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Peanut Butter's Revenge

Hell hath no fury like a trigger food does for a dieter

Gregg McBride
Source: Gregg McBride

Faithful readers of my Psychology Today posts know that I have a love/hate relationship with peanut butter. “Love” because I adore it almost as much as I love my dog. Almost. “Hate” because I find it to be a harsh temptress that often begs me to eat it straight out of the jar—as if it were a big vat of pudding (single serving size!).

There have been times in my past when I’ve had to temporarily break up with peanut butter and even get a restraining order (of sorts) to keep it out of my kitchen. These were times when I just knew that it would prove too tempting should I open a cabinet and see it’s marvelous, jar-shaped figure looking back at me, beckoning me to indulge.

Because I have sometimes banished peanut butter, there are times it has attacked back as a way of getting revenge. Don’t believe me? Read on...

A couple years ago, I was preparing some wheat toast for breakfast and pulled a jar of peanut butter from the cabinet. This was after I’d lost all of my 250+ pounds of excess weight and was during one of the times that I had decided to lift the restraining order and give peanut butter another try.

“What harm would there be in that?” I innocently wondered.

Well, cut to me finishing up spreading the peanut butter on the toast, when I noticed there was still a glob of peanut butter on the knife. What was a peanut butter addict to do? I couldn’t very well put the glob back in the jar. And to wipe the glob of peanut butter onto a paper towel and throw it away would be sacrilege. And I wasn’t about to commit sacrilege.

Since it was a dull knife, I decided that the extra glob was the universe’s way of telling me it was okay to have a lick. So lick the knife I did.

I’m not going to lie to you. That lick of peanut butter off of the dull knife was pure heaven. The pleasure meters in my brain soared to new heights. And I could be wrong, but my tongue action with the knife was so full of passion that I think by the time I was finished licking the knife, we were engaged.

I’m happy to report that I just enjoyed the one lick. I then washed the knife and prepared to eat my toast. But that’s when I noticed a strange sensation in my mouth. I quickly went to the nearest mirror, opened my mouth and took a good look inside. Imagine my horror when I discovered that my tongue was bleeding. It seems I’d licked the dull knife so hard, that I’d come into contact with one of the edges and cut my tongue.

Since this was the first time anything like this had happened, I was somewhat panicked and quickly made an appointment with my dermatologist. Luckily she could see me right away. So I tucked my waiting toast into the fridge and then took off for the doctor’s office.

I probably don’t have to tell you that confessing to the dermatologist what had happened was rather embarrassing. I tried to coat the story in humor, sure that she would be dazzled by my storytelling skills. Instead, she looked at me completely perplexed and said (point blank), “You can’t lick knives.”

This is when I earnestly reminded her, “You don’t understand. There was still peanut butter on it.”

Her disapproving facial expression let me know that we’d agree to disagree. She then explained that my tongue would heal quickly (which it did, I’m happy to report), but not before once again admonishing me for licking a knife. Obviously she didn’t understand the pull and allure of peanut butter. So I didn’t try and reason with her any longer. Thus I quickly—and sheepishly—left the office.

In case you’re wondering, these days I still keep peanut butter in the house. But it remains something that I have to consciously regulate, otherwise as I’m spreading a tablespoon or two on my toast, I’ll also have a spoonful in my mouth as an “at the counter” preview mouthful. Note that it would be a spoon this time (instead of a dull knife). And If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

The fact remains that I really can’t be trusted with peanut butter. But knowing this is actually very helpful and keeps me sane (and at my desired healthy weight as opposed to 450+ pounds that I weighed before finally taking the excess weight off for good).

Are there any foods that you would label as an evil temptress or tempter? Do tell. The more we admit to it, the more we have the power over it. And don’t worry—I promise not to give you the same look my dermatologist gave me.

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