How hard-line is your red/green line?

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How hard-line is your red/green line?

Post by phosphorus » Sat May 14, 2016 3:55 am

I thought an interesting topic of conversation would be, how firm is your definition of a "red" failure, and has that changed over the time you have done no-S? Having lived with an eating disorder in the past, I am a little wary about perfectionism because it has sent me into a bad place more than once.

Do you call it a red day if you have even one single S-bite, or is the line more than a few bites in? Is there a difference between mindlessly popping a stray tidbit into your mouth before you came to your senses, and actively deciding yes, I will eat this? Do you give yourself permission to take one bite to try something special that's offered to you out of graciousness to the offerer, or to taste food while you are cooking it to check the seasoning? Is there a category of functional "sweet" that you exempt from S (dark chocolate? breath mints)?

Is this the kind of thing that is different for everybody -- it is a kind of mod -- or is it the kind of thing where you're really departing from no-s if you aren't zero-tolerant on green days? Is boundary creep a real danger, or is it possible to let up a little as the habits are strengthened?

I can think of arguments both for being super hard line about it, and for not being so. But I am not experienced yet, so I thought I would ask what others' experiences are.

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Post by lpearlmom » Sat May 14, 2016 6:22 am

Great question! You definitely have to do what works for you. Many people just keep to the spirit of NoS which I think mostly means not to graze all day long. Defined meals are what's important. Little bites here and there are open to interpretation.

In the beginning I was crazy strict. I'd spit something out if I accidentally popped something in my mouth. Once my habits became firmer I relaxed the rules a little. Tasting a bit here or there as I was cooking. Trying a bite of my husbands food if it was offered.

To be honest I stopped seeing my days as red or green. My relationship with food was healthy, I wasn't gaining weight or obsessing so I didn't worry about it. I figure it was pretty close to how a normal eater eats.

Lately I've felt I needed to tighten things up again though because the truth is the stricter you are the easier it is in a sense because you're not having to constantly assess each situation and decide to eat (taste) something or not. It's very simple. Is it meal time? Is it already on my plate? If you can answer yes to both those than yes it's eating time. No grey area.

But above all don't do anything that makes you more anxious about food. NoS has brought me peace with food and that's why I continue to do it. Make NoS your own. Whatever it is that you can do long term and feels like it supports a healthy relationship with food.

Hope that helps some. Just remember there's no right or wrong way to do this. There are just guidelines and suggestions.

Best of luck!
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Re: How hard-line is your red/green line?

Post by Merry » Sat May 14, 2016 6:32 am

Very interesting topic! I probably have a few borderline/questionable habits that I consider "okay" for N days. For example...if I'm out and I have a diet pop from a "serve yourself fountain," I put regular pop in the top 1/5 or so. I think of it like putting sugar in my coffee. I'm not out much though--if it was daily I might think differently. For me this is more like once or twice a month.

I don't do "bites" of deserts though. I might eventually come to that point--but for me that would be too far over the "fence" for right now (too many situations where I'd start making exceptions I think--plus desserts of all kinds are really high temptations for me).

Tasting food while cooking--I don't have any problem considering that okay, but I do limit it to JUST tasting to make sure the seasoning is right. I don't let myself say, "oh, that's good, I'll take another bite..." We had a thread on this awhile back, and some people do find it hard to limit it to that, and then may have to put up more of a guideline.

On N days, I normally drink water, or tea or coffee with sugar. I have a vanilla cappuccino mix that I really like, but I consider it a sweet and have it only on S days. Recently I did have a really, really bad day (lots of various circumstances) on an N day, and I decided that night I'd have a warm cup of cappuccino and still think of it as an N day. It's the only time I've done that in almost 6 months though. If I found myself tempted to do that often, then I'd change my stance and consider it a red day instead.

I do understand the perfectionist tendency (I have struggled with perfectionism in other areas outside of food). I found it really, really hard to have that first red day. Which, in some ways helped me keep some N days green! But there was something freeing in finally having an actual red day, marking it as such, and realizing--it's only one day. It doesn't have to ruin my week or my month or my life, even though I see that red blotch on the calendar. It's one day. And I can choose to have a better day the next day--I can get back on habit.

It was freeing and empowering to realize that one red day and it's symbol of imperfection had no control over the next day and the choices I would make. And, that overall, making mostly good choices can not only still yield success, but is still healthy. Perfection isn't required, and imperfection doesn't control anything unless I let it.

