This crazy little thing called food

I’ve been talking a bit about how I’m slipping into eating habits that mirror my old drinking habits.  It’s not that I worry about the calories particularly, although obviously I am female and inhabit a patriarchal world, so I’d quite like to lose ten pounds yes, thank you.  I worry about the fact that I wake up in the morning and wonder what treat I’ll have that evening.  I worry about the way I drive home with both kids in the car and feel a stab of anxiety if I don’t have anything indulgent in the house for after bedtime; I can’t go out once they’re asleep, so I’ll have to make a stop on the way home, what excuse am I going to make, I can’t just drag two children into a supermarket to pick up some salt and vinegar crisps…oh, that’s OK, we’re low on milk, now I have to go to the store and hey, while I’m here, might as well grab those pistachios…


It’d be funny if it wasn’t sad, or sad if it wasn’t funny.  It is exactly how I used to drink.  The same thinking about it in the morning, the same anxiety when it approached bedtime and I was stuck for the night.  In Australia, alcohol can only be sold in dedicated ‘bottle shops’, so I could never manufacture an excuse to just pop out for bread and pick up a bottle.  It had to be an alcohol-related excuse.  If we were low on wine, and it wasn’t a weekend with the weekend’s built-in excuse to indulge, I would decide to cook a casserole that took red wine, or steam mussels in beer, or if we’d already eaten it seemed logical to do some cooking ahead.

Food is easier.  There isn’t the stigma, if I do drag both children into the store for ice cream.  And I’m not a binger or a purger, and I’m not particularly overweight, and I eat decently, after all.  I just like to snack in the evening, every evening, and that sort of eating is directly tied to my emotional well being in ways that aren’t working for me.

So I decided to blow the whole thing up.


I’m undertaking a Whole30 which is basically Paleo for people who think Paleo is too easy.  No grains, including pseudo grains like quinoa.  No dairy.  No sugar.  No alcohol, which includes alcohol for cooking.  No legumes; chickpeas are out, as is the most amazing lentil soup ever invented in the world (have I talked about this soup before?  I have been remiss if not, because this soup, you guys.  THIS SOUP.  If you live anywhere that is colder than 100F right now, drop what you’re doing and plan to have this soup for dinner), as is everything that contains soy, which is basically everything that tastes good in the world.  You eat animal proteins and plant matter.  I’m pretty sure that you cannot do this diet if you are a vegetarian because you would actually literally starve.


Why, you are asking, am I doing this insane thing?  Well, I am glad you asked, my sober and extremely attractive friend.  It is because I suck at moderation.  “Why not just cut out snacking”, queried a well meaning confidante, and I flashed back to all those years of ‘if I don’t drink on a Monday or a Wednesday…’.  Because that doesn’t work for me, is why.

The ’30’ in Whole30 is the number of days.  It’s a temporary thing.  For me, it’s a rehab.  Not a crash diet, not a so-called detox, not  anything that I expect to continue.  A rehab.  Like an alcohol rehab, where one gets some distance from the problematic substance, starts to see clearly what it was doing, how much denial one was in, and how much better one feels afterwards.  A rehab doesn’t mean that you’re cured, and neither will this.  But it’ll be interesting.

Also, I totally took myself out to McDonalds for dinner on the night before I started and I’m not even sorry.


22 thoughts on “This crazy little thing called food

  1. Allie I’m with ya in that I’ve given up sugar for Lent for similar reasons and today found myself eyeing up MaccyD’s (with not even any kids in tow as an excuse!) What is that about? 😀

      • Yes. They know how to combine sugar, fat and salt to make us all crave more.

        I was thinking more about treat sugar vs foods with hidden sugar. Trust me. I was obsessively anti sugar for years. They hide it everywhere. Salad dressing, etc. I ate almost nothing I didn’t prepare myself.

        Of course, I was willing to bend a bit when it came to booze. Although my drinks of choice were low carb, I would drink pretty much anything. Sigh.

