Thursday, 29 October 2009

With This Turquoise Marble, I...

“That’s it, girl – keep on eating,” sneers a guy in the game room at Shoreditch House. I am caught, literally, with my hand in the candy jar, and I want to sink through the floor.

Two people at the birthday drinks I’ve attended have commented on how tiny I am, one of them squeezing me around the waist to emphasize her point. But none of it matters. At heart I’m still the fat girl caught eating – how dare I do such a thing.

And as in the old days, the comment shames me to my core yet only makes me want to eat more. Shoreditch House has huge jars of sweets that are a free-for-all, and it’s gum drops I’m eating by the handful. Goody, goody gumdrops, I think, the phrase from my childhood suddenly popping into my head.

I look around for something else to eat. It doesn’t help that I’ve been drinking alcohol, and that I’ve been, for the entire evening, vastly uncomfortable. I ripped my dress on the way out the door to the party, forcing me to tear through my wardrobe and eventually land on an old standby I’m not sure I even like anymore. In the sea of Chanel boots and designer handbags that cost more than a month’s rent, I feel like Secondhand Rose. It doesn’t help that I’ve carefully timed my arrival to avoid the dinner part of the evening – I can only afford to pay for what I drink, and can’t, as so often happens at these sorts of events, end up with a £100 share because someone else has gone a little crazy with the ordering. I hate worrying so much, and being so ungenerous.

I’ve had three of the cheapest drinks I can find on the menu – a prosecco. Then one of the women’s banker boyfriend arrives with a friend, and the birthday girl orders me to go chat to him – he and I being the only two single people there. (I’ve just spent much of the party listening to people talk about various couples events being organized. No one even suggests I should be at any of them.) The boyfriend’s friend starts buying me drinks: a Drambuie (don’t ask) along with my prosecco. I am certifiably drunk at this point.

I sit on his lap when suddenly he begins telling me about a woman he’s just started dating. Um, WTF?

At some point in there I head for the sweets. It wasn't a binge, but it was definitely a bit messy -- as a rule, I don't eat things straight from the tin (or jar); I try to take a portion. Right after Random Guy catches me with my hand in the candy jar, Cheesehead (he’s from Leicester, which makes me think of Red Leicester, which…) says: “What are you eating?”

Shoot me now, I think. (But not before I finish my handful.)

Cheesehead and I go on to have a conversation I don’t really remember. Suddenly he turns and plucks a turquoise marble out of a set of Chinese checkers and hands it to me.

“You’re lovely, you know?” he says. I find this bizarrely touching, but maybe that’s the Drambuie talking.

The group has dwindled to just four, and we put on our coats to leave. The kind of people who hang out at Shoreditch House are definitely car service types, and luckily I don’t live in the same direction as them. Still I don’t want them to see I’m taking the bus, so I say I’ve got to make a last-minute run to the bathroom and urge them all to go ahead.

I think about bingeing as I head for the bus – just disappearing into food to soothe the anxiety and the longing and the constant stress. The yearning for a few minutes of peace – the kind only brought about by sugar and fat in copious amounts – is almost more than I can bear.

But I do, somehow. I collapse on my bed, still wearing my tights. I wake up the next morning, hugely depressed in a way I’ve come to recognize comes from too much alcohol (which is, of course, a depressant), and dig through my handbag, fearing in my drunken state I’ve left my iPod somewhere. (I haven’t). What I find is the marble and I hold it up to the light and stare at it for a few moments. I should throw it out, but for some reason I don’t want to.

Monday, 26 October 2009

When Life Gives You Lemon Drizzle Cake

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on all of this eating stuff, the old dog dreams me up again.

(Not really. I just remember the old dog line from a short story I read years ago.)

Just when I think I’ve got a handle – when I think: I can do this, and do this every day for the rest of my life – something kicks me back into the corner.

