Sundae Bloody Sundae

One Friday night I was in the queue at McDonalds, gawking up at the menu board. Where are the caramel sundaes? Surely they still have the caramel sundaes!

I’d barely drank two inches of wine but that’s all it took. One minute I was there in the pub yapping away, and the next I was mumbling my goodbyes and heading for the Golden Arches in a trance. I could almost feel the ridges of the plastic cup in my hand, the flimsy spoon clonking against my teeth; the hot goo of the goods on my tongue.

I hadn’t eaten a Macca’s sundae for about five years – not because I’d gone all righteous and Spurlock about the place, but more that I’d cracked my thrice weekly habit and moved on to other vices. So it was strange that the swirly dessert popped into my head. It appeared right after a pang of panic and claustrophobia. Sometimes I still mildly freak out in social situations, and get an overwhelming urge to run and revert to hermit mode. On some level I still connect escape with food.

People talk about comfort eating or emotional eating but what about ZOMBIE EATING? I’ve found myself at the Cookie Table at work, staring down at the crumbs on my chest and thinking, What the hell happened there!? The feet and hands and mouth took over before the brain could make the connection between receiving the stressful email and grabbing the biscuits.

Other times I’ve been glassy-eyed in line at a coffee shop, fixated on the idea of my hand wrapped around a hot cardboard cup of overpriced beverage to soothe an undefined troubled feeling. Then I’ll take the first sip and come back to earth… Shit! What did I do that for!?

Back at McDonalds, I was jolted out of my reverie by the dulcet tones of a lady customer, "Arrriiiight hen, gis a Big Mac meal wi’ Diet Coke!"

I took in the spotty lad behind the till and the swaying drunks in the queue. Fark! How the bloody hell did I get here?

I left, walked home in the rain and watched telly.

Most times I have the ability to stop, tune in and realise I’m just stressed or anxious or bored or needing to pull a Greta Garbo – and therefore not shove something unnecessary in my gob. But sometimes I don’t even register that I’m feeling anything at all. It happens so fast and mindlessly that I don’t wake up in time.

Any other Zombies out there?

Note to self: Caramel sundaes are called toffee sundaes in the UK πŸ™‚

44 thoughts on “Sundae Bloody Sundae

  1. Well done. Serious bit of willpower going on there, mrs. I saw an ad for a ‘Wispa McFlurry’ yesterday and really REALLY wanted one. I resisted but only because I’ve got a wedding dress to squeeze into next weekend!

  2. Next weekend! that has come around quick Lucy! I hope you have a wonnnnnnnnnderful day πŸ™‚

    Wispa McFlurry… oooh.

  3. reason number 172436127864 why it’s tough having a kid as we are all up in McDs all the time.

    you said I dont have to take her there?

    who knew.

  4. Well done for not giving in!

    I understand all about Zombie eating, I do it all the time – I actually went through the zombie macdonalds phase too – my English college class would finish at 10.20 each morning so I’d have 10 minutes to hot foot it over to Maccy d’s and order a Panckaes and Syrup Breakfast. If class ran over you would never have seen me move so fast to get a bit of the sticky savoury goodness. If I missed out on the pancakes (goddamn Mr Jones for his long boring lectures) then I’d ususally end up getting the Apple pie toffee sundae which is a calorific step up from just the plain boring toffee sundae (it came on a see-through plastic tray with 2 large scoops of ice cream and a mega helping of toffee sauce)

    I wondered why I piled on the pounds through college DOH!

  5. God – I’ve just re-read what I wrote and I feel really sick like I’ve OD’d on sugar…

  6. Oh I’m so like this. I think I just can’t cope with quietness or restfulness (is that even a word?). I have to be doing something. Even while watching TV my hands need to be busy which usually means with food though I’m trying to substitute with water. Good on you for resisting. Once I’m in the queue I’ve lost the battle.

  7. William Leith talks about moments exactly like this in his great book ‘The Hungry Years’ – worth a read.

  8. Hold the phone- have they changed the name? When I worked there (really not a good idea when you are trying to lose weight – mind you I did lose 17bs once when I was doing 3 shifts a week. Sorry – I digress) it was called a caramel sundae. I ain’t never heard of this toffee business…

  9. I tend to do that in the evenings, so I call it vampire eating. Vampires! Zombies! Maybe that’s why Count Chocula and FrankenBerry were such popular cereals in the US.

