Q: Erika do you find anything wrong if on occassion you just want that scoop of ice cream or to try a small piece of cake…or would you suggest just to try not to introduce those things back in your lifestyle change any longer?

A: My answer, at first, was simple. “It depends. Are you a sugar addict? If you were someone who abused alcohol, would it make sense for you to take ‘one scoop?’ Do you think you could stop at ‘one scoop?'”

I mean, the realities of dealing with sugar, as a recovering sugar addict, are different from dealing with alcohol as a recovering alcoholic because you’ll still have to deal with sugar in some form or fashion in ways you wouldn’t have to deal with alcohol… but if you’re only a year or so into dealing with emotional eating, chances are you might not be far enough beyond your habituation to not do it.

Let me see if I can explain it this way.

I know that there are some foods that, because I spent so many years of my life eating them a certain way, I may very well never be able to eat them again. And that’s not to say anything of my ability to recover from being an emotional eater, but that is to speak of the fact that it’s, unfortunately, very easy to maintain a habit just off sheer muscle memory regardless of whether or not the emotional connection to the act still exists.

It’s a lot like driving in a car on a path you’ve always taken.. and all of a sudden, you decide to start veering off and taking another path. You’re not entirely sure where you’re going on your new path, but all it takes is for you to wind up on a familiar intersection that leads you back on the path you used to take… and before you know it, your old habits lead you to overindulging in ways that used to be comfortable… and unhealthy.

For me, I know that certain things set me off. I know certain kinds of things set me off. I know what candies and “snacks” and “treats” used to set me off, and none of those things are allowed in my house. I’m pretty damned adamant about that, too. I’ll never know if, by now, I’m beyond the habituation that compelled me to overeat in such a fashion… because I won’t be testing it out.

While those things aren’t allowed in my house, I’m also at the point in my own journey where I can turn them down when I encounter them in other places. I don’t get the cakes. I don’t get the cookies. I can turn down the offerings at parties, now – not because I’m addicted to party food but often because it’s, simply, bad food – and I’m happier because of it. Not because I can successfully “deprive” myself, but because I can protect myself from my former bad habits.

That being said, if the question is “do you ever indulge?” then the answer is “hell yes.” My indulgences are different now, and are much more meaningful. I’ve written about the vegan dark chocolate truffles that I’d fallen in love with. Every now and again, we hit the gelato shop around the corner and grab a small – and still, somehow, hellapricey – serving of gelato. Quality ingredients, homemade and hand made, enjoyable, delicious flavor, no overabundance of sugar or salt meant to overcompensate for the lack of flavor… it’s what indulgence is meant to be, for me.

Because I’m not an emotional eater, I don’t need to indulge often. It’s not a daily thing for me. It’s barely a weekly thing for me. I have an appreciation for good cooking and good food – and, by default, good desserts as well – that doesn’t affect how I think or feel in a harmful way…. which means it doesn’t affect my body in a way that interferes with my goals.

So, to put it simply, I think one’s decision to indulge depends on a lot of factors, and it takes a lot of self-assessment to help one determine how it fits in for them. It takes a lot of honesty to understand and admit where I fall short, but once I know my weaknesses, it can only help to strngthen my resolve. Best steps I’ve ever taken.