Falling off the wagon

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May 16, 2012 by theoghartiens

This past weekend was Mother’s Day. My husband asked me several times what I wanted to do to celebrate, and I couldn’t come up with anything specific. Sunday morning I woke up and said “Let’s go to breakfast!” I thought it would be nice to enjoy a “regular” meal with my family, even though I have been doing well to stick to my high-raw diet, which includes avoiding dairy, meat, and bread.

Cue Sunday morning breakfast: Taco Deli. My all-time favorite taco spot in Austin. They have vegan options, and you can even get all sorts of things without tortillas or corn. Whelp, today was Mother’s Day! So, I told myself I’d just have two tacos, no dairy, no meat. I ordered a veggie mix taco and the “Freakin’ Vegan” taco (black beans, pico and avocado). When my husband came out with the order, they had accidentally given us a veggie quesadilla. Which has cheese – and lots of it! I was actually really excited about it – I ate it and enjoyed every bite!!!

Well, after my cheese binge on Sunday, I noticed I was craving more foods that I hadn’t eaten in months. Like meat.  I ate some of my son’s chicken on Sunday night, and more of it on Monday. I even caught myself eating the left-over portion of my daughter’s breakfast, a waffle covered in honey. Maybe these things don’t seem that bad, but here’s the thing: for me, food like this is “gateway food.”  After all these months (three, to be exact) of being successful at staying off of fatty foods and sweets, I suddenly found myself slipping right back into old habits and eating foods I wanted to avoid.

Throughout this lifestyle change, I really have looked at sweets (in particular) like a drug. And I’m an addict, in the truest form. I went from eating loads of sugar everyday – from sugar in my coffee, to sugar in my breakfast (I ate three chocolate chip Eggo waffles everyday for over a year), to soda, to chocolate (I was eating this daily, sometimes several times a day), to cookies, and cakes and pies…you get the point. I was out of control. And when I decided to make a change in my eating habits, leaving the sugar addiction behind was a natural part of the process.

After just a couple of days of going “off” my diet, I started  to feel cravings in an intense way. It all came to a head during a class presentation at my daughter’s school. During the meeting, the kids and parents were provided with food: pizza, soda, cookies and cake. I sat through an hour of speeches from the students…right next to the table with all the sweets! I could smell the sugary icing on the cake, and felt my mouth watering. I was so distracted by it that I had to get up and move. I’ll admit, it was quite stressful to be there amongst all the “normal” people eating their pizza, drinking their soda and stuffing their faces with cookies and cake (my own daughter and her friends, included).

I make it through an entire HOUR without eating anything. I wasn’t even hungry, but I honestly debated myself almost the whole time about whether or not to eat cake. It smelled SO GOOD! Just as the meeting was ending, I thought, “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have one piece of cake…it’s just one piece.” I looked around and half expected someone to say “DON’T DO IT!!” Then I realized something profound: no one would even care if I ate cake, because everyone would think it’s a normal thing to do! That was all the convincing I needed. I grabbed a piece, took that first bite, and was instantly in full-on addict mode.  My mind was screaming ‘NOOOOOOO!!’ but my mouth was in charge, and it definitely wanted MORE! It was almost 100% sugar and I felt the rush almost instantly. I asked my daughter – very nonchalantly, I might add – if she had tried the chocolate cake (I was eating vanilla), and she said, “No, grab some.” So, I did!!! I didn’t even LIKE it, but I ate it until my stomach started groaning with protest.

I looked down at my plate and really looked at what I was eating – the neon colored icing, so thick it looked like spackle, the faux-chocolate “cake” (actually quite dry and not a very good representation of cake at all) and I felt like vomiting. I threw what was left into a trash bin and hurried out of the classroom.

The walk to the car felt like a walk of shame. I kept wishing I could go back 15 minutes earlier and pep-talk myself out of the cake. STUPID CAKE!!! I couldn’t get the sickly sweet taste of the icing off of the roof of my mouth, and my stomach was lurching as I sat down in the driver’s seat. I thought I might actually throw up for a minute, but I took a few deep breaths and drove away from the school.

I was silent during the ride home, and once I got there, I stayed outside with my daughter and our neighbors as they played kickball. I didn’t want to think about what I had done, so it was a nice distraction. I still felt a little queasy, but also had a wicked sugar rush. It was very unsettling. Once I came inside, I went through the process of getting my youngest ready for bed, and really mulled over my “failure.” I drank a large glass of homemade juice followed by a tall glass of water.

I went to bed early, and woke up with a terrible headache. I don’t know if it was from the food, but feeling so bad physically gave me all the motivation I needed to get back on track. I made a point to eat raw throughout the day – had a large smoothie for breakfast, a salad and fruit for lunch, and juiced a HUGE batch of mixed veggies and fruit to drink throughout the day. Despite my efforts, I still felt a little down – felt guilty for eating that stupid cake – but by the end of the day, my overall mood was a lot better. I took the time to really contemplate what my mistakes meant to me, and how they made me feel.

I think the most powerful message that came to me during my introspection was this: I am stronger than my weakest moment. Let me repeat that for those in the back – I am STRONGER than my weakest moment! This is the truth, and I know it – so why did I beat myself up so much for eating junk food?!  Because being an addict (of any kind) is forever. And it’s fucking hard to make the right choice sometimes! I personally believe kicking the addiction to junk food can be one of the hardest things we can do in this life. Why? Because, aside from that home economics class in high school, we are not taught how to eat properly – how to nourish our bodies and minds and souls. We’re taught to eat mindlessly, to graze in front of the TV, to eat in the car on the way to work. It certainly doesn’t help that the food industry capitalizes on our history (as a nation) of poor eating choices. Yeah, like I said – it’s hard!

Changing my diet was definitely necessary, especially as I hit numbers on the scale that I’d never seen before. But throughout this process, I have been hesitant to call my new eating habits a “diet.” To me, that leaves so much room for self-doubt, self-sabotage, and failure. I don’t want to look at my slip-up as a failure. I want to look at it as an opportunity to learn, to reflect and to move forward, to be stronger and smarter. I want to take the word “failure” out of my vocabulary!!!! I want to look back at these past few days and say, ‘Man, I learned a great lesson when I went back to my old eating habits,’ and continue on my way to better health!

So, to all of you who are struggling – who want to make a change, or feel trapped by the thought of learning something new – take the next step! You’ll stumble, you’ll fall, you’ll kick yourself for making mistakes – but there’s nothing worse than going through life WISHING you had done something different and never taking the risk. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Albert Camus: “Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” Ponder on that, friends. Is it true? Not for me! I’m going to keep evolving into that thing that I am supposed to be. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I know I’m taking the right steps. 🙂

Until next time – remember:

Erin

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Honest Toddler

juice, crackers. tv.

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