I woke up yesterday tired, unwilling, and yes, cranky. (Also hungry, but that’s a given.) Something in me was off, and all I wanted was to set it right with food. Right after breakfast began the countdown to when I could have my snack. I didn’t want to stuff myself so much as I just wanted to start eating and not have to stop anytime soon.

After lunch, I got a last-minute invitation from a friend who wanted to treat me to a nice tea (and cake). I wavered. At first I said no, thinking: Yes, I can go to tea, but not when I’m in this head space. I thought about the fact that I’m at a birthday party tomorrow night, have a hugely debauched weekend planned, and then pretty much there’s reasons to (over)eat every week through January. And that’s just the events I know about now – surely there will be more to come.

Faster than a speeding bullet and at least seven times as more self-destructive, my mind started doing its whirl. I can’t go and have cake – I’ll want to eat everything. I’ll have one slice and it will kick off a binge. And I’ll have to start the Days Clean clock over – and right in the runup to the holiday season, too. I don’t have the energy. I’ll start bingeing and I won’t be able to stop.

I thought about things I know I myself have said and probably written, about how overeating once does not fell a diet – it’s how you handle the hours and meals after it. Still I didn’t feel better. I’m going to go to tea and then I’m going to binge, I thought. I felt eerily calm at the thought, like a decision had been made and therefore I could stop hovering in midair and just land already.

No, I can’t go to tea, I thought. I can’t binge. Already I felt resentful about the tea I was missing – that I couldn’t just accept a last-minute invitation like a normal person. Also, I felt like a fraud. Haven’t I been calmly and probably (not-so) semi-smugly writing about how I’ve got it (almost) figured out? Ha.

I thought about going to the tea and eating something healthy for oh, about a half a second. I doubted I’d be able to in the frame of mind I was in, and even if I could, chances are something I denied myself at the tea would lead to overeating something much less nice later on. I thought about postponing the tea – this particular friend is, if not sympathetic to my eating problems, at least aware of them. Then I thought about all the Occasions for Sin, as an old colleague of mine used to call them, coming up in the next couple of months and couldn’t begin to think on what day, exactly, I’d choose to slot in overeating.

I thought about just going to the tea and seeing what happened, and freaked out slightly that this would suddenly be the beginning of me accepting every bit of extra food ever offered. Suddenly I’d be having dessert every night and having supersize snacks. I’d stop exercising and start bingeing, or maybe I’d start bingeing and then stop exercising.

And then it hit me: This is life. I can stay home and eat neat, safe meals and carefully plan for indulgences, or I can just go out and live a little. Because I don’t want to be the girl who’s replaced lack of control around food with hypercontrol around food. Both are equally ugly places to inhabit.

So I went to tea. I debated a Montezuma chocolate bar – something I could control a bit more than cake – and inwardly rolled my eyes at myself. I’d been thinking about cake, so it was cake I should have. In the end, I went with a huge slice of lemon drizzle layer cake with a thick and yummy vanilla icing between its many layers. It was at least three bites before I could even listen to my friend, let alone speak.

My English breakfast tea came with a nut-and-dried-fruit-studded biscotti that I couldn’t stop eyeing. I’m going to binge, I thought. It’s going to be the biscotti that does it. It's going way over and above -- you've just had cake. You don't need biscotti. I couldn't focus on the conversation again -- only the biscotti.

So I ate it. Slowly. It was delicious.

I felt full and happy and almost like a normal person. Except a normal person wouldn’t be congratulating herself for eating a slice of cake and a piece of biscotti.

Later that night I was hungry for dinner at the usual time, and just as hungry as usual. So I ate the amount I’d usually eat, answered some emails, and went to bed.

Seventy days binge-free.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Crankiness and The Twix

This morning, less than two kilometres into a 10k race, I had a serious attack of The Crankiness.

It was raining. I was cold and wet and clammy. I had my blackberry in the zippered back pocket of my running tights (a friend likes to tease me that it’s my hemorrhoids pocket) and it was weighing them down enough actually to pull them down, so every few steps I had to hike them back up. My shoelace came untied and I had to stop. I dropped a glove and had to stop again. Sigh.

