“I” is for “Indulgence”

I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails regarding my last blog, “I Want To Be Smoochy,” especially those with different views because it really underscores just how diverse we all are in how we relate to food.

For those of you who also read Refuse to Regain, you’ll recognize this post. I wanted to publish it in both my blogs because I believe how we choose to handle indulgences is just as important while losing weight as it is in maintenance.

Granted, what I ate versus what I’d planned to eat on Thanksgiving were not two totally different things, but they were far enough apart to make me take notice of what motivated my choices. It was the two comments in response to my blog offering different points of view about indulgences that I wanted to address here, namely, I’d like to know what “indulgence” means to you in terms of food, and how and if you engage in it.

One reader wrote: “Get a grip, one feast day is not going to undo all the good work you’ve done. You are allowed to celebrate occasionally. You could have eaten A LOT more than you did and it wouldn’t have made a dent, because with your steely determination you would have drawn a line under it instantly and been back to your, dare I say it, rigid program the very next day. Let yourself have some moments of indulgence now and then. It’s okay!”

Another wrote: “I think you should let yourself have days where you don’t plan and measure (and let’s be honest, stress about) every single bite you put in your mouth. From the outside it seems just as disordered as binge/overeating. …(T)he fact that you make your family food with “unhealthy” ingredients etc., shows that you understand the social/cultural aspects [of food], and you know one traditional one-day-a-year meal of indulgences will not kill you. To not let yourself share in that indulgence (when you obviously would like to) sends a message to the little eyes around the table as well.

I appreciate this kind of feedback because it helps me better understand food culture and invites me to look closer at my food issues. We all need to engage in that kind of mental housecleaning once in awhile.

So here’s what I know – as of today – about me and food. (Of course this is subject to change the further I prod along this path.)

Planning my food intake is essential. It is my safety net. So, too, is mindful eating. Mindless eating got me obese. Mindless eating fed my emotional issues and kept them suppressed.

So it’s safe to say that I am not one who can indulge mindlessly, and on Thanksgiving, that’s exactly what I did. (Not because of any emotional issues. The stuff was just darn tasty.) And so the problem with T-day wasn’t that I felt I couldn’t indulge, but that I didn’t think about what I was indulging in.

I was drawn to food that, when mindful, I know makes me feel physically ill. Within an hour of those few bites of stuffing and few bites of potatoes and more than a few bites of apple cake, my stomach really hurt. Granted it was a milder stomach ache than I regularly subjected myself to when I weighed 300 pounds and ate every meal mindlessly, but it was reminiscent enough of those old days to remind me of the promise I made when I began this journey nearly 5 years ago: to never again feel like hell after eating.

I don’t feel guilty for what I ate on Thanksgiving and I’m certainly not beating myself up. T-day was a wonderful learning opportunity and a chance to fine tune the way I engage with and relate to food.

Some folks can indulge without thinking about it and bounce right back. I need to plan my indulgences, and when I do, I indulge on food I know won’t make me sick. I had a plan on T-day that I strayed from. Mindless eating took over and my poor stomach paid the price. So while an occasional indulgence won’t kill me, without planning, it will certainly make me miserable.

Yes I know to some my eating regimen seems rigid. But it keeps me sufficiently fed physically and emotionally. Our food choices and plans are as unique as our fingerprints. My hope is that you all find or have found what works for you.

So tell me, does your plan include indulgences?

17 thoughts on ““I” is for “Indulgence”

  1. My plan includes indulgences, but they are planned. Or at least most of them are 😉

    I had posted about this on my blog as well after Thanksgiving because someone had asked me if I ever am not on my guard when it comes to food. And the answer is never completely.

    One of my readers made this comment, which I loved and I think you will appreciate:

    “It’s all about finding a way that works for you. Your reasons for being overweight were very individual and personal, so it only makes sense that your ways of dealing with weight loss and maintenance are going to be individual and personal methods too.”

  2. Lynn, your Refuse to Regain link didn't work for me, and my link at Bloglines hasn't worked for a long time. I thought it had been discontinued . . . it hasn't?


  3. Yes I have a planned indulgence weekly and I have kept off a 129 pound weight loss for 6 years. Sometimes yes I have those days I go over board–but I bounce back because it feels so yucky. I would never want to go back to that state of being in a food sludge. There is a difference for ME between planning my weekly treat and totally going for a train wreck. Its just all part of the food relationship for me. I guess we all are on our own path re “treats”. I will say I remember my weekly treats But on those days that are train wrecks I can't really recall because all the food blurs. Thank goodness those days are few.

