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November 10, 2009 / Katie

I have a problem with overeating… but not the kind you’re thinking of

I have a problem. There is a food I can’t stop eating. And it’s not cake, or cookies, or donuts, or Starbars, or ice cream, or any of the other so-called “bad foods.”

My problem food, that has recently become an issue, is hummus and rice crackers.

It’s not that I’m binging, and I certainly can’t even remember the last time I felt over-full (I think it was when I had Indian food early last summer with some friends and ate too much rice too quickly). But it’s a problem because every time I’m hungry—seriously every time—I want hummus and rice crackers. And if I give in to the temptation, I often eat so much of it that I don’t have appetite left for the other good foods I want to be eating, like fresh fruits and veggies, fish, etc.

I know how to fix this problem and the words “diet” and “willpower” have nothing to do with it. In fact, I’m going to use a different word I like much better: intentionality.

I’m going to be more intentional about eating hummus and rice crackers.

I’m not going to grab the whole container of rice crackers, I’m going to get a dish and just take a handful of what I want to eat.

I’m going to plan out what my meal will look like before starting to eat the hummus and crackers. That is, I’m going to have in mind all the other good things I’ll be eating rather than just get caught up in the deliciousness that is the hummus and rice crackers.

I’m going to eat more slowly. I’m going to wait until a few seconds after I swallow to reach for the next cracker.

Honestly, I am aware that this whole post probably sounds like a joke. I assure you, it’s not. I’m completely serious. I have a problem with hummus and rice crackers.

But the problem is not binging, as I’ve already said.

And the problem is not emotional. I’m not “eating my pain.” I’m not stuffing some big feelings down by eating too much. I’m not avoiding anything. I just happen to freaking LOVE the taste of hummus and rice crackers so much that I don’t want to stop!

And the problem doesn’t require a diet, willpower, or an Overeaters Anonymous group (in fact I’d actually love to see the reactions of the folks at one if I went and said my problem was hummus and rice crackers!)

So this post isn’t a joke. I’m serious—I’m going to be a lot more intentional about eating hummus and rice crackers starting today.

The real joke is that we’d treat cookies, or cake, or Starbars, or any of the “bad foods” differently. The assumption that if I couldn’t stop eating ice cream, it would be a different problem than that I can’t stop eating hummus and rice crackers.

Or another real joke here is the assumption that overeating a particular item is a bigger deal because I’m fat than if I was thin. That if I was thin, obviously my metabolism would be taking care of it, but if I’m fat, I’m obviously fat because I can’t stop eating hummus and crackers (which, just in case you missed it, is ridiculous because I’m not overeating in the sense that I’m over-full, I’m overeating in the sense that I’m not getting a good variety of other foods).

Now, I really don’t want to downplay the fact that some people really do struggle with emotional over-eating. It’s a real problem in the real world. And often different groups and plans may help with that; since I don’t have experience with it, I’m really not an expert on that and I’m not trying to define anyone else’s experience.

All I want to do with this post is point out that our beliefs about fat people and overeating have become a joke. Fat people do not all overeat, and even when we do, sometimes it’s not the “bad foods.” And diets don’t work, and willpower is a buzzword. But as long as there isn’t truly an underlying, unresolved emotional issue at play, we can all choose, each day, to be intentional about how we eat.

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11 Comments

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  1. Jasie VanGesen / Nov 10 2009 12:24 pm

    excellent point and well articulated! I have the same issue when bananas are in season. I want to put them on my cereal, in my pudding, everywhere. Some days I will make it all the way to dinner and all I ate was a banana or two. I love their flavor, texture, the fullness they give me, the fact that they come IN THEIR OWN WRAPPER. Bananas are genius. But if I’m not careful, I eat them so often that I don’t have room left for a sandwich, salad, or leftover tuna casserole.

  2. Limor / Nov 10 2009 12:53 pm

    I think that most people go through these sort of food kicks where all they want to eat is one type of food. My ex husband who had zero food/body issues used to several days and only eat cereal or chocolate chip cookies.

    There is also the possibility that your body is craving something that it needs. Maybe you really need the extra protein and fiber.

    • Katie / Nov 10 2009 1:02 pm

      oh that’s true, that’s one of the things that I was wondering, if there is some nutrient in the hummus and/or the crackers that I am not getting enough of!

