A Story of Ice Cream & Cravings


Staff participant Jen Joyce is here today with the story of her unrequited love affair with ice cream — she loves it but it doesn’t love her.  Like scorned lovers everywhere, she’s examining her passion closely to determine how best to proceed.

Last night I had a strong craving for ice cream, so even though I am well-fed here at Green Mountain, I went to the local grocery store in town to fulfill my desire. Since I have been here, I have been finding that it truly is better to eat the things you are really craving than sit with it for days until the frustration builds and you end up bingeing. Or eating tons of other foods trying to quell a craving and then just end up eating the desired food anyway. Carrots and popcorn and rice cakes have calories too!

I am also finding that I can eat foods I would have previously labeled ‘bad’ when I want them and still lose weight. Because I am doing it mindfully and it turns out when I listen to my body and don’t cram myself with all sorts of foods until  I am numb, I actually only want ice cream about once a week. And I can lose weight on one big ice cream cone a week!

So, I thoroughly enjoyed my ice cream last night. Cookies and Cream. And I didn’t eat the whole 1/2 gallon. One bowl did it for me.

But then last night I woke every few hours, bloated with stomach pains and gaseous. I will spare you the details.

The truth is I am a wee bit lactose intolerant. I know this. I refuse to eat yogurt because it doesn’t feel good. I drink lactaid. I avoid soft cheeses. But I still eat ice cream. And this summer about once a week.

Why do I do this? If I had a face cream that made me break out into a rash, I would stop using it immediately. If I had a face cream that even gave me a pimple, I would never use it again.

So why do I eat ice cream?

I have also found certain fatty foods, like french fries, sit like a rock in my stomach and make me feel miserable. But when offered a choice of a side salad or fries, I almost always choose the fries.

In discussing this with the experts here, they suggested that perhaps I gravitate towards a certain food out of habit or because of an association with a past experience. My initial reaction to that was ‘no’! But as I thought about it, I often seek out ice cream when I am feeling hungry for fat or I have under eaten earlier in the day. But if I am seeking fat, I could eat peanut butter or avocados or potato chips for that matter.

Why ice cream? Perhaps, it’s because based on past experience I know that ice cream will fulfill this hunger and makes a slight hunger headache go away. And if I have undereaten, perhaps I am ‘rewarding’ myself with ice cream just as my mom rewarded us kids with ice cream for being good. Or maybe it’s my way of rebelling and say that even though I am losing weight, I can have ice cream. Yes, I can. Just watch me, world!

Overall, none of these seem worth the upset stomach I get when eating it. So I think I am going to monitor this over time and the next time I feel like it’s ice cream time. I could pause and think, “What is it that I am really looking to fulfill? And is there a better food out there that will do just as well but doesn’t make me sick?”

Have you had a similar experience with any food you love?

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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