Friday, March 4, 2011

Why that Off Plan Treat May Be a Bad, Bad, Bad Idea....And My Surrender to Salt's Insidious the Intervention Begins quote from THE END OF OVEREATING

I'm grappling right now with some renewed cravings. Nothing like it was before the challenges. Nothing like it was before my epiphany in the summer of 2010. NOTHING like that.

These are insidious little ones, not big bingey ones.

I really think that the salt cravings that are usually (consistently, inevitably) followed by or preceded by a sweet craving,  is a function of the "extra" snack treats I allowed myself on the long weekend (hubby was off Monday, we went on a day of museum and beachy fun).

It's not that calorically I went off the rails. Not at all.

It was a psychological switch, a trip into a different set of rails. Ones that are not quiescent and conducive to a quiet "food mind".

Let me put it this way: Simple sugars and salt are two parts of the triumvirate that --as studies have shown, not as windbags or brain-dead blatherers would suggest, no, as scientists would posit--sends the overeating-prone, the binge-prone into a bad, bad cycle.

You wanna see proof: visit the excellent Escape from Obesity blog and see what happens when Lyn lets sugars back in her life. Seriously, skim the last years of that blog to see what it does to this sensitive, smart, loving, likable gal who has amazing willpower when SUGARS ARE ABSENT. And her willpower goes shot to hell when sugar/carby treats come back into it. It's an amazing bit of a case study to read that blog. Every obese overeater should. Every binge eater should. Not because you need to follow her formula, but because it becomes readily apparent what calms her appetite and what turns it on to high.

For me, sugar has become less of an issue, because our society has quite tasty sugar-free options that can make me feel like I've had a sweet treat without the simple sugars. But I have not found a suitable substitute for salt. I've tried the fake salt. Eh.

The problem is that salt has an effect on me that is kinda like the effect sugar would have, only subtler. If I eat a lot of simpler carbs, I get really hungry. REALLY HUNGRY. And I bloat.

If I eat a lot of salt, I get a little's an annoying buzzer of an insect at first, so it's easy to keep adding more sodium into my diet without having the immediate nutsiness of what happens when I have sugars. It's insidious. Then, it hits: The urge for sugar. The urge for all sorts of sweet things. But it's the SALT that was the pathway drug, if you will, that made me want the sugars.

Oh, and I still bloat and my blood pressure goes up.

The missing component of that triumvirate--fat--is easier to avoid, since on a 1200 calorie diet, you tend to go to the lower fat options, so that's what is in the house--veggies, fruits, eggs and egg whites, lean meats. BUT...salt is omnipresent. It's in low cal canned soups. Its' in snacks like string cheese or hummus. It's in just about anything processed--breads, condiments, marinara sauce, spice mixes (like the Montreal Seasoning on the original challenge packet).

If you put a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar and said, 'Which do you want to put in your meal"...I would hit the salt.

And then the salt would lead me to want the sugar.

When I follow my plan--and I'm perfect--my appetite is calm. It's calm cause I'm sticking to lower sodium, no-to-low sugar options, lots of veggies and protein, lower fat. It cuts down (or some days altogether OUT) the simplest sugars, cuts down on sodium, and cuts down on fat. The tripod is crippled. I am not hungry. I don't binge.

For some reason, the demon salt is the hardest part of the tripod for me. I thought it would be fat, I swear. I was wrong. It's easier for me to cut fat, to nearly eliminate the simplest sugars (sucrose, HFCS, simplest starches), to minimize the starches (even complex), but the salt, the tongue wants it bad.

Anyway, I got out my recently neglected Kindle--I prefer my NookColor, but I have books already loaded to the Kindle and I ain't rebuying them, hah--and am rereading the treatment/rehab section of THE END OF OVEREATING, which has been the single most helpful book to curb my bingeing. I have not binged once since I read it last year.

I figure I gotta remind myself of the steps I took to heal my appetite/binge tendencies. I need to remind myself that it's not just sugar or fat. I gotta beat the hell outta the salt addiction, or my appetite will return and I will want to binge again.

I refuse. I f***ing refuse to go back to that. I am NOT going there.

I am not shooting my progress in the foot for a chemical fix. NaCl is not gonna beat my ass.

