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Old 02-11-2007, 08:04 PM   #1
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Question Compulsion v. choice

I'm just pondering a decision I made today about eating. My biggest, most damning weakness has been compulsively eating a pint of premium ice cream (Ben & Jerry's, Hagen Dazs, Dove--you get the idea) every day for at least two years. The last 2 or 3 weeks, I am happy to report, it has become a non-compulsion and I have been able to be satisfied with non-fat, no sugar added frozen yogurt or ice cream.
Today I was having a high anxiety day and even some extra anti-anxiety pills (don't worry--they're prescription and I don't abuse them) didn't really make a dent in the anxiety and even though I didn't feel absolutely compelled to eat the rich ice cream--you know the feeling: like you absolutely, positively have no other choice but to eat it--I actually consciously chose to eat it to calm myself down.
I know I will be able to return to better choices as of now, but I'm just wondering--is it worse to feel compelled to eat the stuff or to not feel compelled and eat it anyway? Of course, the effect on my body is the same no matter which way I've made the choice...so there is the beauty of writing: writing is thinking and I have discovered that I lost site of the real reason I had to make a choice at all: I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Ok, I thought I was writing for an answer, but now that I'm not...have any of you ever been in similar dilemmas? I guess it's sort of where compulsion dies down but old habits don't?
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:57 PM   #2
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I know what you are talking about. You made a decision. You choose to eat the ice cream. You stayed in control. When I'm in a situation like this I always make sure I measure my food. It's almost like a sign that I didn't lose control.

Sure, at the end you ate the same amount of calories. But.. you are making progress. You stopped.. felt the emotion.. (for longer then 30 seconds) You thought about your options. I believe that over time you may come up with another option that you didn't think of tonight. (ie. going for a walk - or calling a friend - you get the idea)

Remember - this is a process.


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Old 02-11-2007, 09:47 PM   #3
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Funny i love junk food......since i have been on this diet....seems like all my cravings are gone....I have never felt like this ever.... I actually thought i had a problem a illness or something as i had a bad WC accident....I have all blood work done and nothing....seems my cravings are gone.....I have to remember to eat....Now only if i could bottle this and sell it........cant explain it

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Old 02-11-2007, 09:47 PM   #4
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Ice cream is one of my trigger foods. I used to eat whatever I wanted everyday and then at the end of the day say, "Oh, well, I deserve it".
Now instead of going over on my calories I make room for a little bit of ice cream at the end of the day. I feel much more in control, rather than craving it.
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:26 PM   #5
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I think it would have been worse to feel like you had no control and just ate the ice cream. You were in control and did chose to have it, not obsessively craving it until you gave in, but wanting it. I think that's what "normal" people do -- they eat what you want when you crave it -- in normal portions, for non-emotional reasons. Not as a meal replacement, but as a treat/snack/etc. You controlled your craving and did not let your craving control you. I think it is better to have some of what you desire than to "eat your way around it", trying to get past it -- I can eat 2,000 calories of "good food" trying to avoid a craving, when I could have eaten a serving of something for 200 calories that I really wanted and be done with it.

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Old 02-11-2007, 10:41 PM   #6
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Do you still have pints of the premium ice cream in your freezer? If you are determined to make the switch, and haven't already, I would get rid of them. I've noticed that sometimes when I am in a state of anxiety about something, I tend to gravitate towards overeating high calorie things that are quickly available...it really does feel like a compulsion. I've solved this problem by not keeping those sorts of things around my house.

Not being able to grab the pint of ice cream, bag of chips, or muffins (because they aren't there) forces me to find other ways to deal with the feelings of anxiety. I find that when the food is not right there to satisfy that moment at the peak of anxiety, that as time goes by, I CAN get through that period without giving into the feelings of compulsion. In the end, I learn to deal with my feelings, and I feel better in general, too.

The food doesn't solve the problem, it's just a temporary way to suppress a feeling that you're having trouble dealing with. The real key is learning to deal with the feelings, and the the best way to do that is to take steps to encourage yourself to find other ways to cope, particularly if being healthy is important to you.

This is not to say that you can never have ice cream in your house again. I just found that ridding my environment of trigger foods accelerated the process of figuring out how not to use food as an emotional crutch. I think it actually makes it easier. No internal battles of anymore. Later, when you've learned to cope in other ways, you may be able to have those "compulsion" foods in your home and eat them for pure enjoyment, not as an compulsion-asssociated emotional fix.

Last edited by Tara D; 02-11-2007 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 02-12-2007, 05:53 AM   #7
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I really understand what you're talking about.

I think once you stop overeating you have space to think about why you were doing it and it does expose those anxieties and feelings that were formerly being pushed down by the food. It's quite a vulnerable time so it's no wonder you're feeling very anxious right now. I think constantly you have the option in your mind of staying in this state of anxiety or relieving it by eating which is the compulsive part.

I think for me the most important thing is just not responding to that compulsion to overeat which is what you're doing at the moment. After two years I still get times when my thoughts turn to overeating certain foods and at times I still do - but most of the time I can just think about what it was that started me thinking about food in the first place - what am I upset about? Am I stressed out/ tired? I think if you know why it helps you understand why you have that desire for food. It doesn't make it go away though and you do need to develop strategies to cope long term. But I can tell you that it is entirely possible.

