Do Something: Improving My Nightly Treat

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I have a contradictory personality.

I enjoy people and building friendships, but I really need my alone time and am the first to be ready to leave a party. (I have read that this makes me an "extroverted introvert.") I LOVE working out, but I could just as easily enjoy sitting all day long. I am determined, but a talented procrastinator. I am very interested in quality nutrition, but I love chocolate like it's a cherished family member.

Two halves of me are always having a tug-of war.


Lately, I've been trying to focus on nurturing some bad parts of my "nature."

For the past few years, I've been so intent on getting rid of my perfectionist tendencies where it comes to my eating, that I have swung to the other side of the pendulum.  I have literally been eating a "It's-my-birthday!" dessert almost nightly for, hmmmm, I don't really know how long.

Now, I actually think this is an important part of my recovery from years and years of distorted eating.  (Yes, I've written several unpublished posts on this and I'll get around to those soon.)  I needed a year (OK, more like 3-5) of eating really well during the day, but my nightly treat including eating whatever the heck I wanted and in whatever quantities I felt like.  Here are some of my latest samplings, when it hasn't been ice cream, cookies, or loads of dark chocolate peanut butter cups:


(Side note: Please don't lecture me on the sugar-addiction research, like some people have on Instagram.  I know it.  I've read about it extensively, believe it, etc.  But cutting out food groups is not healthy for me mentally, even if it's a "treats only on the weekends" standard.  Living that way is a sure-fire way for me to spiral back to a bad place, really quickly. I have a whole other post in the line-up about how restriction (even in the name of health) too often and too easily leads to obsession, eating disorders, or even someone "failing" so much, they give up on health altogether.  I feel that a sugar-is-the-devil-attitude hinders far more than helps for most people in the long run.)


Even though I think it's been good for me mentally to get rid of iron-clad restrictions on what I eat, having dessert with this level of abandonment hasn't made me feel my best physically or emotionally.  And the latter is why I really want to improve.  Only eating one portion of any dessert is still super hard for me. I always want more, but it's more of an emotional thing, like my subconscious still believes it's my "last time" having a treat, or I'm staving off anxiety, boredom, sadness, or what have you.

Also, when you spent over a decade consistently eliminating treats from your diet, incorporating them back in is going to take a lot of acclimating.  After almost another decade of gradually acclimating (with lots of ups and downs), I think I'm at a point now where it is OK for me to adjust how I'm dealing with treats, keeping my physical and emotional health in mind.


So, here is what I'm doing:

I still get a treat every night, but most nights I'm trying to keep it more simple: a little bowl of dark chocolate almonds, a few pieces of chocolate, a handful of Aussie licorice, a couple dark chocolate granola balls, etc.  I couple it with a mug of herbal tea, as a sort of ritual.

The key for me is to not say, "NO TREATS!" or "SUGAR IS BAD!" or even, "YOU CAN'T EAT THAT, IT'S NOT THE WEEKEND!"  There are no real parameters or restrictions.  More of a loosy-goosy, "Treats are always allowed, but try to keep them simpler most days, and stop when you feel full or anxious."

Also, the other key is for me to not set parameters on days-of-the-week when these moderate-treats are the norm.  That way, if I have a day (like yesterday) where I was planning on keeping it simple and ended up eating cookies with my kids mid-day, it's not like I've "blown it" and now either can't eat my small treat OR just eat another huge amount of dessert after the kids are in bed because I've already "broken" my rule.  There are no rules!  But there is a genuine search for mindfulness and balance.  That's the end-all be-all for me, not the size of my bottom.


I know for most people, that's not scary.  That's healthy, that's responsible.  But it is scary for me.  It's a tenuous position for me to be in, because I still have a difficult time trusting myself and worry about slipping back to either side of the pendulum: either crazy-restrictions or no-restrictions.

It's hard being in the middle, especially when social media is riddled with "clean eating" or "whole 30" posts.  But darn it, I can eat very healthy AND I can have treats.  That is OK!  That is still being healthy, as long as I'm trying to keep it within the realms of responsible moderation, alongside genuine love for myself and body.

At least, that's the mindset I'm working on.  How about you?

12 comments:

  1. I love how honest you ate in your posts. This one made me giggle because while nursing I have become a treat every night person. I can't wait to put her down and almost reward myself for surviving another day. I too am working on moderation, but not beating myself up if I have an extra bite.

    Keep up the great posts! I look forward to them.

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  2. I love how honest you ate in your posts. This one made me giggle because while nursing I have become a treat every night person. I can't wait to put her down and almost reward myself for surviving another day. I too am working on moderation, but not beating myself up if I have an extra bite.

    Keep up the great posts! I look forward to them.

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    1. Thank you, Ash! Yes, those treats are a really good reward. I know people say that food shouldn't be a reward, but I really disagree! It is hard to find a middle ground though, and that's worth working on.

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  3. My kids have a small treat every night (like a small handful of m & m's or chocolate chips etc.. simple stuff like you talked about) if they eat a good dinner. I don't make them finish if they are full, but as a mom, you generally know when they don't like something and just don't want to eat, or when they really are full. Once a week, usually on Sunday's, we make a dessert. It happens twice sometimes if there are other special events going on. But overall, I think this has worked well for us. I have no way of knowing if I am ruining their relationship with food or not. My mom always offered a healthy meal, but she always had treats around too. I guess I am kind of doing the same. I want my kids to see me care for my body and eat healthy, but I want my kids to see me rest and eat treats too. As for me, I go through spurts of being super motivated and eating really good (which means really limiting sugar and getting in my fruits/veggies for the day) or I am not motivated, I don't want to care and I just want to eat what I want to eat (but this effects me physically AND mentally). When I eat too much sugar, I turn into a MOMSTER. No joke. I am not sure if I will ever being able to find a good balance. I think you hit it right on the head with "Trying" being the best thing. Never stop trying. Love and appreciate your honesty.

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    1. I think you are doing AWESOME! Seriously. It seems like your kids are learning to have that balance. We are all about little bowls of chocolate chips for my kids' after-dinner treat. And I am with you on the MOMSTER thing, too. I think that knowledge is an important part of learning healthy self-regulation. "Self, you could eat more fruits and veggies today instead of another brownie. Not because of your bum, not because of your tummy, but because it'll make you sick and angry." That's the inner-dialogue I'm trying to work on, rather than the hellfire and damnation approach. Love you!

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    2. Yes, that is a good inner-dialogue. I just wish I were one of those people that didn't really care for sweets! Love you too!

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  4. Those chocolate desserts look amazing! I'm definitely a chocoholic. And I'm glad we can agree Aussie licorice is amazing. Love that stuff!!

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    1. I think we were made for each other. The next time we see each other, I'm going to bring someone decadent.

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  5. I never thought about treats until I kids and then I needed them as a reward for surviving the day and bedtime routine. I have trouble with control for sure like I could eat a whole package of Oreos way to easily or a chocolate bar. I don't start heathy diets or just clean eating regimens sometimes because I know I can't pull off the no sugar part. I really need to try to stop the crazy binges sometimes and just stay more even. It is rough. When you don't drink wine or something that lots of people reward themselves with sugar is the next thing for me.

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  6. Chocolate is a cherished family member! However, in my house it is like the great granny on my mother's side of the family who only I am acquainted with. So, I appreciate her but no one else seems to. When I make dessert, I am stuck eating the whole thing. I am not complaining, I enjoy her company!! I am just unsure if this is really a "healthy relationship"! ;)

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  7. Those look amazing. And the introverted/extroverted combo is something I completely relate to!

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  8. Those look amazing. And the introverted/extroverted combo is something I completely relate to!

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