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When a beloved food triggers overeating

Is there anything more delicious than homemade bread?

Not to me, there's not.

I used to bake a couple of loaves nearly every weekend as part of my family's Sunday Soup Day tradition. I'd make a big pot of nutritious, delicious soup and serve it with hot Italian bread, fresh from my oven. I rarely buttered my bread; when it was still warm, I might dip some of it in my soup, but it tasted great to me just plain. Baking two big loaves ensured there'd be some -- lots -- left over on Monday. As I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, I'd usually gorge on it, dipping it into puddles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Even if the rest of my diet had been perfect, that bread routine alone would have been enough to keep me plenty plump. And eating as much of it as I regularly did also displaced other, more nutritious foods in my daily diet.

When I set about to lose weight via my "Me Minus 10" effort, my advisers Pam Peeke and Brian Wansink gently noted that perhaps bread could play a different, smaller role in my life. Neither suggested I omit it altogether, and both maintained that I should continue to eat the healthful carbohydrates my body needed to fuel its activity.

(The Bread Bakers Apprentice Blog)

I haven't baked, or eaten, a batch of Italian bread since last winter. (I have continued to enjoy thin-crust pizza on occasion, but that's not the same. And with pizza, I eat a couple of slices for dinner and then quit; no seconds, no leftovers.)

I miss my bread, and as cold weather sets in, I'd like to resume my family's soupy Sunday evenings. But for now, I'm worried that reintroducing bread to my diet will be my undoing: I'm not yet sure I can enjoy just a bit of bread with my meal and call it a day.

As to whether bread officially counts as a "trigger" food as defined in this article from Weight Watchers, I'm not sure. But something tells me that being alone in the house on a cold winter's day with a big loaf of bread is not a good idea for me right now.

I know I'm not alone in this fear of losing control. Here's an interesting blog entry from a woman describing her relationship with peanut butter.

Do you have a beloved food that you're wary of eating, for fear it will lead you down a dangerous dietary path? What food is that, and how do you manage it?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | October 5, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eating disorders, Me Minus 10, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity  
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One option: you could make rolls instead of loaves of bread. Then only allow yourself to eat one roll at a time. Put the rest in the freezer or 'fridge.

I have a weakness for homebaked cookies. I just can't have them around the house. From time to time though, I'll go to a place that sells individual cookies and buy just one oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookie. It may cost more, but it allows me to enjoy a favorite food without risking eating a dozen cookies at a time.

Posted by: Ginny11 | October 5, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

We divide things into portions and put half away. I don't bake my own bread, but I buy from a local baker, and love it. I'll come home with a fresh loaf, cut it in half, and put half in the freezer and half in the bread box. The frozen half isn't allowed to come out for a week.

There are other foods that we just don't keep in the house because of the temptation. I'd rather go to an ice cream store and buy a small serving, even if it's the same price as a half-gallon from the store.

Posted by: DCinND | October 5, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

For me, my worst enemy is potato chips. My husband likes to eat them while watching sports, so I buy them for him, but I eat most of the bag. Then he complains that I ate his chips. I tried buying myself the low salt Lays or baked because he doesn't like them. I usually stop at half a large bag, but when I run out, I eat his. The best thing would be to never bring any of them into the house. The hot bread sounds good...

Posted by: smar | October 5, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I have lost 75 pounds over the last nine months by employing various strategies to manage trigger foods. One that works for me is to not allow the food in my house. One of my greatest loves is pasta--so when I really want it, I eat it in a restaurant. That way when it's gone, it's gone. No leftovers--no pasta sitting on the shelf waiting to be cooked when I'm feeling bored or depressed.
I like to think of my home as a safe haven. There's nothing in it that encourages me to binge.

Posted by: rasamee | October 5, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

My weakness is linguini with clam sauce. I could eat an entire pot if my stomach could take it! I can't help having seconds, and then nibbles for the thirds. Homemade cookies right out of the oven, too, can't just stop at two. Make it six.

Posted by: Kat10132 | October 5, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Since my diabetic husband has tried almost every so-called "healthy" bread out there, the only one that doesn't raise his blood sugars is Sara Lee Light Wheat 45 calorie per slice bread, so that is what I buy and keep in the fridge all the time. He eats 2 slices a day and so do I, keeps his numbers down nicely, and we can have a sandwich for lunch every day, or toast it or I fix french toast with it. I can never bake regular bread again at home though. Don't be fooled by books saying you can either. Not true!! Portion control is the bane of the USA portly population!!

Posted by: kuchen | October 5, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I stopped eating bread on a trip to Turkey in 2000, and have never looked back. And yes, I'm a lot thinner now. I do have na'an bread in Indian restaurants. That's it. I don't miss bread anymore. I intentionally don't have a lot of rules and regs about my eating, but I do find it less exhausting with bread to just delete it from my life than to constantly argue with myself over whether to eat it, how much, will I be able to stop, etc. Back in the 89s when I pretty much lived on Doritos and toast, I did the same thing with Doritos, but I promised myself I could still have them when I turned 90! I don't miss them, either. It took years, but I finally became a person who finds healthy food delicious.

Posted by: louisarogers7 | October 6, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Due to health problems I had to give up all simple starches and sugars and food additives. My husband got me a good wheat grinder and I went to town. I make a white flour substitute using equal amounts of oat groats, brown rice and barley. It worked great. If I need white bread I use hard white wheat. I also grind beans and use bean flour in just about everything. I make our own crackers, chips ect. I've lost 120 lbs. so far and hoping to lose another 20. I have my bread and goodies but using 100% whole grains makes a big difference.

Posted by: brchbell | October 6, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

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