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do any of this. I just want to sit down somewhere warm and eat something nice and not have to think ever again about what would be a good healthy choice. If I could have thrown myself on the grass and kicked and screamed and flailed my fists, I might well have done it.

I kept running. One foot in front of the other and pick up the knees. Stop slouching. One foot in front of the other…

But I want to stop. This sucks. I’m already going to have a less-than-stellar finishing time because of all these kit problems. I might as well quit now.

Shut up, I told myself, more than a bit severely. You are the only company you’re going to have for the next 45 or so minutes (I’ve had enough of Lady Gaga) and you can make this really miserable or you can make this not-so-miserable. Besides, how lame would that be to have gotten up and gone all the way across London in the rain and not even gotten in a workout?

I looked down at the bright red Nike 10k t-shirt I was required to wear. It was a size small and I’d layered it over another shirt – I know this sounds completely obnoxious, but I enjoyed the idea that I’m small enough that I can fit a layer beneath a small shirt. (OK, it was a thin layer, but still.) I thought about how similar, in some ways, this race was to the weight loss process. I remember diets past where I allowed The Crankiness to take over too early in the process – when I’d eat something unplanned or I’d go to a restaurant and think: I don’t want to think about this any more. I just want to eat what I want.

I won’t say I snapped out of my funk completely, but less than a kilometre later, quitting was no longer an option.

* * *

Ever since I spied the bag of fun-size Twix bars on special at Tesco a few weeks ago, I’ve been debating buying them. And then, for some reason or another – mostly having to do with fear – I don’t.

Twix bars are far from my very favorite food, but they are an Issue with a capital I for me. Maybe it’s because they were and still remain a binge food. I binged on them in high school because that was the sort of candy we sold for fundraisers – it was always Twix and Snickers and maybe some M&Ms. I don’t know why, but I loved to experiment with eating the chocolate caramel bits off and then being left with the wafer. (Maybe I just liked them because they took me, oh, about five seconds longer to eat than your average candy bar. Maybe, because I’m greedy like that, I liked that you got two bars in the one package.)

In the past year or so, as I’ve eaten chocolate regularly, I sometimes pick up a Twix and look at the calorie count (306) and think: No, not worth it. I know that one bar won’t be enough, but that both bars of the package is too many for a snack. I also know that frankly, they are sickly sweet and unsatisfying and I’ll feel cross after I eat one because I could have had something better. So I leave them at the shop, and still I think about them. Which usually means I will buy one – sometimes a jumbo one – in the middle of a binge.

On my past couple of trips to the US, I’ve spent time eating all kinds of nostalgia food I craved, but in reasonable portions. Much of it (I am most definitely not talking about the Zabar’s cheesecake here) was disappointing – overly sweet and just blah. The sort of thing I could – and I guess I used to – eat and eat because it was about as satisfying as cotton candy. The more items I checked off my mental I-dream-about-this-food-because-I-think-I-can’t-have-it list, the more I realized that very few of those foods deserved to be on it any more.

Which is where the fun-size Twix bars come in. They are 98 calories per bar, which means I can have two for a snack. Time to see if this particular food still belongs on the list.

I bought a bag yesterday and haven’t tried one yet. I realize writing this that I’m actually not afraid of what will happen – if I like them, I’ll have two per snack times two snacks a day for however long it takes for me to get sick of them. (Maybe you’ll see me in the Tesco, buying five bags and pretending they’re for trick-or-treaters.) And if I don’t much care for them? Well, probably I’ll throw them out – less because I fear bingeing on them, and more because life is too short to eat bad chocolate.

I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Thoughts and Musings That Probably Shouldn't Be Posted

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a mental binge map: Nearly everywhere I’ve ever been, I can remember what I’ve eaten and how I felt, and usually, how hard I tried to resist. On Sunday, as I headed over Hammersmith Bridge en route to lunch, I looked at the bridge's cast iron green casings and thought: When was I last here?

