Sunday, December 11, 2016

Weigh In, and Recipe: Low Carb "Tater Tot Casserole"

If you're coming for the recipe, scroll down to the end of this post. There is a picture as well at the end so anyone coming just to read the weigh in but who wants to avoid food pictures can skip the recipe!

Anyway... again this week: no weighing, measuring, or tracking food. Choosing very small portions. Eating whatever I would like with no lists or restrictions, but with the thoughts in mind that sugar causes me pain and keeping carbs low to moderate feels best to me (which results in choosing lower carb options). Last week I saw 254; today the scale says 253. One pound could be a fluctuation or may be the start of the downward trend long term. So this week I will continue my calm, un-obsessive way of eating. I did eat more salt than usual over the last 2 days so perhaps once the water retention goes away I will see a greater loss on the scale.

Something my kids used to like when they were little is tater tot casserole. It's a simple mix of cooked ground beef and onions mixed with cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans, and cheese, then topped with frozen tater tots and baked. I haven't made it in awhile but my son requested it last week. It sounded so good to me! I decided to try and make this healthier by adding more vegetables, skipping the canned cream of mushroom soup, and baking part of it without tots. I found a recipe on a low carb cooking site that looked like it would fit the bill, so I changed it up a bit. Here it is.

Modified from this recipe: Green Bean and Hamburger Casserole ("tot free tater tot casserole")

1/2 pound of 93% extra lean ground beef
14-ounce can of French cut green beans, well drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 Tablespoons of light mayonnaise (I used Best Foods Light)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder

Brown the hamburger, onion, celery and mushrooms; drain the fat. Mix all ingredients in a small (approx 8" by 8") casserole dish or pie pan sprayed with Pam. Bake, uncovered, at 375ยบ for 30 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

4 servings. Each serving contains:

215 calories
18 g protein
6 g carbs
2 g fiber
12 g fat

(The "regular" recipe for tater tot casserole contains almost 500 calories, 24 g fat, and 37 g carbs per serving... not to mention far more sodium).

low carb tater tot casserole

As you can see, I topped mine with a few frozen tater tots before baking, which added about 130 calories and 15 grams of carbs (for 7 tots). Obviously if you are really keeping your carbs low, you'd want to use cauli-tots for this recipe. I am lower to moderate on the carb scale (and I don't count carbs) so a few taters on occasion works for me.

When I make this again, I will double the green beans and mushrooms but keep everything else the same. It was really good and I'd like to try it with the cauli-tots next time!

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Variety Over Volume: No More Binges

Today I wanted to share something about how I was able to overcome Binge Eating Disorder, which truly changed my life. Binge Eating is a whole lot different than obsessive food thoughts, although a binge usually began with those thoughts for me when I was actively binge eating (which you can read plenty about in the early days of my blog, before I stopped binge eating). Over the last couple years I have not binged, but have struggled at times with the constant, nagging, obsessive intrusion of food thoughts that just *would not* go away until I gave in and ate that specific food. That is the same process that started a lot of binges in the past, but the end result was very different. I always felt *driven* to eat ALL of whatever food I was craving or obsessing over, and once it was gone I just felt like I was physically unable to STOP eating even more... so would eat huge volumes of food at once until I could not fit one more bite into my stomach, stretched to its largest capacity. But after I stopped binge eating, I found that even when driven by obsessive thoughts, I could get that food, eat one or two servings, and stop eating. That is the main difference, in my experience, between the two disorders.

Now that the obsessive "voices" have quieted and calmed because of my non-restrictive (but also moderate by choice) eating, one of the things that has happened to me is that I am able to be very satisfied with small, sometimes ridiculously tiny amounts of food. Strangely enough, I first figured this out at restaurants. I would see something on the menu that sounded good, order it, and even if it was amazingly delicious, would be satisfied and "done" after a few bites. At first this made me mad! After Medifast, my stomach had shrunk to a much smaller size and I was not even *able* to eat a huge meal anymore... but even more amazing to me was the fact that I had no desire to eat large volumes anymore. I still don't... but I would get mad at the restaurants because they "make" you buy a huge entree just to have a little bit of it! Yes, I could take it home and have it later, but I often wished they would serve mini portions so I could have a little of this and a little of that. One solution I found was that many restaurants have a menu for Seniors which is a bit cheaper and has much smaller portions. I am obviously not a senior citizen but every time I have asked, I have been allowed to order from the Seniors menu. In a few cases I have even been allowed to order from the Kids' menu, which has even smaller portions! I love this! I have also taken to splitting some foods with people I am dining with (trading, say, a little of their appetizer for most of my dessert).

