Other Half: “How long have you have you been doing your low-carb thing now babe?”
Me: “About 6 months.”
OH: “Are you not thinking about having a day off of it any time soon?”
Me: “No. This is just how I eat now.”
OH: “But don’t you miss any of the stuff you used to eat?”
Me: “Not really. I don’t even think about it much anymore.”
OH: “There must be something you still wish you could have. Something you can’t make a low-carb version of?”
Me: “The only thing I haven’t had that I’d like is a chocolate cake, but I can always make a keto version if I really feel the urge.”
OH: “So you’re never going to eat any of that stuff ever again?”
Me: “I don’t know. I mean, never say never right? I just don’t want to go back to that way of eating.”
OH: Yeah but just having one day off isn’t going to hurt is it?”
Me: “Probably not. But I’m afraid that I might just go completely overboard and I don’t know that I want to risk ruining everything I’ve achieved so far.”
OH: “Yeah but you already know that you can do this.”
Me: “Yep. But the idea of losing control again really scares me.”
BOOM! There it is again folks. Our old friend ‘Fear’ and its trusty side-kick, ‘The Control Freak’. That little back-and-forth was part of a conversation I was having with the other half today about how long it’s been since I switched over to a low-carb way of eating. He’s been nothing but supportive of me ever since I decided to change my eating habits and whilst he never doubted my ability to stay committed to something I set my mind to, even he’s been surprised at my refusal to eat off-plan even once. We’ve been together for over a decade and up until August 31st last year, I was a total sugar-fiend. He knows how much I loved eating all the high-carb processed crap; how much I loved take-away food, cakes, biscuits, fudge, chocolate and sweets of every variety. So it’s only natural that he’d be wondering whether I missed any of it or if maybe I ever thought about taking a day off to indulge in some old favourites.
But I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t really think about it. I’m not one of those demanding harridans who simply cannot have junk food in the house, simply because I’m not eating it anymore. I made it absolutely clear from day 1 that he shouldn’t feel bad about eating however he chooses. My choices are on me, not him. The rest of the world should never have to bend to my will, just because I can’t eat that stuff any more – and anyone who expects that kind of kid-glove treatment needs to get a grip, because you’ll never be able to escape being surrounded by temptation in the outside world. Plus it’s just really selfish to expect other people in your home to alter their own diets, because you lack self-control. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s so supportive and it was really cute when he tried to stash his own snacks away out of sight when I first switched to eating low-carb, but over time I’ve made him realise that whilst I appreciate his concerns, I’m a big girl and I’m not about to go mad and inhale an entire packet of Wispa bars, just because they’re sat on the living room table.
I still make bread and cook potatoes, rice, pasta, chips and whatnot for him. I order him take-out pizza when he wants one and it doesn’t bother me at all to have it in the house. And I think that comes down to me having made a very clear decision in my own mind, that I simply do not eat those foods any more. There’s no grey area around any of it, I just don’t eat that way. You’ve probably heard others talk about the notion of being either a moderator or an abstainer. Moderators can eat a little bit of something and then leave it alone, but can’t imagine life without it altogether. Abstainers can cut something out entirely, but can’t just have a little bit, or it will remain present in the forefront of their minds, tormenting them with thoughts of always wanting more. I’m an abstainer. Some might call that “all or nothing thinking” but it’s no different to me, than an alcoholic swearing off of drink for the rest of their lives. It’s what I decided to do from day 1 and even stuck with that approach all through the festive season.