It was last winter, with BN2 and his daughter, driving out into the country. I’d been jumpy and anxious then, worried about what we’d eat and when, and worried about how I’d bear it when, inevitably, he ordered a pudding and I’d have to sit there, still hungry (or thinking I was) and watch. I worried about how I’d handle the endless junk-food eating that also, inevitably, would persist throughout the afternoon, and I’d have no way to distract myself. Basically, I worried. And I thought about how hungry I was.

This Sunday, I thought about how grateful I am for how far I’ve come. I can sit with people who are eating and not be overly consumed by it – or the need constantly to find some excuse to get up so I can get away from it. I don’t worry (much) about what time we’ll eat or whether I’ll be able to find something to eat. (On Sunday, for example, I skipped my usual morning snack because we were having lunch about noon – earlier than usual for me.) I’d been craving sausages and mash when I saw it on the menu – could almost taste it -- but they’d run out of it, and I managed not to behave like a spoiled child being denied dessert (you wouldn’t believe how irrationally angry I can be sometimes when what I crave isn’t available). I had an unsatisfying stew and decided to split an apple crumble with custard with a friend (and had more than my share). This did not ruin my afternoon or make me think I’d blown everything, and therefore should have a cream tea and maybe a takeaway for dinner.

Ishmael asked a while back about whether I did more bingeing during my weight loss phase than I do now that I’m in “maintenance” (I’ve actually never used that word – I just take it one day at a time), and why I think that is. I do binge more infrequently now, and the binges are often less severe (though I did plenty of damage in August, so I’m still capable of being hell-bent on self-destruction). But I think that has less to do with whether I’m on a diet and more to do with practice. I’ve identified (a lot) of the triggers. I know what it feels like to have several days and weeks binge-free (and it feels better, both physically and emotionally). I know how to handle the times when I just want to eat – and I know that the times will pass. (Sometimes three days later, but they will pass.)

Some of this has been figuring out that (yes, I know this isn’t a great revelation) I can eat what I want – just not all at once. (I am quite possibly the only person I know who sees a half-eaten package of biscuits in my house and thinks of it as a trophy – see, I didn’t eat the whole thing at once.) Very, very slowly I’ve been incorporating a lot of foods into my diet that used to scare me because I was convinced I’d eat the whole package/cake/etc. If you’re a foodie, you’ll probably turn up your nose at what I do, but at the moment I still have a bias towards anything for which I can figure out the calorie content. This is because I’m still learning what a portion is, and how I feel after it, and what sort of calorie bang I can get for my buck. Basically, if I have a 200 calorie snack, do I want a whole can of soup or three measly little chocolate biscuits? Often I do want the biscuits, but if I’m very hungry, I may go for volume. And often, I’m “scared” of foods without reason – when I actually go and look at the calorie count, they can and do fit in to a healthy diet. Case in point: Bacon. A couple of months ago I finally flipped over to the nutritional information on a package in the supermarket, and figured out that I could grill a couple of slices and have them on toast with a fried egg – good Jewish girl that I am, I loved bacon and egg sandwiches as a kid. And the entire sandwich has similar calories to my usual morning porridge. This means if I see a bacon and egg sandwich in a restaurant and want it – or I’m at a friend’s – I might have it instead of yearning for it but ordering something "healthier" and then going home and eating more than I'd have eaten if I'd just ordered the damn sandwich in the first place. Sure, there is likely to be some butter and oil I wouldn’t use myself, but let's face it, it isn’t the diet equivalent of eating a Craz-E burger (actually, I would never eat a bacon cheeseburger with a buttered, grilled glazed doughnut for a bun, but you get the idea.)

