I Wanted Carrot Cake and A Few Bags of Lindt Truffles…Here’s What I Did Instead

Here’s a longstanding myth that needs to be busted: just because someone loses the equivalent of three Victoria’s Secret models in body weight does not mean the passionate, sometimes dysfunctional tango with food is over. It never ends. No matter how low the numbers get on the scale. If you remember nothing else, promise me you’ll start to ponder the fact that shrinking in size doesn’t vaporize any pre-existing problems from your life. Hey, I LOVE being down 12 sizes, but I’m still me. I still wrestle with moments of wanting to gallop to the nearest supermarket and have my way with the potato chip aisle. So there may be no magic formula for dropping weight, but I hope the following helps in some way: Mood swings can strike without warning, physiological hunger is a regularly occurring fact of life, and so is a desire for food (which feels remarkably similar to hunger) that’s rooted insidiously in psychological yearnings. I experience all of the above much more acutely during winter, when my serotonin levels plunge in tandem with the mercury.

If it were as cut and dry as diet and exercise, I’d simply hand the baton to Jenny Craig and blog about pink lipstick. Going the distance with a new way of life can sound exciting on paper, but the unglamorous reality involves slogging through the mud of resistance and negotiating the tightrope of temptation. Depending on how well stocked with options my pantry is, sometimes I’m lucky enough to walk the high wire with a net.

So this afternoon, after doing a heart-thumping session with the YRG Double Black Diamond DVD, a craving for sweets came a-knocking. My strategy for managing sudden desires like this centers around a “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” philosophy. In other words, I’ve realized there’s a time for molasses cookies, pavlova drizzled in chocolate sauce, or one of Angella Cole’s astoundingly delicious gluten-free cupcakes (her cookbook is in the works)…and there’s a time to take a pass on the decadence. I weigh the severity of the craving against questions like, how stressed am I? Is this about emotional turmoil (big or small) that I’m trying to ignore? What does the rest of my day look like in terms of food intake? Or, is it art? Sometimes because of superior ingredients, presentation, or both, food qualifies as art and sometimes for that reason alone I dive in and enjoy it. But today, an honest look at the checklist had me falling with relief into the safety net instead. Since I always make sure my pantry is packing protection, I was able to assemble a little spontaneous gratification out of homemade cranberry sauce*, a one-ounce bag of pistachios, and some unsweetened coconut. The combination may seem odd, but it had a magical effect on the sugar craving.

That’s the other thing I’ve learned. When I’m craving something sweet, it doesn’t necessarily mean I want a banana split or glazed donuts. Yes, Virginia…sometimes something much lower on the food chain actually does it for me.

* See blog post: Unbelievably Easy Cranberry Sauce…Sans Sugar