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Sunday, June 12, 2005

What the hell am I doing to myself?

In the special pre-op edition of the LivingAfterWLS newsletter published Friday I wrote:
“I should have NEVER broken the "no snacking" rule. For the first 7 months out of surgery I never snacked. Not once. Then 100 pounds were gone and I was cocky and I had a "just this once" snack. And then another "just this once", and then another. Within a week I was full steam ahead in the snack habit. I believe I would have been far better off to never break the rule the first time.

And truth told I have yet to snack because I’m hungry. Sincere, honest gut hunger. I’m disgusted with myself when I snack. I snack from boredom or nervousness or "because it’s there." I snack to soothe a bad day or to celebrate a good day. Snacking is my downfall. I’m renewing my effort to not snack but I know I will struggle with this for the rest of my life. Why was it so easy to not snack that first seven months and now it’s so hard to kick the habit?”

The “snacking habit” hit a nerve in our LivingAfterWLS community. From reader emails I learned, I’m not the only one who has returned to snacking and I’m not the only one who regrets it. Seems like the “Snack Monster” is the most fierce and resilient monster we fight in our new lives.

Sitting at my desk I opened an email from Cyndie, one of our loyal readers, in which she said, “I am 2 years post-op and struggling with the snack bug.” And while I was reading her email I was shoving a Nutter-Butter cookie in my face.

Talk about humbling. What in the hell am I doing to myself?

Another insightful reader, Rob, who is only 10 months out of surgery, wrote, “But snacking has crept back in on me as well. I’m trying very hard to remember to substitute water when I get snack cravings. And, like you, I find that I’m so much more likely to snack when I’m not busy. And after snacking, I frequently find myself thinking, “What kind of idiot would go through a potentially life-threatening and costly surgical procedure only then to sabotage the whole thing with some overpriced piece of nutritionally-void, sugar-free (thus often gas-causing) piece of candy?”

I spent a lot of time this weekend evaluating why I snack and the kinds of food on which I snack.

I’d love to tell you I snack on carrots or sliced apple or a hard cooked egg or even a piece of low-fat cheese. None of these things cause me to dump, vomit or gain weight. These are nutritionally good things to eat.

But, in the spirit of true confession I reveal my favorite snacks (in this order) are Peanut Butter Ritz Bits, Nutter-Butter Cookies and Cheese Nips. I can purchase these three items from vending machines or at the convenience store. I would never be so blatant to purchase them at a supermarket and keep them in my home – oh no! My snacking is covert. And here’s the worst part: when I elect to snack on these items I take a look at the nutritional data on the back of the package. Not to see how much protein or fiber I can consume – but to see how much sugar the product contains. My self-question is, “Can I get away with this without dumping?” My self-question is never, “How will this product meet my nutritional needs?”

Pretty pitiful don’t you think?

And the worst part – I have yet to snack because I’m hungry. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been hungry – feel it in my gut hunger – since WLS. I never eat for hunger. We’re talking true confessions here.

So, what to do?

On Friday, humbled and ashamed, I announced to my husband “I’m done with snacking. The party’s over. I’m not doing it anymore.” He looked at me in disbelief. But I assured him, "I’ve quit before, I can do it again." I felt like an addict making a false promise for recovery.

My husband is a smart man. He said, “I support you in your decision.” But secretly I think he is skeptical. Of course he is – he’s watched me come in the house at 4 PM and hunt for my “after school snack” – that’s what I call it because that’s how I was raised. At 4 PM one must have an “after school snack” hungry or not, it was part of the daily ritual. The daily ritual of an obese family.

I’m convinced that my snacking is a habit triggered by boredom, nervousness or the clock. I do not believe there is a physiological need for in-between-meals eating. So, I’m going back to the basics: protein at all meals, no snacking, daily exercise and lots of water.

Wish me luck! Tomorrow we’ll look at good snacks vs. bad snacks. Click over to "Today's Topic" to reveal your snacking habit.

Best wishes,

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