My package-penchant doesn’t mean I won't spreaad the calorie-love to anything not in cellophane (or, thank you very much, recycled paper) or from a restaurant that lists its nutritional info – although when things are tough (as they have been recently), I feel safest doing that, and it’s what requires the least thought. I also retreat to what I know is safe after several days of off-piste eating. Sunday and Monday I had desserts plus snacks that were a lot more calories than usual (Costa flapjack, I’m looking at you). Of course I wanted to graze my way through Tuesday, eating as I wanted, but I knew it was time to get back on track. It’s suddenly sunk in what I’ve been hearing and reading for years: One huge meal or dessert doesn’t stick a fork in the diet. It’s how you react afterwards. (Someone please remind me of this come the holiday season…)

Of course, I can say all this calmly now, when I’ve just had four chocolate biscuits (a serving) for a snack and am not being confronted with food, food choices, or extreme hunger. There are other times when I feel right back where I started. On Monday night, I’d just about finished congratulating myself for not freaking out that I wasn’t getting dinner until 10 pm and suddenly I was in the Tesco buying it and just wanted everything. I debated various foods and thought: Hmmm, would it be so bad if I bought the package of 4 scones and had 2 for dinner? And when I’m in that mindset, I know that often, yes it would. In the end I had pancakes, partly because I know I can eat all of them. Even though the meal should have satisfied me, it didn’t. Some days are like that.

As I went to bed that night, still trying to decide if I were hungry, it occurred to me that hunger used to terrify me. It doesn’t anymore. It’s actually one of my greatest joys – that feeling of an empty stomach and the prospect of filling it. (Everything tastes better when you’re hungry.) I rarely had that feeling when I binged frequently – I was too stuffed with either calories or shame, or hungover from both. To me now, hunger – gentle “it’s time for lunch” hunger, not the shakes or the stomach-roiling get-me-food-now – is a sign that I’m taking care of myself properly. It’s a gentle signal that every day and all day I have a choice -- of what to eat and how much -- and these days, at least, I’m making a lot of good ones.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Fat Stats

“Do you really want to know?” I could hear the trainer asking a client at the gym. She’d been pointing to the body composition analysis machine (the InBody 720, if you’re curious) and wondering whether she should have it done.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to know myself, but I’m a sucker for a freebie these days, particularly as this would cost me £60 if I went to Harrods’ spa (where the machine had been borrowed from).

“We call it the truth machine,” said J., one of the gym’s staff, as I eyed it suspiciously. It looks a lot like a scale, to be honest, only also with hand grips. It was 10 am, and I’d had my morning porridge but had been told not have any caffeine, as apparently that interferes with the readings. Hmmm.

There are lots of numbers for things like “intracellular water” and “skeletal muscle mass,” but on to the important ones (to me). For body strength, which apparently it measures via some kind of electric current, I measured up as “developed” in the upper body and “normal” on the lower body – I always thought because I run so much I could get away without doing much lower body resistance training. (And to be honest, I don’t think based on these numbers I’m going to start.) Weight was 144.8, BMI was 22, and waist to hip ratio was .81 (my printout helpfully tells me that “normal” range is .75 - .85). My jaw did just about hit the scale when I came in as “under-fat” – the machine says I am 15.9 percent body fat, when normal range is 18 to 28. What I am marvelling at only slightly more is that somehow, this news did not make me think I immediately deserved to eat, say, an entire Victoria sponge.

PS Thursday marked 60 binge-free days.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Believe It or Not

“What have you got that’s good to tell me?” asks my grandmother. This is the way she has begun every conversation with me in recent years. It makes me feel like I can’t ring her unless I have something exciting to share, and in recent months, I haven’t. It’s hard to make positive stories out of fighting with banana republic web sites for overdue checks and dealing with unresponsive editors when once upon a time I regaled her with tales of George Clooney and Gwyneth Paltrow; of assignments to Indonesia and Afghanistan (though to be fair, she never liked the latter).

I tell her I’ve been to the Burberry show and afterparty. She likes to hear about parties – my grandma, once upon a time the most popular girl in school, puts huge value on social life. The only thing better than a party I can tell her about is a date, preferably with a nice Jewish boy who will require me to move back to the US, pronto.

