The tug of su­gary temp­ta­tion

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

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