Eating Experiment No. 4: Preliminary Findings

Outrageous experiments in sensible eating.
Jan. 30 2011 3:17 PM

Eating Experiment No. 4: Preliminary Findings

Goal: to be an eating ninja, to stick to my plan and not be swayed by outside influence.

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Ellen Tarlin Ellen Tarlin

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

Loved: This week wasn't all that hard for me, I think because I've sort of been doing it all along. I've been cognizant of temptations, I've been eating foods from home almost exclusively I think the only thing I've bought to-go all month has been one coffee from Starbucks. However, this week was easy because I was home a lot: I'd taken one day off work, worked at home one day because a snowstorm caused transport problems, and didn't feel well one day.

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Hated: I hated seeing how many temptations are around me all the time. It's as though they lie in wait until you are vulnerable hungry, tired, emotional and then they are always there for you to grab quickly. Ubiquity as marketing.

Learned: I reaffirmed something I learned in Week 1, which is that being full on healthy food is the best protection against temptation. Though I saw a lot of tempting foods, I seldom actually felt tempted, because I'd already eaten. The most tempting things were having chocolates in my house that I saw every time I opened the freezer, working on the blog and seeing pictures of chocolates and other foods, when my husband was eating something good (more cheese plate!) or brought me candy ( Jelly Belly Dips !) and I didn't want him to think I was unappreciative. Also, Santoku knives are great!

Surprises: I'm surprised temptation hasn't been an issue all along. I've never made it this far on any "diet" without succumbing within two weeks. I thought purchasing things on-the-go would be an issue all along, but since it hasn't been, this week wasn't much different from other weeks. However, in Week 3 when I could eat anything I wanted, I didn't want to go back to unhealthy foods. This week, because I wasn't allowed to eat whatever I wanted, suddenly I wanted pie and other baked, sugary desserts. This isn't surprising. Making things forbidden is a sure trigger for desire. What's surprising is that it didn't occur to me this would happen this week.

E-mail direct mail advertisements are a significant source of temptation. I'm always clicking on links to get a closer look at the things that interest me but I never really saw it as teasing myself before.

Other surprises: I don't miss ice cream, and I haven't baked myself brownies yet.

Also, black beans are good to eat without any adornment.

Funny Things: I had intended to write about the Starbucks pastry case , the way the canvas ropes guide the customers right past it, the way it seems to be the exact same height as I am, thereby putting all those temptations right at eye level, although really, with that more-than-90-degree curved glass, just about everyone's eyes from children to the very tall are guided right to it, but then I never did end up going to Starbucks this week. I'd also intended to write about how the Wafels and Dinges truck has been tormenting me for months, but I saw it yesterday and ... eh, nothing.

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Conclusion: The same things that usually tempt me tempted me this week too chocolate, bakery display cases, baked goods, cheese and chocolate in my house, e-mail, photographs of food but it's much more manageable when I'm full. It also helped that I knew I had some chocolates at home that I would be eating later.

Next Up: Tomorrow I discuss the fifth obstacle to sensible eating: inertia.

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