I've made a conscious effort to avoid nutrition websites, debates, and the like lately. I'm not watching The Biggest Loser or any other weight loss shows this fall. I'm not picking up cookbooks or magazines for new recipes. I try not to check the couple of diet blogs I follow as frequently. And you know what? I feel so much better. There's more space in my head for other interesting things.
An unexpected thing has happened with my eating. My meals and snacks are fairly low carb, and that's cool. Yet I'm still eating desserts--regular ones, not low carb ones. It has been easier for me to skip bread, pasta, rice, and other starchy staples than it has for me to give up ice cream and baked goods. But the overall effect of embracing what comes easiest to me is that I'm eating fewer carbs overall! And that is progress! Instead of two or three plates of pasta followed by dessert, it's now meat and vegetables followed by dessert. This feels better. Oh, it's far from smart eating, but it's smarter than what I'd been doing for years and years.
Sugar is a drug. Desserts are legal drugs. I know this. Even so, every time I told myself that I "had to" or "needed to" stop eating sweets, I felt deprived, resentful, and anxious (because I am addicted to them). I've tried the abstinence route--complete with a stint in OA, had a sponsor, the whole deal--and I've gone the other route with intuitive eating-type philosophies, which claim that listening to one's body and declaring nothing off limits will transform desserts from forbidden fruits into insignificant foodstuffs. Well, I hated OA for so many reasons (perhaps I will write about that in the future) and my desire for sweets never lessened through intuitive eating or allowing myself to have whatever I wanted in whatever amounts. For a time I tried the No-S diet, which allowed sweets on Saturdays, Sundays, and special days like holidays and birthdays; you can read about it here. Most recently I have explored paleo/primal/low carb eating, but my dessert anxieties and obsessions continued. The idea of eating sad little almond flour/coconut flake paleo cookies or whatever on Christmas is enough to make me want to whip up a batch of iced sugar cookie Santa heads right now.
What's finally making me feel sane is tuning everyone else out and hearing my own voice. And my own voice says: you are crazy about sugar and you always have been. This carries problems and risks. But the past 30 years show that you are going to keep eating sugar despite these problems and risks. Furthermore, whenever you try to drastically reduce or eliminate your dessert intake, you rebel and go overboard with it in short order. So how about this--just eat less of it, and eat really solid meals and snacks. Don't displace real food with sugary stuff. Save the bulk of your carb intake for dessert, since you like cake more than you like bread. And be a little more selective with your sweets. You're gonna have them regularly, so pass on the crappy stuff and enjoy the really good stuff.
It seems to be working. I am passing over many mass-produced desserts easily now, without those old feelings of suffering. (The result being I'm eating less dessert!) This is due to two things: I know I can make something better at home, something fresh and delicious and free of trans fats. I am allowed to do so. And secondly, I don't want to be some corporation's hopelessly addicted lab rat anymore, responding mindlessly to whatever garbage they package brightly, advertise aggressively, and price cheaply. I am already sugar's bitch, I don't want to be Nabisco's bitch and McDonald's bitch too. So when it comes to dessert, I'd like to mostly stick with the homemade stuff. I love baking and sharing with others and seeing them enjoy what I've made. I know I'm peddling drugs when I do this, but I cannot deny how much I enjoy it and do not see it changing anytime soon.
So, I feel saner. The question is, can I continue to lose weight eating this way? Taking this relaxed approach to sweets? I view this way of eating as an experiment, and will assess the results on my blog in a couple of weeks.