Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How I Feel About My Eating

How do I feel about my eating lately? I don't. That's right, I don't *feel* about my eating. If you've struggled with any kind of food obsession or compulsive eating, you know what it is like to be trapped in a loop of strong emotions, food thoughts... and usually, food actions. I am blessed to be once again, for the most part, freed from that kind of obsession.

And even aside from obsession, which is all about an emotional attachment to food and using eating as a reaction to one's stress or mindset, I am exceedingly thankful that I don't even have to *think* about food much these days. These days are full of emotion and thought and work and action and *none* of it revolves around food. I cannot even tell you how grateful I am that I have to expend so little energy and thought in the direction of eating right now. I am on auto-pilot: open a packet and eat it. By the clock, 8, 10, 12, 3, 6 and 9. Grab and go. I have to do basically *nothing.* It is SO helpful. Today my brain was working constantly, going 100 mph all day without a break while I called doctors and hospitals and pharmacies, schools and experts and the insurance company. I was on the go getting last minute Christmas gifts, taking paperwork to doctors' offices, and running my daughter to and from school and dance. I was stressed. And all I had to do was, without thinking or considering what I FELT like eating, grab a Medifast shake to drink in the car or a Medifast bar to eat between phone calls. All I had to do when I finally got home at 7 and fed the kids from the freezer was to pop a bag of Steamfresh broccoli in the microwave, measure out a cup and a half onto a plate for myself, top it with some reduced fat cheddar, and grab a hard boiled egg from the fridge to complete my easy, on plan dinner. Last night all I had to do was nuke a piece of leftover spaghetti squash lasagna from the freezer for myself. Easy. No thinking. No wondering, "hmmm, what do I FEEL like eating?" Because if I had stopped to consider my emotions, I'd have eaten a lot of pizza and quite a few chocolate chip cookies.

I don't mean I never get a craving. Heck, the other day when my kids were baking, I walked in the kitchen and really stared hard at those cookies. I even leaned over and smelled them. For a split second my inner brat tried to start a sentence in my head: "you could just eat..." But she never finished the sentence. I said "shut up" and walked out of the kitchen, and within a minute I didn't care about the cookies anymore.

Being low enough carb to stay in mild ketosis is key for me to lose weight. I get that. Staying under about 100 grams of carbs per day AND staying off sugar, salty stuff, fried foods, grains, etc results in me losing a lot of my obsession about food as well as my hunger and cravings. I feel freed to spend my energy on other things... to focus on important things. I am so thankful for that. Because I can tell you what I *would* be doing right now under these circumstances if I were not on Medifast. I would have used drive-thrus and fast food liberally this week and would have eaten an awful lot of the holiday sugar I see in the grocery stores lately. If I had to *think* about what to choose to eat... if I was basing my choices on emotion... oh man. I'd be in trouble right now. Miserable. Ineffective. In more pain than I already am. So yes, I am thankful... so thankful that I do not have to make a *choice* every few hours about what to eat. The only choice I have to make is: stay on plan? Or not? I decided already. Now if I can survive occasional moments of weakness, like I did with the cookies the other day, the weight loss and sense of control will continue. So that's what I need to do. And obviously I need an "autopilot plan" of easy-to-grab, always-on-hand mini meals that are rich in protein and low in carbs for when I am not on Medifast anymore. I already know a few things that work, like low fat string cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, and other brands of protein bars and ready to drink shakes, but I want a good sized list... 10 or 15 options that I can always keep on hand... so that when I am stressed or busy, I don't revert back to bad habits because I eat what I *feel* like eating.

My weight is stable at 211 pounds every day this week; stress is probably a factor as well as lack of sleep. My feet are back to hurting as badly as they ever did and I have to take Aleve to get through the day. I haven't heard from the rheumatologist yet but that'll come.

Tomorrow my girl and I will go see Santa. That will make everything better for awhile.

I wish you peace, and I wish you to feel loved, safe, and happy during this holiday season.

23 comments:

Fair Enough said...

Just saying...you don't have to be on Medifast to experience this sort of feeling. I'm surely not.

