The Pie Contract

That year in high school when I ate nothing but ice cream sandwiches for breakfast.

The time I was grounded for two weeks for sending my 10 year old sister into a store to buy candy for me (buy one get one free large bags of M&Ms).

The way I arranged the hostess snacks in the box so that it looked like there were just as many as there were before I ate two – assuming my mom wouldn’t notice when she made my sisters’ lunches.

The fact that I couldn’t stop myself from covertly eating one of the chocolate bars in my German host family’s pantry.

The month I ate all salads with my fingers even in front of other people in order to appreciate it more and eat less.

The cookies I have kept in desk drawers. The chocolates I have hidden in shoes. The empty plates I have shoved under sofas.

I have a lifetime of food issues. It’s the thing to talk about our relationship with things and in this case, my relationship with food has been outrageously difficult. It’s also the thing, in my family, to blame your upbringing and, in the past, I haven’t minded dropping a little responsibility off there. Now, I own it. No matter what was said to me when I was small, how I thought I looked, or how I actually looked, I have grown into a person who takes full responsibility for who I am and what I put into my mouth, whether it’s too much ice cream or a thoughtfully prepared, delicious, nutrient-packed meal.

You know, I’ve chosen to eat a lot of pie since November. I have enjoyed every last delicious bite. I’ve had pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve had two different kinds of pie in the same day. In one dire case, I hid pie in the back of the fridge so that my brother-in-law wouldn’t eat it. In fact, I’m not down with hiding food much these days. It was a moment of weakness so I won’t do it again. Probably. You guys, he eats everything. The thing with pie is that there’s an exchange. In exchange for pie, you either get to move more or weigh more. At least, that’s the exchange if you’re me. It’s the unspoken agreement you and the pie make.

After you sign on the dotted line with your fork, you then get more choices. Though I have been a member of many gyms (and still have a membership) we have an on and off again relationship that, while not as rocky as my relationship with food, has never been completely smooth. I crave variety and I crumble under schedules and routines. I’m old. I go to the gym when I want. For awhile I called an unused gym membership my “fat tax” in hopes that it would inspire me to go. The expression didn’t inspire me, it made me feel worse about myself.

I’m not slender. I am mortified to see pictures of myself from the last decade. Who is that person? What happened to her? Routines don’t work. Belittling myself didn’t work. Changing my mindset helped. It wasn’t subtraction I needed (eat less, don’t eat any of that), it was modification (eat this now, do that later). I’m not the person I was 60 pounds ago, so something must have worked.*

Which brings us to the point of this post. Because of our success (and all the pie consumption), my wife has recommitted for the new year. I haven’t said as much (though if you want to see, it’s here) because when I talk about eating differently, I hear myself saying that I’m currently eating badly, and my mind interprets that as being a bad person. It’s good to know your own pitfalls, people. I’m too healthy mentally to step into that trap right now. My mother, too, has opted in.

My dad, on the other hand, is always going to pick pie. And cookies. And whipped potatoes. And fries. Living in a house where 50% of the people have chosen not to eat those items AND one of those people is, by nature, a person who qualifies herself as good or bad depending on what goes into her mouth AND, without meaning to I suppose leaves a slight trail of I’m the one who is doing food right everywhere she goes, is really, really hard. I don’t want to eat pie, so I don’t. But I feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable taking actions that isolate my dad so I’m taking the middle ground. I don’t love it but it’s better than the alternatives.

Suffice to say, I am dead tired of thinking about food. I’m tired of planning menus for a house of people who eat different things or, in my mom’s case, claim to be eating different things. Further, I’m tired of playing defense when my mom suggests having pizza instead of cooking dinner (dude. I would have thrown it in the slow cooker if I had known you wouldn’t). Also, I know that one of my coping mechanisms in life is pie (in moderation) and I miss it. I’m unhappy**, you all. Thank you for listening.

 

*By the way, I’m not discounting a pretty hefty mental shift, the help of mood management, and a significantly lower stress, higher activity lifestyle. I’m also not discounting my genes, which are predisposed to eating lots of pie and retaining it unhelpfully in my belly.

**A note to my beloved wife who, even though I have TOLD her that I love her and am behind her 100% might read this and think I am unhappy with her: I am not. I am 100% supportive. Still 😉

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10 Responses

  1. Last night, I was standing in the kitchen staring at the leftover weight watchers turkey chili I made the night before thinking about how good a plate of spaghetti and a half bottle of wine would be instead. Catch came in and said, “Oh–leftovers?” She admitted to desperately wanting a burger from In N Out. We looked at each other and agreed that chili it is. (Although if we had both had the same unhealthy food craving, who knows…) I blame our mothers for our struggles. Her mom’s idea of eating healthier is having 3 beers instead of six and my mom’s is ordering Thai food instead of pizza. Basically, that is a long-winded way of saying I HEAR YOU.

    • I’m pretty sure your mother’ coping strategies are awesome – if not exactly healthy 😉 It definitely helps to have an advocate in the house. I know that’s what’s making it hard for Debra – my mom is a sort of ally but it’s tricky because she’s not really in line.

  2. Way to go on your mental shift! You’re not a bad person if you like to eat unhealthy things once in a while.

    I’ve always been more or less overweight, and was creeping into “far more” when I made a change in September. For me, tracking my food really helps, or else I do bored/mindless eating. So, SparkPeople (free web thing!) helped me lose 15 lbs. It encourages me to exercise more, too, to help burn of those multiple pieces of pie.

    • I have so many tracker things (of late a combination of fitbit, fitocracy, mapmyrun, and myfitnesspal – LOVE). I’m clearly tracker obsessed. You’re right though – for people like me it totally helps.

  3. Not to TOTALLY miss the point of this post, but you were an exchange student in Germany? ME TOO. When were you there? Where did you live? (I was there ’95-’96 and lived in Horn-Bad Meinberg, a tiny town in Nordrhein-Westfalen).

    • That’s awesome! I was there just before the wall came down – 1990 I think? Wow… that was a really long time ago! I was in Bad Tolz which is far to the south. I wish I’d been more mature and into history when I was there (and less into chocolate and Spagetti Eis!)

  4. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

    In high school, I had orange popsicles & potato chips for lunch every day. Traditional finals week dinners in college were brownies & fritos. I see your bad eating habits and raise you one….

    I am desperately trying to be dessert free here – the first time since my birthday in October – and the weather is just not cooperating. Running the oven is a great way to heat up the house! Next weekend is birthday weekend and I am convinced we need this two week break from sugar. The only one of us with pants that fit are Edie, because she just got new ones for Christmas – although she’ll say they don’t fit because they are too long (Apparently she has just clued in I always buy her pants long and this bothers her to no end). As a compromise the other night I made Chicken Pot PIE. Not sweet, but oh so good….and it counts as PIE for dinner.
    And I used lard in the crust, which is better for you than butter, right?

  5. Oh man. The first six paragraphs could have been on MY blog. I do not remember a time when I wasn’t very very concerned about where my next sugar fix would come from. And then last year, we changed our way of eating and things got much better (and a little thinner) but I still go through periods of being so tired about obsessing about food, whether it’s “good” . Since I do all the planning and cooking, not thinking about it isn’t an option! When we have houseguests, it’s very hard not to let everything go and just order in every night – even when they’re great houseguests who offer to help with the cooking. I guess what I’m saying is that I sympathize and that sometimes, pie is the only sane option in an insane world.

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