Sunday, March 6, 2011

Keeping the wolves at bay. Deterrence and the art of grazing control.

Sometimes, I really have to take a moment to laugh at myself and my own little bizarre methods to maintain a grip on eating reality.

For those that have been following my little chronicle of maintaining my weight loss on Weight Watchers, you have heard me talk about the fact that I have "mastered" the healthy lifestyle in many places, but that I still have my perilous zones.  One of my biggest is a special little cabinet in our kitchen that principally houses various ingredients for baking plus a few snack items.  This is the place where I go when I'm either getting home from work (before dinner) or when I'm aimlessly wandering in the kitchen on the weekends.

So what specifically is in this magical cabinet?  It's full of nuts, chocolate chips for baking, and most recently a very large bag of M&M's, also intended for baking.  My DSW is an active and proficient chef, presiding over Chez Kirchhoff.  Recently, my two girls have joined her staff, and my 11 year-old has  developed a love for baking cookies.  It seems that I have a love for pilfering her ingredients.

Which brings me to my story.  For quite some time, there has been a very large bag of M&M's sitting in the magic cabinet which was intended to be used for cookies for a school bake sale.  For some reason, there was a change of plans, and the M&M's went untouched.  Fortunately for me, they were sealed.  You see, there is a code among thieves, and I do not steal from un-open bags of ingredients.  Rather, my preferred method is to gradually take imperceptible quantities of chocolate chips and nuts in delta force-worthy sneak attacks.  However, if the bag stays closed or VERY tightly sealed, I leave it be.  This all works very well until the bag gets opened, which it did.  Sure enough I started making a routine of grabbing a small handful of M&M's ever three to four days. Not terrible, but this is exactly the kind of grazing habit I'm trying to quit.

Help us!  We're trapped and can't get out!
What could I do given that the bag of M&M's was fairly giant in size?  In a moment of utter brilliance, I put a bag of flour on top of it as a deterrent.  Seriously, I did this about a week ago, and I haven't had an M&M since.  It was as though the bag of flour would be heavy enough to ward off any mid-afternoon weekend raids.  Kind of like a safe.  Seriously.  How old am I?  What's more embarrassing is that this actually seemed to work.  Apparently, seeing the bag has been a useful reminder to me that I should not sneak.  Maybe I need to put little Post-it notes on each piece of snackware that says:  "Not for David to eat!!!!"

I guess it takes all kinds of efforts to control one's little private obesogenic environment.  This got me thinking.  Maybe I should also be more actively calculating PointsPlus values for my little evening indulgences.  I will be the first to admit that I can track with the best of them in the morning and afternoon, but that after three years on maintenance I have a hard time keeping the thread in the evening.  Particularly, those post-6 PM bites, licks and tastes.  Definitely a challenge on weekends.  At minimum, forcing myself to at least acknowledge the PointsPlus impact of these excursions could be helpful.

So, off I went this Sunday morning to fully accept the consequences of my actions by reminding myself of the number of PointsPlus values for some of my favorite not-so-friendly indulgences.  What are those these days?  In no particular order:  almonds, bourbon, wine and, in a special guest appearance, M&M's.

I keep forgetting how much of a giant bad deal liquor is on the program these days.  Quite some time ago, I developed a fondness for an evening glass of bourbon on the rocks.  I can nurse my one for the night for well over an hour, and it just seems so civilized and restrained.  Should be no problem from a PointsPlus perspective, right?  Apparently not.  It seems that one of those  short glasses, stuffed with ice, is still enough to hold 1/4 cup of bourbon.  What's the price?  10 bloody PointsPlus values.  Crud.  It makes the five ounce pour of wine at a 5 PointsPlus value seem like a bargain.  [Note:  thanks for the comment from Anonymous showing me my glaring math fail.  2 oz bourbon is only 5 POINTS.  I had inadvertently plugged in 4 oz.  All is good in the world again!]