Many of my days are spent on this kind of auto-pilot and it worries me that you seem to be unable to achieve this feeling/mindset WITHOUT being on Medifast, since the plan isn't to be on it forever.

What are your thoughts on this? Curious. I never really see you make posts like this when you are on a "normal foods" plan.

Fair Enough said...

Wanting to add in-I think you make out "normal eating" to be way too much of an emotionally-driven, a million choices type of thing. It's really not that way if you don't want it to be.

Just because you aren't on Medifast or whatever similar plan doesn't mean you have all the choices in the world. You don't. You don't have the option to get fast food if you choose to NOT MAKE THAT AN OPTION.

You control your choices and what you do, where you go. All eating can be very portable and easy, do that if it works for you like you're saying. You're making it sound like if it weren't for Medifast, you 100% would be going to drive-thrus and eating cookies...why? When you decide you solidly want to stick to a plan, you wouldn't be doing those things period. If you really wanted to, you could be eating poorly right now, but you're not. It isn't because you're on Medifast it's because you're choosing to stick to its rules...

Lyn said...

Fair~

I think it is about keeping my carb levels lower. I was able to maintain pretty good control and have this type of mindset for most of the last few months eating low carb... I just wasn't losing weight on 1300-1400 calories. I felt pretty good, but was basically maintaining. It did take a lot more effort on a daily basis for me to figure out what to eat, because Primal/low carb while grain free was a new way of eating for me.

As for the second comment, if I were not on a controlled carb diet... Medifast or otherwise... I would still be dealing with very difficult food obsessions. It is not really a choice when one has an eating disorder. You might say the same thing to an anorexic, telling them they control their choices and it doesn't have to be emotionally driven... but to a person with an eating disorder, it is not so simple. Compulsive eating, obsessive eating, binge eating, bulemia... all make it much more difficult. It's not just a matter of deciding how you want it to be and making it so.

Taryl said...

I get it, that's how I feel on Atkins almost all of the time. In the beginning it was difficult and obsessing, but it's completely autopilot now and I prefer it. Even when I 'struggle' with a craving or too much stress, it is nothing like it was out of ketosis or pre-diet years! Worlds apart.

Deniz said...

Hi Lyn
I'm still learning about low-carb living but find the following 'grab & go' snacks that I can prepare ahead of time and take with me in a little bag or box help me:
- Macadamia and hazel nuts
- Berries in small amounts (esp. strawberries & blueberries)
- Beef jerky/biltong
- Hard cheese (that can easily be cut into little nibbly morsels)
- Olives - all sorts
- Cooked meats (esp. chicken breast, 'some' ham, but not all)
- Peanut butter (I put a spoon or two in a Lock&Lock tub)
- Greek yoghurt (I mix in crushed flax seeds usually or make it into dips with herbs or mustard for veggie crudites)
- Hard boiled eggs (they travel well in the shell)
- Left-over frittata
- Marinated anchovies
- Toasted coconut chips
- Little Gem lettuce leaves spread with 'cream' cheese (these need to be eaten fairly quickly though)
I'm planning to try out kale chips too - I think these might be good.
Al the best with it and let us know if you find any other good ideas.
Hugs, Deniz

CatherineMarie said...

Lyn,

I agree with Fair Enough.. and am concerned.
Have you thought at all about HOW you are going to transition from packet food to making choices? I'm worried that you are just doing the same kind of thing as "fast food", just subbing Medifast foods for the fast food. Its still processed, and out of a packet. What happens when you've lost the weight? Because you will still be on a very low-calorie maintenance... and "packet food" seems to have been your downfall in the past, your temptation.

Part of the non-obsession may be just because you are busy, and focused on something else. Good luck.

i should be full said...

I completely get what you are saying here and I think it's wonderful that you've been able to break free from the food-obsessed-emotion-driven eating. I have lived many years in that space and I know that sometimes having to make choices about what to eat and when to eat is just too difficult.

As I've said before, I think you and I have the same make and model of an eating disorder! :)

I think your plan of having 10-15 quick and easy on-the-go food choices (for when you finish losing the weight and complete Medifast) is a great idea. That's what I've done all along and it really helps! About once a week I get my old cooking craving back and I spend a couple of hours creating a more elaborate meal that's still on-plan. But with kids to take care of, work, a house, and a husband, I don't have time to go through all of that everyday. It bogs me down.

