Just4today I committed a grievous and alarming sin. It began with another new (new to me anyway) product, called Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cakes.
Touted on the box as being fat free or some such, the label did not look bad. For every devil’s food cake, 7 sugars, (and 50 calories for those endeavouring to reduce the flesh). The picture on the box reminded me of a product of yore, of the same name, manufactured by the Nabisco Company. In fact, the picture on the box looked identical to what had, back in those olden days, been my very favorite American cookie product, consisting of, as one would imagine, devil’s food cake, with a very very thin layer of marshmallow cream atop the cake, and the entire confection covered in a semi-hard chocolate shell, unlike any other chocolate covered or “enrobed” product I have known, before or since.
I was quite fond of these little cakes, and at that time of course, my catching of the shugga dye bead eaze was still decades away, and completely unthought of by me. I ate as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it, with nary a thought to fats or carbs or nets or grams, or sugar. So when I visited an American grocery store, I would seek out the Nabisco Devil’s Food cakes, and purchase several boxes of them, take them to my lair, and eat them while reading. They were, in fact, quite the essential component of my book-reading ritual. To eat a box of them, or more, was not an unusual occurrence for me, nor one that I thought anything of, beyond appreciating the pleasure of munching the delicious cakes while at the same time I devoured a delicious book. I am a large man, so this is not as shocking as it may sound to some of the petite ladies reading this, I can feel you conjuring up awful images of compulsive eaters, which to a degree, I suppose I was and am, but not to the point of morbidity one sees on the Richard Simmons case studies. I never grew stout.
Time passed, and the little cakes apparently were discontinued, I was unable to find them, which was disappointing to me, I missed them, but more years passed, and eventually, I forgot about them, except for the occasional remembrance of things past, a smile and a sigh, and a bite of some other confection as I opened my book.
So naturally when I happened upon this product that looked so similar, and had such a promising-looking label, (only 7 sugar grams is not bad for anything calling itself a devils food cake), I bought a box.
As is the case for many people, for better or worse, some of the time I used to spend reading paper books is now spent travelling around the internets, so instead of opening the box of devils food cakes as I opened an intriguing volume, I opened them as I opened my browser.
I do not know if I am up to the task of describing the delight with which the first bite of the first cake made plain to me that this was indeed my old favorite. I have no clue about the fat freeness of the originals, or these, but it was apparent that the recipe had been sold to the Snackwell’s company because this was indeed the absolutely self-same devils food cake that had been my beloved reading companion for so many years, so many years ago!
One of the differences in the way I eat since my diagnosis is that any sweet treat I allow myself is savored in a way that few who have not walked in diabetic socks can comprehend. Even if the treat is only what would to be to a “normal” man a bite or two, I will make it into several tiny bites, and eat each bitelet slowly, dreamily, to maximize the duration and enjoyment of my treat. And understand, that my predeliction for eating those little cakes while reading notwithstanding, I was never one of those people ruled by their sweet tooth. While I definitely enjoyed many desserts and confections, it was not necessary for me to have dessert at every meal, I seldom “craved” sweets. Human nature being what it is, however, as soon as I became unable to eat sweets at will, I DID begin to crave them, even ones I had never really cared for that much before! So now that I have these draconian limits on my consumption of them, I make a point of maximizing the pleasure.
I tell you all this so that you will understand what happened. After that first bite, that first flash of realization that these were indeed THEY! I forgot I have diabetes. I forgot that the cakes were purchased at all because they only have 7 sugar grams each. I forgot about taking tiny bites and eating each of those tiny bites slowly to make the experience last. I forgot that the cakes were a treat. And I sat there and I ate, no, I inhaled, about six of them. I honestly cannot swear to the exact number, but I believe it was six or thereabouts. At some point in the shamefully few minutes that this act took place, I did realize what I was doing, and that I ought not to be doing it. But I did not stop. Something in me WOULD not stop. I ate two more, or maybe three, before I could summon the presence of mind, and mouth, to put the damn things aside, and call for a descendant to take them away and consume as many as she liked in the process.
Rather unnerved, I recalled with no small degree of emotional discomfort, a conversation I had last night with katiebird, where I had issued a general recommendation for yet another 50 calorie chocolate treat, a fudgesicle made with Splenda.
katie was a bit hesitant, and gave me to understand that her misgivings had nothing to do with the physical aspect of potentially trying the product, but something possibly even more perilous, the possibility that the innocent and physiologically “safe” fudgesicle might lead her to what for her, was a danger food. She had previously confided a similar situation between herself and nuts. (Since she confided it on her public blog, I think it is OK to mention it here)
My understanding of what she meant by this has to do with her Commitment. Her commitment to maintaining control of what she eats and does not, in addition to how much of it and when.
