Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Do You EVER Indulge?

Q&A Wednesday: Do You EVER Indulge?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

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.

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Gloria July 6, 2011 - 2:01 PM

You know, I read somewhere that when we should never half-a** our indulgences, meaning that if you love ice cream, but you especially love the gelato at that expensive shop that you can really only afford to go to once a month (or less), then you should save all of your ice cream indulgences for when you go to that expensive gelato shop. You shouldn’t go to your local supermarket and buy some cheap ice cream, and you DEFINITELY shouldn’t buy some cheap low-fat, low-calorie ice cream, because those will leave you feeling unsatisified, and so you’ll overindulge. (And now that I’ve been reading your blog, Erika, I know that those low-fat, low calorie ice creams probably have about a million different chemical ingredients that will definitely leave me feeling unsatisfied.)

I’m this way with pizza. There is the most amazing pizza at this family owned shop near my grandmother’s house (which, thankfully, is located six hours away from where I live), so I really only get to indulge in that pizza 2 or 3 times a year. However, looking forward to only this pizza means that I don’t really eat pizza when I’m at home…I actually shy away from it because I don’t want to have an “inferior pizza-eating experience,” lol. No Dominos, Pizza Hut, or Papa John’s for me!

Lova July 6, 2011 - 3:26 PM

good answer! this was a good read — not that i’m anywhere near being able to indulge! i do agree with you wholeheartedly.

and, now…after having tried and tested this theory out — three (or ten) times too many — i know that there are some things that likely will never cross my lips again. in life. like. EVER.

great post! (as always!)

JoAnna July 6, 2011 - 4:16 PM

Since I’ve cut down on a lot of sugar in my food, I can truly taste the flavors in what I eat. So i know when there’s excess sugar in a dessert to cover up inferior ingredients. I recently went to a college graduation party where I brought 4 dozen homemade “Salty butter-pecan cookies”. They’re made with unsalted butter, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, eggs, baking soda, pecans, sea salt, vanilla, and coffee. I allowed myself 2 cookies at the party after I nibbled a corner of 1/2 of the sugar-laden cookies frosted with more sugar in the college colors. The graduate asked me why I didn’t splurge and enjoy some of the cookies and cake since I did have a small plate of veggies, dip and cheese. I told him to taste one of my cookies, ’cause I didn’t like the sugar ones. He did, and told me he wished he knew that I baked ’cause he would’ve hired me to bake the sweets!

I only bake now when I’m bringing something to a potluck because I know that I want to appreciate the “sweet/savory”, and half of that enjoyment is watching other people loving my food. It’s not the same eating 4 dozen cookies alone. I guess my indulgences are like eating out: it’s more fun when that experience is shared.

Lydia July 7, 2011 - 9:13 AM

I agree with the fact that decreasing my sodium and sugar content has totally spiked my tongue. I enjoy other flavors, spices, natural elements that I never enjoyed before!

werknprogress July 6, 2011 - 8:46 PM

You are on point. First – getting to the root of the problem and second is knowing oneself enough to “know better”. A friend once said to me “it may not hurt you, but it definitely won’t help you”…things that make you go…hhmmm.

Marion@affectionforfitness July 6, 2011 - 10:15 PM

Great post! I think that when I eat a certain food that I really want (not just sorta want) then it fulfills the craving. Otherwise, I can nibble through the kitchen looking for a good substitute–which is a very fattening idea.

My favorite thing to indulge on are this 150 calorie 70% dark chocolate bars I found. I eat a whole one and don’t feel guilty at all, and it fixes the chocolate craving.

🙂 Marion

Mari July 7, 2011 - 4:55 AM

This was a great answer to the posted question 🙂 I have finally come to understand that I have what I call “trigger” foods. These foods, that I love, are like the drink(s) that sends the alcoholic falling right off the wagon. I simply just cannot have them. So like you, I don’t keep them in the house or anywhere near me. I am slowly getting to the point where I can say NO to some of them but unfortunately not all of them…yet.

jas July 7, 2011 - 1:48 PM

I like the answer, I often forget that there are emotional triggers for certain foods. I’ve been clean eating for over two years now and I’ve noticed that the foods that I used to crave no longer taste as great as I remember or isn’t worth the calories. Cake no longer does it for me nor does commercial candies and ice cream but I’ll go in on great harvest peanut butter cookies. Its a local shop that’s open three days a week serving organic cookies and breads.

DarkAugustChild September 21, 2011 - 1:36 PM

My only problem when I started was Ice Cream. Cakes and other baked goods were easy because I didn’t eat them a lot to begin with. I was surprised when I went to my cousin baby shower and they had Cherry Cheesecake (MY FAVE beside chocolate) and I was able to pass on it without another thought. Ice Cream on the other hand I just save it for a Small Sundae at Dairy Queen or Coldstone and I’m happy for good long time. Of course there is during Christmas when my mom makes her German Chocolate Cake but that’s only once a year. lol

Vee February 24, 2012 - 9:31 AM

Erika you must be reading my mind. I have never met a cake, pie or cookie that I did not like. I have a weakness for sugar in the worse way…for Lent I have given up processed sugar and only natural sugar (fresh fruits not canned and fresh vegetables).

Hopefully my love for sugar will taper off. I have no issues/problems guzzling down 3 liters of water per day regardless if I work out or not.

Natasha H February 21, 2013 - 9:46 AM

I used to think that I could not give up bread, but I did. I can usually walk past the cakes, cookies, pastries and breads. Sugar too, was easy as well as icecream and dairy ( because of my lactose issues.) but every once in a while I have a chocolate. Usually a nice dark chocolate, where I can have a small piece and be satisfied.

However, my problem comes with cereal. I love granola, oats, museli and things like wheatabix. I know they aren’t as bad as the heavily processed cereals but I know they still have added sugar in them. So I eliminated the granola and I usually have my wheatabix with some almonds and almond milk. Is this a bad thing still?

Anila April 24, 2013 - 12:18 AM

Erika, I really like that you referred to not “depriving” yourself but protecting yourself from those bad habits. I love that! I am a Chocoholic and my specific weakness was snickers. Since 2012 I made some dietary changes, and my indulgences have been pretty bad- like unhealthy chocolate shakes or caramel shakes – but I have not had a snickers. I think I’ve chosen not to have them because its a trigger. I can remember the unhealthy emotional and physical state I was in when I either just had to have a snickers, or would pick one up while checking out groceries just because I usually did. I’m going to work on having healthier “indulgences”.

Retta January 8, 2014 - 8:55 AM

YeS just discover I’m a sugar addict❗❗❗

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