Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Can't Diet. I'm Too Hungry.

Dieting is hard work. Cutting back on all your favorite foods when you're used to indulging in whatever you want until you are about to burst is no easy task. Yeah, I know, some people just have a light bulb moment and *boom* change everything and work hard and the weight comes off, period. But I think most people struggle with the whole lifestyle change thing.

How do you turn a taste for cheesecake and Reece's cups into a desire to eat more broccoli and cabbage? How do you train yourself to eat reasonable servings of food instead of entire packs of Oreos and pints of ice cream?

When you are used to eating a LOT of crap food, hour after hour, it is a big change to switch to a way of eating that is conducive to weight loss. I used to get up in the morning, drink a Coke, eat 3 or 4 slices of cold pizza, and then an hour later eat a couple of pieces of cake. By lunchtime I'd eaten at least 3 "meals" already... some of them consisting only of sugar and fat. My afternoon snack was a Big Mac meal at 3pm. And if you think dinner... with seconds and thirds of heaping plates of fettuccine Alfredo, 5 bread sticks, and banana pudding for dessert is the end of the day's eating, you're delusional. Because at 8 I'd have some ice cream and after I got the kids to bed I'd be eating 4 or 5 donuts at 10pm. Is it any wonder my heartburn was so bad that I often had to sleep propped up on pillows in a sitting position to avoid waking up choking on my own acid reflux? How do you go from THAT, to having breakfast, lunch, and dinner with maybe a snack or two in between? How do you cut your caloric intake by at least 75%?

You just do it. Sorry, there's no magic answer. You put the food down and tell your inner toddler, "No, you may NOT have 6 pieces of cake in one day." You let her tantrum and you just deal with it until she gets the point and accepts the food you've set out for her.

I want to clarify something. You do not have to be hungry to lose weight. "Dieting" does not mean deprivation. YES, it means you have to cut back. YES, you have to say *no* to things. But you can say *yes* to so much more!

YES to hundreds of varieties of crunchy, creamy, soft, sweet, and savory vegetables.
YES to an entire produce section of delicious, sweet, sour, juicy, tasty fruits.
YES to moving, walking, swimming, biking, feeling alive.
YES to fitting into restaurant booths, carnival rides, airplane seats, and smaller clothing sizes.
YES to life.

You can eat a great deal of healthy food for the same calories you used to spend on a junky snack. You can have a piece of frosted carrot cake for 425 calories. It will be a 3 OUNCE piece of cake. Do you know how small a 3 ounce piece of cake is?? It is barely a blip on the screen... a couple of bites. Or you can have an entire meal for even LESS calories. Which is more satisfying? What kind of skimpy "diet" lunch can you have for 400 calories, anyway? Well, you can have this...

My dinner Thursday was two Caprese stacks (red ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with olive oil and topped with salt & pepper), a big fat juicy chicken sausage filled with garlic, smoked mozzarella, and artichokes, and a hearty serving of steamed baby Brussels sprouts. Very satisfying, flavorful, nutritious, and filling. 400 calories.

Is it better to have a tiny 3 ounce piece of cake for 425 calories and still be starving and wanting more more more? No. This meal is better, on every level. Even for satisfaction.

You can create so many different delicious, healthy meals that do NOT scream "diet" at you every time you eat them. You do not have to suffer through shakes and salads, wishing for something tastier. You just have to get your mind around it and go for it. If you're not feeling it, do it anyway. Fake it til you make it.

Have a great, active, healthy weekend!

30 comments:

Joan said...

So the trade-off includes no more heartburn, no more acid reflux, better sleep and increased energy. That's just for starters!

Hallie said...

Mmm, I need to have brussel sprouts today, it has been way too long!

M said...

How do you turn a taste for cheesecake and Reece's cups into a desire to eat more broccoli and cabbage? How do you train yourself to eat reasonable servings of food instead of entire packs of Oreos and pints of ice cream?
...
You put the food down and tell your inner toddler, "No, you may NOT have 6 pieces of cake in one day." You let her tantrum and you just deal with it until she gets the point and accepts the food you've set out for her.


