When my Mom was pregnant with me, she had a hiatal hernia, so the doctor told her not to eat solid foods at night. That’s when she turned to ice cream and who could blame her? Every night she’d watch the 11:00 news and let that cool sweet creamy nectar slide down her throat, into her belly and into my bloodstream.
That’s right. She got me hooked on what I like to call “creamy crack” in utero.
After I popped out, she continued this nightly ritual and it became a Gelfenbien family tradition - to eat something sweet after dinner in front of the TV.
Seems harmless enough, but after decades of doing this nightly, it got out of control. At least for me.
I cannot think of a time in my life when I haven’t done that except when I’ve been at someone else’s house. Even then I might ask for something sweet to feed (literally) my craving.
On vacation? You betcha. Why there are so many local flavors to enjoy! Just ask my friend, Judith, who quickly learned about my massive sweet tooth when we traveled to Buenos Aires and Patagonia together. Every day I’d line my coat pockets with dulce de leches “for later.” I felt like I deserved it after doing 10-hour hikes, which to be fair, I think I did.
But I feel like I always deserve it whether I’ve climbed every mountain or not. That sense of reward has been ingrained in my head for years and I’ll treat myself with sweets every night for any number of reasons like:
I ate well all day
I worked out wicked hard (New England girl through and through)
I had a kick ass show (that’s right, I’ll have even more sweets after I get home from my Yum’s the Word show where I serve my homemade ice cream cakes.)
You name it
I’m not saying I should deprive myself completely, but my association with dessert, candy or whatever sugary treat I can throw down is not exactly healthy. I’m definitely an emotional eater.
I’m also very calculating about it. Sometimes I’ll think about what I’m going to have hours before the sun goes down. I’ll grab some Vienna Fingers when passing through the subway station and (not “or,) I’ll buy some Twix and Mike & Ikes at the newsstand when I get out the subway.
My one saving grace is that I usually buy things portioned out rather than a large box of “name your sweet.”
Luckily, I don’t keep a lot of sweets in my apartment because they won’t last. I have no self-control (or Gelf-control.) You’re welcome. ;)
Booze? I have a bottle of gin that was given to me ten years ago that I’ve never cracked open. Italian Jews are not usually known for having trouble hitting the bottle. Food? That’s another story.
The good thing is that when I’m not making ice cream cakes, I usually don’t have pints, half gallons or any other large quantities of ice cream in my freezer. That’s only three months out of the year. I do, however, still have toppings, candy and other goodies to put on and in my ice cream cakes. If those bags or boxes aren’t open, then they’ll stay that way until I need them. If they are open, then look out.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I gave up sugar (save sugary cocktails) on February 1st. I was only going to do it for 30 days, but I decided to keep going. In that time, I have had a generous spoonful of ice cream (for research purposes), a taste of Pinkberry because the woman swore there was no sugar in the plain version (yeah, no) and some sweet cocktails. I only drink booze that has three syllables or more - margaritas, mojitos, caipirinhas, you get the picture.
It’s been tough at times. I even made an ice cream cake while I was on vacation for my BFF’s daughter and I never licked the spoon, grabbed an extra mini Reese’s peanut butter cup or sucked down the leftover crushed Oreo crumbs. That, to me, is some serious willpower, since I’m so accustomed to doing that on autopilot.
Now, to be fair, I replaced all of this late-night sweet snacking with something else. Something salty - microwave popcorn, which felt like a good and fair trade and I didn’t skimp on low-cal or reduced fat ones. I went for the gusto.
Did I always want it? Mentally, yes. Physically, no.
So last night I did something unheard of.
I just said no to any type of late-night snack. That’s right. No popcorn, no fruit (which would have been completely fine), nothing. That is huge.
I felt so much better when I woke up and get this, I actually woke up hungry. That’s probably happened only a handful of times in my adult life.
Will I stick with it? Who knows, but I’ll try. The truth is is it’s less about the food and more about my relationship with it, the void it fills and the emotional attachment I have to it. Sure it tastes damn good when I’m eating it, but without fail, it makes me feel worse later.
So in the spirit of just saying no, for now, late-night snacks, you’re off the list… until I get pissed, sad, stressed or any number of the reasons I mentioned above.
Can you relate? Are you an emotional eater? Tell me about it below and if you like what you’ve read, subscribe below. Thanks!