Personally, I find it super-helpful to keep the boundaries of NoS and not make tons of concessions--and that the concessions I do make at least make some sense. They might not be the right concessions for others (and I might not always consider them right for me--things can change over time)--but there really is power in having the decision made ahead of time. "Oh, your dessert looks so yummy, thanks for offering. I'm full right now, but can I take one home for later?" (and save it for an S day).

If you start making lots of concessions, then you lose the benefit of the habit being automatic. Suddenly it becomes a lot of work full of decisions to be made instead of the simple plan that helps us create lasting habits.
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Post by RAWCOOKIE » Sat May 14, 2016 7:52 am

This is a good question. I'm less than a year into No S and my definitions have changed slightly over that time. However, at the moment, I'm very strict about the line. Anything that's between meals, however small, turns my HabitCal red. This is because, for me, the habit of just snatching a bit of something here-and-there would be a slippery slope back to snacking regularly - and I don't want to strengthen that tendency.

Having said that, a red day doesn't shame me - it's just a statement of fact. The value is that it makes me aware of what I'm doing.
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Post by ironchef » Sat May 14, 2016 9:54 am

Everyone draws their lines differently, and it's all No S. As Reinhard says, this is a way of eating that doesn't micromanage you.

I am what some would call comically strict. On N days I won't eat jam on my toast, honey on my porridge and if I eat something in a bowl I put the bowl on my plate and build my meal around it. But I have no history of eating disorder, so what suits me might seem cruel and unworkable for others.

I'm also ok to 'mark it and move on' without feeling like I am a failure, so even though I may have more reds / fails than other people, I'm ok with that.

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Post by Jen1974 » Sat May 14, 2016 10:11 pm

This is a fun topic to read about!!

I didn't like the red day for me because I had a real problem with "what the hell" where if I wasn't going to have a perfectly healthy day in the past I'd figure I might as well enjoy it & eat all the food I had been trying not to eat, so I didn't want a strict green vs. red, so I added in orange. If I slip up once, I call the day orange & am proud of myself for not taking it further than that. If I slip up a couple of times I call the day red & am still proud for not going off the deep end. If I go off the deep end I add a frowny face & call it a "what the hell" day. I liked that I give myself lots of points where I could remind myself to stop before doing something I would actually regret (:

As for how strict I am, I'm strict on the things that cause me proglems. I'm very strict on "no seconds" & being DONE when the amount I've decided to have is gone.

I am not strict & probably more laid back about S days than others because it frustrated me in the past when things would come up during the week that made it hard to be healthy & I'd end up failing big. Instead I decided Sunday can be a S day, or I can save the credit for later in the week if something is happening more worth a splurge (meeting the kids grandparents for dinner, happy hour with friends, date night, not for no reason at all, but not necessarily a b-day or holiday). By Sunday I've had my fill of treats & sometimes it's nice to hold on to the credit for something going on later in the week.

I'm really strict in that I can't use a future S day though ("I won't have an S-day NEXT weekend so I can have one now"). This too has caused me problems in the past.

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Post by nettee » Sun May 15, 2016 6:09 am

Having failed "properly" a few times and knowing what that is like, I do let myself off the odd bite (usually by mistake/ eaten absent mindedly) or tasting while cooking in order to avoid a "what the hell" reaction.

I love Jen's multi coloured idea.
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Post by idontknow » Sun May 15, 2016 7:46 am

Jen - I'm going to adopt your idea of different colours and a frowny face. I try to be strict but once the day has turned red it becomes a complete disaster because there is no reason to be strict any more. A failure is a failure. I know it's self sabotage but it's how my mind works. So, on Friday I had one small chocolate - that would have made me orange under your system and would have stopped the whole day's decline.
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Post by kaalii » Mon May 16, 2016 9:49 am

im pretty strict, since im new to the noS... trying to get the 21 days without the reds... and after seeing that i had just too many reds in the first couple of weeks - needed a bit of a push into taking the nos seriously... and seriously enough to allow myself to let the calorie counting go...

i allow for tasting food while cooking - but not always!! - only when im cooking somthing from scratch/improvising... or making a recipe im less confindent about... but most of the stuff i cook i can practically do blindfolded - so no tasting necessary, nor allowed...
1 candy/piece of chocolate is red - both sweet AND snack... cant go easy in that situation because that is for me the essence of what im trying to develop by noS...
red days dont make me go off the hook nor beat myself up about them too much... but it does help to have "mark it and move on" in the head..

let's see how everything goes...
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Post by reinhard » Wed May 18, 2016 2:17 pm

My lines tend to be pretty generously drawn (tasting while cooking is a culinary necessity, jam or honey on toast is fine, yoghurt is fine, if I can see it all in front of me in a clearly delimited space it doesn't have to be on a single physical plate) but I'm pretty strict about not crossing these lines (nothing remotely resembling snacks, no "virtual plating" unless I'm at an event and there really isn't any other alternative, nothing that doesn't clearly pass the "dessert test").

