Why Do Certain Foods Seem to Have Power Over Us?
The All Too True Confessions of a Cereal Killer
Posted March 12, 2016
Does anyone know if there's a 12-step program for breakfast cereal addicts? If so, I'll have to consider attending a meeting. Although I'm not sure I'd ever achieve even a one-day chip. Because when it comes to breakfast cereal, I've got a problem.
Back in the day, when I was tipping the scales at 450-plus pounds, I would go through an entire box of cereal in two to three days. My "trick" for accomplishing such a feat was to nibble as much cereal as I was pouring into the bowl. Had I bothered to check the suggested serving size, I would have seen that I was eating for four. Of course, my 60-inch waist should have made that clear already. Needless to say, I wasn't paying attention.
To this day, I crave and love breakfast cereal. To the point of obsession. Because of this, there have been times that I've considered cutting it out of my diet altogether. But with a bunch of healthy cereal options available along with the fact that cereal is a fast, convenient and delicious way to have breakfast (one of the most important meals of the day—whether on or off a diet), cereal is something I wanted to learn to live with.
Even when preparing cereal today (at around 175 pounds), I still feel the urge to pour cereal into the bowl while also having a "cereal appetizer" while standing at the counter. If I didn't regulate myself, I could easily go through a third of a box of cereal or more. That's why I never trust myself to pour cereal freely. Instead, I pour it into a measuring cup before I pour it into my breakfast bowl and add my sliced banana. And for what it's worth, I measure the milk I use, as well.
This might come as a surprise to some of you reading this. Most people assume that because I've kept my 250 pounds of excess weight off for over a decade, that I've got this diet thing beat. That's true in some respects. But part of what keeps the excess weight off is knowing that I'll never really have it beat and that I can never let my guard down. My daily food intake is something I'm always thinking about, planning for and paying attention to. Not in a mentally unhealthy way, but in a efficient way. Or weigh, as the case may be.
Whenever I reveal to fellow dieters that I must still pay attention to and even regularly measure my food portions, they often register disappointment—as if they thought that once you take the weight off, you magically never have to think about dieting again. But in truth, this "food and health consciousness" must become a part of ourselves that we never leave behind (even during those times when we decide it's okay to have ice cream—or whatever—as a treat).
This need to stay on top of what and how much I eat is reiterated almost daily for me—usually when I'm preparing breakfast and pouring breakfast cereal. I know that I can't be trusted. So even though I've been at a healthy weight for years and happily fit into my skinny jeans, I still get the measuring cup out and measure the exact amount of cereal necessary for a healthy and low-calorie breakfast. It could be argued that by now, I should know what a cup holds. But when it comes to cereal and other tempting foods, I know that my mind's version of a cupful and real life's version of a cupful are two very different things.
In other words: When it comes to cereal, the measuring cup is my friend.
But none of this has to be bad news. No matter what your most tempting foods are, you can still have them—in moderation and in healthy portions. And with tools like measuring cups, we can "eat like a healthy person" and not overdo it to the point of triggering a binge, stuffing ourselves until we're physically uncomfortable or making our skinny clothes feel too tight.
What are your tempting foods? Do you still allow yourself to have them even if on some sort of weight-loss program? Or do you try and avoid the foods for the time being? I'd love to hear from you on this topic. We can even discuss over a bowl of cereal. Assuming you've got a measuring cup I can borrow.