Many diet books tell you to rid you house of all junk food. Get rid of the chips and the cookies and the frozen pizzas. Say goodbye to foods you didn’t know were bad for you – fruit snacks, canned soup, hamburger helper. Adios to the foods you thought were good for you but according to your diet book are not – yogurt, energy bars, dried fruit. You purge and purge and purge all the bad, and you are left with basically nothing. Nothing you want to eat anyway.
It will take learning to shop differently. Shop the outer rim of the grocery store. Hit the Farmers’ Market. Check out the Natural Foods Store. Join a local Co-Op that features only organic, locally owned products. You should be able to open your cupboards and find only nutritious, good-for-you foods that fall into your diet books’ guidelines. Your refrigerator should be pristine so that you can easily find that 6-oz piece of salmon, the quarter cup of carrots, and the naturally-flavored lemon water.
In a perfect world this would work. In a perfect world, I could do all this. Rid my home of the temptations. Keep food on hand that I am willing to eat – not that I necessarily WANT to eat it, but I am willing, knowing that it will eventually get easier to stuff down 2 cups of spinach with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. But alas, my world is not perfect.
All of my kids have a disease called Myotonic Dystrophy. They are adults now, but two of them still live with me due to some disabling conditions of the disease. A big problem that my older son has is that he is extremely underweight. My younger son has recently been losing weight as well. My older son Asa, is 5′ 6″ and weighs about 107 pounds (on a good day). My younger one Jake, is 5′ 10″ and weighs maybe 140 pounds (I have not weighed him in awhile). Because of their underweight issues, we need to have food in the house that they are interested in – which includes all the food I should not have in the house if I want to go by the guidelines of a diet book.
We have been working on Asa’s weight for many years – trying to figure out what works for him to be able to maintain his weight. He forgets to eat. He is not as hungry as other people. He buys food and then does not eat it. Jake has not had any issues until this last year. Now he simply cannot eat as much as he used to.
The boys each have their own shelf in the kitchen cupboard and one bottom drawer in the fridge. They also have their own side of the freezer to put their own personal food. They each pay for their own food themselves. I pay for “household” food such as milk, eggs, cheese and bread (as well as my own personal food). For the most part this works well for all of us.
We determined that Asa is VERY lazy when it comes to food. He does not want to cook (although he will profess that he does). He prefers microwavable foods and those that are pre-made like deli sandwiches. He likes junk food. He will drink protein drinks but also likes energy drinks, sports drinks and sodas. Since I want him to have food available to him at all times, I allow him to have food stored in his room. His room looked like a convenience store exploded.
It got so bad, I would find open bags of mini peanut butter cups open and strewn all over his bed. It would be hard to walk in due to the grocery bags of chips and beverages. And he is not that good about getting the garbage taken out – so there would literally be dozens of empty soda cans littering his room, and food wrappers all over the place. Luckily he was able to get it corralled once he got an additional dresser in his room.
So now, he has most of his food in a trunk – and a drawer specifically for sweet treats. And this not-so-secret stash of cookies, cakes, and candies is both wonderful and horrible for me. Because I am a carb and sugar junkie, going on a diet that is low in those areas is very difficult for me. I get cravings. Bad cravings. I will try to get through the craving by finding a healthier alternative – but if I can’t, I know there is a sugar fix sitting in a drawer in my son’s room. I prefer to ask him if I can please have a Twinkie or a Little Debbie’s cake, but sometimes he is not home. There have been a couple of times when I have “stolen” a goodie – but always tell him about it later and thank him. But it never feels good – to know that I cannot control myself and that I NEED the sugar to get through the day – and am willing to steal it to get my fix.
I am not willing to tell him he cannot have the goodies – because he needs to have the food that he will eat to maintain his weight. And frankly it would not be fair for me to dictate to him how he should eat simply because I want to lose a few pounds. This is where it is so difficult to purge the household of foods that I should not eat – because there are other people who live in the household that do not follow the same diet.
So I need to compartmentalize the diet. I read through, highlight the parts that I can do based on my current situation – and my food preferences. I don’t do the diet exactly as the book tells me to do it. I pick out the portions that will work for me. I tweak it. I mix it up. I know that my weight loss will be different – probably slower than if I could just do it in a perfect world. But my goal is not just weight loss. My goal is to feel better, by eating healthier – in this imperfect life, so that I have the energy to help manage my kids’ issues related to their disease. So that I can feel more optimistic about life in general. Feeling bloated and heavy makes it easy to get down and for me to have a negative outlook on myself. My health is important for all of us in our household. Remembering this might be what I need in order to stay away from the sweet drawer. Maybe.