At home, it's easy. I really enjoy variety. I cook several things have just have a little bit of each. At potlucks and parties, even better! I can have a full plate of food (just ONE plate... that is plenty) and have lots of things if my portions are tiny. I like to have larger portions of the healthiest items like meats and vegetables, and then very small portions of anything else I'd like. I find I am quite content with one bite of sweet potatoes, one cracker, one little cheese cube, etc. Really some of my portions look kind of silly to other people (as someone commented earlier, why would anyone eat a third of a Clementine? They are already tiny!) but it is enough and I am satisfied. I know that if I decide to eat some chips I am happy with 2 or 3 of them. If I really really want cheesecake I am great with 2 bites of the filling, no crust. I can literally put 2 tablespoons of au gratin potatoes on my plate and feel happy with that amount. I no longer want to eat the WHOLE package of food or a giant bowl of anything. I would much rather just have a taste! And that is a completely different, and much healthier mindset from both the binge eating of the distant past and the obsessive eating of more recent times. The DRIVE to eat is gone, and replaced my a calmness even about the foods that look exceptionally tasty to me. I know I can have them, and a little is enough.

Try tiny portions. You might be shocked at how little you can be satisfied with! You can always go back for more!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Whatcha Eating? Non Disordered Eating

One of the most frequent questions I get about my blog is, and has always been, "what are you eating?" Whether I am on some strict plan or just winging it like I am now, people want to know what my "diet" looks like (diet in the sense of what I am eating... NOT in the sense of a weight loss diet plan). Well, like I'd mentioned, I tend to avoid sugar or have it in small amounts. This week I started deliberately choosing less carbs. I eat small portions... sometimes just a bite or two of a food I want, and it's enough. I am hoping I can keep eating whatever I like, with no lists of restrictions and no totally off limit foods... and the scale will go down.

I'll just leave you with what I ate yesterday and today to give an idea what this looks like. I don't weigh and measure any of my food so I will just give approximate amounts.


Breakfast: decaf coffee with 1 tsp black strap molasses and some half and half
another cup of coffee with sugar free caramel creamer
one poached egg and 2 slices of bacon

Snack: protein bar and a mug of hot chicken stock

Lunch: Wonderslim (low carb/high protein) cheese steak macaroni
roasted acorn squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper (maybe a half cup)

Snack: a string cheese and piece of beef jerky

Dinner was a potluck:

2 small baked chicken thighs without the skin
a few slices of Bratwurst with a couple bites of sauerkraut
2 pieces of raw broccoli dipped in Ranch
cucumber olive salad in vinaigrette, about a half cup
a deviled egg
a spoon of pea/bacon salad
a very small spoon of fruit salad
a small roll with butter
a few bites of cheesecake, no crust
(okay, so this sounds like a lot of food but it all fit on one regular size plate. Variety, not volume!)

Evening snack: warm milk with honey and cinnamon


Breakfast: decaf coffee with molasses and cream
Egg Beater omelette with bacon, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese
another cup of coffee with sugar free creamer

Lunch: 2 slices of bacon, 1/3 of an avocado, and a Clementine
another cup of coffee with half and half
a couple bites of baked chicken

half a banana with natural peanut butter on it

Dinner (at a Christmas party):
half of a small baked potato topped with a little grated cheese, butter, bacon bits, sour cream, and green onions
half a plate of mixed green salad with cucumbers, no dressing
a small spoon of green bean casserole (the kind with mushroom soup)
dessert was one dark chocolate truffle
decaf coffee with half and half

Evening: hot, plain orange herbal tea and a string cheese

Sound good? It was good! Sound restrictive? Totally not! Of course, both days were a bit out of the ordinary with the potluck and party. Normal eating will have less variety but about the same volume. Notice I am eating a bit of carbs. Yes, even potato... even dessert. But not TOO much carby stuff. I don't eat potatoes, bread, or desserts on a daily basis, but can have them once in awhile. I feel so good, and if this way of eating results in weight loss (even slow weight loss) I can totally, happily, and calmly continue this way of eating for the rest of my life. Guess we'll see!

**Edited to add**

To show what a normal, eating-at-home day looks like I am adding my meals today (Thursday) below for comparison, for those who asked.