This is not the only answer. It's not the one I've found. My own answer is something much closer to intuitive eating—I've found that in allowing myself carrot cake and ice cream and chocolate and french fries when I actually want them, I've figured out that I don't want them all the time and moved towards normalizing my relationship with food. I have a history of eating disorders (both binge eating and restriction), and have been working with a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders. My nutritionist stresses that years of eating-disordered input, both mental and nutritional, has undermined my ability to self-regulate, and believes that the best thing for my mental and physical health is to sort of nurse that self-regulation back to life. That means eating what I want when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full, and it also means going out with friends for cocktails and dessert sometimes just to celebrate. I'm not going to tell you this is a fast process—it's not—but I've lost 60 pounds over two years and maintaining the loss doesn't feel like a monumental effort every day. I don't feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff, hanging on by a thread of desperate discipline. I'm learning not to think of my appetite as a selfish child, but as something that's there to take care of me if I treat it respectfully.

Greta said...

What a beautiful and nutritious dinner! Yum! And a thoughtful post. It IS logical...to eat well. It CAN be hard...but is indeed entirely do-able. I like the tantrum toddler analogy. I will remember that next time I want cake. :)

bride09 said...

How do you turn a taste for cheesecake and Reese's cups into a desire to eat more broccoli and cabbage?

By eating more broccoli and cabbage!! It's a simplified answer, to be sure, but I find that once I "cleanse" the junk food from my diet, my body adapts quickly to the healthy foods and craves them instead. I think anyone can get to that point - the key is to hang in there with the change long enough for this transition to take place. By eating filling, whole foods and lots of fiber, SO MANY cravings are kept at bay, and it's no longer such a struggle....junk food doesn't call to me anymore. NOT because I don't love it, but because I'm satisfied with what I'm eating instead.

Autumnforest said...

One thing I learned about weight loss that I never thought of before is that you have to eat the calories it takes to maintain your goal weight. So, if you're eating the calories a 140 pound woman needs to exist and maintain 140 pounds, a 240 pound woman is going to feel hungry. Her body is desperately telling her to eat the calories necessary to maintain 240 pounds. I found that If I filled my plate half full and sat down and made myself eat slowly by setting the fork down between bites, it took longer to eat, I felt satisfied, but not stuffed, and I stopped there and didn't allow "seconds." I remind myself over and over...the food is always there, I'm not going to go hungry. Eat enough to stop the hunger pangs and stop there. Eventually, as you drop a pound or too it gets easier and easier because your body is less hungry on those lower calories because it needs less calories. It's really, for me, a matter of being present. Recognizing when I feel sick full and when I feel satisfied. I remind myself, as pregnant woman eat for two, I am eating for half. You seem to have a really good grasp on the process and especially the internal one which is the biggest hurdle. Eventually, you do kind of click with it. I used to have panic attacks 20 years ago and I remember someone telling me to sit through them, nothing will happen and they'll calm down and go away (as opposed to rushing up and running around and freaking out and them getting worse). It took all my courage to sit through the first panic attack and eventually I realized the rise and fall (kind of like an orgasm, actually) and then I lost my fear of them and they went away and never came back again. I know weight loss is like that. I have to sit through the gnawing feeling and realize it won't kill me. Usually, an hour later I realize I had been hungry an hour ago and now the sensation is gone. Once I master the "sitting through it" part, I know I'll beat it, just like the panic attacks. After all, my body is trying to adjust to 1400 calories versus 2500.

Ginger and Brent said...

Your post was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I have been doing Weight Watchers since the first of the year and have lost 40 pounds. The last 2-3 months have really been a struggle. Let's just be honest, sticking to program for the last 2-3 months has been NADA! I hang out on a mesage board that has a "bootcamp" mentality that I thought would help, but even that hasn't ben enough to motivate me lately. Yesterday I took a day off work to try to get my head back in gear - some quiet *me* time to try to focus my inner self. I picked up some cookbooks from the library and am spending the day getting my kitchen back in order. Today I will begin again - healthy foods in the fridge, scale on the counter journal in hand. I think you are correct in that most of us struggle - we just have to keep *beginning again*. One thing is certain - we won't fail unless we just quit trying.

