I stared down my inner carnivore the other day and won. I so badly wanted the roasted chicken I was tearing off the carcass and putting in soup to bring to a friend, but I didn’t eat any. Didn’t even lick my fingers. But there’s no denying how tasty it looked.
It got me thinking about comfort food eating versus eating because something tastes good. I think there’s a difference.
I first need to clarify how I define binging. I don’t consider myself a binger, at least not in terms of eating uncontrollably or out of a need to satisfy some deep emotional need or pain. There are times when I eat for comfort, more food than I should have back in the day, but I don’t consider that “binging” because I know people who binge and they tell me binging is much more complex than simply needing a cup of mashed potatoes to soothe a bad day.
So there’s comfort eating, as I define it for myself, and eating because something tastes really good. I knew that chicken I was putting in the soup would taste good and I knew I could eat a lot of it, at least I used to be able to do that. Not sure I could eat much of it now without feeling sick, but the point is, I knew it would taste good. I had to consciously not eat it. I had to talk to myself about the reasons I didn’t eat chicken anymore, particularly store-roasted chicken with all its fat and salt. I had to get all “mom” on myself and say, “No, Lynn, you may not have that chicken.” I pouted a little, but I got over it because I knew it was the right thing to do.
That kind of chicken is what I call a “trigger food.” The term “trigger foods” means different things to different people. Bingers have trigger foods as do comfort eaters and people who eat something because it tastes good. The chicken I was cutting was something I used to eat in mass quantities because it tasted good. And when I say “eat in mass quantities,” I mean eating with the full realization that I’m eating, and enjoying every last bite, unlike binging in which the taste doesn’t matter and the binger often “wakes up” after eating mass quantities of food. This is how I make the distinction.
Ergo, the chicken incident reminded me that there are some foods I simply choose not to be around or have to be very careful when handling.
Kraft Macaroni ‘N Cheese, for instance. I LOVE the stuff. I don’t need it to comfort me, I just like the way it tastes. I especially like it reheated the next day. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. My stepsons made a batch of it the other day and I had to leave the room after it was made because it still is, after three years, a huge temptation for me. People on Weight Watchers, or most any “diet” plan, will say it’s “allowed,” that I can still eat mac ‘n cheese and stay within my points. True enough, but having a little mac ‘n cheese is like faking an orgasm. I either get the whole thing or what’s the point? It’s why I choose to stay away from the stuff (mac ‘n cheese, that is).
On the other hand, I find comfort in mashed potatoes and I continue to eat them because I have no problem limiting the amount I eat. Same is true with chocolate. Get me near Thanksgiving stuffing – and I’m talking about the REAL stuff with REAL butter, not the “fake” kind I make these days with chicken broth – and I’m out of control. I love the taste of real stuffing and I love eating it, but I can’t face limiting myself and so I choose not to eat it.
I’m finding the same thing happening with my new vegetarian/almost vegan diet, too. I LOVE the vegan sloppy joes I make. I could probably eat the entire 4 servings I make at one time. I seriously have to adjust the recipe to make one serving and see if that helps. I don’t want to not eat it. I don’t want to relegate it to the same “hands off” food as mac ‘n cheese and Thanksgiving stuffing. But I will if I have to.
I love food. I sometimes love some foods too much. These foods are my friends, though, for they teach me discipline. God help me, but they do.