Breakfast: decaf coffee with 1 tsp black strap molasses and half and half
protein shake
another cup of coffee with sugar free creamer

Lunch: 2 poached eggs
2 slices of bacon
1/4 of an avocado
1/3 of a Clementine
half a small banana with a spoon of crunchy natural peanut butter
coffee with half and half

Snack: Knudsen Cottage Doubles (cottage cheese and pineapple)

Dinner: Panko crusted chicken with a little bacon avocado Ranch dressing
steamed peas
roasted acorn squash with butter and salt

Evening plan: mug of warm milk with honey and cinnamon

Great day!

Monday, December 5, 2016

No Thanks, Don't Want a Group or a Counselor

I had a lot of comments and emails after my last post, telling me I should get a counselor or a therapist, or some kind of eating disorder specialist, or start going to a support group like OA or Weight Watchers or some other kind of therapy group. Thanks for the suggestions, but no thanks. There's really nothing new about those ideas and I do think they are valid ones. I appreciate you caring enough to make a suggestion. Sometimes people really do need an outsider helping them fix their emotional issues or heal from the past. Sometimes people do benefit from going to a group where other people have similar eating or weight related problems and everyone works on it together. That's really not something I want or would benefit from. Oh maybe if I had a *real* ED specialist who has lots of experience and training dealing with this stuff, it would help me. It probably would. We don't have anyone close by I can see who has that kind of background. I went to see the only counselor I could find who has ED experience, and wrote about that earlier in my blog. I didn't get a whole lot out of it and usually felt like I was wasting time going in there. I've been to plenty of other, mainstream and/or church-based counselors and really don't like it. I also don't like OA (in person or online) and never enjoyed Weight Watchers when I went years ago. I have been in a couple of other weight loss type, recovery type groups and they are just not my thing. And to clarify, I am not depressed, I feel good emotionally, I like my life, I am not "struggling" with any issues. I worked on a lot of the emotional stuff while I was losing weight, because I no longer had the coping mechanism of eating and had to actually deal with the issues I was trying to stuff down. Not much left.... I am happy. But yeah, the extra weight is hurting my joints and I know is not the best for my overall health, so I don't want to keep plowing happily forward from 250 to 260 to 300. No thanks!

I thought about it and decided I can continue on with my calm, unrestricted eating as long as I shift a few of my thought processes and tweak the habits a bit. I can't justify counting calories or carbs or weighing and measuring my food and risking the ED resurfacing. Instead, I will nurture that tendency I have developed to reject foods that cause me pain. It has worked very well for avoiding sugar (as a choice, not a rule), so why not for processed foods and carbs? It's really a mental process of equating the food with the result of eating it... something I was unable to do when I was blinded by food obsession. So that's, I think, the long term solution. Yes, I have always lost weight well eating low carb. But I am not going on a "diet" that restricts whole foods groups or brings up feelings of failure if I deviate from some list. My body knows what I need. This is all about staying calm and non-reactive to diet, food, weight, etc in order to let the eating disorder heal (or die!) Maybe to a person who has never had an eating disorder, these two things look the same:

I am not eating that candy bar because I need to lose weight and I have to stick to this diet.

Do I want that candy bar? No, because it would make me feel worse if I ate it.

But to someone who has struggled with binge eating, obsessive food thoughts, or compulsive overeating, these two approaches are vastly different! One is a demand, a rule, fear based, resolve driven, motivation dependent. The other gives a true choice where either option would result in emotional peace. It is self-love driven, with no risk of failure. This is my path to healing.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trying to Fix Disordered Eating Without Triggering and Without Getting Too Fat

Well this is awkward.

I've stayed pretty low sugar all week and am eating pretty regular meals and smaller portions, but wow I got a bit of a surprise on the scale because all this time I have been going up and down the same pound or two around 249-250. I am still not emotionally attached to the number on the scale but do take it as data/fact to help guide my choices (because I know that at 245+ pounds my joints hurt, so I think being lighter is healthier for me). I got 254 though and that was totally not what I would expect from reducing my sugar intake. Maybe I subbed the wrong foods for the sugary ones (stayed too carby) and that's why the gain. Anyway, I am fine with how I look and am NOT going to "diet" but I do need to get ten pounds or so off my knees in order to be functional. I am left asking myself, What to do? How to continue with my disordered eating recovery and calmness about food, while making enough changes to see a healthier weight for my joints? There is a point of restriction that triggers obsessive food thoughts and I won't go there. It feels like a awkward point right now teetering between "stay calm, no restricting, no disordered food thoughts" and "need to get some weight off for my joints, maybe I should restrict something?" Not sure what to do.