And I can’t think of any reason as to why I’d want to deviate from my low-carb WOE any time soon. It’s become almost second nature to me now. I eat food I like, there are plenty of options for keto-friendly versions of some items I want and I just feel so much healthier. I’m about 35lb away from hitting my initial 100lb goal and when I get there I’ll probably extend that even further by another 30lb. It’s all going really well, completely according to plan and even though I know I’m definitely due to hit a stall sometime soon (we all get one eventually), I’m totally prepared for it and happy to continue eating this way indefinitely.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, it occurred to me during that conversation at the beginning of this post, that one of my underlying reasons for not wanting to have a “cheat-day” or “day-off” was my fear of losing control of my eating again and spiralling back into some kind of inevitable inability to get back on track. Thinking on it some more, I had to admit that I’ve become somewhat of a “Carbophobic” of late, never wanting to use my full 20g daily max allowance, always trying to keep to 15g max every day instead. If I buy a premade salad and it contains grated carrot or tomato in it, I’ll spend a good 5 minutes fishing out every last bit of those ingredients, because I look at them as being too high in carbohydrates. I won’t eat any protein bars that contain more than 3g of carbohydrates. I avoid even the slightest dash of any sauce or condiment that contains sugar and if I’m being completely honest, the main reason I haven’t gotten my other half to help me make a keto-friendly cake yet, is because the one’s that look even remotely worth the effort have anywhere between 5 and 10 carbs for a slice – and ain’t nobody about to keep themselves to one tiny sliver of cake. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator remember?
And I’m a little bit worried that I might be developing a bit of an intense and unhealthy fear of carbs. Which is weird, because I know that the human body doesn’t need to consume carbs for any reason – post infancy that is, when we’re supposed to get it from breast milk, but I digress – and there’s no reason for me to ever have to consume them again (I mean, except maybe if there was some huge disaster and the only food I had any access to was a bunch of processed crap once my fat stores ran out, but I’m talking regular life here.) I have every reason to fear sugar and the damage it does to the human body. It’s an unnecessary substance that provides no nutritional value, whilst causing a whole heap of medical issues from Type II Diabetes and obesity, to dementia and inflammation all throughout the body. Shouldn’t more people be afraid of this stuff? Surely I’m right to want to give it a wide berth?
But maybe I’m not just reasonably concerned about consuming sugar. Maybe I’m becoming obsessively afraid of it, to the point of it being unhealthy in and of itself. I know I’m a natural control freak and when I had a stress related nervous breakdown, that part of me mutated into intense hypervigilance that crept into all aspects of my thinking. I’m completely over that breakdown now, but I always worry that I might be prone to another episode if enough stress factors all come together in the same kind of perfect storm that triggered the last one. So I like to always check in on myself from time to time, just to make sure that I’m doing okay. I know what to look out for and any time I feel as though things are starting to get a little too hectic, I know exactly who to speak to in order to get the help I need.
And I’m not saying I’m back lingering on the outskirts of Crazytown, about to lose my shit again anytime soon (yes, I’m allowed to use those terms, I’m a fully-fledged member of the Crazy Crew which gives me a crazy-pass to refer to mental health in the most politically incorrect terms I see fit, lol). But the thought of something getting the better of me never sits well with the control-freak part of my brain, and the added concerns surrounding a fear of certain foods, just sort of niggle at me in a way I’m not comfortable with. It’s not that I want to eat sugar. It’s that I want to carry on not eating it, by choice, not out of an unhealthy fear that’s rooted in a bad relationship with food. Does that make sense? If I can use the alcohol analogy again, I choose not to drink alcohol. Not because I fear what it will do to me; I’ve never had any problems with alcohol. I just choose not to consume it because it makes me feel like shit the next day. My house has loads of alcohol in it, but it never occurs to me to drink any, because I just don’t choose to drink alcohol. Which is how I want to feel about sugar and carb-laden junk food. I’m fine having it in the house, I can eat meals around others who are eating it and not be bothered by that. But it just feels like I’ve become unreasonably scared about sugar and carbs…and I don’t like having that fear.
If I fear something, I’m allowing it to have more power over me than it deserves. I’m attributing powers to something, that in this case, is an inanimate foodstuff. I don’t want to allow it to have that hold over me, because while it still does, I’m not wholly healed of my sugar-addiction and I don’t have the completely neutral, proper relationship with food that I’m working on achieving for myself. This concern actually first occurred to me a few days ago when I was watching a video by Thomas DeLauer. In it he said that whilst he mostly follows a keto WOE combined with a fasting regimen, sometimes he goes off of it for a day or so. I think he was trying to make a point about how he’s able to be pretty relaxed about his own eating at this point in his life and it’s normal for others to do so too, but I remember having an almost physiological reaction to hearing him say that.