  10. I came across your blog from another person’s and immediatley loved it as I am a scottish girl living abroad. I just burst out laughing at the ‘awriiite hen, geez us a big mac’ comment.. oh so sadly familiar!

    I’m in the US and fighting a losing battle against the gigantic portions and the abundance of cookies that are constantly available. Especially when the 3.30 munchies hit at your desk! It is so hard to just order a normal sized sandwich! My only saving grace is that they don’t sell Salt & Balsalmic Vinegar Kettle chips here!! Otherwise the battle would be over right now from zombie eating in front of the tv…

    Have joined a gym, but am having trouble switching on my willpower to go every night. Sadly I arrived here in the heat of summer and have had to go out in public wearing shorts at my heaviest…not good when you are sending pictures home!

    Good on you for sticking to your new eating style, I hope to start it myself!!

  11. Yeah, I’ve totally done the zombie eating thing. It’s not a fun feeling! It usually happens to me when I’m watching TV, the husband is at his graveyard shift job, and there happens to be a random snack in the house. Half the time I don’t even taste it – it’s awful.

  12. The zombie thing seems to happen to me every time I have alchohol. I can be moderate with the alchohol itself and stick to just one small glass, but then the munchies hit and I end up overeating. I have to go on the wagon to keep my weight under control.

  13. *waves* Hi my name is Sandie, and I am a Zombie eater.
    I only usually return to my normal human form once the bag of m&m’s are empty. And when questioned as to where the chocolate has gone, I am completely honest when I answer ‘I have no idea’

  14. You have just described my Habits to a T!! Do they have any Classes for Zombie eating 101?

  15. Companies spend zillions of dollars encouraging us just that so I reckon we deserve a huge pat on the back every time we resist. Plus we’re sticking to the Man!

  16. Zombie eater here – usually Salt & Vinegar chips or Chocolate Chip cookies when watching tv.
    I’ve finally stopped buying them.

  17. zombie eating…anything to feel numb and not have to feel anything. sometimes i seek gross food out on autopilot and then sometimes the gross food seeks me out. Like doughnuts, ugh, i can’t not eat them. i am going to have to give up a social group that i really enjoy all because one person keeps bringing 2 or 3 dozen of the damn things and I CANNOT keep my hand out of the box.

  18. My zombie-ism kicks in just about every night after the kids are in bed. It’s the reason I can’t lose any more weight. Not as bad as it used to be, but I still stuff my face when tired, emotional, stressed, bored, angry, depressed–you name it. If it’s a negative emotion, I’ll feed it.

    UGH! At least we aren’t alone.

    AND WAY TO GO on leaving McD’s. That’s most excellent of you. Have a lovely weekend!

  19. I used to combine the mindless type zombie action with my hamstering behaviours as a younger young woman, haven’t all women with disordered eating done something of the same? It seems more normal than not πŸ™‚ Then sometimes you wake up from the mindlessness and realise what’s goin on and you walk away, like you did. It’s so nice to know you’re a normal kinda gal πŸ™‚

  20. Lainey – I asked a gal I know who still works there if caramel sundaes existed and she said, “oh you mean toffee sundaes?” hmmmm…

    Nicola – Nice to meet you πŸ™‚ Good luck with all comrade, every country has its own set of pesky culinary landmines πŸ™‚

    Cheers for the comments everyone… hope you have a lurvely weekend!

  21. they dont do caramel any more?? shiiit! not that i plan on having one any time soon but i’d like the option!!

    (ps I live in the uk and i dont recall them being called toffee… although i was probably too transfixed with my quest of getting the ice cream that i didnt notice, lol)

  22. dudes! Looks like I’ve been misinformed. I couldn’t see ANY sundaes on the menu, but was mildly intoxicated at the time of incident (April. Takes me awhile to formulate these things into blog entries!

