Candy — Losing a Battle vs. Losing the War

Yesterday, I posted on the Claiming Liberty Facebook page:

“The kids’ [Halloween] candy was calling me, and it was saying really bad things.  I realize though that the ‘call’ is purely emotional and habitual.  You’re ‘supposed’ to eat candy around Halloween, right? Thankfully, my eating plan is working well enough that . . .”

This morning though, I have to say that I spoke WAY too soon.

On many blogs, I’ve noticed that folks don’t always discuss their failures or their trials.  They tend to make everything look easy when, in reality, it might be simple, but it’s rarely easy.  Here though, I’m choosing to share my hiccup along with what I learned.  Maybe my thoughts and experiences can help others who’re trying to make tough changes in their own lives.

To give some context, I guess I need to start with Halloween night.  The kids went trick-or-treating, and when they were finished, they all had mounds of candy.  As I performed the obligatory safety check, I wasn’t tempted in the slightest.  I touched all their goodies including my favorites — Butterfinger, Reese’s Cups, and Snickers — and I wasn’t phased a bit.  I do remember thinking to myself though, “I wish I had some dark chocolate in the house ‘just in case’.”

And what I meant by “just in case” was this.  I eat 85% dark chocolate on occasion as a part of my low-carb plan.  A 5-bar package can easily last me two weeks.  Some folks have given me grief, but I can eat a 25-gram bar that has real sugar in it, and it doesn’t trigger cravings or cause me issues.  (If I were to eat that same bar in milk chocolate, I’d be binge-eating before you could say “milk chocolate”, but I have NO trouble stopping with the very dark chocolate.) So anyway, I was thinking that if I lost my resolve, I could fall back on a single bar of dark chocolate (which is 79% fat, by the way), and I’d have no worries.  The thing was though, we didn’t have any dark chocolate, and we didn’t have easy access to anything other than Hershey’s Special Dark (which is NOT dark chocolate, by the way.)

My resolve didn’t waiver on Halloween night though, so I thought I was in the clear.  By mid morning yesterday, however, it was a totally different story.  Like I posted on my Facebook page, I thought the desire to eat the kids’ candy was habitual or emotional.  I SHOULD have taken some l-glutamine just in case.  I SHOULD have asked my 5-year-old to hide the kids’ candy.  I SHOULD have fixed myself something that was almost pure fat, but I didn’t do any of those things.  I thought the desire for the candy would be short-lived, and I was feeling confident that the desire would pass.

In hindsight, I realize that it was at that point that I made my biggest mistake.  Jack Spirko over at The Survival Podcast likes to say, “Don’t bet on failure or success.” By that, he means don’t put all your eggs in the failure basket or the success basket; be prepared for either outcome.  In the case of the kids’ candy though, I suppose I had all my eggs in the success basket, and by the end of the day, that was my undoing.

By 3:00 pm, I was actually prowling the house for candy.  It was an intense need.  No longer was I simply irritated by a desire that was lingering somewhere in the back of my mind.  I started going through one of the bags of candy, searching for my “fix”, when my daughter walked through the door.  My heart nearly stopped! I jumped away from the bag (because I didn’t want them to “catch” me), and I thought to myself, “Oh THANK YOU, child, for saving me from myself!” The problem was though, it only took another two minutes before I was exacting a “Mommy tax” from each kid’s bag of candy.

At first, the tax was one piece of chocolate from each kid.  By the end of the day though, I bet I’d eaten 15 to 20 pieces of candy.  My mouth felt nasty, my stomach felt sick, and I felt my heart racing, but I kept going back for more.  It was really quite awful!

I went to bed early last night.  I just wanted the day to be over, and I wasn’t feeling well anyway.  (I’ve been fighting off a cold.) I knew there’d likely be a consequence on the scale; I knew I’d have to work extra hard to get back into ketosis, and I knew I’d have to work at getting past the bump in the road so I could move forward.

