Boxes and boundaries


Recently on an interview I did with the lovely Daisy Brackenhall for her Keto Woman Podcast, I talked about boxes and boundaries. I addressed these boxes and boundaries before my trip to Italy (in “When a chip is just a chip” and “Dogmantics”) when I was so worried about having that gelato in Florence. Well, I don’t know if it was worry so much as it was guilt now that I am Granny Keto and all. I did have the gelato in Florence and I enjoyed every lick and drip of it. And I probably won’t have any again unless I am traveling in Italy again. I was able to set that boundary on the gelato. However, opening that box, where I had put all the Dos and Don’ts for myself, turned out to be a dangerous thing. But actually, just in Italy. So I still had my boundaries even though the box was unsealed.

Pandora’s box

Okay, so what did opening that box do? If I had stayed with the trinket of “gelato in Florence,” I would have been fine, and actually there is no trinket labeled “gelato all the time everywhere” so I am not worried, but there were other trinkets that glittered at me when I opened the box. Being a magpie at heart (there is not a belly dancer anywhere in the world who isn’t!), I could not resist the glittering objects. These were: “Oh, have a little pasta; it was homemade in the cooking class you took. Oh, have that little heel of the baguette — just to soak up the oil and balsamic vinegar of the region. Oh, finish that pastry or croissant that the grandchildren left behind — they were just baked fresh at this bakery in Montepulciano. Oh, keep eating even though you are full; when will you get this food again?” These were the relatively harmless little glittering trinkets in the box. Then, once that layer of harmless trinkets was gone, I hit the more sinister sparkling things in Pandora’s box. I ate when no one was looking. I ate chocolates and fruit and breads when no one was looking. Those sneaking behaviors that absolutely stopped once I started Keto came to the surface again. The overeating behaviors that mostly stopped once I started Keto came to the surface again. The cravings came to the surface again. Acting on those cravings came to the surface again — not because the sugar awakened them, but because now I was in the land of reaching and eating and sneaking. The difference between opening the box for the gelato and digging through the box were entirely different. I openly enjoyed the gelato — no shame and no explanation to anyone. I finished mine and licked the dripping gelato from the grandchildren. I tried everyone’s flavors. It was a fun excursion. Going deep into the box was not a fun excursion. It frightened me as to where things could go again, realizing that the dark side has not vanished.

Had I widened the permission from the start, I would have had the pasta and bread, pastries and cookies and cake. The difference is, I would have enjoyed a sampling — in front of everyone — and been done with it. It wasn’t the food that made me feel bad, it was the behavior that surrounded the eating of the food. A purist — a dogmantic — would have said that I shouldn’t have opened the box at all and that I should not have strayed off Keto one bit. I decided seven months before the trip I was going to have that gelato, so the purist ship had already sailed. And, in all honesty, once I got home that box was closed tight — so I still did have boundaries.

I think that, for me, opening that box was not horrible — I learned some valuable lessons about myself and the situation. It is the behavior around the food that drives my behavior around the food.

What kind of boxes should I use?

Look at the picture that I put with this blog. Boxes. But not solid, dark, deep boxes with lids that weigh a ton and have locks on them. I think those are the kinds of boxes where we put our forbidden food and forbidden behaviors. I believe my gelato was in that type of box, and that is why, once the lid was raised, all the other foods and behaviors glittered and mocked me and dared me to just try one. If I had put my gelato in the type of box pictured above, I think I would have seen the gelato, reached in, had it and then been done with it instead of being drawn into the dark box to look at everything else. Maybe one of those boxes would have held the pasta and bread; another one pastries, cookies and cake. I could have looked straight through in the sunlight and could have made a decision on reality, not on what was glimmering and calling to me. I could have opened one, had some bread, but then have seen that there was more and that nothing came from lack, deprivation and secretiveness. I might have had nothing from the other boxes because I could see them for what they were, and not glittering secrets and temptations.

Yes, use boxes, but the right kind!