Is self-denial the key?

Last month I gave up booze, and managed pretty much a whole month.

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(I won’t lie, I don’t know who that woman is. She is from google. Because ‘score!’)

I gave up booze because all my social life revolved around booze, and I became very angry when drunk, and I was getting very drunk very often. I was using alcohol as a crutch or a coping mechanism, and I think my friends have moments of that too, so weren’t too worried about me. I went through a similar phase about two years ago, and that phase had some dark moments, some losses and one hell of a gain that made me stop and look around. I didn’t like myself in that moment, and I have not liked myself when drunk this year, so I stopped because I knew I could make it better.

In addition to saving a tonne of money (who knew?? that all my money is spent on booze and food??), I got my mind in a nice(r) state AND still managed to stay friends with my fellow boozehounds (yay! love you guys), so I can go back to enjoying alcohol and company without spiralling downwards; I’m still doing the things I love, and remaining capable of both hard work and love.

Now I’m wondering about chocolate.

I know! What did chocolate ever do to hurt anyone?! It’s not a psychoactive substance, or a depressant, it’s not expensive – it’s a nice treat.

I’ve been really interested in the effects of nutrition on mental health – mostly because I do actually like to cook, partly because my boyfriend is Italian and wants me to eat in a more mediterranean style, and I have seen it working, in an anecdotal-evidence kind of a way, as well as an actual evidence kind of a way. I feel better when I a) eat healthily and b) don’t eat badly*. And I want to feel better.

I’ve always found it easier to give something up entirely than to monitor it or restrain myself. The booze detox was because I couldn’t drink moderately but I was still drinking a fair amount of the time. With chocolate? I can eat a sharing pack to myself, with ease. I throw it in my grocery basket as a treat and end up eating before my housemate is home and I can share. The thing that I keep turning over in my mind is that the night before the sick day that brought all my problems to a head (for better or for worse), I ate a whole tub of ice-cream. I think I may have made a sundae, and put little chocolates in it as a cute little treat – and then my inability to resist made it into a binge where I polished off the lot. This is maybe not the end of the world in a usual state, a bit of a decadence that shouldn’t happen too often and means you work harder at the gym, but I can’t help thinking it was like picking at a scab that then bled profusely.

When I became a vegetarian, I learned that when you remove a food from your life completely, you crave it for a short while and then you stop wanting it. Meat tastes strange to me now, and (mostly) smells repulsive. I’m not expecting that to happen with chocolate (I was never much of a carnivore), but I do expect to not stop at the chocolate displays in the supermarket and get to a point where a Yorkie bar tastes cloying.

This is not deprivation. I mean, it is – I clearly eat more chocolate than I’d like to admit – but it’s not punishment, or denial. There are still plenty of delicious thinks I can eat (and not even in the sense that raw vegans or Gwyneth Paltrow claim that healthy food is just as good as crap) – there are still plenty of processed, junky sweet treats that are not chocolate, or chocolate-flavoured, or cocoa-based. My favourite ice-cream was always strawberry, my true vice is biscuits, and I would prefer good cheese to chocolate at almost any time. When I eat chocolate, I am giving myself instant gratification, leading to me wanting MORE gratification, leading to a spiral of self-hate, bad health, and bad nutritional stimulation of my brain chemicals. Until I can learn to just not overdo it, I’ll have to give it a miss.

Isn’t that right, Tom**?

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*As an actual human with an actual real life I assert the difference between being actively healthy and not unhealthy. Not unhealthy is when you eat pasta with a nice homemade sauce but maybe too much of it and you put cheese on top. Healthy is hummous and carrot sticks.

**If you haven’t seen Tom Hiddleston and Cookie Monster, you should watch it. It’s a real treat. I ship it.

To-do:

  • Clean makeup brushes
  • Write covering letter for DREAM JOB, which is available
  • Try not to point out the amount of time this was posted after Easter chocolate went on sale.
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theexjournalist

I gave up journalism and took up writing.

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