But it seemed such a small bag?!
What about almonds?  They're healthy right?  Well, they are most definitely healthy, but that are also disturbingly dense with energy.  I started getting the pre-packaged Trader Joes almonds thinking that this could help me avoid my eat-em by the handful habit.  While this is true, a small pre-made bag is still enough to hold 38 of the little buggers which knocks up a 6 PointsPlus hit.  Not terrible if this is the ONLY thing I'm eating beyond dinner, but not really the stuff intended for a mindless bite before dinner.

The whole exercise was all a little sad, but I suppose that knowledge is power.  This gives me an extra reason to look into alternative strategies for both snacks and drinks.  I've been meaning to re-allocate my liquid allowances to light beer, and I now have a good incentive to do so.  I think it's also time to think about moving away from almond grazing forever and find some less energy dense evening snack alternative.  It's just not worth the hit.

Thanking you for joining another episode of Dave's Navel Gazing Adventures!

Cheers,

dk

50 comments:

  1. If you like a dry semi-sweet alcoholic indulgence, try a hard cider. Wyder makes one (sold in many grocery stores) in Apple, Pear, and Raspberry. One bottle of the Pear is 2PP. Crisp, refreshing, and alcoholic (5 - 6.5%, depending).

    PS I must post another request to PLEASE have WW Web programmers change the order of the Nutritional Information in e-tools Points Plus tracker. It should match the order that NI appears on food lables: Fat, Carb, Fiber, Protein. PLEASE :)

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  2. You are so funny! I do the exact same thing with my husband's snacks. If he hasn't opened them, they are safe. However, once the seal is broken, I sneak little bits here and there. Glad and sad to hear that I'm not the only one with this issue. And, I totally agree on the almonds. I hardly ever eat them any more because they are so darned expensive in the Points Plus department!

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  3. I kept picturing that M&M commercial where the guy goes to get some for his wife 'get in the bowl'....'No YOU get in the bowl'. Just imagine those fiesty M&Ms next time!

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  4. You are too funny thats like me when I order my pink berry 1 pt yogurt and LOAD it up with rainbow sprinkles and walnuts (those don't count--right) WRONG those "little" dang things boost my 1pt yogurt to 7 points. LOL. Oh how we have all been there!! So now...I just count it all---I ain't givin' it up. Just find your "balance" so you dont feel deprived.

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  5. Are you sure that 1/4 c of bourbon is 10 points plus? On the etools, 2 oz is only listed as 5 - am I missing something?

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  6. I am so there with you, if wine had less Points Plus value I would drink a whole lot more, I guess I should say cheers, since WW is helping me get slimmer and keeping me from being an alcoholic!

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  7. well, it Doesn't matter what diet you're on, the hardest obstacle in dieting is control hunger pangs and cravings.
    You might like to try out a product that does exactly that: fresh-frozen Hoodia (a well known appetite depressant) in the form of small and convenient ice cubes – hence its name, the ice cube diet.
    It just helps you eat less and makes your dieting easier.
    http://www.icecubediet.com/
    Good luck to you all and for those who do try it out, please do share your experiences with me – John - icecube.john@gmail.com.

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  8. Hi Dave,

    You really need to get yourself a Seal-a-meal. I use mine all the time to seal those pesky snacks that call my name when I am at my weakest.

    Keep up the good work !!'

    ~Regina

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  9. Thank you again for this funny and oh so relatable blog. Please keep the posts coming. It is inspring me to keep going on the healthy journey. It is such a great reminder that we are all human and it is the progress, not the perfection that counts. Also a good dose of laughter at ourselves is very healthy!!

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  10. It's so odd to hear you describe that cabinet... I'm beginning to think that it's human nature to hoard baking and snacking items in the same place, like they're precious commodities.

    I have to admit that wine is my weakness. I actually plan my exercise around it- for days I know I want more than the meek 4 ounces, I do some extra running. Which seems to work, until alcohol smuggles in its friends: snacks. I find that when I revisit my tracking the next day after having extra wine, I'm shocked at all of the other little snacks I ate after the extra slosh of wine came out.