  2. I hope it works for you.
    I have major food issues, so please ignore what I’m going to say if it doesn’t help.

    All or nothing approaches can be very sneaky. What will you do if you are out and can’t eat your specified foods? Are you ok with small deviations? Will it throw you into a spiral of failure and shame? Serious questions, as this is how I would be.

    Have you considered building a treat/snack into your day? There are some excellent alternatives to chips and cake. Greek yogurt with fruit and honey, popcorn? You know you want something at that time of the day. How will the whole 30 help you get through that time?

    Anyway-just life was made up of rules and plans for many years. I though all or nothing was the simplest way to be. Turns out, it can be a very dangerous obsessive compulsive trap.

    If you can look at this as self experimentation and information gathering it might be an interesting thing to try….


    • Anne I am lucky enough not to have any eating issues (save for the way that I use it as escape/company – but my problems around that are to do with my low energy, not shame) but I can totally see that this wouldn’t work if I had. What it’s doing is forcing me to really think about what I’m eating and why. Building in treats, or just cutting out junk, doesn’t work well for me, because I can always tell myself that today deserves a treat!

      • That is good. Understanding how foods make us feel physically and choosing the ones that work for us personally is really the way to do it.

        If anything, I have learned being diagnosed celiac that all my previous beliefs about wheat being a problem were me specific. That was a big learning.

        I hope I didn’t go to far with this. Sometimes thinking about food triggers some unhealthy ideas for me. I find it hard to remember that those are my issues, not everyone’s!


      • Not at all, not at all. Food issues and alcohol issues do crop up together a lot. I am really, really insanely lucky that my alcoholism isn’t part of a multifactorial addiction. It’s by far the primary thing that has made it possible for me to quit. Thanks for commenting, it’s such a lovely community we have here.

  3. Allie…

    I am a whole 30 advocate, actually I am a JERF advocate (just eat real foods), but whole 30 started me on that. I did my first whole 30 in January 2013 (already sober) and it was uncomfortable for the first week and then it wa fine. I learned so much about myself and how i react to certain foods. I have been gluten free since then and coffee free, and this woman who used to take prevacid EVERY day has had heartburn once or twice in 2 years. I learned new foods that I liked. And it did clean up my sugar intake….for a while. the i went back. then i cleaned up. then i went back…LOL>..the thing is that 3 pieces of dark chocolate a night with my tea became my sugar fix. Or the occasional coconut milk ice cream (since no dairy, right?) which is SO expensive vs. regular stuff.
    The freedom from additives and crap has made a difference in my head and body. I read every label. I eat the right oils. I may not eat a lot but it packs a nutritional punch. When i go out to eat I DON’T bug the waiter about everything…i enjoy my meal. But i eat in a lot more. I also spend more on groceries than i ever have, because grass fed and organic is more expensive, but it’s all with it.
    Frankly I need another 30 right now…i call it my re-start (close to your re-hab). i am in yoga Teacger training right now tho and i admit that the pressure has sugar calling to me and me answering, but my gift to myself when the pressure is off will be another reset ( i have done a total of 3 )
    Anyway, god this is too much info, and i’m sorry for boring your readers, but yu have my support. Know, like drinking, the first week or so was the hardest, but then it got better. I advise writing down your food every day…i learned a lot about what i could and couldn’t eat by doing that. It’s a grand experiment…good luck!

  4. I loved my Whole30…well of course not a first but by the end. I did “cheat” with creamer in my coffee and diet soda but other than that, I stuck to it. It was like pushing the “reset” button on my diet.

    I’ve slipped back into old habits and have considered doing another one to help me reset again but I’m going to have to take care of some emotional shit before I go there.

    Just remember that it’s your journey and you can make it what you want and still get a lot out of it.


    • Oh it’s nice to hear that Sherry! I am training myself to tolerate – “like” would be too extreme a word – black coffee, and my dependence on Coke Zero is one of the things I wanted to kick first and foremost. When did it get good for you?

