Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not-so-merry go round

I went to the grocery store nearest my house for the first time in awhile. I used to get most of my binge foods from there, but this store was never my choice for actual comprehensive grocery shopping because their stuff is overpriced.

The store was always good for picking up an item or two in a pinch, though. Yesterday I needed to pick up milk and tortillas quickly, so I went there. I also knew I wanted Cadbury mini eggs; I love them and enjoy a bag around this time every year. I entered and walked to the left, through the produce section, then looped around the perimeter of the store to get to the tortillas and the dairy aisle at the rear of the store.

Later, when I reflected on having walked to the left, I was surprised and pleased. I used to enter and head right immediately and unthinkingly. The ice cream aisle is the rightmost aisle in the store, so I would go there and check out if Ben and Jerry were dealing anything new before proceeding to the other sections of the store. I would do this whether I was on an official binge run or had come to pick up garlic and oranges.

After my grand entrance, the trip still had its little challenges. I did look at many of my old favorites and feelings of longing did crop up. I wanted to buy several things and not necessarily polish everything off in an hour of frenzied eating, but at least sample a bunch of different sweets. This is that new gray area I keep talking about--where binge eating tendencies blend into overeating tendencies and I'm unsure what to call certain things. Was that an urge to binge? Was it a craving to overeat?

Does it matter? Probably not. Neither one should be acted upon.

I considered many purchases: various types of Easter candy, Little Debbie Nutty bars, ice cream and popsicles. But nothing was compelling enough, besides those Cadbury mini eggs I had already planned to buy. And the thought kept occurring, as I looked at one thing after another, that I could always come back and get it later if I really wanted it. The limited edition ice cream will be there tomorrow. I could find all the same Easter candy next week. And they'll still be selling Nutty bars when I'm dead. Those aren't going anywhere. As I passed on each thing, I thought "Eh. Maybe later."

That's a new thought for me. I mean, I always "understood" the food wasn't going anywhere, but I'd tell myself that--and tell myself I could get it later--in the harsh tone of an exasperated adult talking to a bratty child. In this internal conversation, the adult was mean and impatient, and the child didn't really believe the adult. 9.9 times out of 10, I would end up buying the food.

Last night and earlier today I was patting myself on the back for my unattached attitude in the store. More mental and behavioral progress! Hooray! But then tonight--oh, you guessed it!--I felt the urge to go buy a box of Nutty bars and eat half the box before my husband gets home from work. A clear urge to binge. I believe I know what triggered this urge and I'm not acting upon it--in fact, I noted my unpleasant urge and then promptly sat down to write this post to pass the time until my husband arrives--but I felt dismayed at having experienced such an urge at all. And I felt scared, like this (fleeting!) craving was proof that a potential binge still lurks around every corner.

Yet reacting emotionally and labeling an urge as "bad" or "threatening", or labeling oneself as a failure for having various urges, is exactly the kind of thing that one must gently train themselves to stop doing.

Round and round and round it goes.


  1. "And they'll still be selling Nutty bars when I'm dead. Those aren't going anywhere"

    I just picked myself up from the floor. That was hilarious.

    Good on you for not acting on the Nutty bar urge.

  2. I've often found that noting success makes me go off and overeat (or mini-binge). It's as if progress scares me and makes me want to step back to a safe place. I think noting this tendency is important, even if I'm not ready to overcome it quite yet.

    I don't know if this is true for you, but just thought I'd mention this tendency.

  3. I definitely have talent for self-sabotage especially when I feel like I'm making progress.

    That was a great trip to the grocery store. Most times I'm able to do something similar with cravings if I can make myself wait 24 hours then I have "permission" to get pizza or ice cream or whatever the craving was for - preferably in a reasonable single-serving. I do find like a lot of people that the craving often doesn't last 24 hours. I was also very much prey to the "limited edition" and seasonal junk food offerings but you're right that stuff will be around again next year. Another way I've talked myself out of trying especially Ben and Jerry's limited stuff is, what if I really love it and then can't get it anymore, it's better in some ways not to know at all.

  4. SFG and Arwenn, thank you both for giving me something to think about. It's helpful!