On my daily checklist, I have a spot where I rate the severity of my cravings on a scale of 0-5. Until today, every day was a 0. Even the day with the cashews. I wasn’t really craving them – they were just there. I’ve occasionally had vague, fleeting moments of nostalgia for my days of carefree eating, but without any real desire for a specific food. For the most part, I seemed blissfully immune to the pull of NMF.
But today, I watched my sister eat Wheat Thins with herb & garlic cream cheese while sitting on her couch, talking, after feeding the kids their lunch. I could not tell you what our conversation was about. But I can picture those crackers, because my eyes tracked each one of them, as it was dipped in that cream cheese, and then then popped in her mouth. As if I were having an out-of-body experience, I could taste them all. I felt the crunch under my teeth, the smooth creaminess on my tongue. And I could hardly pay attention to anything else. I couldn’t pull my eyes away. I wanted to. But without deliberately and continuously fixing my gaze on something else in the room – which would have seemed very odd – I could not stop my eyes from drifting. It was as if something other than my conscious self were controlling them. Some primitive part of my brain was just waiting for an opportunity to pounce, like a cat on a mouse. Like when survival instincts that you didn’t even know you had suddenly kick in during a crisis. This wasn’t a choice. It was the opposite of that.
It was a surreal experience. I’m sure I’ve had experiences like that before – probably with regularity. But I’ve never paid attention to them. I’ve certainly never realized just how outside of my control this reflex is. It’s like I’m a starving person.
If I wasn’t able to control my eyes, I was able to control my actions. Even when I returned home to an empty house, with nothing to stand in my way, I didn’t go looking for NMF to eat. There was a part of my brain that really wanted me to. It tried convincing me it was a good idea. It tried to sneak in the suggestion when I wasn’t really paying attention, and I swear, it tried to make me forget all about BLE and my Facebook group and this blog. It’s like it has its own, devious little personality. It impersonates me, but it’s not really me. It doesn’t care about the things I care about. It doesn’t share the same goals. It is fixated on one thing, and that is food.
If it weren’t for SPT – if I didn’t know that this voice is something separate from me – I don’t think I could have possibly resisted it. I wouldn’t have known how. I wouldn’t have even realized that I could. My hands and feet would have obeyed, perhaps reluctantly, even despairingly, but with a sense of inevitability.
Knowing that this voice isn’t me gives me an immense advantage. It lets me argue and reason with it objectively. It gives me ammunition. It allows me to say no.
I’m counting on this voice getting weaker over time. But in the short term, I know it will probably get worse, and I will need all the tools at my disposal in order to beat it. I’m going to have to actually use that Emergency Action Plan that I keep in my purse and never look at. Send messages to my Mastermind group and post in the Facebook group. And recommit, every day, to this plan. Take the few moments to check in with myself, remind myself of why I’m doing this and, as further motivation, what will happen if I don’t. No hiding from the negative consequences.
I need to give myself something more important to look at than those crackers. Something that I want more.
It should be easy. Because there is so much more to life than crackers. I just have to remind myself of what they are.