Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Just Deserts

This girl right here loves her ice cream. A little too much sometimes. These last few weeks I admit things got a little out of control. I already confessed all my sins involving frozen dairy desserts HERE; today I'm just trying to sort out thoughts about the before, during and after of the ice cream eating extravaganza. 


You may know I'd been trying to eat intuitively, and to get in touch with my emotions so that I could avoid bingeing. Unfortunately, I think I've been asking myself the wrong question. Instead of asking my body what I NEEDED, I was asking my body what I WANTED. I always want ice cream. It's a default mode for me. 

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on this summer about the topic of intuitive eating. It is a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. I know enough now to steer clear of the diet mentality of "all or none" eating. I'm not avoiding all carbs, or embracing only protein. Okay, that may be the grossest understatement, given my recent track record, but I realize that a strict regimen will only lead to an all-holds barred binge. 
These three; my gifts from God.
One thing I've realized is that this summer I'd hoping to keep all of the fear and sadness at bay at saying goodbye to my children in August by soothing myself with my favorite comfort foods, namely ice cream, but other things as well. Adjusting to a new normal can be stressful, and for me, I think I was afraid of my downtime once I left Bridger at his college in Utah, and hugged my big kids goodbye. 

We managed to postpone the goodbye with Sierra another week by bringing her home to Illinois for a visit. And then it was time to take her to the airport. Luckily, we had a full day at the faire to look forward to that day, which took my mind off things, but there I was, eating ice cream for lunch. Soothe, soothe, soothe...

Keeping my mind occupied with planning a dear friend's visit to Illinois over the Labor Day weekend was a godsend. Having fun things to look forward to kept my sadness at bay. I didn't have to deal with my feelings; I could focus on happy things awhile longer. But before Kimberly arrived in Chicagoland, I promised myself the week before the closing of the Bristol Renaissance Faire that I would WAIT to enjoy ice cream for awhile. It was time to face the music.

Kimberly spent Labor Day weekend with us. What a blessing.

So Monday morning, I declared a sugar-free day for myself, and focused on fruits like frozen banana slices, apples and grapes for my snacks. Tuesday came, and I continued the trend. Not only did I not crave the ice cream by skipping a day of eating it, I began to feel calmer. I would ask myself what I needed to feel nourished. Sometimes it was food, sometimes a nap, sometimes some validation from Chuck, and sometimes I just needed to keep my hands busy. The next three days passed without a binge. 

I made faire favors to give to some of our friends. I only managed to make 24. This winter I need to make SO many more!

During this time of serenity, I realized that I had actually survived the goodbyes with my kids without trauma. They are healthy and happy. I'm healthy and happy. My apprehension and anticipation of being sad were greater than the actual result. I still miss them, in a normal mama way, but there has been no wailing or gnashing of teeth. (This surprised me. Sorry, kids, if this comes as a shock.) 

Giordano's Deep Dish Chicago-style Pizza

Kimberly joined us Friday afternoon, and we enjoyed taking her to Giordano's that night. Saturday and Sunday we had plans to go to the faire, and I made an eating plan before we even entered the gates. 

Corn on the cob would be a good choice. This particular cob is low-cal, very high-fiber. Mm.

My treats the closing weekend would not include waffle cones or crèpes loaded with ice cream. There are so many faire foods I'd never sampled, so I told Chuck if I got hungry, I wanted to try things like the corn on the cob, pickles, or jerky. For lunch, instead of my usual ice cream, I ordered a brat with grilled onions. I noticed that I wasn't nearly as hungry that day, and my energy levels didn't seem to tank as fast. Kimberly and I split the generous slab of jerky while we watched the joust. 

My favorite meat wench at the faire, Jamie.
Monday was Labor Day, and the closing day of the faire. Chuck and I made the rounds, capturing pictures of our favorite friends with our cameras, giving and getting hugs, and saying farewell. It was a day full of smiles and love. And it would be my third full faire day without ice cream. I know! I could hardly believe it myself. 

The day after Labor Day, I was exhausted. The rennies talk about "recovery Monday" after faire weekends, a day to rehydrate, rest, and relax a little, if possible. Well, this week, we had recovery TUESDAY. I woke up at 3 that morning, and went back to bed from 4 until 7:30. And then back to bed for a nap around 11. I drank and drank and drank. There was coffee first thing, Diet Pepsi later, and lots and lots of water, interspersed with lemonade. 

