Skinny Daily Post


A colleague of mine comes from a family with weight problems. Although its not obvious to most people, she works very hard at keeping her weight under control. Shes just a few pounds above what she considers her maintenance weight, and shes been working, in the face of job and family pressures, to not gain anything else. Sounds familiar, doesnt it?

And there, in the middle of our office, someone had left a plate of really good cookies the kind that are worth it.

I turned around when I heard my name, and there she was taking a big bite out of one. But what surprised me the most was her body language. She was all tensed up and had that air she gets when shes annoyed beyond her capacity.

My reaction and I regretted it immediately was to tell her to stop stress eating. She said that she wanted it I responded that she could have it, but only after shed calmed down and could enjoy it.

She actually stopped while raising the cookie to her mouth, and said that I was right. I handed over a tissue for her to wrap it in, and said that it was important to separate the food from the emotion.

Whew! that was a close one! Were lucky that were becoming close friends, as Id never say this to a stranger. I didnt see her eat the cookie, but Im hoping that she enjoyed every bite of it when she was able to.

But this also got me to thinking: can we EVER separate food, especially desserts, from emotion? After all, we dont eat cookies, cake, etc., for nutrition, but rather for pleasure. Or stress. Either way, its an emotion.

It seems silly and unnecessary to cross treats off the list forever. Control, moderation, mindfulness, awareness, balance all seem to be pieces of the puzzle. And, for me, that means portion control [no bags of chips or boxes of cookies around here!], and conscious decisions of whats worth it, and whats not. If the first bite isnt great, I actually toss the rest. Really!

20 thoughts on “Step away from the cookie!

  1. Andrea says:

    The problem is, we’ve been hard wired to associate food and fullness with comfort and happiness. This starts at birth when we cry and are given the bottle or especially the breast, when we begin to tie food with love and affection.

    If our ancient ancestor saw a plate of cookies she would have devoured it immediately; the concerns on her mind wouldn’t be if her bikini fit next summer, but if she and her children would starve to death over the cold, hard winter.

    Our brains and body are still geared to this feast and famine life, where we had to work extremely hard for every morsel. Now we have food everywhere, only a trip to the refrigerator, cupboard, or phone call away.

  2. stretchy says:

    Andrea’s post is so true!

    There is an excellent article in this month’s O Magazine about our brains and food and how difficult it is to change a hardwired habit.

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m glad that you are friends. My Mother was always the Cookie Police in my home. While she made dozens of goodies every year, with every instance of pointing out I shouldn’t eat them – oppositional defiance would kick in. I wanted to eat twice as many because she told me not to.

    My Mother is thin to this day, with a tendency to stuff the kids, as some mothers do. Her sister is very similar. Thin, stuffed the three daughters, one at 300, one at 380, and the other recovering from a gastric bypass.

    I am older now, and see the competitive nature of mothers and daughters clearly. I do not understand it, however.

    I can relate to the woman. Every time Christmas rolls around in the workplace, plates of goodies are brought in; I want to enjoy myself without hearing my Mother’s voice, “You shouldn’t eat that, you’ll get fat.”

    Or under the watchful eyes of co-workers, wait until they go to Lunch, and enjoy by yourself in the closet, (washroom), file room, etc.

    Christmas is hard. Just talked to my Mother on the phone. We’re going to the Nutcracker tonight. We’ll make gingerbread cookies/goodies this weekend. I will sneak some when she turns her back. Old habits die hard. I do not want to hear, “You shouldn’t eat that, you’ll get fat.”

  4. tony says:

    Jane, how come you don’t work in MY office?? I love the quote “she could have it but only after she calmed down and could enjoy it.” How many times do we eat because of anything but hunger? My own worst time is when I’m tired, right after I get home from work. I try and have healthy stuff, or tea, but I succumbed to a bag of chips this week. Gotta remember this as I travel though the holidays. Good post.

  5. cindy says:

    Wow! That must be quite a friendship! I don’t think i would take that kind of remark from anyone well. You were definitely skating on thin ice with that one!

