Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sneak attack

Thank you all so much for the comments on yesterday's post.  It meant the world to me and the Mr.  It is also good to know that we (us and you great people) are not alone in our struggles.

When you're the person who lives with a sneaker, you walk that delicate line of ignoring the signs and letting them know you know stuff is missing.  For example, he buys a package of light swiss cheese for his sandwiches that he packs for work.  There are ten servings in that package meaning that if he used one slice of cheese every single day for lunch, he'd have enough to last the entire two weeks until we made it back to Trader Joe's for big haul grocery day.  He doesn't have sandwiches every single day that require cheese (ie-PB&J) so technically he should've had two slices leftover at the end of the two week period if he didn't put them on eggs or something like that.  Sometimes a day into the second week, his cheese would be gone.  I'd see the wrapper in the trash and know that the times I saw his jaw chewing in the kitchen, that's what he was eating while he was making his lunch.  A baby carrot is one thing, a few calories but this was a 50 calorie slice of cheese, which doesn't sound like much but when it's not being recorded, it all adds up.  Just like every lick off of our fingers or spoon.  I would on occasion say "the cheese is gone already?" and he'd say "yeah" and change the subject or not answer me.  I'm not his mama and I didn't want to shame him into going into a worse cycle.  I know that feeling of spite bingeing from back in the day but also wanted to give him an opening if he wanted to talk about it.

The night I asked the Mr about the cookie butter, I knew the answer.  He could deny it all he wanted but the last time I used that, there was half a jar left and when I opened it that morning, I could barely scrape together the tablespoon to spread on my banana.  Measuring condiments is second nature to me and I have tried to stress its importance to him as well.  I knew that he didn't measure mayo and I would see the jar going down at a rapid rate and given I only use 3 tbsp per week, I knew it wasn't me draining it.  But again, I'm not his mother and nagging him to death about it could only exacerbate the issue so I would ask if he measured, he'd give me the deer in headlights look or get defensive and I'd drop it.

When he finally came clean to me before our workout a few days after asking about the cookie butter, I could tell he was ashamed.  We've had this conversation many times over the years so it was nothing new but then he told me about how much he was sneaking at work.  How he would wait until people were gone and then raid the candy dish for Special Darks and Krackels.  One time he got caught by his co-worker who frequently raided the candy dish and he said "hey did you ask permission first?"  (This was something the owner of said dish would apparently say.  You could eat from her candy dish but only if you asked permission first.  Uh okay, power trip.  She also would pick out some Special Darks for the Mr and give them to him but then if he would get in the candy dish on his own, she'd say "is that on your DIET!?"  Oh, is that the drug dealer calling the junkie an addict?  Wow lady)  Oh yeah, so the co-worker asked if he asked permission and he said no but offered up one of his favorites, Mr Goodbar as a distraction method for getting caught.  For once, the co-worker was trying to be good that week and declined it.  So the Mr only did it when the guy was out or he was sure he wouldn't be back any time soon.  This wasn't an all the time occurrence but he said that there was no "thrill" for him if people were around but it was "can I get away with this?"  The previous week, he had 5 mini Reese eggs at 90 calories a piece.  When I went up to shower, he apparently figured "f**k it, I already blew my day" and scooped out a few tablespoons of Nutella and cookie butter netting him almost 1000 extra calories total for that day in sneaks.

As he continued to pour his heart out and tell me how ashamed he was and how tired he was of it all, I hugged him and told him we didn't have to buy those things anymore.  He said that wasn't fair to me because I knew how to eat them responsibly but if I could hide them from him, it would help.  So we began to formulate a plan on how we could get this under control.  We agreed that after every use, we would weigh things that needed to be measured...

All Natural peanut butter...yummy but a quick 200 calories for 2 tbsp

The light Miracle Whip is a biggie.  After every use, the weight is crossed off and re-recorded
Trigger foods like Nutella and cookie butter need to be hidden and have permission to be used.  This may sound extreme but if that's what it takes, it's what it takes.

Nutella...temptress in a jar.

