On Tuesday night I found myself sitting on the couch, eating MacDonalds for dinner, for the second night in a row. This was, I should point out, a strange and unwelcome experience for me.
Now, I know that the way I phrased that sentence makes it seem as though I wasn’t conscious when I drove to the place, made the purchase and drove home, and didn’t in fact, come awake until I was sitting on the couch with a Quarter Pounder in one hand and a fistfull of crunchy hot fries in the other. But here’s the strange bit – I’m not entirely sure that’s not what happened.
Yes, the skeptical among you will instantly dismiss this claim as an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for my actions: let’s face it – I’m on a diet and junk food is not on it. But that skeptical judgement would impede me gaining a better understanding of exactly how and why I ended up eating food that wasn’t what I planned for dinner. My proper meal, still sitting uncooked in the refrigerator, consisted of beef skewers marinated in Moroccon spices, with steamed vegetables and Harissa. This was a meal I’d had – and deeply enjoyed – before, so the waylaying of my dinner destination to MacDonalds was puzzling. If I’d been looking forward to boiled fish and potatoes, a nice greasy burger would easily win out as a choice for dinner. But it wasn’t. Dinner was going to be very nice and I’d been looking forward to it all day.
But just as I was about to turn into my own street, a vision of a golden burger and salty fries appeared on the road before me, giant and reeking flavour. In my brain, there was a brief tussle for domination, and then the moment passed. An hour later, having eaten way more than I needed to, I lay on the couch angry and frustrated that my otherwise-steely willpower could flop and flounder somewhat like a just-landed fish. What did I do wrong? How can I stop myself doing it again?
All day I’d been determined and certain that I’d be having my yummy skewers for dinner. Then there was this fuzzy moment. Then I was eating MacDonalds. That’s pretty much how it reads in my mind.
But why? Why don’t I remember more detail? Why was I not able to sustain that dedication through those brief moments of temptation? I’ve gone for almost three weeks now without any form of direct sugar in my diet – no chocolate or anything. A short while ago, I wouldn’t have thought that possible – but no temptation has swayed me into blitzing a family block of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. So if I can resist chocolate, why not greasy burgers that actually leave me feeling bad, both emotionally and physically? Given a choice between the two, I’d go chocolate any day!
I can find no ready and available answer, but there are a couple of things I might try to get myself through that moment next time. Firstly, being hungry didn’t help. I wanted food, and I wanted it NOW! Secondly, I can attempt to greet the very first burgeoning thoughts of MacDonalds with a deliberate and forceful change of thought-subject. Thirdly, I could slap myself on the face – but I’m keeping that as my reserve position, if all else fails.
It’s hard not to be angry with myself when this happens (yes, passive tense again) but I know that being angry or calling myself names doesn’t make it any easier next time, or make me feel better, so I shall refrain. Next time I see that burger vision, I shall make it a point to blow it a raspberry. I’ll let you know how that worked 🙂
NB: apologies to anybody who now feels tempted to go out and get either MacDonalds or chocolate.