    Oh and as for chocolate cravings... try Trader Joe's dark cocoa nibs. They're little tiny bites of cocoa that help your chocolate craving and the whole big tin is only 3 points. Just got them yesterday and they're awesome. I'm using them to sub for chocolate chips, when I get a massive craving.

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  11. Love this post. I bought a box of 100 calorie pack cocoa almonds yesterday hoping the individual packs would be 2 PlusPoints. I keep forgetting to take my calculator to the grocery store. Anyway, the almonds are 3 points so I'll only have a package a couple of times a week. I am beginning to think of almonds as the "new banana". When they were two points, people would avoid them but now they eat two at a time. Snacking is a little tricky sometimes.

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  12. I'm not on WW but have TONS of respect for the program. And I related to this post sooo much! While there are no treats in the house there usually are some semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I've been known to sprinkle a spoonful of pb when having a munchie breakdown...

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  14. Hi David...love the post...reminds me of a bag of pretzels that lasted 2 weeks untouched...once opened 2 days...

    One of the best parts of the meetings for me have always been hearing others say stuff that I thought I was the only one...it is such a relief to know I am not alone...it helped me meet goal make lifetime (July 2010...135 lbs down) and start working as a receptionist (3 whole meetings now)...

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  15. That is hilarious! I am so with you on the broken seal thing. I am a leader in the UK and am going to share your story with my members this week, they will love it. Makes us all feel normal!

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  16. Yep, I do the exact same thing with snacks. As long as the bag (container) stays sealed I don't touch. As soon as it's open, it's fair game (and usually gone pretty quick).

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  17. If you put a post-it on the snack that says "NOT FOR YOU" doesn't it make you want them more? How about, as an option, having one of the mini bars? They seem to work well for us.

    Thanks for reminding me that the skills we learn in the beginning are skills we need to polish every now and again though.
    :)


    jm
    http://suchafunnyfat.blogspot.com

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  18. David, I was chuckling as I read your post. I'm fine with an unopened bag but geez once it's opened I find my hand heading into the bag and generally it's not something that I want or even enjoy! What is it with an open bag? Are we afraid that whatever is in it is going to get bad or the fact that we don't want to "miss out"?

    I really enjoy reading your blog and can relate. I've been a LT member since July 1999 and began working at WW in 2001 as a receptionist and enjoy it. I love the new program and that fact that we are cutting edge. Like you, I've found that my favorite beverage has grown in PointsPlus values but honestly, I haven't changed it because I enjoy it and would much rather have what I enjoy than have something that is mediocre and doesn't give me satisfaction.

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  19. Oh Dave, it both breaks my heart and gives me a nice reality-check when you write these posts that could very easily have come out of my own mouth (or typing fingers). I have personally developed an amazingly complex set of rules surrounding the sneak eating of my husband's ice cream. A certain amount must be missing before I can start digging in. A certain amount must be left or my pilfering will be too noticable. I try to follow the contours of his most recent scooping. It is truly sad. But when I read your blog, I can laugh about it. Thanks.

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  20. Hey Dave

    Great post, we all can relate to it

    Looking forward to more updates

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  21. There are 100 calorie snacks that have small m&m's in them. there are also kudos granola bars that carry m&m's

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  22. I take my sweets, all sweets and put them in the freezer. That way I have time to think about what I am actually going to be eating while it thaws. I have been doing this for awhile and it works well for me! I don't like frozen treats like some..

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  23. Apples, reduced fat string cheese, and my favorite ... frozen grapes!

