Reply To: Addictive desire when the food is already in the house

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Alison M


Thanks for this prompt, detailed, and very helpful reply.

Regarding your question, I do not think you have been saying that we should remove temptation because we can’t handle it. In fact I’ve heard nothing like that from you, until this post, which seemed to be implying that. I asked for clarification because what I thought you were saying here seemed to not sync with your other teaching. So, I figured I must be misunderstanding. I apologize if I came across as accusatory and didn’t accurately express my main questions, which were,
“What are you saying here? I assume you are not contradicting your main teachings, but how does this advice sync with the themes we’ve been learning?” Your response here helps clarify that. Thank you.

Good point about not having a huge benefit to bring something home SIMPLY to work through desire. Agreed.

I appreciate your emphasis on no black-and-white.

Your comment about getting a much better sense of outcome if you eat all-or-nothing is thought provoking. I would like to be at a place where I could have just one cookie and be content, or if not content then, as you say, at least in a more peaceful relationship with the food I ate or didn’t eat. Perhaps I want this because I envy so many people around me who seem completely able to do that. Eating just one cookie or just half a bar of chocolate, without strongly desiring more, is foreign to me personally, but it seems plenty of others have this ability. Perhaps this is a goal for another phase, some months down the road, after I have more experience with these strategies.

Regarding your comment about “why you would never consider leaving anything you might want in a shop, and dislike the suggestion that you do” . .. not quite right on that one. Actually, perhaps your comment is right, in response to the query I wrote, but it appears I didn’t articulate myself well enough.

In fact I frequently leave stuff I might want in the shop, and think it is just common sense to do so. My point was to ask how your answer to Jenny synced with the other strategies you have given us, and to say that I identify with Jenny’s challenges.

My husband is completely able to eat one cookie per day until the bag goes stale with the cookies he hasn’t eaten. Also, I have older teenagers and college kids who don’t struggle with overeating as I do. So, forcing my expectations onto all of them, to “keep tempting food out of the house since the Mom can’t handle it,” doesn’t seem practical to me. Please note: we have lots of healthy food in the house; we are not a sugar shop around here. But they want occasional treats, so those treats are available.

Although I appreciate your comment about making my husband take the cookies with him to work, or other strategies toward the goal of just “not having too many tempting foods in the house” . . . that won’t work in my situation (I actually have asked him multiple times, over many years, to do this. He’s a great husband and willing to compromise in many areas, but not in this one. I can’t deny it’s reasonable for him to want to have a cookie per day, or whatever the sweet-of-the-week is. So, the kids and I put any sweets reserved for him into a clearly labeled container and then we don’t eat them. This actually works pretty well as it creates the extra “you’re stealing if you eat this” concept. This seems to work because I don’t feel that particular food is even available to me.)

The challenge comes in when there is unlabeled special-treat food leftover: like my 17 year old making his amazing brownies or the leftover cake from a birthday party, or my daughter making homemade cookies. How to eat just one? How to not have an extra small slice of cake when it’s so easy to do so, it tastes unbelievably good, and no one is looking?

From what you are saying, I am thinking that my best strategy is to choose no cookies, or no cake–at the moment. Then use the strategies you’ve been teaching: talk through the desire, emphasizing to myself that I do have the freedom to eat as much of it as I want, which will also result in the negative consequences of that overeating. Or I can choose, for the moment, to not eat it and therefore get all the positive benefits of eating less.

So, no magic “easy button,” right? Just plain hard mental work, but worth it in the end.