Love your blog!

Ruby Leigh said...

I don't think have a "light bulb" or "magic" moment, maybe there is a turning point, but it's always a process. They might just say thing like "I did a 180" or so on the outside or in their blog, but on some level mentally or otherwise it was a process, occasionally punctuated by realizations.

ocdgirl2000 said...

Remember that BIG FOOD agribusiness has a stake in this. They could care less whether you get sick with heart disease. They only want you to buy their products. They spend a fortune in lobbying the gov congress and senate stuffing their pockets to keep quiet so that they can do whatever they want as far as advertising in very unhealthy ways! They have made our country sick and obese. All one has to do is look at the CDC stats. Even our children are suffering for it. But you won't see the gov do anything. They like that lobby money and election campaign contribution money coming in. just go to opensecrets dot org and look for the agribusiness grocery manufacturers you will see! Pepsico a la frito lay! It's no coincidence that they have a firm hold on every grocery store entryway and the middle sections that you can't miss seeing no matter where you turn. It's NOT just you...don't blame your hunger completely..some of this is marketing brainwashing! just think carefully while you shop. You will have to buy items that are NOT junk or brand name, and cook your own food. This will stop the games, and will cure the problem. Cooking your own food and becoming independent instead of relying on instant gratification will automatically give you what you need, health wise, and economically!

Susannah said...

Great post, Lyn! I am always amazed when I read of people who just do it, make the changes, full speed head and so on and lose all their weight in one shot. That's not me! I started in March 2007 at 268 lbs. and here I am in Oct. 2009 at 181 lbs. 16 lbs. or so to my goal weight. Big changes have happened, obviously, but what a struggle! Today I made cheesecake brownies for a party and I did not lick a beater, a bowl, eat the crumbs or cutoff edges - saying YES to health since one sugar treat leads me straight to another. Well, full disclosure - I had a tooth out yesterday and I am convincing myself that sugar will be very painful in my mouth :) But I have eaten past pain before. I like how well you explained putting yes in place of no. So I will remember that NO to sugar means YES to size 14 jeans! Thanks, Lyn! Take care and enjoy the weekend.

Salted with Shadows said...

The weight-loss surgery has helped me a great deal with portion control, but drinking lots of liquids helps me feel less hungry, too. Great post.

Lidian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyn said...

Lidian~

Here's a calorie breakdown:
Large tomato - 38
Bel Gioioso fresh mozzarella, 2 oz (80 cal/oz) - 160
4 leaves fresh basil - 1
olive oil, 1 tsp - 40
Bistro Sensations Chicken Sausage, smoked mozzarella with garlic and artichokes - 110
Birdseye Steamfresh Baby Brussels Sprouts, 1 package - 50
Total Calories: 399

Lyn said...

Whoops, looks like Lidian deleted her own comment. Anyway, she was asking about how this meal could be 400 calories with so much cheese. Hope my breakdown helps explain that!

ctina said...

Great post! I have the same struggles daily. But, for me the best thing is NOT to buy large portions of any junk food. If I have ice cream or chips I need to make sure it's one serving only. I'll pay more for one serving. If I buy a box of something or a big bag it's sure to be gone quickly and I'm sure to eat more than I actually mean to.

I was getting into a bad pint-a-night of ice cream or sorbet lately, and just decide to replace it with a single serving bag of Pop Chips. For some reason, the heavy dose of salt satiates me, and I can crunch while watching TV. If I got a big bag (which I won't) it would be gone in an instant.

Lynn Haraldson-Bering said...

Yup. You nailed it (again). There IS no easy way around cake, but dammmm, that meal you made looked fabulous (even for a vegetarian ...lol)

Obese Swan said...

THANK YOU Lynn! I needed this post and I will have to get to to my phone somehow to read over and over! I am glad you answered the post that was deleted as I wanted to know what brand that sausage was. LOL You are so very right and we all know this but forget sometimes. I ate the same thing at work for lunch two weeks ago that make me feel like I was eating to much but I wasn't. Spinach salad,chopped whole tomato with spicy thai tuna and an orange, apple or peach, and banana. 5 servings of fruits and veggies in one lunch. Very yummy and filling!

