Peanut Butter is My Gateway Drug

Keeping a sense of humor about trigger foods can be a first step to diet success

Posted Apr 25, 2015

Gregg McBride
Source: Gregg McBride

Many assume that after losing over 250 pounds of excess weight and after keeping it off for more than a decade, I've got this "healthy eating thing" all figured out. And, I guess, in some ways I do. But in many other ways, I definitely don't. I'm actually not sure I ever will have healthy eating and/or living totally figured out. It's a journey. And my goofs offer as many lessons as my triumphs. Not to mention as many laughs.

After all, there are dangerous edible temptations out there for all of us food-conscious types—myself included. Some refer to these as "trigger foods." Me? I refer to them as pure, unadulterated evil. You know, the insidious kinds of evils they wrote about in the Book of Revelations -- or that are featured on reality TV. Evils that tempt, taunt and seduce. For me, one of the most dangerous evils of all is... Peanut butter.

Removed of its temptress-like properties, well-made peanut butter can actually be a wholesome food to include in a healthy eating regime—within moderation, of course. But when it comes to peanut butter, I know nothing of "within moderation." In fact, I see a jar of peanut butter more as a big pudding cup, as opposed to a spreadable substance offering up to 23 servings (depending on the size of the jar).

I mean, come on! A whole serving size listed as a mere 2 tablespoons and nothing more? Didn't makers of peanut butter know that, at the time I weighed in excess of 450 pounds, 2 tablespoons represented what I consumed just while spreading the stuff on my toast?

I remember one incident, during my heavier years, that a friend returned from Amish country and brought me a jar of homemade peanut butter laced with chocolate chips. And yes, I knowingly use the word "laced" in the same way that the word would be used in conjunction with certain illegal substances. Because for me, this jar of peanut butter with chocolate chips turned out to be a cleverly-disguised drug.

This happened long before I learned to just stop eating so much and to experience food as it's meant to be experienced—with proper portion control. And since I was on diet number 5,642 (give or take) at the time, I promptly put the jar onto a high shelf in the kitchen and tried my best to forget it existed. And forget I did. Until...

One day while cleaning shelves... No, wait. That's a lie... One day while searching my kitchen for a food product not endorsed by whatever eating plan I was on at the time, I came across the mystical jar from Amish country. And, to my surprise, enough time had passed that the chocolate chips had actually melted—thereby creating "rivers" of chocolate running through the peanut butter.

Well, I probably don't have to report that before you could say "nutter butter peanut butter sandwich cookie," I had popped the top, grabbed a spoon and sat down to this huge "pudding cup"—lapping up the peanut butter and chocolate as if it were my last meal (which is often the thinking that goes hand in hand with a binge).

Of course, after I finished indulging, I felt sick, guilty and listless. I also felt like calling my friend and yelling at them for giving a dieter such a "gift" in the first place.

For the record, I also felt like asking that very same friend where, exactly, another magical jar of this peanut butter laced with chocolate could be purchased and if the Amish country store had mail order. I refrained. A concept I wish I had embraced in regard to peanut butter itself. But alas, peanut butter's mysterious power was strong back in the day. And I must admit that, for me, it's still a force to be reckoned with even at this very moment.

I have another peanut butter story—one that involves the peanut butter actually attacking back (besides just around the waist line). But before I share that confession (in a future Weight-ing Game post on Psychology Today), I want to ask you what your evil and/or trigger foods are.

Any temptations?

Any confessions?

Any funny stories?

You can either laugh with me or at me. But please—lay it on me! (Just promise you'll never go shopping for me in Amish country.)