I'm a junkie, and this is war.

Quote from the book:

Effective intervention draws us away from the conditioning power of a stimulus before it triggers its usual response. It reminds us that its possible to say no. Intervention begins with the knowledge that we have a moment of choice--but only a moment--to recognize what is about to happen and do something else instead....

The refusal must come early and it must be definitive.

"It's only at the very beginning, when the invitation arises, that you have any control over it."

I have to remind myself of that. If I let it creep, creep, creep, I have given up the moment of choice--the definitive tactic.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No...

Practicing. :)

And this is why sometimes you see me cautioning fellow fatfighters who are about to allow themselves a trigger food (say, chocolate or a cupcake or pizza) to gauge how they feel the week or two after allowing this into their life. If there is no upset, no change in diet success, then maybe it's not a trigger anymore. But if suddenly they're having more treats, trouble sticking to plan, adding a bit more here and there, a scale going the wrong way--then that release of control, that "Yes", may be the cause. It restimulated the brain. It reactivated in full force those habit pathways in the brain.

It put the overeating response center stage. It woke up the beast.

That cup of caramel corn may only be 250 calories and you may budget for it. But did you budget for the cascade of effects it may have on every other meal after that for a week or a month or a year?

It's not benign for some of us. For conditioned hypereaters, that trigger treat may not calorically put us over. It may put us over in a far worse way. It may reactivate appetite, destroy calm, and shatter a good run of weeks or months of self-control. And once it's shattered and we say, "Ah, what's the use," we spiral deeper down.

That order of sweet and spicy wings (sugar, fat, salt) may send you careening off the diet highway.

That cupcake might be your Wellington and the bakery your Waterloo.

It's worth considering.

Just monitor yourself. Some folks actually CAN handle treats.They don't go off the deep end. But if you have been or are morbidly obese and keep getting derailed, carefully study what you are eating that is derailing you. Study the meals on days your appetite stayed calm. Look at the meals/snacks when you suddenly felt more hungry and went off plan. Study carefully the meals the day or day before you went on a binge.

Sugar. Salt. Fat. Together---they will make some of us turn into crazed rats overfeeding, overfeeding, overfeeding....

Allan gets grief from people who say he's dictator-strict about not having cheat foods. Well, he's actually on to something. Conditioned hypereaters are/may be in danger every time they do use a favored cheat food.  How will it affect the brain? Will it send signals for more, so the pleasure response is activated again and again.

There's a reason we feel totally out of control when a binge is on in full force. WE ARE. We have our brain as our own enemy, telling us to keep eating, yes, more of that. And it's not telling us to eat broccoli or an orange. It's telling us to eat more ice cream, Doritos, cookies, pizza, meatball subs, Buffalo wings, blooming onions, cheeseburgers, fries, shakes,cheesey crackers, cookie dough....

Crazed response, conditioned hypereaters.

I'm one of them. But I have tools now.

I have shuriken and swords. It's up to me to learn to use them well or lose the fight.

Okay, off to read more and work on my self-intervention....


Karen Butler Ogle said...

I agree. Sometime all it takes to start a binge is that one forbidden bite. Abstinence is easier for me that trying moderate foods that have ALWAYS triggered me.

Interesting about salt. I've noticed to the I sometimes crave sweets following a heavily salted meal.

Suzan said...

Sugar is evil, plain and simple. I don't think that anyone, whether on a diet or not, should eat sugar in any form, except for fruit. I can't have too much salt or my weight loss stalls. Loren Cordain talks about salt in Paleo Diet, and Ray Audette too, in Neanderthin. They don't believe in eating any salt at all. I'm a little less strict than that. I don't heavily salt any of my food, except for avocados, and I only add a bit when I cook and none at the table. But I do love bacon (in moderation) and salted nuts. But I've learned not to eat them often, and in moderation. I don't think that a good fat like unrefined coconut oil triggers binges, thank goodness! :-)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to commend you for all the good information you are giving to Kristen (and for not giving up). I have found some interesting information from your posts to her.

Debbie said...

Great post, great information and I needed to hear it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

leslie1973 said...

Thanks for sharing your story I find the information great. I agree on in 100%. You must observe what You eat! People tend to neglect this so important rule as I mention and are surprised when they put on weight.