Kevin said...

From the Guardian: "If you eat badly, you might resolve to start eating well, but if you're eating burgers and ice-cream to feel comforted, relaxed and happy, trying to replace them with broccoli and carrot juice is like dealing with a leaky bathroom tap by repainting the kitchen. What's required isn't a better diet, but an alternative way to feel comforted and relaxed."

http://bit.ly/kWCos

theophilusacademy said...

Great post! As cliche as it sounds, it DOES get easier the longer you are at it!

And regaining your health is soooo worth it in the end!!!

Keep up the good work and start mentally preparing yourself for the holidays. That is what I'm blogging about this week!!!!

My Own Two Feet said...

For me, it really comes down to rethinking how you view food as a whole. When I view food as comfort, convenience, coping mechanism, I struggle.

However, when I accept that food is PRIMARILY a fuel, I thrive. I still recognize that I should enjoy eating, but not as the expense of putting bad fuel into my body.

Just like you wouldn't put the cheapest gas into a mercedes benz, I don't put bad food into my body.

Holly L. said...

Hi Lyn,
Thank for a great post. I love Kevin's post especially because I've recently come face to face with the healthy v. comfortable challenge. Cutting calories may not directly fix my use of eating for comfort, but it does force me to seek out alternatives when food is not available. My lifestyle changes also include going to the gym and seeking out alternatives to all the time I used to spend eating. I'm down 50 pounds, in a healthy BMI, and still working through it to stay here, but I think it is the exact source of my eating issues.

Crys said...

The title of the post made me laugh out loud! This post was exactly what I need to read today! I've been off program from about a month and struggling to get back on track but you're so right. I know better and I'm not giving into my own tantrum. Great dinner too.

justjuliebean said...

Your dinner looks super delicious, yummy. I'm more following the same approach as M, more of an intuitive eating and working with myself rather than thinking of myself as someone to be controlled/restrained, and I am successful with weight loss by doing it bride09's way, I eat a lot of really good stuff, so much so that if I occasionally crave a slice of cake or pizza and eat it, it's not a big deal at all. Though as with M, weight loss is slow, but that's okay, it's painless.

Tammy said...

Love it when you post the food pics...I'm having a GREAT weekend...everything is right on track....hope you are too! :)

Melissa said...

that dinner looks so good... :)

Mzchef said...

Great post, love the very true perspective and wonderful pictures.

justjuliebean said...

Hey Lyn, one thing that you may have to look forward to is how easy maintenance will probably be if you can keep even relatively healthy eating habits. I got obese from eating way too much, and bingeing and dieting, and while it's not really easy to lose weight (I'm 40), it's very easy to maintain, as long as I'm not eating excessively. Without restricting too much. I wanted to mention though it's not relevant because it helps me psychologically to know that I can stop thinking/working on weight loss, and not backslide (within reason, of course). If I got fat eating 3 pieces of pizza followed by ice cream, I don't stress if I eat a slice from time to time-I may not lose, but I won't gain

Brenda said...

Don't you just love those chicken sausages?! I just tried the one stuffed with cheese, chilope, and raspberry~yum! I like to make whole grain pasta and let these cook in the water with the pasta and then cut them up for the pasta after it has drained.
As far as wanting the forbidden foods that I can no longer eat on a regular basis...I look as my calories of the day like my check book. There are a LOT of clothes/shoes I would love to go out and buy all at once but can't. I save for them. That means eating especially healthy all week and working out x-tra, then getting my piece of cheesecake and EATING IT SLOWLY AND ENJOYING IT. Or WALKING to dairy queen and getting that icecream cone.
As far as the 'day in the life of the old you', you described the old me to a tee ;)

Mama Bear June said...

Amen! And dark chocolate can be incorporated into those healhty meals, too. It's a MUFA! :-)
Path to Health

Marsha said...

Very Low Carb. I like this meal!