Well done with making healthier choices - a really healthy alternative to ice cream that is delicious and satisfies the compulsion is mixing frozen berries/ or other fruits with rice or oat milk - this is my ice cream substitute as I used to binge on Haagen Dazs/ B&J's too.

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Old 02-12-2007, 07:04 AM   #8
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Hi Margie!


I think it's pretty safe to say that EVERYONE here has felt compelled to eat something on a number of occasions! Sometimes the food just LOOKS so great or it is a TRIGGER FOOD that draws us in and forces our hand, or we just start to zone out and get into old patterns.

Getting in control of food sounds simple when you read about how to do it, but actually DOING IT is a whole other story!

When I read Dr. Stephen Gullo's book The Thin Commandments, I "got" for the first time what control over food actually means. In essence he was saying that you ask yourself this question: "Will eating this food help me reach my goal?" Now, we all make goals, but do we actually think about how we will get there? Sometimes we do, and sometimes, well...

For some reason this statement about asking myself if eating this food would help me get to my goal was a real eye-opener for me! Also, he talks about NEVER letting any person, any event, any emotion making you eat even one bite of food. I thought about the many, many times that I did just that -LET PEOPLE, events, my emotions force me into eating to "calm" myself down, or medicate myself so that I no longer felt bad, or LET parties and birthday celebrations or holidays give me the excuse I was looking for TO OVEREAT!! I used to think that weight loss was about food and exercise. I NOW think weight loss and getting healthy is about caring enough about yourself NOT to let anything happen to you that will hurt you.

All of us here have been letting ourselves get hurt. We have forgotten to care ENOUGH about ourselves. We have paid the price by adding unneeded pounds to our bodies that are making us unhappy and unhealthy. Fortunately we are all DOING something about this now! We are stepping up and saying, "ENOUGH of this abuse of my body! I am worth it! I am worthy! I am IMPORTANT!"

Try asking yourself the question, "Will this food help me get to my goal?" If it is a GREAT food like a healthy salad or a wonderful piece of fish or a juicy apple, of course the answer will be, "Yes! This food WILL help me get to my goal of having a healthy body!" If the food is an empty-calorie pint of ice cream or a huge piece of cake with sugery icing, well, chances are those foods will only add to the problem.

I think the more committed you are to getting a healthier body the easier it is to just look at a tasty, calorie and fat-laden food and say, "You know, it will taste really great, but I have worked too hard on that treadmill, aerobics DVD, yoga, etc. to ruin all the good I did for my body by eating this food that does nothing for my health. Pass!"

I wish you good luck and success on your journey. Know that everyone here is fighting the same demons as you are, AND THEY ARE DEMONS! We are right there with you, and wish you the very best!

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Old 02-12-2007, 07:11 AM   #9
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Just to add to what Cheryl so wonderfully put. Do you ever think to yourself AFTER you've eaten the ice cream, "Wow, I'm so glad I did that. What a great choice I made. I couldn't have possibly made a better decision then to eat that ice cream, it was definitely the right thing to do."?

Good luck to you - and to all of us, who have these same exact issues. *sigh*
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:24 AM   #10
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This is a great thread. I do find myself asking if a certain food will help me in the long run, and that usually helps me to avoid temptation. I tell you, 99% of this weight loss thing is in the mind. This time I feel like it's for real, mostly because my head is in the right place now.
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:27 AM   #11
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Ice cream is one of my comfort foods which is why I really don't eat it anymore. I used to eat all sorts of ice cream items, especially sandwiches, when I was feeling bad. A few months ago, I saw a tiny 1/2 cup ben & jerry's ice cream things and I thought that maybe they would be good occassional treats until I saw that they were 220 calories or so! When I do really want ice cream, I go to mcdonalds and have a soft serve without the cone, its around 100 calories and I usually don't eat it all.
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:19 AM   #12
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Wow, I'm so glad you have asked this question/wrote your thoughts down. I've experinced this same issue lately. It seems everynight I debate to eat or not to eat something and I'm always like I want to eat it cause I know it will make me feel better. I like the idea of asking myself questions about it. I will try to remember that next time.
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Old 02-13-2007, 11:30 AM   #13
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It seems like half of the time I reply to posts here it is to say - I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way - lol!

I totally understand what you mean by no longer feeling the compulsion but the habit is still there. I find I will often feel I need to do it not because I want to but because it seems like the right thing to do - like putting on my seatbelt in the car. I've been working hard on correcting the habits.
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Old 02-13-2007, 11:36 PM   #14
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Thumbs up Thanks everyone

Thanks for all the great replies. I definitely will start to use the question about whether a certain food will help me reach my goal or not. And the berries and rice or oat milk sounds interesting--I know about soy milk, rice milk, almond milk--but not rice milk! Actually, sometimes I will drink some low fat chocolate soy milk to satisfy some of those ice cream cravings. And, no, I never kept pint after pint of ice cream in the house...but you better believe the car practically drove itself somewhere I could buy a pint after work!
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