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  24. I do the same grazing and with the choc chips too! LOL! Too funny! I agree, if it's not open I can usually avoid it, but once opened....LOOK OUT!!! Happy, Healthy eating everyone! :-)

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  25. for me its cake. if the cake is unsliced im safe but as soon as that first piece is taken out its calls my name loudly. So far ive mostly been able to shove it in the oven to muffle the voice. in the past 2 months ive had 1 piece of cake and it was a small piece at that so im happy with myself. I dont drink so no call of the alcohol lol

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  26. Be careful - apple or pear hard cider (something I love) is 6 thingys a 12 oz bottle not 2 as in the first post. You cannot use the calculator as it does not account for the alcohol. In the tracker 4 oz of "cider, fermented" is 2 thingys...

    just sayin'

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  27. I've switched my snacking from almonds to frozen grapes. I still get the snacking feeling but so much healthier and 0 PP!

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  28. Margo Howand-MastroMarch 12, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    I have several bags of chocolate chips and some cinnamon chips in the pantry left over from Christmas baking. I haven't gotten into them because -- you guessed it -- they are sealed up. I have some tiny little containers of Activia Yogurt in the fridge -- had one for lunch. I no longer have my cute little slide rule from Weight Watchers 1998-1999 and so am not sure how to figure out the points value.
    Planning to re-up next week. I sip on a glass of cold water with ice cubes in it. If I feel a snack attack coming on and it's not mealtime I ...brush my teeth.

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  29. I'm one of those people for whom 'out of sight, out of mind,' is a rule when it comes to food. I might vaguely remember that I have bad things floating around but by putting the good snacks in the front of the cabinet, and the less nutritious foods in the back, I tend to avoid the chocolate covered marzipan in favor of the FiberPlus chocolate chip bar. :)

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  30. I am right there with you all! Once its open FORGET IT!

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  31. Thanks for this post.
    A few weeks ago I reorganized my kitchen. Now PowerFoods are on the eye-level shelves, and non power-foods are out of reach. If I have to drag out the step stool to reach it, I'm much less likely to snack mindlessly. (I guess it helps that I'm short and can't reach my own top shelves.)
    My biggest challenge is still the M&M bowl or chip bowl at a potluck or party. I can't resist, and I can't seem to stop going back. In those kinds of situations, I don't have the option of covering it with flour or anything else. Any tips?

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  32. When I quit smoking six years ago, I kept an unopened pack of cigarettes in the house. I believed that as long as I didn't open it, I was safe and it must have worked because I haven't smoked one since. Now on WW, I've kept an unopened box of Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies for three weeks. I opened in the midst of a craving last week, and it's hell trying to stay away from them. I think I'll try the flour bag trick!

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  33. Where do I find Trader Joe's dark cocoa nibs? I've never heard of them, but I would like to check them out.

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  34. M&M's were my downfall and the reason I gained so much weight to begin with. It was not unusual for me to go through 2-3 pounds of them a week. Once I stated WW I knew I couldn't give them up completely. I solved the problem by buying them in the little snack packs (the little size they make for for Halloween, Valentine treats etc.). They are worth about 6 points. On a day when I have lots of leftover points that's my evening snack. It helps keep me on track knowing I can still have my favorite snack once in awhile.

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  35. I find that since the PP program began, my go to alcohol is now champagne. 3 PPVs per glass, and I'm happy to stop at just one. I feel sophisticated, and champagne always makes me feel like I'm celebrating. And I am. I'm celebrating me, and championing life!

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  36. That is so funny! I actually bought a small bag of M&M's at the store this week for my choco-nut craving. My thought is to count them out and put them into individual little baggies and just grab a little baggie when I get the craving. I thought this would be better this way than to buy a bag of fun size M&M's. So far they are still unopened and sitting on my countertop...

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  37. I agree with the earlier post about the order of the Nutritional Information in e-tools Points Plus tracker. It should match the order that NI appears on food lables: Fat, Carb, Fiber, Protein. This would be so much easier!

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  38. I used the thought "if it's not her I won't eat it" thought to help with snacking, but even if there aren't sweet snacks, I found myself going to the caking cabinet as well. Chocolate chips in peanut butter. I found the way to avoid this is to buy natural peanut butter and freeze the chocolate chips. It takes way too much effort to defrost the chips for a "quick sneak".

