Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From the Archive - Cream Cheese

This was part of my contribution to "How NOT to Lose Weight on a Diet" - a joint project with Colette. It's also an interesting (to me) look into my mindset before HAES.

Sometimes weight loss gets couched in other terms so it sounds more holistic and healthy. I once tried a system "cleanse" that involved basically fasting for three days by eating only 5 ounces of either cream cheese or ripe olives. Not both – one or the other. I think the idea was that your body would get some minimum amount of calories and fat to barely exist on for three days and it would "jump start," a favorite diet phrase, your body for the stringent plan that would follow. And you'd probably actually be looking forward to even a tightly regimented plan after eating practically nothing for the three days before. I don't remember a lot of the details of the eating plan, because I didn't make it there.

On the morning of day one of the fast, I opened up a sixteen-ounce package of cream cheese and carefully weighed out five ounces of the white gold. I cut it up into five pieces so I could spread my intake out over the day. I wrapped the rest up and put it back in the refrigerator for the next two days. It was hard eating the first piece of cream cheese. It was thick and stuck to the roof of my mouth. I actually thought that I might not be able to eat the rest of it across that day, that I'd rather just skip eating instead. Three hours later, I did have to force myself to each the next piece. I was a little hungry, but still not looking forward to eating a chunk of bagel spread. Three hours more though, and I was counting down the minutes to the next piece. This was repeated twice more the first day, including in the evening when I served dinner to the family but didn't eat any myself. Whew, it was hard, but I made it through.

On the morning of day two, I pulled the opened cream cheese package out of the fridge and considered it. There were eleven ounces left. Wouldn't it just be easier to split the remainder in half? How different were five ounces from five and a half, really? I eyeballed it, cut about half off – it might have been a bit more than half, but who was counting – divided it up into the five servings for the day and put the rest back. Serving one was immediately, no problem. Servings two and three, okay. Serving four was supposed to occur about four o'clock as I was getting ready to leave the office. I am usually in a hurry to go because I am on a deadline to pick up my kids after school, so I decided to just have that serving as I was driving home. Somehow, my car ended up in the drive-through lane at the first fast food restaurant in my path. Not for a whole meal, though, just for some chicken nuggets and a Diet Coke. As I was driving home, I told myself that it was a slip-up, they happen, but that I would get back on plan and have cream cheese number five instead of dinner. That idea lasted until I got home and started cooking. I rationalized myself into just having a salad while the family was eating - the dressing could be the fat substitute for the cream cheese and I even threw some ripe olives on there. I don't know if I even bother tried rationalizing this next part, but I know I offered to clean the table so I could eat the leftovers off everyone's plates as I was washing the dishes.

On the morning of day three, some autonomic part of my brain, the part that wants to make me happy and/or keep me from starving, took over. I got dressed, got the kids out the door to school, got in the car and drove right to Burger King for my usual breakfast. God as my witness, I did not even remember about the cream cheese diet until I was on my second croissanwich. As soon as I got to work, I looked up information on starvation diets so I could reassure myself that it was a dangerous plan and the effects on my metabolism could be very destructive. Clearly, I had dodged a bullet with that plan and was much safer on my two-fast-food-meals, one-big-home-cooked-meal plan, which I went right back to with relief.

A final note: I did not waste the remaining cream cheese. It did end up on a big, toasted, "everything" bagel the next weekend.

~N. 07/16/08

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