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Guilt-free Christmas cookies

I’m not afraid of food anymore. I was never scared by chocolate cake or candy bars in the same way I was terrified of the Gremlins, but I’ve definitely been exercising caution and hesitance around those substances the last couple years. Two Christmases ago I went to a Christmas gathering with my own grilled chicken breasts because, oh my God, there would be cheesecake there, and I might eat it. Aaaaah! This Christmas I went to the same gathering looking forward to all the sugar and refined carbohydrates I would be eating.

What’s changed? I know I can handle it now. When I was first learning new habits I was worried that any deviation from my plan could knock me off course. I wasn’t ready to knowingly indulge in pies and cookies. It was too early. But I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I know that eating a pumpkin roll and Italian Crème cake and the richest fudge brownie in existence for lunch one day is not going to doom me to a life of obesity. It will make me feel sleepy in the evening. It will cause me to gain a pound or two. And it will definitely make me think, “Woah, I cannot eat like that all the time.” But it’s also a lot of fun. I enjoy eating and I’m never going to apologize for that. There are only 3 or 4 times a year when I am surrounded by so many delicious desserts and treats. I have to take advantage of it when I can.

My philosophy towards the holidays this year has been, “Eat whatever the hell you want and just go run later.” Or as my older brother put it, it’s just easier to lose the weight afterwards than to try to resist. I’ve got to agree with him on that one. Maybe that won’t be true when I’m in my 50′s, but give me two or three weeks here and I’m sure I can get rid of whatever I’ve gained. While it was lots of fun to eat whatever I wanted for the past three days, I sure am relieved that the holiday eating season is now over for me. All that sugar makes me enter an altered state of existence where I feel lethargic and spaced out, almost like I’m on drugs.

I wouldn’t describe my feelings about such indulgences as “guilt.” I felt guilty about stealing a granola bar from the grocery as a child. I felt guilty for not cuddling my guinea pig enough in the years before she died. I felt guilty about damaging my brother’s copy of Catch-22 and trying to stall him until I could buy a replacement copy. The way I feel about eating a lot of food is not guilt. It’s vigilance. It’s something I’m aware of, something I know I need to take care of, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. It’s the same way I feel when my laundry has piled up and the number of clean panties I have left is serving as a countdown to the point of no return. I just can’t go commando and I’m not going to turn my underwear inside out. Yet, I’ve never felt guilty about not doing my laundry. And I don’t feel guilty about eating a lot on the holidays, not as long as I take care of it later.

The one thing I might do differently next year is to tell myself to limit it to only a couple indulgences. That way I’ll end up eating several indulgences over what I intend to, and end up eating about as much as I’m okay with. It’s like telling someone who is chronically late to be someplace 15 minutes before you really want them to be there so they’ll actually get there on time. This year I told myself to eat whatever I wanted, and holy cow, I really did. I gave myself an inch and took a mile. I doubt anyone in my extended family cares what I eat at those gatherings, but if anyone is monitoring my food intake they must be really confused as to how I can eat like that and lose as much weight as I have. I usually only see them at the holidays and those are one of the few times I eat like a maniac.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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28 Comments

Lee • December 27, 2007 at 11:25 am

Wise woman.

This just inspired me to launch my return to the life of health and fitness. Thanks. And thanks to your brother, too, for his advice to you.

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bloomie • December 27, 2007 at 12:13 pm

I think these are wise, wise words. You should never feel guilt over food or what you eat or what your body looks like because then you just get mad at yourself and eat more. Vigilance is waaaay better.

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Fatty • December 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm

I just got through your archives and cant even begin to tell you what a great story you have. It really has helped me realize that significant weight loss is possible for me. Im tired of getting fatter every year. And I also dont want to say good bye to good food forever.

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Sybil • December 27, 2007 at 1:17 pm

I had a similar experience, only over a shorter time frame (36 hours). It was real progress for me to be back to healthy eating after taking a few hours off from my typical eating program. In the past, a few hours off would have led to weeks of binging. Isn’t it great to recognize that we CAN change?

Good on you, PQ!

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Katharine • December 27, 2007 at 2:23 pm

I experienced that lethargy too this Christmas, and I just didn’t find eating chocolate and sugary stuff to be as much fun as it used to be. I couldn’t wait to get back to healthier foods, because I like the way they make me feel.

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Molly • December 27, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Thank you thank you thank you. I recently found your blog and have read through some of the best entries to catch up and this is my first comment. I love what you said about not feel guilty- I hate that people, especially women, feel like they need to feel guilty after they eat something ‘bad’. As if that, in part, will negate some of the calories.