    As we all know, no one can change us but ourselves—though it just occured to me that maybe we don’t all “know” that…or even believe it. But I definitely do. I couldn’t change until I was ready to, no matter how much my friends wanted to help. When you are not ready, help is not help, but condemnation. Judgment. Harrassment. Pressure. And we know what pressure does… So, jane, I am glad that situation worked out well for you both, but I don’t know how often I’d try that tactic. You could do more harm than good…and you could lose a friend.

    I like how you expressed the whole issue of dessert, though. No need to eliminate—just choose wisely and be ready to enjoy it fully when you do. Excellent advice!

  6. Carla says:

    Yes to all the thoughts above, and also this: the special treats of the holidays seem inextricable from the holiday itself. My dilemma this year is that there are a lot of holes going unfilled. I am working hard to eat right for the sake of my health, so there’s no Christmas cookies. I’m not drinking for the time being (while I wait on results of a questionable liver function test), so no wine or cocktails with friends. I’m not buying stuff like books and cosmetics and clothes because we have to get the budget under control, I’m also not spending money on things like a massage or pedicure (which are rare luxuries anyway but would really feel good right now), AND I am about to go through my first Christmas without my mother, who died in July. I feel empty! Yes, I know I could walk on the beach and chat on the phone with a friend and give myself a pedicure and ask my husband for a backrub and take a bubble bath. Hmmm, maybe I can figure this out after all…

  7. Mary says:

    I agree — I think what you describe saying to your friend is several large steps over the line. Maybe it worked out this time, but in general this is not the kind of thing you want to make a habit of. It’s hurtful and judgmental, and haven’t we all had more than enough of that in our lives?

  8. Connie says:

    I’d actually appreciate it if a friend gave me that kind of real, honest support. Face it – right before I would start to stuff that cookie in MY mouth, I’d say “are you hungry”, “eat fruit”, “do you reallly need that”, or “why are you really eating that”, but hey, I never listen to myself! *grin* I would, however, listen to a trusted friend – someone who had similar experiences and no other agenda than to support me. Can you be at my Christmas party next week – I think I need your support. Good post.

  9. Rebecca M says:

    “But this also got me to thinking: can we EVER separate food, especially desserts, from emotion?”

    I think we HAVE to separate food from emotion in order to succeed at long term weight loss. Food is fuel; it’s not entertainment, consolation, recreation, or nuture.

    I strongly disagree that it’s “silly and unnecessary” to avoid unhealthy food. Why is it “balanced” and “moderate” to feed your body non-nutritious junk? Besides, for many people, that first bite is one too many!

  10. jonquil says:

    You did the right thing, Jane. If your friend were about to step into a pile of poo, you’d yell, “look out!”– which might be embarrassing to your friend, for a second, but it sure beats trying to scrape the stuff off one’s shoes, after the fact! 😉

  11. jeanne says:

    “I turned around when I heard my name” Who said your name, Jane? Did this person say your name prior to diving face-first into that cookie? If so, it sounds like this was a “stop me before I binge again!” plea, and you were justified in stepping in.

    Flip-side of this scenario: One of my bosses, a director of such high caliber that she was recruited from the other side of the country, stopped at my desk the other day with a yogurt/fresh-blueberry parfait and said, “I guess this isn’t so bad for me since it has blueberries in it.” I said that it looked like it was very good for her. She said, “I need to justify things like this, and tell myself that chocolate isn’t really so bad for me.” This just broke my heart (she’s a very nice person, but it would be just as sad if she weren’t). I asked, “Why do you? Can’t you just enjoy blueberries or chocolate in reasonable amounts because they’re tasty and you’re hungry?” And then we segued into societal pressures to be so thin and how you can end up feeling guilty and trapped any time you’re hungry. I think she assumed that I’m the same way (I’m far from a teeny-weeny dress size and she’s seen me eating vegetables at lunchtime) and looked surprised when I said that I consciously take good care of myself (going to the gym, making better-to-very-good food choices), eat when I’m hungry and enjoy every bite. I hope I gave her something to think about.

  12. Becca says:

    I used to get a lot of inspiration from Juju, but am sadly disappointed over and over and over again by Jane’s posts about constantly struggling and preaching “moderation” when clearly it is NOT working for her or most anyone else who replies.