“Did you buy anything?” she asks.

I nearly burst out laughing. “Grandma, I haven’t bought anything for months,” I say. I refrain from adding that I think twice about buying a KitKat if it’s at a newsagent where it costs more than 60 pence, because there are a lot of places where you can buy it for 45p.

I can hear her grow breathless with excitement.

“Are you sitting down?” she asks me.

“Yes,” I say, wondering if her lifelong addiction to lottery tickets using family birthdates and anniversaries has finally paid off.

“You’re never going to guess what I found.”

Hmmm. So not a lottery ticket. “Probably not,” I say cheerfully.

In going through some papers, my grandmother found some government bonds I’d received for my bat mitzvah. They were buried in some things that had ended up at my grandmother’s when my mother died.

“Four thousand dollars,” she says in awed tones. My grandmother is 91, a product of the Depression, and she refers to my sister’s six-figure (but just barely) salary as “a telephone number.”

“What are you going to buy?” My grandmother loves to see me dressed well. She doesn’t wait for me to answer – she just says, with obvious delight: “Can you believe? Four thousand dollars! What are you going to do with all that money?”

I’m thinking with the (crappy) dollar to pound exchange rate I might be able to pay all of my expenses for two months. But my grandmother doesn’t want to hear about that, so I don’t say anything.

“Wow, Grandma. I don’t know – that’s pretty amazing,” I say. “It’ll be fun to think about.”

She sounds happy with this answer, and I don’t want to spoil her fun. I have an image of myself on my bat mitzvah, a 12-year-old in a ghastly pink bridesmaid dress, which was the only sort of appropriate dress that came in my size then. I was twice the size of my sister at the time, and I’d hated the idea of an entire day where people would be looking at us both and noticing that. I remembered drowning my sorrows in the rugelach I’d baked with my mother for the Sunday brunch we were having for out of town guests – covertly unsnapping one corner of the lid on the Tupperware boxes where we’d stashed them and making an opening just wide enough to stick my hand in and grab pastry after pastry, one at a time, all the while telling myself to stop before I got caught. Yeah, there’s a helpful way to fit into your dress, I mentally told my 12-year-old self.

I don’t think at that age I had a plan for the bat mitzvah money. I remember thinking then that I’d be in my 20s – ancient, it seemed -- before I could cash it in. I’m sure I never imagined I’d use it for rent money at age 34 in a far away city in a country not my own, but what about my current life could I have predicted?

“Wow,” I said to my grandmother. “I can’t believe it.”

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Me and My Miniskirt

Saturday was a manic day, and just as I was about to head out the door that night – having dressed in 10 minutes flat – I realized I was missing something.

I had forgotten to worry about whether my clothes would fit. Let me back up and explain: I was headed to the School Disco, and since I already owned a miniskirt from when I went in February, I didn’t give the outfit another thought. I thought it might be a good idea to try it on (never got around to that), but I didn't spend one single second anxiously praying it would fit so I wouldn't then have to do a mad dash around looking for something in my size and then spend the rest of the day/evening feeling cross because I couldn't find anything or had had to settle for what fit instead of what I liked. The way it inevitably would have been three years ago -- when I'd also have been torn about whether to avoid the event entirely (I don't think they make miniskirts in my old size) or feel like my fat was holding me back from doing something fun.

It was a great feeling, realizing that sort of angst is no longer a part of my life. (It's been replaced with other kinds, but never mind about that...)

I almost hate myself for writing this, but if anything the miniskirt didn't look great because it was a bit too big. I have lost maybe five pounds since February, but I guess I've shrunk more than I realized, because I had more than an inch of extra fabric bunching up when I made the Velcro meet (it's a cheap and nasty blue plaid wraparound, bought online for about £12).

I put on a white shirt and a headband and tights (the skirt is probably a microskirt -- it's scandalously short) and off I went.