I may have a drinking problem.
There were feelings to be dealt with: no more faire, for starters. Wondering when my next visit will be to my kids. Dealing with the general things that life throws our way. I felt myself longing for ice cream. But I was on a roll, and for me, ice cream is a like a gateway drug that leads to eating ALL. THE. THINGS. I didn't want to binge. I really, really, really didn't want to binge. 

So I made myself a guilt-free snack. I tossed some frozen banana slices, cocoa powder, and just a little bit of whipped topping in my Ninja blender, and I made "chocolate ice cream." And it was heavenly. Binge averted. 

Today is day ten on my ice cream-free streak. Have I given up ice cream forever? Not on your life. I just need a break from a treat that had become my daily habit. I need to practice new ways to cope, until they become my go-to habits. 

I'm trying very hard to take care of myself. To talk through the tough emotional stuff with my husband. To connect with friends to feel grounded. To be creative, and give an outlet to all of this emotional energy inside me, through my writing, my photography, and making things. To give myself the things I know I need to be happy: walks outdoors, good books, and quality time with Chuck. 

No more all or none thinking. No more dieting. No more killing myself with exercise after an indulgence. No more weighing. 

Chuck and I will plan our next date night, and I will suggest we go to Graham's for a scoop of ice cream. It will be a special occasion to savor. And I will take the time to enjoy it for what it is: just dessert. 

Ice cream is simply dessert. Not the main course. Not the staple of an everyday diet. Not the cornerstone of menu planning. Ice cream can become my just deserts, something that is deserved. And also, just dessert, which will be so much better for me. 

*The teacher in me feels compelled to share these notes from the GRAMMARIST website:

Just deserts vs. just desserts

The expression meaning that which is deserved was originally just deserts. The phrase is the last refuge of an obsolete meaning of desert—namely, something that is deserved or merited.But because most modern English speakers are unfamiliar with that old sense of desert, the phrase is often understandably written just desserts.
Using just desserts is not a serious error, and it is much more common than just deserts in 21st-century texts. Some people still consider it wrong, however. Whether to pay this any heed is for each of us to decide for ourselves.


  1. What a treat this was reading about your victory. Good planning and enjoying every minute of every day makes for a happy person. Congrats on making ice cream just a dessert.

    1. I have to find my little successes where I can. This has been a long-term project, and the learning curve is steep.

  2. I love your photos. I could relate to this binge eating. I just did the same thing with cheese after my father died. (That was fine, but not something to do before one's cholesterol test.) A fun read, Denise.

    1. I am sorry about your father's passing. You can get another cholesterol test...when you are not in the throes of grieving. <3 Thanks for reading, Carolyn.

  3. Gorgeous photos and I love that beff jerkey flypaper twisty thing which is just begging to be eaten. You know, I know I couldn't do better than you did. Family and friends, comings and goings are always being an enormous impetus for binge eating, but like Carolyn, my soft spot is made of cheese. We just have to forgive ourselves--and eat more fiber.

    1. Tonia, about that beef jerky twisty thing...the meat seller makes ROSES out of jerky and sells BRO-QUETS. Get it? Lol Thanks for the reminder on forgiveness, and the fiber tip. Oh, I've missed you! Glad you're back!

  4. I am so proud of you. I could relate to needing ice cream as a way to cope--I recently banned ice cream from our home because, even though we had a freezer stocked full of delicious mini treats, i was no longer stopping at the "just one" that had previously satisfied me. Until I can get a handle on what's going on again? We just won't bring them home. However...I recently enjoyed a marvelous ice cream cone (it had maple syrup toffee, the kind they make on the snow, through it). It was a fantastic treat. I'm not ready to open the freezer doors again, but I do know how hard it can be. I'm proud of you, friend. You're taking all the right steps.

    1. Crystal, like you, I manage ice cream better when I eat it outside our home. Thank you for the encouragement.

  5. I enjoyed the pictures as you took us through your journey without ice cream. Frozen banana slices, cocoa and whipped topping... Yum! I can totally relate to your post, although for me, it's pasta and bread!

    1. Thanks for reading, Via. I have a weakness for bread, too. Oy vey.

  6. Mmmmm...yummy food...lovely pics... Right now I'm telling myself "moderation," not "no." You're doing good work.

    1. I'm doing moderation, as well now, reading Intuituve Eating, and learning so much. My ice cream habit had gotten out of control, so I just told myself I could have some LATER when I could manage it better. Thank for reading, Ros.


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