NOTES TO MYSELF
22 May 2002
I'm going to do something unusual tonight. I'm going to write a journal entry.
Now before you chortle and point out that pretty soon I will have racked up some 800
journal entries, let me explain.
Tonight's entry is something I'm writing for me. You know--like those journal entries
you used to write when you were a kid, it was on paper, and you kept under lock and key so
your mother and your little sister wouldn't snoop. I wanted to do some reflection and
decided not to even attempt to write it with a reading audience in mind.
You're all free to read, of course, but in case it's deadly dull, you've been warned.
Today was weigh-in day at WeightWatchers. I was pleased to see that I've lost another
3.8 lbs. Unfortunately, someone different--and a bit more conscientious--weighed me today
and she discovered that at some point in the last several weeks, someone made a
subtraction error and so I can't say that I've lost 53.8 lbs, only 52.8 lbs. (Actually I'd
discovered that error myself awhile ago, but decided not to point it out, figuring that it
didn't really matter, 1 lb one way or the other--but now I'm all accurate again.)
The discussion topic today was "trigger foods," those foods that you simply
can't resist and which often are the beginning of the end of a diet. I was pleased to
listen to the discussion and realize that my own strategies for dealing with trigger foods
this time around are pretty much what is recommended for how to handle those problem
There are three kinds of trigger foods--the green light ones, which you love, but which
you can eat a reasonable amount of and not be tempted to go back and eat more and more and
more. For me, fruit is a big green light trigger food. I do enjoy fruit, but it's easy to
stop with a single serving (unless, of course, it's fresh-from-the-farmers'-market
strawberries). Most of these foods are low point anyway, so if one serving leads to two or
three, you haven't really blown your diet and besides, they're "good for you"
foods, so even if you've eaten more than you expected to, you can feel good about it
because it's not junk food.
(Vegetables rarely come under the category of any trigger food. I enjoy some, tolerate
others, but when my stomach is growling, it rarely craves carrots.)
Meat is also a green light food for me. Oddly enough, I probably could go for a very
long time without meat and not really miss it all that much. I enjoy it, but I can easily
get by on a normal serving and am rarely tempted to sneak a second helping or throw
caution to the wind and pig out.
A lot of foods fall into the yellow light category for me. Foods which can be
dangerous, if you aren't in control. Most snacky foods are in this group. Some slop over
into the red light "dangerous" foods, depending on my mood. Just because a thing
is "diet," doesn't mean it can't be a food that needs to be ingested with
caution. I absolutely love, for example, those mini jalapeno cheese "quakes,"
the little corn cakes. 9 of them equals one point. And certainly 9 of them is plenty for a
snack, to fill that little hunger hole. But the problem with those things is that I can't
stop with 9. I rationalize that 18 is only two points, and they aren't bad, so I dutifully
count out the next 9. Then I staple the bag shut so that if I want more I have to actually
go through the act of unstapling the bag to get to them. Invariably, my mouth is screaming
"more! more!" and I succumb. It's possible to eat an entire bag in one sitting.
It's not that it's that many points, but the scary thing is that I lost control.
Losing control once makes it easier to lose control the next time.
(It helps to know right off the top of your head the points for each of your trigger
foods--it makes making the proper decision much easier!)
I test out yellow light foods. I went on a corn cakes binge recently--not a
"binge" in the normal sense, but I bought a bag each time I went shopping for 3
weeks, thinking I could control eating them. But I couldn't. By the third week, it was
obvious that if I continued buying them, I'd rapidly lose complete control. So I just
stopped buying them. I bought some again to have as a snack in the office last week,
thinking that if they were at the office, I could be more controlled. But no. It took me 2
days to finish them, but what I thought would get me through the week disappeared in two
days. Time to stop buying them again.
Skinny Cow also fits in that category. There are times when I can eat these fat-free
ice cream sandwiches in a rational manner. But there are days when I eat 3 a day. That's
when I stop buying them. I haven't exceeded my food points, but I've exceeded my
self-imposed "control points" and that can be the first step on the road out of
this new lifestyle.
Peanut butter and chocolate are yellow light foods. Thank goodness so far I've been
able to keep from pigging out on either. I'm aware that I have done that in the past, so I
know that I have to really watch it if I decide to have either peanutbutter or chocolate.
Now it should be pointed out that I have not once gone off of the number of points I'm
allowed per week. It is faithful journaling that keeps all these cravings in check. Even
if I have more than I think I should have for one serving, I dutifully record it and
adjust the rest of the day accordingly. [Today, for example, I stopped at a salad bar for
lunch and felt very virtuous because I had an all-vegetable salad--lots and lots of
veggies with a fat free dressing. Then I added croutons. How much damage could croutons
(which I love) do? Well, when I got home and checked the book--a LOT. I would have
been better off to go to Jack in the Box and get a plain hamburger!]
(But I sure enjoyed the croutons! )
However, I've recorded them in the food journal for today. It means that I won't have
as large a dinner as I thought I would, and will give up any sort of dessert afterwards,
but I won't go off the point plan.
And then there are the RED LIGHT FOODS. These are the ones that are the most dangerous.
It doesn't mean you can't have them. The beauty of this eating plan is that you can have
anything you want. You just have to figure out how to fit it into your allotted points.
BUT, with the red light foods, a nibble can set off all those suppressed cravings that you
had so well under control and they make it easier to fall off.
Donuts are a huge red light food for me. Whoda thunk? I cannot eat one donut. I can't
eat two donuts. Put me in front of a dozen donuts with nobody watching, and nobody
counting, and I'll find a place to hide the empty box so nobody knows I've eaten them all.
I can have donuts on this eating plan. A glazed donut (my favorite) is only 5 points,
which in a 28-33 point day isn't horrible. But I can't stop with one. And I can't nibble.
I gobble. I know that this is a very bad thing for my self control, so I just don't even
The point system gives me the power to take control of my eating life. And having been
on it now for 5 months, I discover that I've learned which foods I can have without worry,
which foods I have to really monitor myself when eating, and which foods it's just better
for me to avoid entirely.
The longer I stick with this, the more it becomes a part of "the way I live
now" and with continued perseverance, I hope it becomes the way I live for the rest
of my life.