“WTF? No way. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I’m not gonna do that!”
The thought of “just taking the weekend off” horrified me.
“I’d gain weight immediately! How do I know I would be able to stop again? I do not want to have to go through the 3 days of hell, to get back into ketosis again!”
And I know the beginnings of concern about my having that knee-jerk response did start to creep into my mind at that point, but I just reminded myself that I’m still in the early stages of getting my health to where I want it to be.
“I need to make more improvements, lose more weight and become more settled into this way of eating, before I should even think about that kind of thing. Tom’s in a near perfect state of physical health and he’s been doing the keto and fasting thing for over a decade. He’s in the right place physically and mentally to start being able to relax a little with his diet. But I’m nowhere near where he is. No, now is not the time for me to flirting with such a dietary disaster.”
I mean, you can’t fault my logic there right? I can’t expect to cure myself of a lifetime of poor food choices in just 6 months and think I’m home free, can I? Trust me, I can make an argument for anything I think or believe – and that might just be part of the problem. Arguing happens to be one of my stronger suits. My parents encouraged heated debate in the family home, always putting the emphasis on using logical, rational propositions or defences and always keeping one’s cool. As a result of that I have always been able to stand up for myself, challenge those I disagree with…and rationalise my way into making all manner of less than intelligent decisions, lol. Part of the reason why I switched to low-carb in the first place, was because the evidence for it made complete, logical sense. I didn’t just choose to follow it because I wanted to lose weight and it was the trendy new diet on the scene. When I followed up on the books I read and the videos I watched, there was no compelling reason for me to keep on eating sugar.
And there still isn’t really. Except maybe I need to do it, just to prove to myself that I can do it and then go back to my normal low-carb WOE the next day. Urgh! Just typing that sentence out, like I’m seriously considering doing it, is already making my anxiety start prickling. I don’t want to put that stuff in my mouth or into my body. I don’t want to feel the way I used to feel when my brain’s reward centres were getting hyper-stimulated by all the crappy food I used to eat. I don’t want to like it. I don’t want to have those tastes back in my mouth, and then back in my memory, reminding me of just what I’ve been missing out on. I’m scared of eating like that again. Which again makes me feel like that’s the exact reason I should do it.
Do you see what I mean? I can provide numerous reasons as to why I shouldn’t have a day off of eating low-carb; the main one being that I just don’t want to. I have only one reason to make myself do it, and that’s to prove to myself that this stuff doesn’t have any power over me. That I can pick it up and then put it down again once I’ve proved my point. But what point would I be proving? That my control-freak nature can adhere to any rules I decide to impose upon it? Because that sort of experiment would still be me maintaining a firm grip on the reigns of my eating habits; it wouldn’t be me being “relaxed” about carbs, in any sense of the word. All it would really achieve is me proving to myself, yet again, that I can stay in control. And isn’t that really part of the problem to begin with?
I don’t know. All I’m certain of right now is that I have no immediate plans to deviate from this way of eating. I’m on a mission to lose all this extra weight, get healthy and have a better quality of life. I don’t want to do anything to ruin any of the progress I’ve already made, or scupper my chances of progressing any further. There is no need for me to consume sugar from a nutritional point of view, nor any social obligation or personal desire to do so. I’m not self-imposing this WOE for any moral reasons, I just don’t want to put that shit in my body. Not right now anyway. So I guess all I’ve done here is talk myself back to maintaining my original position, regardless of any concerns I might have about my increasing “Saccharophobia”. But it’s something I know I need to keep an eye on going forward.
And after talking some more with the other half, I made a deal with him: I’m going to stay completely on plan for as long as I see fit. But…on the 1 year anniversary of my switching over to low-carb (August 31st) I will go out to dinner with him to our favourite Indian restaurant and eat my favourite dish. So, I’ve got 6 months to work up the courage to have an ‘off-day’! 166 days and counting folks – GULP!
Have a lovely day y’all