Well, I’ve intentionally put off writing about my re-addiction, breaking it (or so I thought) and admitting that I am still addicted. I guess the truth is that addiction varies in degree, so yes– I’ve broken the “addiction”, but I am still “re-addicted” to refined carbohydrates. Huh? Self-contradictory? Well, yes and no. Kinda, sorta, but not really. I AM still re-addicted such that I get hungry at maybe 3PM and feel “starved” by 4PM or so. But, when I say I have broken the addiction, I mean that I am still in control of my eating. Now, that may be delusional, like the smoker who has a cigarette in their mouths, yet tells you straight-faced that they’ve quit. No kidding– my mother-in-law once did just that. Inevitably, such people lose their control soon after making such proclamations, so I may be in that boat.
I am keeping my average daily calories to about 1600, well below what I used to eat, but significantly more than the 1200 I was averaging over the previous six months. I am still losing weight, but only about 1.5 lbs/week instead of 3. No complaints. But, this increased hunger I feel in the afternoons is likely not sustainable indefinitely. It is much greater than the lackadaisical attitude I had toward sweets and carbs when I was strict about my intake. Now, I find myself cheating more. We had tacos for dinner the other evening, which meant 3 corn tortillas and about an ounce of tortilla chips– both the higher glycemic index foods I warn about. Last night a had a small, individual serving (240 calories!) of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, this morning I made some hash brown potatoes, and I had a glass of wine the other evening– all “look-out” sorts of foods. While I have maintained my overall eating quite well, the appeal that these foods has taken a huge step up in my mind, and that spells A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N. Cigarettes do not look good to me, because I am not addicted to nicotine, but sweets do. I was comparatively indifferent to them when religiously avoiding them. Now, how much of this is psychological and how much is physical, I will leave to the psychologists and MDs– not that most know even as much as I do about nutrition, but they surely know more than I do about addictive behavior…. or do they?
So, I am quite aware that I am walking on thin ice if I keep this up, and intend to go back to avoiding the bad 5: sugar, flour, white rice, potatoes, and corn– with bananas, winter squash, yams not far behind. The redeeming quality of these starchy natural foods is that they usually have a fair amount of fiber, which slows the absorption of the starches and renders them effectively lower glycemic index, while the refined foods and manufactured foods do not. But, beware of the starches in any form, as they can re-addict you. So, I plan to minimize such indulgences but not eliminate them. Earlier, I said one can indulge once/week, but that is true only if one is spartan about their carb consumption all week. If you have a glass of wine one evening, a beer the next, some potato chips the next, maybe a cookie for dessert one night, and so on, you’re not following the program, so it would be unwise to indulge more than that even once/week.
The bottom line is a reminder: Every refined carbohydrate you eat boosts your addiction to them. This addiction manifests itself as craving, but is indistinguishable from hunger, except for its intensity and one’s knowledge as to past eating that may be causing it. So, if you are trying to lose weight, every bite of carbs, every teaspoon of sugar, every glass of wine, every indulgence, all rekindle the craving and make it more difficult to eat fewer calories. So, if you want to make it hard on yourself, keep up the itty bitty “cheating”. If you want to make it easy on yourself, say “NO” to ANY/ALL of it and tame your appetite to the point that you just don’t care about food– that your appetite before a meal is not much greater than it is after a meal. THEN, your fat will virtually melt off and you won’t feel hungry. But, if you want to keep fighting all the time, struggling all the time, and frustrating yourself all the time, do what you are doing: Keep on having that innocent glass of wine with dinner, or “just one” piece of french bread, or just a little piece of chocolate or dessert or just a wee bit of those mashed potatoes or the occasional burger with only a couple of french fries. If you do this, it is just a matter of time when your willpower caves in and you go right back to your previous weight.
Sure, there are ex-smokers who can have an occasional cigarette, ex alcoholics who can have an occasional glass of wine, and ex fatsos that can have an occasional cookie with impunity, but such people are exceedingly rare. So, unless you can leap tall buildings in a single bound or walk on water, you can be pretty sure that you are not in this elite group and if you think you are, it is 99.9% likely that you are deluding yourself. So, make it easy on yourselves– tough it out for a week or two to break the addiction and avoid the indulgences, however infrequent or small. Yes, if push comes to shove, you can probably get away with occasional indulgences, but beware how quickly you are fooled into cheating more, motivated by partial re-addiction, which makes these foods seem ever more attractive. Follow the advice of ex-smokers and sober alcoholics– avoid your drug of choice: carbs.