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Lora Ramirez • December 27, 2007 at 4:32 pm

I’m glad Christmas is over. Not so much the food but the stress that comes along with it. I never was a real dessert eater but the appetizers were something else! I’m so grateful to be back to my healthy eating and even though I got some sort of cold bug, I still feel better than eating junkie stuff. Maybe its me but rich decadent food somehow doesn’t appeal to me the way it once did.

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Zentient • December 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm

I made a chocolate ricotta cake with a heavy coating of ganache for a family event. I ate a piece and it was great! Knowing me and my obsessive ways, had I not eaten a piece I think it would have caused more damage to my food psyche. I would have wondered if it was as good as everybody said it was, stressed over what I missed out on and otherwise gone into “deprivation mode”. Deprivation mode can hit me any time when I know I’ve had enough but desire more. There’s that moment when I 1) go ahead and eat more 2) don’t eat any more and be anxious about the decision and ruminate for way too long or 3) find the Middle Way, enjoy the right amount of food while I’m eating it and be grateful. Now that’s letting go. May we all find the Middle Way as we navigate this path of life! Happy New Year!

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RuralGurl • December 27, 2007 at 4:48 pm

What’s wrong with inside out panties? Ahhhh, that kind of attitude is part of the problem. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you. I”ve been reading your blog for a few months, I found it when I had already started my weight loss journey but it as inspired me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. I’ve only lost about 25 lbs but already the changes in my body are allowing me to consider different types of exercise. So Thank you and Happy New Year. I’ll be lurking around waiting for the tidbits of your wisedom. How do you do that at your young age, btw? I’m way older and not so wise!

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Cindy • December 27, 2007 at 5:27 pm

I am having a harder time with the Christmas thing, but I started out “in the hole,” so that makes everything feel worse. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in a month—-more than I’ve gained in the past two+ years of weight loss. So going into the Christmas week already up 10 pounds has made me feel cranky and scared. I’ve made some good choices and had lots of bad moments…I can’t wait to get back on track. I need my routines, my food choices, and NOT to be around my family. Then I think I will get things right again.

It is nice to hear that there is hope, however. It is nice to hear from someone who has found the happy balance and can indulge and then get back on track, without all the bad feelings and worrying. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll keep thinking about what you’ve said. I will second what ruralgurl said—-how did you get so wise so young?! At 46, I am still seeking the balance you’ve found for yourself!

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Carmen • December 27, 2007 at 8:36 pm

These are wise, wise words.

Hey, can you contact me? I’ve got a question or ten for you!

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weightlossguru • December 28, 2007 at 2:41 am

Good for you PQ: Guilt+Fear+Food = Eating Disorder

Just New Year’s Eve and the perfunctory Drinking Too Much Alcohol to get through now… :)

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Lora • December 28, 2007 at 9:03 am

I love you analogy about the laundry! I can so relate….the panty coundown! And it’s encouraging to hear you still indulge now and then. Makes the hill seem not so steep.

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Emily • December 28, 2007 at 11:21 am

I just found your blog and I’m loving it. I lost 110 lbs. a few years ago and have since had 2 more children and rediscovered about 40 of those pounds. I am trying desperately to find the motivation that helped me to lose the weight the first time around. I think your blog may help.

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akus • December 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

I thank You for the words i needed to read and realize that it does not have to be a struggle.

“All that sugar makes me enter an altered state of existence where I feel lethargic and spaced out, almost like I’m on drugs.”

- i feel like i need a quick de-tox on my system just to get rid of all that sugar-

“Or as my older brother put it, it’s just easier to lose the weight afterwards than to try to resist.”

-I now will not feel guilty as i am putting the 3rd ccokie in my mouth-

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BrightAngel • December 28, 2007 at 1:20 pm

You’ve described my particular pattern of Maintenance…i.e. pig out on Holidays/vacations/celebrations/crisis situations.

Resulting in feeling comotase and lethargic…and getting a salt/water/waste gain of 8 to 10 lbs, of which about 2 or 3 lbs is a fat gain…………then 4 to 8 weeks dieting to take it off (I’m 5’0″, with a maintenance range of between 115 and 105 –so my maxium fat weight loss can now only be about 1/2 lb per week.)…….

It isn’t that I feel guilty,…it’s just that the pig out has become less and less worth the long-term diet deprivation (even a healthy balanced diet means going without some of the food I get to eat when maintaining) it takes to level out the weight again. What I feel is Stupid for continually making such a poor trade-off.

I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to shift that pattern because the value of a binge week really isn’t high enough to balance out the 4 to 8 weeks of the resulting lower calorie eating….which is now in my future for all of January and some of February.

I’ve been following this pattern now during my past few years of maintenance, and that’s long enough to see it as behavior I’d really like to change…..It’s VERY Easy to see AFTER the eating, and just a few days into the repayment process.