  4. good posting

    I personally planned for and ate two pieces of pie on T-day. One with lunch meal and one with dinner meal. But then, for me, I didn't eat other starches that I might have at the meal (twice baked potatoes, sweet potatoes).

    I PLAN my indulgences.

    And my working GI track, my migraine free head, and my asthma free body thank me for it. As well as the fit of my pants. . .

  5. Oh, I am with you, Lynn. I am careful about what I eat, and my friends think I am totally rigid when I only order and appetizer at a nice restaurant (all the sodium and fat freaks me out!). I like how you said in one of your earlier posts here or at Refuse to Regain that you don't want to spend hours a day exercising so you are careful about what you eat. That stuck a good chord with me. I would rather exercise one hour a day and have time for friends, reading, and other interests instead of spending all my time in a gym.

    Whoever made that “get a grip” comment doesn't know you or what you need to maintain. And people who have been very overweight are able to stabilize at much, much lower weights by taking extreme measures. Cutting out one or two things is just not going to do it when you have had a major problem with food.

    Frankly, I admire your determination, will power, and hard work in staying thin. You are a motivator to us all.

  6. thank you so much! I have just lived through seven days of mindless eating. For no.good.reason. And trying to figure out why in the hell I let it happen, after seven months of being pristine about my eating. Scared the hell out of myself, I have. I thought I was past this. :: sigh :: I guess I have to accept I'll never totally be over this? It's like being an alcoholic? Which is depressing as hell to know your evil inner child IS still there, and always will be. But, like you, I WILL FIND A WAY to fight her back down into submission. It's just kind of depressing to face that it's going to be a struggle for the rest of my life.

  7. I plan my indulgences. I went too many years just winging it, and we all know where that got me!

    You know, everyone has an opinion, and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. I read blogs where people can eat so much junk and yes, they may show a gain on the scale, but then they jump back on the wagon. That doesn't work for me – I feel crummy and I tend to crave sugar more and more. So I'm careful about what I indulge in – I have to protect what I've worked so hard to achieve, and I know you feel like you do, too. And that's ok (and not just because I agree with you, lol!).

  8. My plan includes indulgences and for the most part they are planned. Only on a rare occasion are they unplanned. Even when they are not planned out ahead of time I do stop and evaluate how a certain food might affect how I feel afterward both physically and mentally. If I feel like it's not going to make me feel unwell then I go for it, if not I skip on that choice.

  9. I am exactly the same way. I have had to totally stay away from certain foods!! And it really does kind of bug me when people say “it's only for one day or just a little won't hurt” Little do they know that can start a week long binge and trying to stop binge eating after is sooo hard! Yes it is definitely an addiction with me and i'm still fighting it.
    Moderation does not work for everyone!

  10. Some people may think you've gotten rigid in your thinking but I think its probably that you've gotten new habit's and thoughts about food that seem light years away from what you used to think and you don't want to go back there.

    Just my thoughts 🙂

  11. Thanks Lynn….I needed to hear this. We're all individuals and need to find what works for us as individuals – not as masses.

    I've tried an experiment of not recording my food – I've done it for about a week now. What did I learn? That I do a whole lot better when I record my food. Yeah, most of my peeps think I'm anal. They can't understand why I can't just make healthy choices and let it go at that. They don't understand why a bag of cookies is not enough and one is too many.

    Tomorrow it's back to tracking my food. I wouldn't say my experiment failed though….I think I succeeded in learning that for me, for now, tracking my food is the way to go.

    Thanks again for keeping it real.

  12. Hi Lynn,

    I think that every diet should include indulgences – makes you feel like a “normal” person. Besides, when these are truly small indulgences, rather than normal practice, the body's weight set point will keep things in check.

    Great post (this and Smoochy).


  13. yes yes yes yes.
    and the interesting thing (to me) is that since me loves arent other peoples necessarily (not a cake fan. LOVE ME SOME HOMEMADE COOKIES) it seems to still make them uncomfortable (for lack of a better word!).
    sisters reallly wanted me to have pie at thanksgiving (even tho theyve grown up with me and know Im not a fan) BECAUSE THEY WERE.

    me? I didnt care that they pass on cookies with coffee.

    people are funny.

  14. I plan most of my indulgences, or at least expect them a bit. Some are just spontaneous, none are nearly as bad as I used to eat. It doesn't throw me off at all to eat a little bit of sugar, even daily, and most days I do. I figure that in the grand scheme of things, a chocolate almond or two won't cause weight gain. The rest of the time, I make healthy (not perfect, but good enough) choices. As long as I don't binge, my weight won't go up, and as long as I don't restrict too much, I won't binge.

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