Saturday, March 20, 2010

Craving scenario

The other day while I was about to leave my client's house after exercising her dogs, she suddenly starts talking to me about the ice cream she was eating. The scenario went:

G: You know, I was only going to eat 2 bites of this ice cream. And look how much is left. (she raises up the pint of ice cream to show me)
Me: (feeling slightly awkward) Ice cream is good.
G.: I just can't help it. I was craving it and was only going to eat 2 bites. Then, I just can't help it-can't stop myself until it is gone."
Me: Well, indulging is good to do every once in awhile. There's nothing wrong with it.
G.: I just have no control when it comes to ice cream, and especially chocolate raspberry. Sometimes I wish J. (husband) would not buy it.
Me: Well, he buys it because he knows you like it.
G.: Yes, but too much.

G. finishes the ice cream and then she says very cheerfully,
"I have this trick I play on J. I put the empty carton back in the fridge. I don't think he' ll ever notice. Well, once he noticed and asked why I put an empty carton back in the fridge. I said so he wouldn't buy me anymore."

My client's thinking is no different than most of the people I know, and it reminds me how much my view is not in the norm. Certainly, I have thought exactly like how this client has. In that time period of my life, I almost loathed myself for craving something, because I knew I could never have it in my mind. For a long time, I had a horrible craving for peanut butter, but I would never touch the stuff--too fattening, I'd eat it all, etc. And it just fueled the fire more.

Besides the fact that my body needed fat, I had really liked peanut butter (and still do) prior to ED, but it didn't seem right of me to actually indulge myself. For some reason, that word left a feeling of selfishness in my head that I was simply not allowed. I'm learning now that it is okay to indulge myself more regularly--a coffee toffee heath bar ice cream freezee at Wendy's (yummy), an outing of retail therapy, a day of being unproductive after a long week, etc. I still have my hang-ups, but they are less and with much less wrath on myself than I used to be.

I think what people forget is that the word "crave" and "indulge" don't have to have the negative connotations that they seem to carry in this society. There's a sense of "naughtiness" to them and that it always has to be based on rewards. I hope we can start leaving the morality behind, because we truly do not need it. We need to crave, indulge, and simply enjoy, and none of these things have to be based on food. And even if they are, there is nothing wrong with it.

What do you crave in life? What are your indulgences? Has your view of cravings and indulgences changed in recovery?


Julie Mann said...

When we 'deny' or deprive ourselves of anything, after a while the 'rebel' in us wants to sabotage that plan. I think the key to healthy eating is to eat what we want but eat it 'consciously', really savour the food. When we relax and give ourself permission to eat what we want, we will often choose not to overeat. What is often underneath a craving is anxiety, and the food acts to comfort those feelings. What's useful is to ask yourself 2 questions. How am I feeling? and What am I needing? If you take the time to do this before reaching for the food you are more likely to get what you are 'really' needing.If you are not hungry but reaching for something, food will not satisfy you and you will be left feeling guilty,shameful,hopeless. I used to be bulimic so I know the cycle.
Take your focus off food and start looking at what can make you happy.
Julie Mann Habitfixer

Flannery said...

I, too, am continually caught off-guard by the realization that other people still hold my old views. It's a strange feeling, to have your eyes opened to something and move forward while the rest of your friends stay behind.

I have an aunt who does NOT get the concept of eating disorders at all. Over Thanksgiving this year, she repeatedly gave me 'diet tips', as if I don't know all of them intimately, have been doing them since I was 12. I tried to explain what I've learned about body chemistry, etc etc, but she just couldn't--wouldn't--understand.

It's always awkward.

Nicole said...

Great post! My views have definitely changed since entering recovery.

Have you ever read "Can't Buy Me Love" by Jean Kilbourne? My therapist had me read it. It's about how advertising affects our society and it is really fascinating. The author has a section in it where she talks about how advertising affects our views on food in particular, and it is quite eye-opening. She estimates that we are exposed to at least 3,000 advertisements a day. And in so many of those ads, food is presented as though it's some kind of entity that has tremendous power over us. Think of ads that associate food with guilt or sin, such as certain foods that are "guilty pleasures" or "sinfully delicious," or diet foods that you can "indulge" in without the "guilt," etc... Implying that eating is equal to sinning or makes you "bad" in some way. This doesn't just happen in ads though, it's everywhere. For instance, diet articles in magazines that suggest ways to "tame" your appetite or your cravings, suggesting that we are wild and out of control when it comes to the foods we want to eat.

I think this leads to a society where we view food with fear and think that we are "bad" if we eat certain foods. Think of how people describe liking foods such as chocolate or sugar or ice cream as having a "weakness" for that food, implying that eating it somehow makes them weak or powerless. I think it has just become so ingrained in us to not trust what our body craves and to look at food with fear and uncertainty.

For me, recovery has a lot to do with listening to my body and learning to trust it again.

Sorry this is so long! :)


Kim said...

Wow, what an interesting interaction. It makes me sort of sad to see how many women struggle with the "morality" of food. Before anorexia, I never ascribed a "good" or "bad" value to food. Anorexia was all about those values. Now, I don't really see any food as "bad." I'm aware that certain things are probably better for my body, but I don't all-out avoid any one thing. I think making a food seem so awful, something to avoid (to the point of playing tricks on yourself), just sets you up for trouble. For me, having anything forbidden doesn't work. I pretty much know I can have what I want, and that frees me up. I can't say I ever feel deprived these days.

I Hate to Weight said...

could you imagine one of your dogs thinking like this, "gee, i hope tiptoe doesn't buy my favorite treats, because then i'll want to eat them" or "i'm such a pig -- i should only have had two bites of those kibbles, hold the bits. now i'm going to have to fast all day tomorrow. maybe i'll try a cleanse. do you think tiptoe would give me a high colonic?"

dogs are smarter than we are!

Tiptoe said...

Julie, thanks for your comment. I agree that people need to find a balance--that depriving and denying only cause worse outcomes in the end. It's good to ask questions what we need/want.

Flannery, yep, some people will never get it. It's frustrating, but I've learned a lot has to do with their own issues.

Nicole, I haven't read that specific book, but I am familiar with Kilbourne's work and have seen her videos. Her work is similar to Susan Bordo's as well. If you haven't read Unbearable Weight, it's an interesting one.

I agree recovering is about learning to trust your body.

Kim, yes, it is sad. I am with you about not labeling food good/bad. I know I did not have this view pre-ED but food was a focus in my family in general.

Melissa, you made me laugh!! I've thought something similar as well--how dogs would never give such morality to food. They "eat to live!" There are a few who may "live to eat" but certainly, they are not thinking about their weight!