  23. Oh yes! Zombie behaviour invariably kicks in after a bevvie or two or with tiredness (particularly extreme tiredness) and my current speciality – deadlines. Have deadline, will eat. Mindlessly. So, lovely DG, you are NOT alone. The trick (not that I have mastered it – pause for laugh!) is to identify those moments before zombie-ness. How you took yourself home, is … beyond me right now. AWESOME!!!

    Sending you much love and big fat kiss.

    Mrs Lard xxxxxxxxxxxx

  24. Jene, Have you tried just telling the donut-bringer about your problem with them? Of course, they might still bring them, but it would be worth a shot. As you can see, youΒ΄re not alone in having overeating triggers!

  25. YES!!!! I am just like this. Sometimes I eat things that I can’t stop myself from putting in my mouth. Especially around “that time of the month”.

  26. Hi there! πŸ™‚ I just got caught up and finished reading about your Moonwalk excitement, and it sealed the deal for me. I’d love to do a walking marathon, and I’d love to go to Scotland. (I lived in Ireland for six months but always felt I’d missed my mark. πŸ™‚ And I love pink. So I’m going to combine vacation with life-changing event to train for 2009! Thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚ I’ll look out for the crotch cones.

    p.s. Will you scrounge up a handsome Scot to take me out on a date?

    Take care!

  27. to South American Slimmer – Yes, I have asked for the doughnuts to cease and desist, but the one that brings says she wants us all to join her in the naughtiness. yesterday, she only brought doughnut holes, which do not have the allure of an actual doughnut for me, so i was able to stay on plan. thanks for the suggestion.

  28. Hi Shauna,

    I too have zombie moments and find that at times I can convieniently ‘forget’ the foods that I have eaten.

    I’m trying to keep a food diary and managed a little over two weeks of writing everything down. A couple of lax days followed this and it’s been difficult to get back into the routine but it really did keep my zombie self at bay.

  29. Must be nearly Spring – I need to fit into a wedding dress in less than two weeks as well! Probably not helped by my friend plying me with sparkling wine and insisting on getting a Cheesecake Shop berry cheesecake yesterday!! I made him take all the leftovers home…

  30. I love how you’ve used “Spurlock” as a, what, an adjective? A new word for the dictionary.

    I have found myself zombie eating when I’m angry and don’t find a way to let off steam, either by resolving it or punching a wall πŸ™‚ Not so much garden-variety stress, but unresolved anger.

  31. I can totally relate to the angry eating Marla… I find kickboxing great for anger management but I can hardly put on my gloves at the office. Hehe.

    Briy – looking forward to seeing you here next year. I will cheer you on from the sidelines πŸ˜›

    Thanks for all your lovely comments comrades!

  32. I totally have Zombie moments but they’re generally in the middle of eating. Like I know conciously what I’m doing and eating, but before I know the meal was over and I forgot to enjoy it…I wonder if I even chewed it?

  33. I’m distressed that the Maccas I visit in Livingston doesn’t do hot fudge sundaes. And of course they didn’t say so until after I’d ordered and paid.

  34. My zombie eating is getting to the point that i’m seriously considering changing my job and profession . Then again, i’ll probably find new ways for freaking out in this new “stress less” job :-(.

    (i’m a graphic designer, there’s nothing better for a good zombie attack than imagining a big printjob going horribly wrong).

    How does one manage stress?

  35. Oh yes, I eat mindlessly (in that I think I consiously disconnect my mind from the damage I’m doing) when tired, stressed or upset. I can keep going even past the point of feeling ill and ingest so much sugar that it makes me hyper and unable to sleep that night. How stupid am I? (Don’t answer that!)

    Well done to you for coming to your senses in time.

    But those toffee/caramel sundaes sound as if I might have to try one – sounds yummy and I had no idea such things existed!

  36. Just out of curiosity, I checked the McDonald’s USA menu online, and not only do we have caramel sundaes, but there’s something called a “low-fat caramel dip,” whatever TF that is. I’m intrigued, but afraid to even enter a McD’s for fear of the fry smell taking over. But if you’d like me to do some research, I will be the sacrificial lamb. πŸ™‚ I’ll just bring someone with me to shake a stern finger at me if I even look like I want to order fries.

    Loved the book, am lovin’ the blog, and I wish I could have an audiobook playing in my head on demand, anytime I get tempted to stray from my “diet”/exercise goals!

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