For those of you who know me know that I occasionally like to challenge myself. Year after year I joke that if I were not the religion I am and I observed Lent I would give up peanut butter. Peanut butter is an amazing food that I cannot even begin to describe to you from my eyes or taste. There are days I love it, there are days I hate it, there are days I don’t even know why I like it, but day after day I continue to eat peanut butter. In the past few years there are probably very few days that I did not have peanut butter, probably only the days I was away. (Side note: I can tell you exactly why and when this started which can be a topic for a future blog). If I am home, in my apartment, I have peanut butter. Peanut butter to me is not just something that goes with jelly on a sandwich, or a spread for an apple, but it is an extra source of protein, good fats, and an easy way to ensure I get enough calories in, pretty much on a daily basis. So, now you may ask if that is what peanut butter is to me, why am I challenging myself to give it up.

The answer is easy. Day after day I tell my patients to give up something they love; something they perhaps have a similar emotional connection to (i.e. soda, sweets, fried food, cigarettes, etc) in order to be more successful with weight loss, to become healthier, and decrease risks and complications with surgery. Yes, the things I tell my patients to give up are mainly unhealthy things and peanut butter has health benefits, but I do not need peanut butter to survive, just like they do not need soda, sweets, or cigarettes to survive. I have no idea what it feels like for my patients to give these things up, but I continue to recommend they do so. We problem solve together and find alternative behaviors or healthy substitutes and they are successful, but it is often a struggle. Fortunately I never needed to completely eliminate anything from my routine (as in essence that would also be a diet according to my definition—a diet is restricting yourself, completely eliminating a “bad” food from your diet, and doing something you can’t maintain), but if they need to give these things up for the rest of their lives, then I can surely give up peanut butter for a few weeks.

With that being said, I have decided to challenge myself. I have decided to challenge myself to not have peanut butter (after my current jar is empty, which it almost is), but when I started to write this blog I had not yet decided for how long I would really do this for. I thought about doing it for as long as Lent, since that is what people who observe Lent are doing now, but since I do not observe Lent, I am thinking about doing it for the next month—until I cross the finish line at my next race (3/16 DC Rock N Roll Half Marathon). This makes sense to me- to tie this with my running, so that seems like a good plan.

Interestingly enough after my run last night, before I officially made this decision, I was in the supermarket. I always go down the peanut butter aisle to just see what new kinds they have (I am somewhat of a peanut butter snob or connoisseur you could say) and I typically would buy the one that I like, even if I still have at home if it is on sale, or because it seemed like a good idea at the moment, or for whatever other reason I could come up with at the time, but last night was different. Last night, I went to the store I bought what I needed (fresh basil for a great healthy meal I am making tonight) and left. Maybe this challenge was unconsciously on my mind, maybe the fact that I was still in my running clothes, just completed a run, and having health on my mind was part of the reason…..really, who knows why, but there was no extra walking around the peanut butter aisle and definitely no purchasing of peanut butter last night. So, here it is…I am up for the challenge and look forward to updating you on my experience. Please feel free to post comments and/or questions that will spark additional ideas for more blogging about this. Also, feel free to comment with your struggles and/or experiences…we all have them!

 PS Looking for a good peanut butter image was interesting and definitely makes me think back to a few research studies I have done examining how the brain reacts to certain foods and food cravings.