience at a holiday feast, for me, would be to enjoy a moderate portion of everything, including dessert, and possess the innate ability to simply stop when I’d had enough. (Forgot to use the small plate/two item trick at my own holiday dinner–did that have something to do with it?). Instead, yesterday, I found myself drawn to the least healthy elements of the meal–repeatedly. Today, I don’t feel so hot.
Perhaps that’s a good thing, though. For “normal” eaters, the “STOP EATING” switch goes off much faster than it does for those of us with a propensity to overindulge. But I can honestly say that, finally, my own switch has tripped, and I am craving–seriously, craving–vegetables. It may have taken me a lot longer than it took my honey, but I got there. In the old days, I might have gone on a binge for days, finishing up the dessert leftovers in one afternoon. Today, I’m at the point where all I’d like to do with that Dump Cake is dump it in the garbage can.
One of the principles that keeps coming to mind is Newton’s Law, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since the law applies to everything governed by the laws of physics, it would, of course, also include the way we eat and how our bodies react to the way we eat. In other words, overdo it one way, and your body will subtly suggest that you underdo it the next. This is a principle that my friend Karen, in her book Secrets of Skinny Chicks, documented well. As her subjects told her, when slim women pig out at a special occasion, they always compensate the following day, either by eating less or exercising more. I suppose this is a variation of the approach I adopted when I skipped dinner after overdoing the Halloween chocolates. And today? Treadmill, here I come. (Oh, and my Holidailies entry, of course).
Another facet of this principle is one perfectly summed up by Sally in her great blog, Aprovechar. In her post, Sally compared the patterns of eating/overeating to the financial principle of opportunity cost. In other words, every opportunity brings with it a certain cost, and if you assess the cost beforehand, it can help you decide whether or not to take the opportunity. I knew that last night’s dinner would cost me today (perhaps not quite as much as it seems to be doing, what with the backflips in my stomach, but still), and I made a conscious choice to eat anyway. For me, true progress will be achieved once I learn to make a better choice, with a lesser cost.
Still, today’s craving for veggies is progress of a sort. And while it may be difficult to find something positive in overeating, I am determined to let my body learn what it can and cannot comfortably do when it comes to food. The initial mistake was allowing the unhealthy food into the house in the first place, but the ultimate goal remains the same: being able to enjoy a variety of foods (including dessert) at a multi-course meal, and naturally stopping when comfortably full. That kind of action will signal a huge milestone in the way I approach food.
In the meantime, I’m off to raid the fridge for some broccoli and carrots. And I’ll just glance away as my HH polishes off that Dump Cake. (“Did you say carrots, Mum? Because we love those. Especially with turkey.”)