"You look very Gossip Girl," said the first two guys I met at the pub just across from the Portland Girls School. (I texted a friend for analysis and she pronounced it a compliment, so, um.... thanks.) Another guy's comment wasn't so ambiguous: "I like your skirt," he said. "It's short."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Life on the Other Side

“Do you remember going to buy prawns last night?” my male friend V. says to his best friend S.

We are all at breakfast, V eating chocolate biscuits, S eating pork pies, and me eating nothing because I am that hung over.

Apparently towards the end of a heavy drinking session the night before (I wasn’t with them; had been swilling champagne and eating artichoke foam – yes, really, or maybe it was avocado foam? -- at a music industry event), S suddenly decided it would be a fantastic idea to walk across the road to the Tesco to buy provisions.

Suddenly I was a lot more interested in the conversation. S is a normal eater – a guy for whom food is just food. I knew he and V. had already had dinner at Nando’s – I love to tease them about their fondness for spicy birds – and apparently he’d loudly and publicly announced his intent to go across the road and buy more food and eat it. In public. And apparently this was also totally OK and totally not a big deal with either V or the third friend they were with.

“Why prawns?” I asked.

“He said he was going over the road and should he bring anything back,” V said. “So I asked for prawns.”

Apparently S also bought a Twirl bar. I was curious to know if he’d bought anything else, but feared seeming creepily over-keen on the subject. This is my usual way of navigating food discussions with regular people who do not Know My Issues, which is to say I navigate gingerly, as if skirting around land mines.

“What’s a Twirl bar?” I asked.

“It’s like a Flake except it’s crumbly on the inside instead of the outside,” S explained.

“You were very generous with it – you gave me half and split your half with A,” V told S. (I couldn’t help doubting I’d be that generous. What would I have done in that situation? Bought a bar for everyone? Crammed a couple of bars in my mouth at the supermarket as insurance in case the one bar a normal person would eat in public weren’t enough?)

I could have asked a hundred questions about this episode. But like any normal people -- with the prawns and the Twirls long since finished – V and S quickly lost interest and moved on to something else.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Two Steps Forward, One (Baby) Step Back

I’m not calling it a binge, because it wasn’t.

If I were being positive (me? positive?!), I could say that what happened last night was a reminder that although I've had some success lately on the binge-prevention front, I need constantly to be vigilant.

In the interest of honesty – and maybe so I finally can stop beating myself up about it – I ate twice after dinner last night.

The first time was the more worrying: I was in a nightclub at nearly midnight, quite tipsy (maybe even drunk), feeling pretty good about how I looked (body conscious black dress and vintage belt – an outfit I’d gotten a lot of compliments on) and yet couldn’t stop thinking about food. (Usually it’s when I feel icky that I eat in an, um, icky manner.) So I sneaked out, ran down the block, and had a toffee-covered flapjack and a double chocolate muffin. It was most definitely not normal -- running around hunting for an open newsagent in the first properly chilly night of almost-autumn – but it could have been a lot worse. (For starters, I could actually have gotten lost, which I nearly did. And I could have eaten a whole lot more.)

The second time was at four in the morning. As we were leaving I was almost hoping we’d do the post-clubbing snack run that was such a part of my life years ago. (I could almost taste the hot, gooey pizza from this ultra-cheap place in Adams Morgan.) But the group broke up without a mention of food, and I went back to a friend’s, which will explain all the foods I’d never keep around my own place: leftover curry, rice, and chocolates. Which I ate. Not in huge amounts – not enough, for example, to still feel full when I woke up this morning, usually the hallmark of an evening binge for me.

I don’t expect to be out clubbing frequently, but I think if I did again I might carry a small snack for emergencies. What made me feel particularly desperate at the club, I’ve realized, was that there weren’t even any nuts or crisps for sale. Honestly, I think if there’d been a free buffet or something I would happily have ignored it, safe in the knowledge that food was available if I needed something.

Or, of course, I could just drink a little less.