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  39. My husband brought home 1/2 cup of M&Ms from the club the other day. I totally forgot about them until last evening. I NEEDED CHOCOLATE... He brought them out of hiding for me. What a mistake. I ate them all.

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  40. The best way for me to deal with this problem is to not
    have these things that tempt me to overindulge in my
    kitchen in the first place. As adults don't need
    these items to be happy, neither do our children.
    We set a good example and don't waste all our
    progress on useless snacks.

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  41. Is it true that as CEO of Weight Watchers it is your decision to not create a App for the Android phone?
    What do you have against Android, And how has the Android market overtaking the Iphone market effected your decision?
    Thank You

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  42. I find the thread about almonds MOST interesting. When PP first started there was a post on the WW website about 6 or was it 10 foods you should always have in your cabinet and one of those was ALMONDS. I bought a big jar. THEN I figured the PP for 23 of them(my handful)- I cannot imagine why on earth they were recommended.

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  43. David,

    I still do the exact same thing. It's called sneak eating and in the weight watchers book "start living start losing" they talk about this very thing. I have found that a good distraction for me was to place the "hungry" monster on the door handles of my snack cabinet. Problem solved!!.

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  44. 1/4 cup is 4 oz you are right to double the points to 10. 2 oz = 1/8 cup.

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  45. If 1 cup = 8 oz.....1/8 cup = 1 oz....which means 1/4 cup= 2 oz. Just to straighten out the math. Great website for measurement conversions (I didn't need it for this, but sometimes it comes in real handy) is www.convert-me.com
    Hope this helps!

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  46. I've just discovered a new treat that satisfies the M&M craving, and provides a satisfying crunch for only 4 points for the whole snack bag serving: the new pretzel M&Ms. They're pretty yummy! And it feels like you get a lot because they don't all fit in your hand.

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  47. Ohh we all have one of those cabinets. I love the sticky note to yourself idea. I am nowhere near maintenance like you so I am not brave enough to go into that cupboard yet--not enough willpower. I think you know you shouldn't go in there you are testing yourself..lol....what do I know? My Mom would always tell us "have an apple" when we were foraging through the cupboards and contemplating opening the bag of "pun-puns" as we called them (choc chips). She was right, what a good Mom. I know it doesn't sound satisfying but it keeps your mouth busy and wow it is zero points! I personally have been doing a whole pink grapefruit like 1/2 hour before dinner and it helps me so much. Also brushing my teeth as soon as possible after dinner sometimes keeps me from going to the baking cupboard! Good luck to you I know my ideas aren't too crunchy but they are low on guilt and you can't put a price on feeling great about yourself. Bon voyage!

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  48. Oh also Dave, wanted to say that Almonds are wonderful for protein and they do lower cholesterol....nuts are important in our diets for the minerals and other nutrients they provide.....I have been doing popcorn by air (I looked it up on you tube how to make air popped corn in the micro--great Power food and you get 3 cups for only 2 PP--just spray with a bit of Olivio and maybe some sea salt and yummy! almost a meal. also the red or green grapes snack is so guilt free...again good luck!

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  49. So...I have all three problems...I'm the snacker, sneaker and baker. I'm pretty sure that was a bag of King Arthur Flour that you placed on top of the M&Ms. Excellent choice. But I have such a preference for KAF that just holding the bag would make me happy....thus leaving the M&M's unprotected from my other hand. Lord help us all!!
    Keep the blogs coming!

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  50. Hey Dave,

    I don't have to tell you about Almond M&Ms. Yes, they do exist. I lost weight and maintained my weight for over 5 years now. And I don't have to avoid my favorite treat.

    I'll quote from your blog above "Knowledge is Power" I'd also include Maintainence is Forever. Being female I have an excuse (or a curse?) once a month that can only be satisfied with the Almond-Ms (my snack's nickname). I know how many I can indulge in. I know how I will invest my daily, weekly, or activity Points+.

    Men might be from Mars.....but so are M&Ms.

    p.s. I only buy them with a coupon.

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