  3. CTJen / Nov 10 2009 1:01 pm

    I do have an issue with binge eating and have binged on things that would be considered “good” foods: baby carrots, apples, etc. I would literally eat and eat and eat until I felt sick from it and could not fit in another bite or I would vomit. This is different that a food jag, I think, which sounds kind of like what you’re doing. And frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with a food jag. Toddlers (natural intuitive eaters) do it all the time. What the pediatricians say about it is to not look at the *daily* intake for variety, but rather consider all the food they would eat over, say, the *whole* month. My point (arrived at in a rather round about way) is that you’re probably getting in more of a variety of foods than you realize and don’t stress so much over your rice crackers and hummus. You’ll get bored of it eventually. ;-)

    • Katie / Nov 10 2009 1:03 pm

      thanks! Well another thing I could have been a little more clear about with this is I’ve been doing it for a little over a month now, lol. It was just yesterday that I realized, no, I need to be a little more intentional about it.

      But I do appreciate the point that we don’t have to look at this on a daily basis—I do think that is important to note!

  4. noceleryplease / Nov 10 2009 1:16 pm

    Seriously, though… I am pretty sure rice crackers have heroin in them or something similar to make them impossible to stop eating.

  5. Miriam Heddy / Nov 10 2009 4:16 pm

    I’ve got 3 kids (and there’s a connection here–promise!).

    So if you have little kids, you notice right away that they go on kicks about food, which… well, they’re not all that rational. They’ll want only white food, or whatnot. With my six year old daughter, for instance, the ideal meal will be: Cold, cut from the block tofu, frozen (defrosted) broccoli, and noodles. The broccoli is optional, btw.

    In any case, there are times with kids where you think, “They’re going to die eating this and only this!”

    But then the solution is to take the long view and think in terms of kidfoodweeks instead of kidmeals. You’ve succeeded if, over the course of a week, they’ve eaten a variety of foods.

    And that would be my advice to you. I mean, I know, you said you’re going to be intentional and all, which is good. But I also think that we get hung up on the idea that a meal must contain variety of things or it’s not a proper meal. Heck, even breakfast cereal commercials will show someone eating a bowl of cereal, toast, a fruit, etc. as if you’re committing some egregious error just eating the bowl of cereal (or, heaven forbid, two bowls!)

    That’s my two cents (all pennies, no dimes!)

  6. Oliver Danni / Nov 10 2009 4:28 pm

    I’m the same way with just about ANYTHING that can be dunked in hummus!

    I actually had to make rules for myself about popcorn. I make popcorn with nutritional yeast and black pepper and garlic powder, and it is SO delicious that I had started eating it as if it were a meal, and then skipping the meal. I finally had to make a Popcorn Is Not A Meal rule. I can eat it WITH a meal, or I can eat it for a snack BETWEEN meals…but I can’t go “What shall I eat for lunch? I don’t know, I guess I’ll just make popcorn!”

    • Katie / Nov 10 2009 5:51 pm

      I love that! I think that’s exactly what I need to do. “Katie, hummus and rice crackers is not a meal” haha :)

  7. Sydera / Nov 10 2009 6:00 pm

    I also love hummus. One of the ways to eat (anything) for me with greater enjoyment and mindfulness is to make it myself. Have you ever made your own hummus? I mention it because it’s one of my easier recipes.

    My recipe is a can of chickpeas, which you have to painstakingly shell or you get lumpy ugly hummus (and who wants ugly food), a teaspoon of tahini, plenteous olive oil, dash of salt and a dash of lemon juice, with paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper added for spicy hummus. Blend everything in a food processor. You can do it with a blender too if you add things in stages and use a bit more liquid than you’d otherwise need. If it’s not creamy enough I adjust it with the saved chickpea water (if I’m thinking ahead) or a splash of plain old water if I’m not. It takes about a half hour to make, and you get to shell the peas, taste the stuff, get it just right. I find somehow the making of my favorite foods to be therapeutic!

    I also try to do the mindful eating thing. I actually succeed best with my favorites–when I cook them that is. Somehow it’s easier to savor every bite when you really know what’s in it.

  8. nycivan / Nov 10 2009 6:08 pm

    There is such a nice, nurturing, soft energy in the post and the comments. All my life, when looking at anything to do with food weight or exercise the energy would be dense, punishing, shaming, hurtful. I like that we can find spaces within the “fa spheres” where we can examine, talk about, ponder, and make changes or keep on doin what we are doin with our food and eating. It really is a feeling of relief when i talk about my food with fellow FA folks. Right now, I am trying to get five servings of fruit and vegetables in each day. I haven’t made it yet. I am averaging three. however, it is movement in the direction of health, I am not shaming myself or beating myself up if I don’t do it. I am, if I feel like it, letting myself use dressing or cheese when preparing the vegees. and I am feeling proud about taking a positive step.

    The other thing that is so cool about this is that it is so not about loosing weight. It is about giving my wonderful body the gift of nutrients.

    A little to long for a comment, but I felt wordy tonight, could it be the string beans I had with dinner?.. are they a “brain” food :)

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