I've been eating paleo for over a year. One of my biggest struggles is that every once in a while I fall into an emotional eating trap. The issue is that it's not when I'm sad or mad or stressed out, it's when I'm going to spend time with my wife or when we are celebrating something. I really struggle to find a replacement to this especially since she will not give up her cookies/ice cream celebrations.
I sometimes eat a piece of dark chocolate to help, but I often feel like I'm missing out on something and that I can't really "celebrate". I've gone months without eating sugar, but there comes a time when I feel like I'm not able to "celebrate" without a delicious dessert. Most of the time, alternatives to emotional eating deal with negative stress, but how do you deal with positive stress? Has anyone else found a positive method to dealing with these feelings?
Now, of course, you might say, "Just eat it! Live a little." I have done that and sometimes it's ok. But I've noticed that when I give into my emotional eating, the next few days are often just ridiculously horrible. It's like I've rewarded the monster and he wants more, more, more! I'm just looking for any ideas. Thanks.
Any chance you can try to substitute sexual activity in as a food replacement?
If you still end up wanting more and more for the next few days... Well...
Champagne is always an acceptable way to celebrate in by book.
Pair that with berries and whipped cream and someone to share it with.
This is such a hard thing to go through, because - as you said - not only do you have to learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the hard times when you want to eat to make yourself feel better - you feel like you don't know how to celebrate a positive feeling. I once read addiction defined as something one uses to "cope with a negative feeling, or celebrate a positive one."
I think there are different "levels" of recovery from this sort of a mindset. The first stepping stone for me was to continue rewarding myself when it felt apt, but making sure it wasn't a consumable item. This meant buying a CD I'd been wanting, picking up a new book, a new shirt, whatever... a tangible reward/treat for myself, but something that wouldn't feed into my emotional eating issues.
And if all you want to recover from is weight gain, deleterious physical affects, sugar addiction? That works great. If you're comfortable with yourself at that level, enjoy! You've definitely made a step forward for your health. But, personally: I aim to follow all paths to their end, and I'm not comfortable with having crutches in my life unexplored, so:
The next step from there then, for me, was trying to shift my rewards away from the tangible. Largely this means taking/making/finding the time to treat myself to something. There are times that "something" may have a cost, but the difference is that you're DOING something for yourself, not GETTING something for yourself. It is about making yourself feel good, without the physical/emotional gratification of obtaining something or ingesting something.
Some of my favorites: a warm bath (add a good book and a glass of wine? yum. Be careful with the alcohol as a reward, obviously), a massage, making the time for a yoga class, taking some extra time to go hiking on my favorite trail which happens to be a bit farther away than is convenient. Sometimes it means cancelling plans I've made in favor of staying home, doing some writing and just letting myself enjoy some quiet relaxation time. Whatever you feel would feed your soul, whatever you can't make as much time for as you would like to in your day to day life - that is a treat.
Now, I'm not sure exactly how to advise you in regards to the wife situation, as I tend to do most things alone - but don't be afraid to ask yourself the above question. What would give you the same happiness that she is getting from the cookies/cake/whatever? Do you want to go sit in the sun for a few minutes and just enjoy being outside? I bet she would come with you. How about some breathing exercises, you don't even have to change scenery for that one. How about making some time for a sunset walk together? What are some activities you two can share that you feel like you don't have enough time for all of the time? Setting aside an intimate evening together can be an incongruent thing in a lot of marriages.
Hope this gets you thinking a bit; good luck!
Don't judge the book I'm about to recommend by its title: The Beck Diet Solution by Judith Beck. It is really all about how to do cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself to be able to stick to an eating plan. It's adaptable to any eating plan, not just ones for weight loss (e.g. a diabetic who must give up certain desired foods).
Some of the chapters in the book have tools which enable you to "reframe" situations with your wife so that you can engage in celebrations with her without having to consume the foods that she does. When you think of it, our association of food with celebration is really just a conditioned reflex. Isn't it the time that you want to spend with her more important than the few seconds it would take to eat the food?
