Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Comfortable Pattern of Eating

Whenever I am eating "on plan," whatever that weight loss/healthy eating plan may be, I feel more content. There is a comfort in the soothing rhythm of knowing WHEN to eat, WHAT to eat, HOW MUCH to eat instead of trying to wing it all day long and eating based on a whim. I like the predictable, nearly thoughtless pattern of my eating these days: 8am, 10am, 12:30pm, 3pm, 6pm, 8:30pm. No major thought, limited choices, just living in between the eating rather than obsessing every moment about what to eat next.

It's no wonder that when I eat off plan and do the old 'grazing' thing where I let my mind and appetites lead my food choices, I end up with heart palpitations. Maybe it's because I overstuff my stomach, or because sugar has a bad effect on me. I feel ill when I do that. A typical off plan day used to be:

7am: coffee, sugar, creamer... maybe 2 cups
8am: a couple slices of leftover pizza. I eat, I am full, but all I can think about is "what's next?"
9am: donuts (I always used to alternate sweet and savory, over and over, so I didn't get 'sick' of the food)
10am: chips, a couple hot dogs, Coke
noon: pizza, Coke, chips, cheese, pickles, cookies
At this point I would be just sick from overstuffing myself. Misery. Let the food digest awhile.
3pm: Big Mac meal
4pm: come home and bake brownies and eat several. Obsess because I saw a Doritos ad and all I can think about is Doritos. Make a store run for Doritos, and eat them dipped in sour cream.
6pm: fettuccine Alfredo and garlic bread for dinner. Afterwards, HAVE TO HAVE something sweet. Couple of brownies.
8pm: kids in bed! Now I can eat! grilled peanut butter/banana/bacon sandwich
10pm: pint of Ben & Jerry's

Now, I am not kidding here, my WHOLE DAY would be about food on a day like that. I cannot believe how much my stomach used to hold. I would obsess about the "next thing" all day long, never really being satisfied with what was in front of me. I was looking for something I could not get from food, but I didn't realize that.

The eating pattern was LIKE having heart palpitations. No predictable rhythm, alarming discomfort, scattered times and amounts and kinds of foods. Very disjointed and it interfered with my life. I could not relax and let it go.

Now, it is simple. Like the calm, predictable pattern of a normal heartbeat, my eating happens without must thought. It's automated and healthy and simple. It allows me to live my life without food obsession. It is a very comfortable way to be.

Look at the patterns of food and eating in your life. Maybe, if your eating is interfering with your *life* or your thoughts or your ability to relax, it might be helpful to set up a predictable, simple schedule and pattern for your eating. Set times, set amounts, set *things* that you eat. It takes some of the work out of weight loss when you have this all figured out and don't have to re-figure it every single day... or every single meal. You can free up your time and mental energy for other things if you don't have to think, worry, and obsess about your food.

I feel like I am relaxing in a boat floating down the river these days, rather than frantically hanging on as I navigate the rapids, always worried the boat will tip and forever trying to keep my balance while wiping the spray out of my eyes. Even on the hard days, the stressful days, when I follow my regular eating patterns, the waters are calmer.

I wish that for you, as well.


Mrs. Crumpet said...

I have to agree, for the first time ironically before I read this post I planned my day, and I feel so good as I sit here and eat my breakfast! Thank you for a wonderful post!


Ann-Marie said...

I do not do well when I don't have a plan. I graze more and then I make bad choices.When I plan and make healthy meals I don't think about eating all day.

Beth at Obesity Strike said...

I agree, I do so much better with a plan. It saves me so much agony.

And wow that is a lot of food and I'm sure I had more than that on many a day...

-J.Darling said...

It feels great to live up to a plan, in whatever form of life you happen to plan. Living up to your own expectations causes you to raise the bar for yourself and meeting challenges is fun! :) Way to go Lynn! People freak out when they hear that I can feed myself for about 10 days off $25. I eat fresh, healthy food, cook at home, and keep things simple. ;) As my dad says - Make a plan and work your plan!

Lori said...

You are so right. Once you get the healthy patterns down there is so much more mental energy. Sometimes, I wonder how I managed to get through work since I spent so much time thinking about food!

Anonymous said...

It's true - you eat more but are still hungry.

judy said...

I agree... things go much smoother for me during the week when I can plan what and when to eat. To some, it's boring, but I need that structure. The weekends, however, still kill me!

Vee and the Kid said...

I still obsess about food, even when on plan. I have for decades, and haven't progressed to the point where food and eating no longer matters to me.

I'll get there.

Vee at

Tamzin said...

me too! Its coming. I can totally feel the tension in that diary of food. I know that feeling, I am still living in that. Trying to reign myself in to stop the mad food-lust.

Its coming. :) Its nice to know there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this lyn.

Toyin O. said...

Sounds like you are making good progress,keep it up.

Ann K. said...

I am in the same boat as Vee.

I have this part of me that wants to rebel so badly and I do it through food. I can eat very well when I control my eating because I love organization and am a perfectionist but I *want* to break away. Classic self-sabotage in a way.

Jane said...

I understand completely what your are saying about "a comfortable pattern of eating. That is when I lost weight--is when I am eating in a predictable pattern--often keeping my foods in a cycle of repitition. I also get heart palpitations when I veer off course, and it is no fun and quite frightening. Thank you for reminding about that way of eating. I need to get back into that in a more meaningful way.

Diandra said...

Geez, just reading that made me feel sick.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat, but strangely it seems to help with my healthy eating and loosing weight, since I spend so much time researching food stuff and recipes. But I guess everyone needs to find his or her own pace and style.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lyn - I have been grazing for a couple of days,wndering why I cannot get back on plan. Your words helped me see that I was letting something that is bothering me emotinlally pull me off.

Back to Plan - back to peace!

Rhi said...

Hi Lyn,
I really do agree with this post. I am a grazer by nature, but what has worked for me is just reining in and refreshing how I graze; the only actual 'meal' I eat is breakfast, and then I eat 4 smaller meals throughout the day. If I eat big meals only once or twice, I find myself feeling very hungry then eating too much. It's all about being aware of what you're eating, like you said. Great post!