Crunchy cookie butter...delicious with a tablespoon on a banana...dangerous when not in the right mindset.
If I find he has inadvertently discovered my hiding place, they get re-hidden within a day after a quick weight check.  So far, so good on that front!  (Side note:  He said he found the cookie butter the other day and almost stuck it in his oatmeal (and would measure it first) but I was in the bathroom and talked himself out of it.  I told him he could just yell up next time and he said he'd rather not break my trust.)

Another big change we made?  Our after workout routine.  He usually made his lunch while I was in the shower, giving him free reign if he was in the mood to sneak.  Now?  We both go upstairs and I get in the shower and he gets to properly unwind from the day by reading "The End is Nigh (The Apocalypse Triptych)" on his Kindle.  Then when he gets in the shower, I get to focus on doing my ankle massages so my legs don't make me regret skipping the next day.  This has forced me to take care of a big part of my physical therapy that I wasn't so good at maintaining before so the change in routine has benefitted both of us.  Also, he now makes his lunch while I'm preparing dinner so that we're both in the kitchen together and he can't sneak anything.  I prepare our snacks at night too.

This new routine actually allows us to focus more on our mental health and doing those little rituals for ourselves (like actually using the anti-hag face cream I bought) that we might otherwise skip.  We've been doing this for just over a month and it has really been helpful.  He knows when he's tempted at work, that he can either chat me and I can talk him down (ie-when two boxes of Thin Mint girl scout cookies arrived from a client and I told him they were full of maggots.  When he was somewhat silent, I told him God was watching to appeal to the inner choir boy of his youth.  He gave them to the candy dish girl who also makes treats for the office and makes a Thin Mint cheesecake.  So proud!)  Or if the Special Darks start calling his name, I made him a picture that kills his appetite...

I'm about to show it...
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If bugs make you queasy, skip it...
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So yeah, does that candy bar still look good crawling with maggots?  It pretty much does it for him every time.

I'm so proud of the progress he's made this past month and I know that he knows he can tell me about the hard days and the temptation he passed up.  If we keep up this routine, I think it can go a long way in helping to deal with it for the long term.  There will always be temptation and there will always be days where you mentally fight with yourself to step away from the candy dish or the Nutella jar but each victory is one to be celebrated!

A funny side note, the Mr said that Monday he was thinking about checking the candy dish since it had been a month since he saw it, you know, "just to check" to see what was in there.  That is when my chat popped up asking if he wanted to write the story about his struggle and progress.  HA!  That took care of getting his mind off of the candy dish pretty quick!

Do you put a plan of action into place when dealing with your food demons or try to wing it and hope it'll get better on its own?

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11 comments:

  1. I think it does come down to having a plan and so far that has helped me a lot. If you think you can deal with a problem like this on your own then just consider that you might be wrong and talk to someone who you think can help without being judgmental about it. Nobody needs judgment in this type of situation. We just need help from time to time.

    The biggest thing about a problem like this is the way it can escalate. It starts (seemingly) harmlessly enough with a slice of cheese or whatever but before you know it you're downing 1000 extra calories without a second thought. I want to thank the Mrs. for helping me out on this one and I want to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's post. It means a lot to hear that others appreciated the honesty and can relate.

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    1. I'm glad we have each other to lean on with this. Just like I tell you to hide the one bag of candy corn I buy in the Fall or the Sweet Tart Gummies to hold me accountable, I am more than happy to do the same. There are just some foods that we know self control is a little harder and luckily our more tempting choices aren't the same so I can be strong for you and you can be strong for me. :-)

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  2. I think hiding tempting food is a great idea. I just keep it out of the house, because my blood sugar can't handle things like Nutella, cookies, and candy. (*sigh*) It's the easiest way for me to eat healthy.

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    1. Yeah, I think I've found the perfect hiding places now and last night I measured out a tbsp of cookie butter for him to put in his oatmeal this morning while I was still upstairs.

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  3. Oh, if only gross images and hiding tempting foods did the trick for me. I've tried nearly every suggestion I've come across for avoiding binge triggers and none have worked. For me it's not necessarily about the food being eaten but the act of eating itself, the chemicals released by the brain, etc. Leave me with only bland foods or foods I don't really like and I'll eventually come around to bingeing on them. I've hear extreme over-eating compared to doing certain drugs and that description rings most true for me.