If you must continue to associate food with "celebration," how about macadamia nuts? They're certainly expensive enough to be considered a special treat. :-/
Have you tried any desserts made with almond or coconut flour and honey? There are lots of options out there. . . my hubby enjoys sweets (a little too much) so these aren't sweet enough for him, but for me they are more than enough and I often reduce the honey in the recipes! I wouldn't recommend eating Paleo-fied baked goods frequently, but a few times a year or even once a month won't do you in! Because they are high protein and without refined sugars, I don't get the carb hangover I do following standard American diet treats.
Recently for a dinner party, I made a berry and almond flower cake. I found the recipe at Fast Paleo, I do recommend using less honey.
Another good one that helps get me over the dessert blues is an almond flour chocolate chip cookie. I like the one in Eat Like a Dinosaur (but I use Dagoba 73% dark chocolate chips in them) -OR- the recipe over at Elana's Pantry. The trick is eating just one. . .
One of my favorite non-desserts that feels like it is to slice a barely ripe banana, add a couple tablespoons of raw almond butter, and some unsweetened coconut. I'm going to tamper with this and see if I can get it to roll into balls and refrigerate for a truffle feel. You could even throw in a few dark chocolate chunks if needed. If I eat any fruit, it's one banana or a few berries each day... so this is a good way for me to feel like I'm getting something special.
There are also a ton of coconut milk ice cream recipes out there. We haven't tried any yet but intend to get our ice cream ball out soon and start rolling!
Are the celebrations at home?
Cos my idea for that is 200ml coconut milk in a double boiler with some dark chocolate melted in, then 2 egg yolks mixed in until custardy - then cooled and stirred every 45 mins kept in the freezer. Ice cream! With a tiny amount of honey if you like.
Tastes like a celebration to me. If eating out, I generally just have some and then use bacon as my crunchy shield against the monster.
Edit: Dark chocolate can be replaced with other flavorings, and I once made an almond butter version by using vanilla, then swirling in the almond butter after it's pretty much frozen into ice cream consistency.
The battle is in the mind & it sounds like you might need to recondition your outlook on food. The monster is just your mind being freed & it wants to enjoy. I agree that its not necessarily good, but I wouldn't dismiss it. What you described is a normal response when people abstain from something they want, when they get it they want more & tend to overdo it. My advice is to allow yourself to enjoy more often, but be smart. Don't eat sweets to the point you sacrifice your health, but don't restrict to the point where you go nuts & chow down. Plan ahead and allow yourself the freedom to eat sweets from time to time, most of the time when people do this it pays off and the desire to eat and eat goes away. You basically have to out think your head.:)
There will be plenty of time to abstain when we are dead.
As a stepping stone, I would try making low-sugar versions that look like fancy treats, but don't spin you out. And these things might be even more celebratory because you've made them yourself.
For example, you could make your own ice cream and significantly cut out the sugar, maybe use coconut milk if you don't handle dairy well. You could also try a clafouti,like the one posted on Mark's Daily Apple but with the more traditional fruit than a savory one. Blueberries or other berries would be great, and not too much sugar. I think blackberries would be divine. Another option would be to make a cheesecake-like thing, topped with fruit or chocolate syrup made from melted dark chocolate. These wouldn't be sweet, but they would look like fancy, celebratory foods, so it could fit the bill for both you and your wife (if your wife is willing to eat low-sugar foods, and if not, she can add sugar to it after it's made).
Another component could be the issue of eating more than you want to eat. For example, you eat dinner and normally you'd be done for the night, but then you have this celebratory food and it might make you too full, you might sleep poorly as a result, and mess with your daily eating patterns the next day or more. So if that's the case, you could plan ahead and eat much less at dinner, or skip dinner entirely, even.
Edit: To actually answer your question, though, an alternative celebratory activity other than eating sweet foods is to dance. Do you think your wife would want to go dancing with you on nights you two felt celebratory? I think that would be loads of fun, and fits in well with the celebratory vibe, even much better than eating sweets does (at least for me).