The one odd, occasional difficulty I had for a while was "clean up eating" (example: my wife processed the dinner leftovers and scraped out out the pan with insufficient thoroughness). It's odd because it seems so clearly against the rules, and yet I would not-infrequently deceive myself into thinking (during the act at least) that somehow it wasn't, that it was sort of a tail end "tasting," a virtuous rescuing of perfectly good morsels from the garbage disposal. It wasn't much of a problem in terms of actual excess (the amounts were tiny) but the lack of clarity bothered me. I found that clearly naming this issue and marking it on my daily index cards (the lower-tech way I'm doing my habitcal these days) solved this more or less completely. That and *very* thorough scraping when I'm up to process leftovers.

I do think it's important to have a clarity as your first line of defense -- clear rules, clear lines that you do not cross. Precisely where the lines are is less important than the fact that you have them and know precisely what they are.

But no one is perfect. And so it's important to have a second line of defense if your first line is breached. This is where I think stuff like negative qualification and or quantification (recording up your failures in detail, either here on the boards, or on a daily index card, or whatever) can be a helpful anti-lock braking system vs. the "what the hell effect."
If I slip up a couple of times I call the day red & am still proud for not going off the deep end. If I go off the deep end I add a frowny face & call it a "what the hell" day.
Maybe I should add a "hellfire" option to the habitcal for "what the hell" reds? :-)


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Post by osoniye » Wed May 18, 2016 4:29 pm

reinhard wrote:Precisely where the lines are is less important than the fact that you have them and know precisely what they are.
I think that's the key. My parameters have changed over time, but I try to know where I am, and be honest about failures. That way I can know if my current itteratin of NoS is really working or not.
Currently, I allow some virtual plating if I am eating with people and it would be very awkward to load up my plate when no one else is, or if salad comes on a separate plate, etc. I try to avoid sweet things on N days, but I guess my limit is that about a tsp of sweetener is OK in regular food or coffee if I want it.
My S day treats have evolved to eating a heavier plate of rich or special food on S days, with the option of seconds. I have really gotten away from sweets a lot of the time, and that helps with N day compliance in that department, I think.
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Post by Merry » Thu May 19, 2016 11:42 pm

reinhard wrote: Maybe I should add a "hellfire" option to the habitcal for "what the hell" reds? :-)

LOL, I like that idea! At the least, on the monthly "challenge" threads, I think I might differentiate by using the devilish smiley for WTH days!

I was always a "clean-up eater" too--strange habit! Get those morsels off the serving spoon or pan, etc... I try to make sure they go in the leftover container now, or I really want to eat them! Interesting compulsion...
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Post by leafy_greens » Fri May 20, 2016 3:38 pm

Just posted this in my personal thread. But I've had several rounds of No S and I'm not being as strict this time. I'm having two pieces of chocolate per day and chips with dinner. This is a big improvement. If I can make it through the work day with no snacking except for my two pieces of chocolate, that's clearing a hurdle.
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Post by phosphorus » Sat May 21, 2016 5:29 pm

Thank you to everybody who wrote in on this!

So what I am hearing is that the MOST important thing is to have clear lines that make it very easy to know whether you are in them or out of them, but that it might take a while to figure out what the exact precise meanings of those lines are.

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Post by cocobea » Sun May 22, 2016 4:22 pm

This was a very helpful post. I'm just getting started tomorrow and was wondering the same thing.

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Post by oolala53 » Sun May 22, 2016 6:52 pm

I would call what leafy green is doing a mod. That is different, to me, than flexing the definition of failure. I regard a designated mod stuck to as a better option than letting the lines get rather fluid. That can involve a lot of mental dickering that I'd like to avoid.

Dealing with perfectionism for me meant as often as possible sticking quite strictly to the guidelines and calling anything except the occasional taste when cooking (and I don't cook completely from scratch often, so it is rarely needed) a fail, then doubling down hard to deal with THAT fallout. It's similar to WTH. If I can thwart WTH, I can learn to thwart the punishing of myself for fails, big or small. That is worth just about as much as not failing in the first place!

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