    But the Mr. is right: having a plan helps. If you have to go through 100 plans to find the right one, I think it's worth the effort. I've found one that seems to be working but know myself too well to declare success unless I've kept something up for more than 6 months. I'm the queen of short term success.

    I really hope your plan works for the the two of you and Mr. can let go of the guilt. Accountability is key.

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  4. I've tried planning and I've tried winging it. Neither works too well for me, eventually I always fall back into old habits, and in the case of sneak eating apparently I develop new bad habits as well.

    I think that you and your Mr. are so very lucky to have each other as accountability partners. Those of us going this weight loss thing alone have one less tool in our toolbox.

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  5. A friend of mine once said to me, well, I can't just have two coolies, I always end up eating the whole package of cookies, I can't stop. I did not say this to her but in my head I said, you can you just chose not too. So, she was the kind of dieter and I hate that word, that would just give everything up really drastically, and we have all been there, we lose the weight, then get back into old habits and said weight is back on. So no more diets for me, I have been working on changing my lifestyle. With that being said, there are things that I just have to say no to, or for that matter, I just can't have in my house. Meaning, I can't have a gallon of ice cream, or really any ice cream, because the pint is like one serving to me, or cookies or most chips. It is kind of a pain but I do just buy individual packages, So, if I want ice cream, I buy one of those single servings, if I want cookies, I buy the small package for one, same things with chips. At the end of the day, it is what it is, I don't not have them, I just have to make it harder. We all gotta do what we gotta do, yo!

    Thanks again for sharing!!!

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  6. For me, what helps the most is not allowing my trigger foods in the house. As a food addict I know without a doubt if they are in the house, I will justify until I'm blue in the face why it's ok to eat them. When I'm in the food, I can convince myself that a BLT (bite, lick, or taste) won't hurt. But it does--it hurts so very much because it cheapens my self-esteem. Portion control with trigger foods is not possible for me. I simply cannot have them, and I'm finding that I'm really ok with out. Almost two years without candy--never believed the day would come. But it has and I'm so very thankful. I'm not missing out because the healthier I get mentally, the more I realize that food is not a treat or a reward for me. Food is powerful, cunning, and baffling for me. I know a lot of people who can handle virtually all kinds of foods and are truly ok with a portion of this or a small piece of that. I'm not one of them. I tried to be, for a long, long time. But the struggle was always there, so I made the choice for freedom from it. Many of my friends don't understand it and they're quite critical of it, but it's what works for me so I'm in a very good place with it.

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  7. I love how supportive you both are of each other. Having someone who will lovingly-but-firmly hold you accountable is such a blessing. I like the strategies you guys have employed. The maggot-chocolate picture made me laugh - for years, I have avoided high-calorie foods by visualizing roaches crawling on it or mold growing on it. It doesn't work every since time, but it has gotten me out of a few tight spots over the years, lol!

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  8. I hear you about the sneaking. I was the sneaker until just recently. I joined a weight loss group online, hosted by a friend of mine. It helps hold me accountable because nobody else was. I had to make a plan of how I was going to lose weight and one of my plans was to be completely honest with myself and write down everything I eat. I use an app on my phone to count calories and it helps me have control to not have to write the bad foods I ate. It also makes me more aware of just how many calories are in a Tbsp of Nutella! Wow!

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  9. Thank you for this post! I can really relate. I was definitely a sneak eater as a kid, and it's something I still struggle with as an adult. I usually "confess" to my husband right after, which helps because I get it off my chest and he's never judgmental.
    I think the other important thing is to not feel guilty over a sneak food slip-up, or really any slip-up for that matter. I've been working on this, and know that even though I might think I deserve to feel badly, I don't need to. So I ate something I shouldn't - I didn't steal a baby. Instead, I just acknowledge that it wasn't the best choice and move on, focusing on the rest of the day. It's helped stopped small slip-ups from becoming big ones as well.

    Also thanks for the warning on the maggots. Ew.

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