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Sickly Sweet

June 21, 2011

There’s a line from Romeo and Juliet that I feel is relevant to this post:

“The sweetest honey is loathsome in its own deliciousness/And in the taste confounds the appetite.”

Yes, I just quoted Shakespeare. Yes, I am that big of a nerd. I’m sorry. I can’t escape nor deny it.

Anyway, when this line in spoken in the play, its a metaphor for loving too intensely: the Friar’s message is that even the most delicious things, when consumed in excess, not only begin to taste disgusting, but they actually mess with our overall sense of taste. When that happens, we lose the ability to enjoy the taste of ANYTHING, and all the pleasure that comes from that act is lost.


Pretty good stuff, right? (My love of Shakespeare can be another post for another day, but go ahead and humor me). This line popped into my head yesterday when I realized how much I had overindulged in sugary, decadent foods in the past three days. They were everywhere: berry crisp at Funk’s BBQ on Saturday, loads of cookie dough and chocolate granola (and leftover crisp!) on Sunday, and then a whole table full of desserts at Monday’s staff luncheon.

Honestly, I tried to pace myself, and I think I did a fairly good job considering the circumstances. But what was interesting to me was that, by Monday night, I had absolutely no desire to eat anything with sugar in it. This may not seem odd to anybody else, but I have a serious sweet tooth. A meal does not feel complete to me until I have something (anything!) sweet to complete it. In fact, sometimes I eat smoothies for dinner because it’s like eating ice cream. To end the night not only wanting to avoid sweets but to eat vegetables and hummus instead made me realize three very simple, and yet very important things:

1. Variety is my Achilles heel. I’ve read that people can literally “make room” for dessert after a filling meal because the variety of tastes (going from savory/salty to sweet) is so appealing. I’ve also read that, when faced with a range of food choices, such as a buffet, the variety is overwhelming; people have difficulty choosing one thing and instead choose MANY things. Both of these were absolutely the case for me this weekend: I was eating dessert when I was already full, and when faced with many treats, I wanted to indulge in ALL of them. In the end, I didn’t feel satisfied; I felt sick. Which leads us to…

2. Moderation is the key. Julie wrote a great post the other day about feeling free to indulge, but knowing when indulgences have gone too far. There’s a difference between indulging occasionally and indulging compulsively. It’s a fine line, and I never want to deny myself anything, but I realized today that many of the sweets I ate this weekend were only eaten because they were THERE. That’s not a good enough reason for me. I want to treat myself to something that I really want and that is something worth having—for me, a store-bought cookie is not worth it; however, a homemade cookie generally is. I don’t want to mindlessly snack on things because then I don’t even register how delicious it is! Which is the perfect transition into…

3. My body is one smart cookie (yup, pun intended). It tells me what it wants, and it’s worth listening to. Last night, my body finally told me “enough is ENOUGH,” and I listened (going back to that quote, by Sunday night, I had literally “confounded my appetite”: all the sugar of the weekend had left a nasty taste in my mouth that felt impossible to get rid of, even after brushing my teeth and swigging water). I guarantee that, if I continue to listen to what my body wants and needs, I’ll feel back to my old self in no time.

I got “back on track” today, meaning lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein and dairy, and wholesome, complex carbs, including this beauty of a salad for dinner:

baby spinach, red pepper, cucumbers, homemade chickpea “burger”, and balsamic (with some roasted sweet potatoes – unpictured – on the side).

And yes, dessert entered my life again this afternoon, albeit in a smaller quantity than the past few days (a small hunk of homemade brownie at lunch).

Notice that I didn’t say that I deprived myself in any way, shape, or form, nor did I “punish” myself through an insane amount of exercise. There was no denying myself anything, or forcing myself to eat things I don’t want. I just went back to the foods that I love, and that I know make me feel my most energized. As a result, my appetite is no longer confounded!

What are your thoughts on “indulging”? Is there a limit to how many treats you can handle in a short period of time? How do you get back to “feeling like yourself”?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Evan permalink
    June 21, 2011 7:06 pm

    Do you really want to know my policy on indulging? I’m being discreet because I fear it may scare the children.

    • June 21, 2011 7:14 pm

      I think I already know your policy, big guy. Whole loaves of white bread in one sitting? Why not?

  2. June 21, 2011 9:10 pm

    I guess I am on the opposite side of the fence then Evan is. I do not believe in indulgences. I believe in moderation. If I eat too much of something, say something sweet or something salty, I do not feel well. Same thing with eating something over and over; I tend to get sick of it. I feel sick if I take in too much of something that is not good for me. My body tells me.

    I believe in moderation because I believe that if you try and starve yourself or limit yourself or cut yourself off from something you really love, well then you will sabatoge yourself anyway. So everything in moderation. Sweets in moderation. Salts in moderation. Your body will tell you if it has had enough. But the thing is do we listen to our body? I am reading a new book for my upcoming class with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. What I read today made sense. No one diet or no one eating plan works for every person. Eating is individualistic. Our metabolisms, our body types, even our blood types and background heritages have something to do with what food is right for us. So I just believe in now, listening to our body. Listen to what it needs. Listen to what it wants. But do not over do it. At least that is for me….

    • June 22, 2011 6:49 am

      You must forgive my brother, Evan. He’s a bit of an eater. In fact, his nickname among friends is “The Eater of Things.” He’s just messing around ; )

      And yes, I totally agree with you. Eating is individualistic AND intuitive. This is something I realize more every day, and that I am trying to be more mindful of!

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