I've got about 12 things that I reach for regularly that are low-carb and high-protein (but vary on the low to high fat scale) so I can feel safe that I can eat on the run. Many are the same as yours like cheese sticks, peeled hard boiled eggs, and Greek yogurt. I have a couple more you might like:

Ham & Cheese Wrapped Asparagus:
http://ishouldbefull.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/ham-cheese-wraps/
These things are a life saver. They are a super snack and I wrap 5 or 6 in saran wrap and can grab them out of the fridge and it's basically a full meal.

My food plan requires that I eat 2 tbsp of oat bran each day. I figured out how to make low-carb, SF, chocolate oat bran muffins. They are amazing for the mornings when I'm in a rush and need to have breakfast on the go. They feel decadent!
http://ishouldbefull.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/chocolate-oat-bran-muffins/

I always have some of your cauliflower pizza crusts in the freezer ready to go. They are a life saver! Sometimes, I make them as regular pizza and sometimes I top them with salsa and shredded chicken breast and reduced fat Mexican cheese blend. Such a treat!

I also always have chicken salad or tuna salad made in the fridge. I bought these flax crackers that are SF, Gluten Free, and low-carb (9 of the 10 carb grams are from fiber!). They go great with the chicken and tuna salad. Here are two different brands:
http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-In-The-Kitchen-Flaxseed/dp/B0078DQ8G2/ref=pd_sim_gro_2
http://www.amazon.com/Foods-Alive-Cracker-Variety-flavors/dp/B004I5KO9K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1356013022&sr=8-2&keywords=flackers

I also found that there is a brand of deli meat, Citterio, that sells little individual packages of 6 small slices of hard salami and 6 small slices of provolone. They are super easy to grab out of the fridge and throw in my purse. They won't last all day without chilling, but if I know I'm going to have a chance to eat it within an hour it's fine.

I'm so glad to hear the peace in your voice. Enjoy it! Normal eating can be a brutally exhausting experience for some of us. I know, I've lived it most of my life. You deserve the respite you have now!

i should be full said...

@Fair Enough:
I hear what you are saying about choosing to stick to the rules, but there are some ways of eating that make it impossible to stick to the rules no matter how good our intentions are. It's because our bodies and our minds react to that food differently from those who have never had an eating disorder or have never been obese. A broken insulin response in and of itself can make managing "normal eating" nearly impossible on certain food plans. You are right, Medifast isn't a forever plan, but if it teaches a person how to break free from the very real food obsession it's a blessing and its lessons can be applied later once a person hits goal.

Connie said...

This is how I've been feeling since changing my diet. I have a handful of set side dishes, and I eat the same thing for lunch every day. After a while of making these things repetitively, I don't have to think about them any more. When I am ready to eat, I just eat. No stress involved.

Lyn said...

Deniz and I should be full~

Thank you for the lists of suggestions! That's great! I am starting my list now and including those so I have it ready when I transition.

CatherineMarie~

It is a valid concern. It doesn't take much some days to trigger off plan eating. But there is a world of difference between the fast food/frozen pizza/candy bar kind of eating and the nutritious, easy convenience foods such as those listed above. I have to change my habits of what I automatically do when I don't have time to think or cook. In the past it was a Snickers bar or a Big Mac. If I can turn that into a hard boiled egg or ham & cheese wraps, that's a win!

I plan to transition to Primal/Paleo after Medifast because it is much easier to keep my blood sugar steady and avoid impulse eating when I am on that type of plan.

Anonymous said...

Lyn,
I completely understand your post..... And for those who have commented with their concerns I agree whole heatedly. That's why the transition part of the program is more important than anything. I actually think the ability for you to not worry about food for a while is a mental health blessing. It won't feel like this forever and I'm pretty sure you already know that..... But for what it's worth I understand your reason and applaud your choice to stay on plan, especially during this difficult time and during the holidays. I would still love for you to consider some sessions with a therapist. I think learning how to cope with the daily challenges without catastrocizing them would help. I know some of the issues are indeed catastrophic but learning to deal with it would help so very much. Merry Christmas to your family. :)
Theresa

Lyn said...