This line of thought, post devils food cakes sin, was distressing to me because I was obliged to ponder the fact that on my last week’s excursion to the grocer, I had purchased these fudgesicles, I had not eaten them all, only a couple, yet this week’s visit, I had purchased yet another “special treat,” the devils food cakes. And remember when I purchased them, I did not KNOW that they would be the same cake I remembered, I was attracted to them because the picture on the box looked like them.
Thus was I led to a bit more disagreeable self-examination, during which I realized that for several days, I had not really been faithful to my own Commitment, maybe the letter, for the most part, but I had definitely been edging toward, even beginning a descent, into a departure of the spirit.
I had been eating more of foods that I should have only a little of, and less of those that I am supposed to eat more of. I have been pushing the envelope again.
If I am to be brutally honest, I have become tired of my Commitment. I have become tired of having diabetes and thus having to have a Commitment. And by refusing to acknowledge any of that, I have allowed myself to relinquish control.
Which brings me to the advertised topic of this article, for those of you on the verge of reporting me to the Consumer Protection Agency’s Rant Department.
The Commitment is not one size fits all. kbird’s Commitment is so familiar to us, it has become like the mantra it is to her: She will not eat between meals and she will not take seconds. That is the Commitment she needs. It may not be the Commitment you need.
katiebird is fighting a double-whammy of a dietary Enemy: diabetes and obesity. My hat is off to her, as you can see, even one is a struggle for me.
We do not all have the same Enemy, nor combination thereof. Therefore, we will not all have or need, or should we attempt to have the same Commitment.
I would like to especially stress this for lurkers and new people, who may look at katie’s Commitment, and say, oh but no, I —.
Never mind that. You are not katie, you are you. The essence of the Commitment is not the exact terms of katiebird’s practice of not eating between meals or taking seconds. The essence, the true meaning, the spirit of the Commitment, is control.
In order to succeed (HA! I spend all those words describing my failure and then proceed to tell you how to succeed!. Now you know what arrogance is ), you must Customize your Commitment.
You must Customize it to your own needs, your own Enemy, your own self. Your Commitment must be designed especially for you, by you, according to your own unique requirements and specifications.
It will be a rare thing if any two Commitments are alike. My Commitment, for example, is to eat what I am supposed to eat when I am supposed to eat it. For me, that involves a direct violation of one of the premises of katiebird’s commitment: not taking seconds. I take seconds frequently. I am supposed to take seconds – of some things. I am not trying to lose weight. On the contrary, I must make an effort to get enough calories from the foods I am supposed to eat, which just happen to be the foods I like less, and have fewer calories!
Maybe your Enemy is high blood pressure, and you do not have to worry so much about what and how much you eat as long as it does not have much salt.
Or maybe your Commitment requires you to cut down sharply on fat, to lower your cholesterol, but you can eat all the fruit you like, something neither katie or I can ever do.
Remember the secret of the Commitment has two main points: Control, and You.
While some lurkers and new people may look at katiebird’s Commitment and frown, wondering if this is the right place for them, others may do the opposite, and just latch on to her Commitment and make it their own. That may sound easier than all the raw self-analysis I have demonstrated for you earlier in this overlong ramble, but it will not be easier in the long run, and it will not help you.
By all means, learn about her Commitment, mine, everybody’s. Maybe there are elements you can use.
Most importantly, though, is that you thoroughly examine your Enemy, and whatever it may be, examine its weapons, because they can threaten your control as surely as your disease or condition threatens your health. And like your Commitment, those weapons will be different for every person, possibly even more unique, if such a thing is possible, grammatically or otherwise.
For katie, one of the weapons of one of her Enemies is nuts. And possibly frozen treats.
Today, I struggle with the question of whether those devils food cakes are a weapon of my Enemy. Certainly good arguments can be made that it was only the unusual nature of the situation, but good arguments do not lower blood sugar. Nor do they affect the even deeper and more primordial and frightening question of whether I have the ability to control what I eat, and therefore my disease, if what I eat is to include devils food cakes. In this case, I remembered some advice katie had given me some time ago, and drank what for me was a lot of water, and maybe two and a half, three hours later my blood sugar was 114. So the consumption of 42 sugars in the space of a few minutes, one could argue, did me no lasting harm. And technically, one would be quite correct.
But the fact that I did so calls into question my ability to control what I eat and when and how much, and that question has given me reason for some very lasting and unpleasant introspection, which I hope in the long run will do me some lasting good.
Because while we must all Customize our Commitments to correspond to our own Enemies, one thing we all have in common is a Commitment to control.