When I got up this morning, my weight was up .4 pounds, but since those .4 pounds fall within the standard error of the scale, and since those bounces happen WITHOUT Halloween candy, I doubt it’s statistically relevant.

What I DID find interesting (and likely VERY relevant) though is the fact that my blood sugar was up to 99 mg/dL this morning.  Before I switched to a hard-core nutritional ketosis plan, my blood sugars usually ran around 110 mg/dL (give or take 5 points.) And since I started checking morning blood sugars again (back on October 25, my blood sugars looked like this:

  • 10/25/12 – 99 mg/dL
  • 10/26/12 – 93 mg/dL
  • 10/27/12 – 94 mg/dL
  • 10/28/12 – 95 mg/dL
  • 10/29/12 – 82 mg/dL
  • 10/30/12 – 71 mg/dL
  • 10/31/12 – 78 mg/dL
  • 11/01/12 – 84 mg/dL
  • 11/02/12 – 99 mg/dL

Even with just nine days worth of data, it’s clear that my blood sugar was trending downward.  As with my weight, there would be other factors affected the observation, certainly, but I’m inclined to think it has more to do with my extreme insulin resistance and the 15-20 pieces of candy that I ate within a 5-hour period.

Now, with all that being said, did I learn anything from yesterday’s experience? Certainly, I learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Placing all my eggs in the success basket works only until it doesn’t.  If I hadn’t felt so confident, I likely wouldn’t have faced that issue yesterday because I would have planned to accommodate the temptation.  Since I had breezed so easily through my son’s birthday party though, I truly had no worries about the candy, and that was short-sighted on my part.
  2. I HAVE to keep my fat up over 80%, and I can’t let myself get hungry.  On Halloween night, I was hungry, so I ate a second pork chop.  I think that protein whack with inadequate fat before bed set me up for some issues the following day, but it hadn’t occurred to me at the time that I’d be doing that to myself.
  3. L-glutamine really helps me, and I shouldn’t ever let my guard down where that supplement is concerned.  When the desire to eat the kids’ candy first crept in, I should have taken some l-glutamine.  Instead, I said to myself, “Nah, that’s not necessary.  It’s just an emotional thing, and nutritional ketosis will carry me through it.” WRONG!
  4. Lastly, I’m not Super Woman.  Deciding that I can just suffer through a rough spot rather than being proactive ends no way other than badly.  You’d think I’d know that by now, but often I find myself thinking, “But this time’s different because . . .” It’s never different.  I’m always an addict, and even when I have the best coping tools, I’m still an addict.  Remembering that will help me use the other great tools I have more effectively.

I wish I had the ability to measure blood ketones, but that little gadget is going to have to wait.  For now, I’m left making some observations from which I can learn next time.  (And yes, I’m not cocky enough to think that there will never be a next time.) My keto-breath was fierce this morning, and my sugar cravings were non-existent.  Despite that, I still took some l-glutamine, and even though I wasn’t hungry, I fixed myself a breakfast of almost pure fat.  Oddly enough, I’m craving salt right now, so I’ll have to keep an eye on that and make sure that craving doesn’t lead to an overconsumption of protein.

Like I heard someone say on a Jimmy Moore podcast, and I’m paraphrasing, “Everybody’s gonna mess up.  Sometimes you just want to eat a cupcake, and if you eat a cupcake, enjoy it, pull yourself together, and get back on track.” For me, I did enjoy the first 3 or 4 pieces of candy, but after that, I really didn’t enjoy it at all.  I was simply eating it because I’d already triggered the monster.  If I’d stopped at 3 or 4 pieces, I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about it today because those pieces of candy wouldn’t have been significant.  The quantity that I ate yesterday WAS significant though, and the experience definitely deserves some hindsight evaluation.  See, if it had just been a matter of me choosing to eat a couple of pieces of candy, it wouldn’t be that big a deal.  When it triggers the kinds of behaviors it did yesterday though, I have a problem, and I have to learn from that.  I may have lost yesterday’s Halloween candy battle, but I’m still ahead in the war, praise God!



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