The Road to Hell is Paved with Crackers

Entering Hell by Art.comFor most of my life, what got me fat, then kept me fat, was salty savory crackers and caffeinated drinks.

Say, you’re hungry. Maybe it’s breakfast time. But you’re in a hurry. What would be easier — getting out the skillet and whipping up some eggs and washing it down with orange juice, or grabbing a handful of rosemary oil infused Triscuits and washing them down with an eye-opening effervescent diet Coke?

Just like Eva Mendes who knows it’s wrong to use a flat iron every day but does it anyway, I ate crackers for meals nearly every day.  I did it all week, all month, all of the days of my life. And while the brands may have fluctuated — you can’t just eat Triscuits forever when there are goldfish (in so many delicious flavors) and Wheat Thins, huge salty pretzel bites and, in a pinch, seedy Wassa crackers with pure sweet butter.

If I was hungry I was looking for crunchy salty savory crackers.

For me, the road to hell has always been paved with crunchy salty crackers or chips. I just chose not to actually experience a revelatory moment when you say to yourself that things have to change. I knew a diet of crackers was bad before I went to The Bossy Nutritionist, but not before I was rushed to the hospital last November with bent-over crippling chest pain that included severe and unending projectile vomiting.

I thought I had heartburn at first. And if heartburn was anything like I was feeling, no wonder there were so many commercials about pills you could take. I went to the emergency room, where they told me, yes, you have it bad, and when the morphine wears off, you’ll start taking pills and feel better. Only, I didn’t.

The second time I went to the emergency room, I thought I must have been having a heart attack. That’s why they took a sonogram which revealed a swollen and distended gall bladder filled to the brim with what I call rocks. A nurse told me that a gallbladder attack was equal to giving birth without sedation. And yet, after more morphine and anti-nausea medicine, they sent me home to rest before coming back the next day for surgery.

Only guess what?

Oh gee, they were sorry, but even though I was right back at the height of my pain levels, no surgeon was available. Maybe another hospital could help me.

I won’t bore you with any gory details, but one thing you should know about gall bladder attacks is that they are usually misdiagnosed. Gut pain? Ask for a sonogram. Never leave an emergency room unless you know what is wrong with you.

The good news is they utilized non-invasive methods and pulled that green, stinking mess out of my belly button — POP!  Immediately afterwards, I was fine. Fine, considering I had “given birth” to three children in five days, that is.

I recovered with bed rest and decided that things had to change. I lay in bed wondering, why did I hurt myself with food? Why didn’t I nourish myself? At first, I had simple impulses to change. I’d buy more vegetables and actually eat them. I’d stop passing on salad. I’d definitely drink more water. And I’d go to the gym more.

Eventually friends stopped delivering soup and my husband went back to work and I was alone to wrestle with my salty, savory demons.

Of course, I had crackers in the house.

There were big double wide Costco boxes filled with Wheat Thins and goldfish and Triscuits that I imagined looking up to the inside top of the bag, holding their breath, waiting for my hands to snap the silver foil and free them.

I thought about the rightness or wrongness of eating crackers after all I’d suffered through. I started thinking about how I would feed a child, if I had a child, which I didn’t because I was child enough for myself to care for.

I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. But a funny thing happened. The bowls did shrink from large capacity wide lipped varieties to smaller and smaller kitchen supply ramekins. Even if I couldn’t sort out my damaging behavior, or change course, I knew modifying was the only sane path.

When I finally found my nutritionist and told her about this phase she looked at me, as one would a child who complained that picking scabs hurt.

“You can have crackers, but here’s the thing. If you have bowls of crackers, you’ll want more. And if you have Coke with them, you’ll want more crackers and more Coke.”

She said that you create your own craving cycles. But once you know that, you can change. You can have a few yummy crackers on the side of a salad or with an apple and almond butter.  Crackers are a snack, not a meal. I know that now. And because I’m a dieting genius I know how stupid that sounds, but it was something I had to learn.

Next Week: The Roots of Poor Eating — The Toxic Mom Diet

Rayne

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Rayne's dream was to write her memoir and found a global support community for adult children of toxic mothers. This summer she completed her book, which inclues her story of growing up with not one, but two super toxic mothers as well as a mosiac of mini-memoirs of women from all over the world who have created happy and peaceful lives despite toxic parenting. Her book, Toxic Mom Toolkit, is published on Amazon.com and Create Space. Her Facebook page Toxic Mom Toolkit, attracts over 250,000 per month and is a safe place to read or tell healing stories, exchange positive strategies on how to live with toxic parenting and lots of humor and resources. A freelance journalist, she currently writes a food & drink page for several Bay Area newspapers and is a private writing coach.

Latest posts by Rayne Wolfe, Published Author and Journalist (see all)

  • Heather

    I had Rtiz crackers yesterday instead of my low-fat whole wheat Sandwich Thin bread at lunch and damn, I forgot how good they are!

    They are not usually in my house, and thank god I am counting every calorie lately or that box would be gone. Or the treadmill would be broke from my trying to work them off.

    Thanks for the reminder to avoid those triggers – H

  • Remy

    When I went ‘no carbs’ it was the hardest thing in the WORLD for me to give up Triscuts and Ritz. They even had cinnamon Triscuts and for a while they were ‘dessert’ – I remember that attack, was it that long ago? Great to see you post here! I miss you! xo Rem

  • So I wonder if crackers are your “trigger” food for gall bladder attacks. Mine was (and still is because you can still have mild phantom attacks) Italian red sauce and pasta — the two worse: spaghetti and lasagna.

    There are many drs who think gall bladder attacks are related to Hashimotos disease because hypothyroidism causes decreased liver clearance, congestion of the gall bladder due to the thickening of the bile and gall stones.

    Some think both are related to an intolerance for gluten. Celiac disease (allergy to gluten) appears to interfere with the production of the hormone that causes the gallbladder to contract and expel bile.

    Research reported on in the medical journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences noted that a significant number of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimotos disease) also have celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

    “…researchers found that…organ-specific autoantibodies (i.e., thyroid antibodies) — will disappear after 3 to 6 months of a gluten-free diet.”

    And since Hashimotos disease causes a person to feel low energy, they tend to go for high energy foods like carbs and alcohol for the sugar.

    My grandmother died from complications from celiac disease — she just couldn’t give up her bread. People can’t understand how strong cravings can be.

    I love the title to this post — it says it all.

    Cath