Monday, April 25, 2011

Food Obsessions

Dear readers, you may have noticed that it's been a few days since my last post. The reason is that I was having some difficulties with my plan of eating that consumed a lot of my thoughts, and, subsequently, a great deal of my time. I have a lot of free time right now, and that is not always a good thing.

When I am not traveling, I allow myself one meal out per week. There are some rules to this meal, consistent with maintaining my weight. I have to keep in mind the "eyes are bigger than the stomach" rule, and ask for assistance from waiters and waitresses in picking out an appropriately sized meal. And I have to stop when I am finished eating what I ordered -- that is the meal, no matter how tempting it may be to order more. I have followed those rules to the letter.

My obsession has come over planning my meal out for the week -- I have noticed, with extra free time, I am focusing on that activity. More specifically, I have been looking for new Mexican restaurants, and new Nacho meals in particular. I haven't ruled out nachos from my list of acceptable restaurant foods, and I discovered I enjoy Mexican food. The obsessive part is that I am specifically looking to have that type of food for my once a week meal. So what? After I lost weight in 1999, I began eating sweets again in October of 2000. I had a "once a week" rule. I began gaining weight, and, before I knew it, that once a week had ballooned to any time I felt like having sweets. Moreover, I had a tendency to look for special sweet meals, kind of like they advertise on the Food Network, or the Travel Network. If a particular sweet treat was too much for me to finish, I would want to return to tackle it again. Not a great way to maintain weight loss.

I came to the conclusion that there will always be a new sweet meal for me to try. If I keep eating the sweets, knowing I am prone to being addicted to them, I might never stop. I had to stop eating sweets for good.

The Mexican/Nacho meals were becoming similar draws for me -- I wanted to try new meals of the same kind, and finish all of them. I like to finish every meal I order out -- that is not specific to the Mexican/Nacho meals. But there will always be something new to try.

I consulted several trusted friends, and even prayed to my Higher Power for answers. I believe the Higher Power is concerned with matters such as this -- isn't gluttony one of the seven deadly sins? Well, not only did my obsessions lessen, but I started to feel humble -- if I have to give up Mexican food, or Nachos, and eat other foods, that is something I may have to adjust to, but there are many people much less fortunate than I am, who have much less choice over what they eat. If offered to them, they might not be able to choose to eat or not eat the foods I dislike -- they have so little they have to eat what is available, or risk starving!

Other benefits -- I found I ate my meal this weekend a lot slower, enjoying the ambiance of the restaurant more than in the past. I found I was more "honest" with myself in measuring my foods. I hesitate to suggest that I was not being honest, so here is the point: My physician has allowed me some leeway in my eating now that I have lost the weight ("If you have a salad, you can add dressing."), but I find I can abuse that leeway if not careful. I was more careful this past week, after my prayers.

I have not yet decided to remove Mexican/Nacho foods from my list of foods I can eat. I have decided to avoid them for the next two weekends, and then limit my consumption to once a month, at most. I know I like to go out for other meals, and, if I purposely limit my consumption of Mexican/Nacho foods, I think I will find that I will "reacquire" other tastes that have gone away the last few weeks, and redevelop a balanced approach to eating in restaurants, as well as at home for the other twenty plus meals per week, which I have maintained. If not, I am at least aware of my obsession, and can remove Mexican/Nacho foods from my appropriate list of foods to eat at that time. The issue is on my radar. I will also limit my active planning of my one meal out until the day before the meal.

Food is a constant struggle for me. I have to accept that. That does not mean I cannot enjoy my food. But when the "enjoyment" becomes an obsession, it is a problem. I am happy that I addressed the problem, and I thank my Higher Power for giving me answers that clarified the issues for me. To paraphrase an old saying, its not enough to ask for help from God -- giving thanks is also appropriate.

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