Power Outages and Stress-Induced Cravings

So, that post I wrote about how convinced I’ve become that eating sugar isn’t worth what it does to my body? Remember all that?

You can toss it out the window.

Because here’s the thing: addictions don’t care about rational thought or compelling reasons. They just want to be fed. And these past couple days my refined carb addiction has been raving.

You see, we had this tropical storm/hurricane/thing come through here, and (along with knocking down lots of trees) it knocked the power out. It was dim, and cloudy with a low-hanging, thick gray blanket covering the sky and hiding the sun, turning the house completely dark by 4:30. We lit oil lamps and had flashlights, but it was cold, and just so dark, and incredibly depressing…on top of it already being a stressful time with things like trees to clean up from people’s yards and rotting refrigerator food and stuff like that.

And what do people do when they’re stressed and fighting darkness-induced-depression? Why, they eat of course. I fiercely wanted comfort (aka junk) food, and not being able to have it was completely stressing me out. Normally, I’d fight the craving by making a Magic Milkshake, but of course the blender wouldn’t work. I even decided to try to make some Special Occasion Chocolate Chip cookies in my neighbor’s gas oven, but the butter wouldn’t soften because it was so stupidly cold in the house.

And even apart from the craving business, I just plain didn’t know what to eat, period. I normally have a smoothie for lunch every day. It’s simple, I don’t have to think about it, it’s good for me…but of course, no blender. All the convenience “emergency hurricane” food was bad for me. I ended up eating tons of “Nutella” Banana rice cakes. Like…tons. I’m kind of sick of “Nutella” Banana rice cakes now.

And you want to know what stressed me out more than anything? The fight that was going on inside between, “I just want to eat something that will make me feel better!” and “If I eat the things I think will make me feel better, I’ll actually feel worse, so I don’t really want that.” Those two thoughts went back and forth, back and forth, and – on top of everything else going on – sent me into a spiraling vortex of self-pity and despondency.

So I gave up and sat on the sofa in the dark house and felt throughly miserable. Cold, dark, and deprived of sugary carbs to make me feel better. I was, truthfully, fully pathetic.

My husband took charge (since I was very obviously incapable of it) and said we were going out to eat. There were like 4 restaurants with power in the whole area (and I live in a very populated area) so they were mobbed. One of the few that were open was Macaroni Grill. And there’s really only one main reason people go to Macaroni Grill: the bread. Warm, herby, crusty, white loaves of bread plopped on your table along with a plate of oil for dipping.

Comfort on a plate, folks.

By the time we were seated, we’d been waiting for an hour and a half. It took another 45 minutes to get our food after we were seated. And I had these loaves of fresh bread just staring at me.

That’s about the point that I decided this diet thing was just going to have to get tossed for now. I ate the bread. I did. I think that for my own mental wellbeing at that moment I just needed to. And it was warm and chewy and delicious and sent instant junkie endorphins throughout my brain. (BUT…I did try to be good with the meal part, and chose a grilled lemony skewered chicken meal that didn’t have any pasta. So, I didn’t completely lose my mind.)

The next day we decided to take refuge at a friend’s house, and when she fed us lunch, it was sandwiches made with lunchmeat and bread. And for dinner we ordered pizzas. And what was I going to do, say, “You know, you’re being really nice putting us up and everything – but, do you have something else you can feed me?” Of course not! The girl has a 6 and 4-year-old and 8 week twins, for goodness sake, and we’d just kind of plopped in on her, so that’s not the time to be picky. I ate the sandwich and the pizza.

When we got home…hallelujah!…the power was on! Lights and a warm house all waiting for us! And so, today, I was able to get back into my normal routine. I went shopping and stocked up on all the things I need to make this diet successful. I made dinner, one that I could eat and enjoy.

Today, I do feel effects of what I’ve come to call the Storm Splurge. I’ve had a nasty headache all day, and my stomach doesn’t feel the greatest.  I’ve gained a couple pounds. My joints, fortunately, don’t hurt much so that’s good. I was really worried what the effects of my splurge would be, but it’s not too horrible and I know that getting back on track will set me straight again, very quickly.

So, what’s the moral to this story? I guess what I’m trying to say is…cut yourself some slack. If there’s some crazy thing going on in your life, or if you’re at a friend’s house, and you find yourself faced with foods you’re not supposed to eat…the sky is not going to come crashing down if you eat them. Go ahead and cheat a little if you have to. Be a good guest and eat the food they’ve made you. You’ll probably pay a bit for it, but you won’t die. And as soon as you can, you can get back on the wagon and straighten yourself out. It will be okay.

Hear that? It’ll be okay!

The only thing I would caution is that you still keep a little check in your brain of trying not to go hog wild with it – try to moderate it at least a little, like I did by eating the bread but then avoiding a dish with pasta or sugary sauces. Cheat sensibly. And commit to yourself that as soon as you’re able, you’ll go back to doing what’s right for your body.

And in the future, I’ll try to refrain from any sweeping statements that imply that I’ve “gotten” this diet at all. Because, clearly, I haven’t. But, I’m figuring it out, day by day, the best I can, and I guess that’s the best anyone can really hope for.