    If you would do any kind of research at ALL into the chemistry of sugar addiction, and how rice and white flour affect the brain the same way, and finally GET that it is pretty much a DRUG that you develop a chemical dependency on….then perhaps you’ll find the freedom that comes with it.

    No, you DON’T need to give up treats. But redefine what treats mean to you. There are few things more exquisite than a scoop of Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries swirled, or a fresh apple, or the taste of chicken marinated in olive oil, basil and sundried tomatoes (which tastes completely different once you get off sugar, that dulls your tastebuds).

    I wish you all the best, but for now am taking your blog off of my feed.

    Best wishes,

  13. Karen says:

    I have thrown things away too after one bite. sometimes I take a bite and stop and think “I really don’t even want this and it is not as good as I thought it would be, but thanks for reminding me of this concept; it will come in handy over Christmas.

  14. tabitha says:

    I disagree. I wish I had someone to say that stuff to me. I come from a heavy family. My mom is probably about 380. Until a year ago my older brother was 300 something. My grandfather was a 300 something as was my grandmother. I’m only 23 … i’m 130. I look at myself and I know that I should lose about 15 pounds. I’m afraid because I love to eat! i love to cook. I love people loving what I cook. I have custody of my 11 year old little brother. I run half of a small business. I go to college full time. I even care for my mentally unstable (incredibly large and lazy) mother. I’m stressed out all of the time. and I want to reach for that chocolate, that baked good, that comfort food, when it feels like too much. That’s not an infrequent thing. I wish I had someone that would remind me to wait. (When it comes to situations where that comfort food is going to cost me money, it would probably help me in more than one way to by pass the goodie)

  15. Susan says:

    “Its hurtful and judgmental, and havent we all had more than enough of that in our lives?”

    Speaking for myself – yep!

  16. MBB says:

    I found your comments neither hurtful or judgemental but rather caring and encouraging. Isn’t it odd how just our being in a different place than someone else can cause us to hear the very same words in such extremely different ways.

  17. lydia says:

    I’ve been checking response to the last post over a couple of days, and since no-one says it, I will. I actually find the post of mary hurtful and judgmental itself. You wasn’t there, I think, and how can you judge on the relation from the little information on the log ? I guess Jane felt it was right to give the help there and in that particular way, and IMO that’s what counts. We all know how difficult it can be to face all the december goodies and keep out of the temptation. let’s not judge if someone gives some counterbalance to all the people leaving the coockies around.

  18. toledolefty says:

    I saw JuJu in this month’s Health and wanted to stop by and say CONGRATULATIONS for being their “Biggest Loser” and for maintaining for so long. You looked great!

  19. chrissie barclay says:

    I keep checking for more wise words from you Jane and haven’t had anything since December 13th. This year is about to end for which I am glad as it has not been a good one for me. I’ve become the fattest I have ever been despite kidding myself that I’ve been watching my weight all year and getting fit. Yes, I have walked twice a day with my dog, and I have eaten carefully (most of the time) and still I am slightly heavier than this time last year. At 60 years old it is time to really make decisions about a lifetime of failed dieting. I am giving in and joining Weight Watchers on 3rd January. I know that they can’t teach me anything I don’t already know but I need someone to help me even if it is only by weighing me once a week. Will let you know how I get on but in the meantime hope all is well with you and yours. Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. By the way I can’t agree with Mary’s comments that you had been judgemental, I think you were brave and caring and that woman is lucky to have you in her life.

  20. Vickie says:

    Jane –
    I am back in the archives of Skinny Daily – reading JuJu’s very first entries – how they DO stand the test of time. They are just wonderful. I find myself sending links to blogger friends – saying “this reminds me of you”. I have my own blog and find myself thinking about something that JuJu has said – and referencing it with (credit of course) and a link in my own postings – is this going to offend her? you?

    My blog is here:

    if you want to “check me out” –
    I am doing very well as we end out this holiday season and start the new year – I hope things are going okay for you too – I miss you!

    PS- I can’t wait to read up to “your” first years too!

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