Over past years, I’ve learned not to max out my charge cards at Xmas and then have to spend the next 6 to 12 months paying them off….So Maybe….I can learn to stop doing that with food too……someday.

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bj • December 28, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Glad you are feeling good about things during the holiday season Pastaqueen! I, too, have lost a significant amount of weight (but I wasn’t smart enough like you to do it publicly [hahahah: don’t have the accolades, book deal, webcam experiences you have–)…and as you well know, it is an uphill battle…but I so appreciate your honesty, humor and desire to persevere. I am sure you are helping many others. I find comfort in your truth (though my story is a bit different) but I wanted to wish you a wonderful, healthy and productive New Year.

God bless you Pasta Queen–you are a treasure

BJL

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YP • December 28, 2007 at 3:48 pm

I have a similar philosophy – except I usually run first, then make up the calorie defecit with cake… I’m done with being perfect all the time, I have a life to live, and as long as it works out in the long run, who cares whether I have a second helping of dessert?

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chanda • December 28, 2007 at 3:56 pm

I think with this post you basically summed up 90% of most people’s problems with overeating. Guilt and denial- they are a dangerous combination. You deny yourself and deny yourself until there is nothing left but to go on a binge, then eatyourself up with guilt and self loathing- then the denying starts up again. Self awareness and allowing yourself to enjoy your life and your food with an eye toward maintenance and vigilance is such a healthy attitude! Now, if I could only apply this to MY life! :)

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A public Diet • December 28, 2007 at 9:51 pm

You know I am learning to not be afraid of food. Now that i’ve started actually looking at whats in the food i’m eating I’m realizing that some of the things I’ve been eating that i thought were so bad are not really so bad at all.

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lulu • December 29, 2007 at 11:46 am

Thanks for everything you have written in this blog. I am so looking forward to the book – which, by the way, although amazonuk lists it, is not available for pre-order here, so I am currently planning to order it from the US. If there is any other way of buying it which will maximise what you actually earn, please let us know! All the best for 2008.

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121 Free Weight Loss Tips • December 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Hi PastaQueen,

I fully agree with you – as someone who struggled with weight issues in the past, I know from experience that, as you have put it, it is easier to lose weight afterwards than to resist gaining it.

In a way, I think that if you have spent a lot of time adhering to your nutrition/exercise regime, then you surely deserve to indulge your guilty pleasures. After all, it’s only fair that you should occasionally reward yourself for your hard effort and tight self-control – especially on an occasion as special as Christmas!

All the best,

George

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Jenny • December 29, 2007 at 10:20 pm

what you are describing is a way to eat for the rest of your life.

Kinda cool, isn’t it?

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Lisanti • December 30, 2007 at 9:37 am

Just got back to my computer after being away 7 indulgent days. Was happy to read this latest entry. I liked your comment, “Woah, I cannot eat like that all the time.” I felt the same way! It’s too filling and definitely made my body work harder to break it down.

I remember thinking to myself as I looked at tables filled with pastry and home-made recipes, which one of these am I willing to use the calories for? The one that got me was the pumpkin/cranberry scone. I’m glad those aren’t around very often.

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Lori W. • December 31, 2007 at 11:04 am

Another great post…

I think moderation is a good thing because when I restrict myself, the restricted thing becomes bigger and bigger until I can’t stand it. And then it becomes an eatathon or worse.

My cousin’s wife is a fantastic baker. I saw the three desserts that she made and I was honestly “feh” about them. Until she brought out two more (yes, she’s into overkill) and I had a tiny sliver of one and two small servings of the other. And I was fine with that. I wasn’t taking any home and it’s not something that you normally find.

My mother, on the other hand, refused to have any. And she was eating stupid candy later that night. My aunt said (wisely, I think), “It’s just one day out of 364 other days” and had a big slice of something.

Happy New Year to you and thanks for your blog. It’s always inspirational even when I end up throwing away my pomengrate.

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Elastic Waist • January 2, 2008 at 4:20 pm

This is so sane, and I am so glad to hear it said in such a smart way.

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Karri • January 2, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I ate what I wanted as well for a change over Christmas, only it somehow resulted in a 7 lb. gain over 2-3 days. I was *not* a happy girl, but have since lost it and then some (water weight, perhaps? who knows). It actually kicked my metabolism, I was plateauing for a few weeks. And I woke up to a new year down 30 lbs.! 47 more to go until I reach 125 (I’m a shortie)…I can do this. :)

BTW, I finally caved and bought that scale you advertise on the side of your blog. Very happy with it, thank you!

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Chubette • January 3, 2008 at 1:57 am

Thanks for being a beacon of hope for me. Your entries inspire and entertain and I always look forward to checking in. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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