The tug of sugary temptation
When my husband and I run errands together, there’s no telling what will wind up in the cart.
Seemingly innocent trips to big box stores for paper towels and dish soap turn into hourslong enterprises in which we’ve chosen new paint colors, raided the clearance aisle and stocked up on frozen pizzas. It just . . . happens. Such was our Sunday out with the little guy, zipping around town with lists of need-to-haves for the coming work week and meal suggestions to guide us during grocery shopping. Though I usually do these tasks alone, Spencer wanted to get out of the house — and our 17-month-old naps better in the car, anyway. We set out.
Spencer derailed me at our first stop by quickly heading to the newly-stocked Halloween section. I’m no stranger to rushing my favorite occasions, but we’re just easing into the kiddie pool of autumn. Looking at Halloween costumes and choosing candy felt like plunging into the deep end of the holidays, and it’s cold over there.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy candy. The issue, of course, is that I enjoy it too much. A large candy bowl currently sits at the center of our kitchen table, and I can’t resist grabbing a chocolate (or three?) whenever I pass. Considering I’m in and out of there a dozen times a day, that’s a lot of chocolate.
Oh, I’ve tried all the tricks: stocking fresh fruit in the bowl instead of sweets; just eliminating the bowl completely. But nothing works. When I get that chocolate craving, only the real deal will do.
And having Halloween candy hanging around? Dangerous.
Spencer knows this. He’s my partner in crime. Like many couples, our eating habits are heavily influenced by one another — and if I’m “being bad,” so is he. Getting myself back on track usually works for . . . a little while, but it’s hard to turn down dessert when your spouse is sinking his chops into ice cream with salted caramel sauce.
Spencer is very respectful, but I’m only human.
Healthy eating is important for all of us — but in the last few years, it’s carried extra weight (pun intended) for me. I lost 40 pounds before becoming pregnant with my son, then gained almost 60. After birth, I dropped 20 within weeks. And that was about it.
If you’re doing the math, well . . . I’m right back where I started.
I’ve been up. I’ve been down. Over the weekend I organized my pants, jeans, shorts and dresses, plucking from the closet any sizes I don’t have a dream of squeezing a thigh into anytime soon. When I went to label the bins for storage (long-term, no doubt), I marked each with “sizes 6-12.” Quite a range.
Though I currently have extenuating circumstances, I’m still trying to watch what I’m snacking on — my biggest challenge each day. Even if I choose healthier meals, I’m powerless to resist the call of tortilla chips come 8 p.m. There are times I shock myself with my ironclad willpower . . . and other times I look up from a third slice of pecan pie, sheepishly shake off the crumbs and think, “How did I get here?”
The answer is complicated. Our eating habits often are. But now that I know I have the ability to change and have had success before, it’s actually harder. I know I can change; I’m just not doing it.
In 2013, I dropped the weight by consciously buying only good-for-you snacks, choosing wisely in restaurants and paying very close attention to portions. I chopped the day up by hours, basically: a break for string cheese and almonds at 10 a.m.; turkey, Swiss cheese and mustard on a sandwich thin at noon. It wasn’t sexy, and my meals definitely weren’t anything to make Gordon Ramsay weep with admiration. But I ate sensibly and, in time, felt great.
Now, “thin” Megan seems like an old acquaintance. I met her once; nice lady, though a little obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes. So much has happened in the last three years. Marriage, homeownership, pregnancy, parenthood . . . and now? Now our days are consumed with toddler-chasing, and I’m lucky if I remember to throw a yogurt in my purse each morning. The conscientious calorie counter is gone.
Like busy folks everywhere, sometimes it’s not about making careful meal choices. Sometimes it’s just about eating something — anything — to stop your stomach from churning so you can wrestle your kid back into his diaper, join the conference call or make your noon meeting.
But there are ways around that, too. Just takes planning. I want — no, need — to get back in the habit of planning. You can’t eat what you don’t have, after all. If we have Halloween candy taunting me from the candy bowl more than a month before trick-or-treaters even arrive, aren’t I just setting myself up for disappointment?
Better make Spence drag some of it to work.
I’m sure he’ll be torn up about that.