# # The Necessary Year - Day 23: How Not To Eat.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

The Necessary Year – Day 23: How Not To Eat.


(this post is part of an aborted 1 year experiment in material abstinence I called The Necessary Year)


Have you ever been physically addicted to anything?

If not, pat yourself on the back for having avoided one of the more annoying pitfalls of corporeal existence and continue to endeavor to stay addiction free because breaking the chains of a physical addiction is a pain in the butt.

I bring this up because I’ve been a nicotine junky for nearly thirty years, having started chewing tobacco in the 4th grade and moving to smoking around my sophomore year in high school. For a while I did both, along with other interesting things, and marveled as the feeling would leave my hands for short periods of time. Yes, I am a genius.

At present, I do not consume any nicotine laden substances (to my knowledge) and have been addiction free for nearly half a year.

Quitting this time was so simple I couldn’t believe it. I was tired of the routine, the expense, the stink, the embarrassment, and the fatigue associated with being a smoker. Plus I hated the example I was setting for my daughter.

I’d been toying with quitting for a while when it occurred to me that I should tell my daughter that I was quitting.

You see, I pledged to be completely honest with and always keep my promises to her many, many years ago. Having kept that contract thus far, I had a feeling that telling her I was going to quit smoking, starting that very moment, had the potential to be a very powerful motivator. I was right.

Of the numerous times I have attempted – successfully and unsuccessfully – to quit using tobacco, this was a dream. Not only were the pangs lighter than ever before but the will-power, when attached to the faith in my word that I have accrued in my daughter over the years, rendered nic’s spell virtually impotent.

In the past, it has taken 14 torturous days for me to get beyond the almost endless urge to have “one last” cigarette. This time I knew I was finished with that crap in under three days. I kid you not. I still had the pangs but they were limp and laughable, like those a person who has quit might have a month or so out.

The pathetic part to this story is the fact that I have “quit” numerous times before. Sometimes only for a few hours or days, other times for months and even years.

I really, really like the taste and feel of tobacco – smoked, sniffed, or chewed. For my contentedness receptors, there is nothing else quite like it. There are things I like more than tobacco – absolutely – but it is a different kind of sensation for me; special, somehow. Tobacco has its own, insidious little niche in my consumer’s soul. I think most tobacco users know exactly what I am talking about – particularly if they have ever tried to quit.

I bring all this up not because I am proud of myself (or, conversely, getting ready to start up again) but because I have learned that, for me, hunger has a similar effect and can be treated in the same way.

Now hunger is supposed to be an indication that the fuel you need in order to function and survive is running low, while a nicotine jones serves an entirely different and incredibly less helpful purpose but, looking around me at my country and myself, I can see that a great lot of us are not feeling the hunger of useful food consumption but that of gluttony.

I’m not terrifically fat, mind you. Just a little soft. Hovering somewhere between 15 to 20 pounds overweight and flabby like a, well, like a 40 year old dude with an office job. Nor am I big on sweets or junk food. Okay, sure, I eat my share of crap – but I don’t do soda, candy, pie, cake, doughnuts, etc. except on rare occasions. If the stuff is near me I will dive into it, and happily but I typically don’t bring it into my house and, if I do, can keep myself from eating the whole mess in one go, preferring to use a little restraint in order to be able to enjoy said treats over a stretch of days -though that hasn’t always been the case.

Still, I do not think there has been a day in my life where I have not felt hungry at some point – yet I have never been malnourished (well, maybe in jr. high when I was in the habit of blowing all my lunch money on Coke and Suzy-Q’s).

The sense I have is that the hunger I am accustomed to feeling and reacting to is similar to seeing the gas gauge of my car indicating that the tank is down by one quarter. And the reaction I typically have at this sensation – feeding my face – would be similar to me running over to the gas station to top it off immediately upon seeing this.

Now I don’t know about you but I don’t operate my car that way. Unless I am about to take a long journey I tend to run my tank down to near empty – maybe 4 to 5 gallons left – then fill up. So why do I treat my body differently?

Well, it’s what I am accustomed to doing, I guess. It is how I was raised and what I see around me. Why go hungry?
“Have some chips.”
“Have a cookie.”
“Here are some doughnuts.”
“I think I have a something in my purse.”
“There’s a vending machine over there.”
“Say, you want to stop for a bite?”

Food is everywhere and it is acceptable to overindulge – hell, most of us don’t even think that responding to every little hunger urge is overindulgence.

Say you’re hungry for a cigarette to a non-smoking friend and get a look that says “pathetic”. Saying you’re just plain hungry to the same friend will get you sympathy – even when it is patently ridiculous that you could be.

I used to joke that I was addicted to air, water, and food. That, if I tried to stop “using” for any period of time I’d get weak and shaky, or lose consciousness, or any one of a number of other horrible withdrawal symptoms. Now that I am focusing on controlling how, when, and what I eat, it is a little ironic how much it really does remind me of an attempt to gain traction over an addiction.

Since starting The Necessary Year, I have cut back on not only sweets and beer but the quantity of the healthier foods I do still eat. While it is definitely a work in progress, I have already noticed that it takes a lot less to fill me up than before and that I notice hunger less. (I haven’t lost much weight, though – too inactive. I told you I didn’t need the amount I was eating!)

The hunger I do feel, I treat like I did my nicotine jones, almost savoring it as I let it stretch out over the minutes. It has become something of a game for me. As I cannot quit eating entirely (lets not go nuts, here) I instead push back against the hunger, saying to that midmorning pang: “Oho – you again, eh buddy? Alright – I’ll hand a banana down to you in an hour – just sit tight until then,” and I force myself to wait an hour before eating.

Initially, I was ready for that damned hour to be up, lemme tell you, but now I often become distracted by other things and it will be past the hour before ol’ Hairy starts grumbling again: “Where’s the grub, bub?”

I do this all day, only having to give in to a regular schedule once I get home, where I’m often the chef and other people’s hunger is not so patient.

Now I”m not sayin’ you need to lose any weight or work on your will power or anything – hey, that’s my bag – but if you have never been addicted to anything and want to know a little about what that feels like, push back your hunger sometime and pay attention not to how your stomach feels but to the psychological hunger attached to it, in your head and in your chest, that starts it’s angry muttering shortly after you tell your stomach: “Hang on a tic.” The longer you hold out, the trickier it becomes, distracting you with little suggestions and feelings that say “don’t be a fool, Maude – one cashew never killed anyone …”

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2 Responses to “The Necessary Year – Day 23: How Not To Eat.”

  1. VJ Sleight, Queen of Quitting says:

    Congratulations on leaving Lady nicotie behind for 6 months–Awesome. you have found a technique that is so important–finding a desire that is more important than your cigarette and that is your daughters respect. Keep up the good work! VJ Sleight http://www.StopSmokingStayQuit.com

    • cae says:

      Ah heck, 6 months taint nothin’; I been quit before. Once for nearly three years!
      Here’s to hoping it sticks this time!

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