Beckoners Vs. Hummers

BagelsAs you know, I’ve been chew/spit free since mid-March.

But I am still struggling with impulsive food purchases/eating.

 Granted, this isn’t nearly as terrible a habit as c/s was, but it’s still something that doesn’t exactly inspire pride, and is dangerous for my waistline.

Fortunately, at the gym this weekend, I found Geneen Roth’s latest column in Good Housekeeping which talks about why we eat what we eat. (I tried to find it online, but it’s not there yet.)

To summarize, in the article, she places the foods we eat into two categories: hummers and beckoners.

A “hummer” food is something that you’ve been thinking about that you are looking forward to eating. It’s something you’ve been craving; it’s not an impulsive choice.

An example of a hummer food is the salt bagel I intend to have in October when I’m at home in N.J. for a friend’s wedding (I only eat bagels at home — N.J./N.Y. bagel snob ;))

On the flipside, “beckoners” are impulse cravings, things we didn’t know we needed til we see or smell them. Say you walk into a friend’s house and she has chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Hungry or not, chances are, you’ll want a cookie. 

All my c/s behaviors were based upon “beckoner” purchases — and even though I’m not c/s anymore, when I grab , say, the new dark chocolate Reese’s from the grocery store check-out line, it’s a beckoner; strictly an impulse buy. Not a premeditated purchase.

It’s the equivalent of a shopping spree … except instead of only hurting my wallet, this hurts my waistline, too.

According to Roth, the nutritional value of the food doesn’t make a difference in what’s considered a hummer or a beckoner, and they vary person to person.

Likewise,  the same food that is a hummer one day can be a beckoner the next day, and vice versa. Her example was leftovers. Let’s pretend you’d been craving lasagna for a week, and so one night you fix a batch and have a satisfying portion at dinner …

But then find yourself staring at the contents of the fridge at 4 a.m., rummaging for that very same lasagna, now in leftover form. The hummer became a beckoner.

I’m being honest here: I’ve struggled with beckoners so much.

In the past, it was because I didn’t order what I truly wanted at a restaurant, for example, and would end up feeling deprived and then eating a sub-par dessert “just because,” or snacking when I got home because I felt unsatisfied from a lame dinner.

(How many salads with grilled chicken can one order?! But if I got what I really wanted, say, chicken parm, I knew I’d only be able to “afford” like three or four bites for the same Points of a big salad … so I’d convince myself to make chicken parm at home (baked, using FF cheese, etc.) and order boring, bland foods out. This was how I coped; how I learned to work WW into my life.)

Today, my struggle is almost the opposite: it’s because I have been giving in too much lately to my sweet/chocolate cravings, pretzels … stuff I just don’t need, and I know I don’t need.

It’s like a monster has taken over me, resisting my logic/rationale along the way. Naturally, it’s resulted in zero weight loss, and my jeans aren’t getting any looser. Fortunately, being so active helps me avoid gaining weight, but it’d be nice to be able to lose again, and I’m standing in my own way.

You could call me the queen of self-sabatoge. Ironically, I’m tending toward many “beckoner” foods I easily turned my nose up at just a few years ago. “I don’t eat XYZ” is what I’d say back then.  

It’s like my resistance muscle has gone limp, and it sucks. Especially because I am aware of it. But now, using Roth’s hummer/beckoner models, I’m hoping to not only strengthen my resistance muscle, but also to strengthen my own sense of self.

When I make choices that make me feel good, I feel good. This past weekend, I indulged in way too much sugar, and am feeling it now.

So my goal this week is to take note of hummer vs. beckoner choices I’m making. As I journal my Points, I’ll also journal which camp the choice fell into. I think it will help me (a very visual person) “see” the light.

How about you? How often are you aware of a food choice being a hummer choice or a beckoner choice?


3 thoughts on “Beckoners Vs. Hummers

  1. I have been having the same problem. I don’t know what it is all about though. I have been wanting to eat things I usually don’t have urges to eat. I lost 50 lbs just listening to my body. All I can figure is that where I live it is getting cold and it is about a month away from snow. I almost feel like I am getting ready for winter….haha. It is either that or that I was sick for a while with a virus. I was so hungry during it. I am not trying to excuse it. I just have a personality that seeks answers. I don’t feel good about the choices I am making. It seems like rather then listening to my body my, brain is wanting this food. I will regain control….I know I will. I am sure next week I will be back to normal.

  2. lovely post, M!

    hummers, and listening to those desires make for a very happy life – and I think even falling prey to the beckoning types of food, every once in a while, isn’t the end all be all.

    That being said, I think I have to just tighten the reigns and say no to both beckoners and hummers, if I want to lose weight. I know my weight loss efforts have been the best when I tell myself I will resist most tempting foods and if I do so diligently through the week, then one or two days a week I can have a real dessert (what I usually crave).

    then again lately, I have been having at least one piece of chocolate a day (about 100 cal) and that seems to tame the beast.

    to each their own, but I think it’s all about figuring out what system works best for you.

  3. I struggled with “Beckoner” foods for a long time, especially when I would label food “good” and “bad” and eat foods that I didn’t particularly love but that were “safe” diet foods. Just like they say in IE, when you forbid something it makes you want them more. On the other hand, a big part of IE is listening to how different foods make you feel physically and mentally. Most times those impulse/beckoner foods do not make you feel good. I plan small treats into my food choices every day, usually a small serving (half ounce) of dark chocolate. Cookies (firehook) are my “hummer” foods and I look forward to having them once a week. I find I don’t really get strong cravings for them knowing I can have one in the near future.

    I read something on a message oard the other day that really resonated with me. A quote from the woman who wrote the book “Normal Eating” (which has a website/blog as well) Her approach is very similar to IE.

    “An important part of Normal Eating is understanding, on a deep level, that it is your right to eat whatever you want. But with rights come responsibilities, and this other side of the coin is just as important. No one can tell you what to eat, and that means you must take responsibility for your own eating. In the end, nutrition matters.”

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