      • After the first week. I remember during that time, standing in the kitchen and my husband said something stupid (which husband’s often do) and I was holding a knife. I looked at the knife then at him and said, “I am a woman with no sugar, no carbs and no caffeine for three days…you may want to back the hell up.” He did. 😉

      • Hahahahaha. I am on Day Five and I just came home after a stressful childcare-and-school drop off (stressful only because I made it so) to have a good cry about absolutely nothing. Crazy. But good for me I think.

  5. Good for you Allie. I used to be a sugar craver for as long as I can remember until I started eating more protein and lots of good fats. Those two things absolutely changed me from a sweet tooth to a savoury person – something I never thought would be possible.

  6. Allie, I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what is it you want to achieve with this – are you trying to break an emotional dependency on food, or are you trying to eat healthily for 30 days and force yourself to think more about food? I’m asking because I recognise completely what you are saying – I often find myself using food, especially snacks, as a crutch in this way. However, your post started me wondering what it is about this that is unhealthy exactly – is using food as a prop wrong in a way that, say, having a bubble bath with a good book every night isn’t? I ask because I feel as women we are programmed to think that anything we do for fun/relaxation/to treat ourselves is an indulgence about which we should feel guilty, whereas maybe we should be allowing ourselves treats as a necessary part of ‘self-care’ (something you’ve blogged about really well elsewhere). Obviously in nutritional terms food can be a health issue, but I felt your post was more about the emotional than the nutritional aspects. I’m wondering if emotional dependency on food or anything else is something we need to cure ourselves of, or if it’s just part of being human (female?) to need something to look forward to!

    Anyway, good luck with the rehab and with continued sobriety.

    • It’s an excellent question, and I think that when I’m done with this, the answer is going to merit a lengthy blog post!

      You know how when you’re drinking, you use alcohol to suppress emotion? And when you give up drinking, you are forced – if you are to stay well and sober – to practice better self care? I’ve written a lot about this, my belief that a lot of addiction is about pushing down one’s needs and having them sort of squirt out the wrong end, so to speak, wow that metaphor needs work.

      Anyway. I was/am doing that with food. I believe very strongly in nurturing oneself and little indulgences and whatnot. I am not, by any means, an abstemious sort of person, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with luxuriating in a cafe with a chocolate muffin and a latte all alone. I completely agree that women are socialised to deprive themselves; I still remember a line from Naomi Wolf’s Beauty Myth, about all the crazy foodstuffs in toiletries (essence of pawpaw in conditioner or whatever): ‘We feed our skins the food we deprive our bodies’.

      BUT. What is happening with me is that I am using food in lieu of self-care. Where I should go for a walk, do some sewing, take a long bath, read a good book, instead I am eating because it’s accessible and doesn’t inconvenience anyone else. Does that make sense?

      So I’m getting rid of another way to suppress my real needs, in the hopes that I’ll rediscover what they are, just as I did when I first got sober.

      • Thanks, Allie. It makes perfect sense, and chimes completely with me – that food is easier than self-care in other ways. Inspired by your blog post, in the last few days, I have been for a walk once and browsed a book shop once instead of following my first instinct to buy chocolate/cake! And I feel better for doing so. With me, alcohol is not an issue, but other things are and I’m dealing with a lot at the moment, so I am getting a lot from your blog right now. Hope Whole30 works for you.

  7. I’m finding now that I’ve gotten sober, my sugar addiction is rearing its’ ugly head even more than usual. I am struggling to get a handle on it, but it’s a tough one. It seems like everything has sugar in it! What helps me most is to stick to whole foods only and ditch all the processed ones. It’s so hard, especially when I’m in CVS and the Swedish Fish are calling out to me. 😉 Another thing that helps is when I stick to my daily workout routine. I find that I’m a lot less inclined to reach for the sugar after I’ve worked my butt off for an hour!
    Good luck with Whole30!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s