Thanks theresa,

actually I'd love some sessions with a therapist. I have spent many hours, several times over the past few years, trying to find one nearby. I just cannot afford to pay $50 a week copay for that, especially with the hundreds and hundreds in copays I am already paying for doctor appt, PT, specialists etc. Dishing out $60/week for PT is VERY hard to come up with and is going to have to stop soon, sadly. No one will do a sliding fee scale here if a person already has insurance. Believe me, I've tried.

Human In Progress said...

I've read your blog for a long time. So I've read several posts very much like this one already...and I can predict where the story goes next. I can guess what kinds of things I'll be reading a year from now.

I don't say this with malice or smugness. I too am eating disordered. I understand how slow true progress can be.

I'm afraid the weight loss and convenience you experience with Medifast is being mistaken for true progress, when the program is actually little more than a temporary fix that causes additional problems in the long run. Fair Enough and CatherineMarie make good points too.

I'm sorry you've been going through a rough time lately and genuinely hope you find your way out of this mess. I hope that for all of us with disordered eating.

Lyn said...

Human in Progress~

to me, the progress made the last time I did Medifast was vast. I learned so much about what will *work* for me, but more importantly, I was able to permanently stop binge eating. That in itself is a small miracle to me. I never thought I could stop the binges, but I did, and I've maintained that progress. The food obsession is a much smaller and less life-affecting remnant of the disordered eating of my past, and I am hopeful that that, too, can be erased or at least lessened to a great degree permanently by the changes in my eating and the mental work I have done over the years.

Anonymous said...

In a perfect world where all we had to do was control and make the "right" choices regarding food, we would all be thin! Its just not that simple for those of us that have food addictions and emotional reactions tied to food. Limiting the choices, having strict boundaries and less "thinking" gives some of us the structure to be succesful in reaching our goal, while changing our behaviour. I started on Medifast for those very reasons. And I've been on every diet plan there is and battled my weight all my life. I know in my head exactly what I should eat, and am working on identifying emotional triggers and working on those issues. I'm reading and thinking about what I'll do to transition out of Medifast, when I reach my goal, and am planning on following a paleo way of eating. But until then - Medifast is the crutch and useful tool I need. Lyn - thank you for your transparency and all the help you've given me! Love, prayers and peace to you!!
ErinK

Tracie said...

Lyn~
I am also a Medifaster. I started 8 weeks ago, really because of your blog. It has been the best thing I have ever done!!!!
I was so food obsessed on WW and hated prepackaged stuff on Jenny Craig. This is so wonderful. Not thinking about food, no sweet cravings.
Stick with it girl! I am proud of you. People don't understand that haven't been there.
Thank you for opening yourself up to all of us! You inspire me!
Let's do this girl!!!!!
Tracie
PS....I am not concerned about going off of MF. I don't have the cravings and will now be able to make better choices!

Margaret said...

I lost @75 pounds on a Medifast-type program 7 years ago and I've kept it off. Here's what I learned about maintenance -

Weigh yourself everyday.

A lot of very well meaning people will tell you "it's not about the scale" and not to obsess about "just numbers." Well, maintenance is about the scale.

I give myself a four pound range (my natural fluctuation throughout the month.) One pound above that and I make changes that very day to go back.

That's what has worked for me - regardless of eating "healthy" or not.

Best to you, Lyn!
Margaret

Fair Enough said...

Fact: I am recovered from an eating disorder, have been for around 4 years now, I understand the mindset quite well. Eating in a certain way can help, I definitely agree, but you all in all have to learn to "face your demons" do to speak at some point and try to live a semi-normal life.

It seems your "demons" are maintaining a healthy weight while not being on a strict plan...Medifast...and it's just something you have to take grip of.

Simple mealplans are key, really, too much variety is hard to handle for someone trying to find balance. I tend to eat the same meals for dinner all the time, same breakfast, same lunch, with only small variations. That's what has helped me break free of the cycle-routine.

Lyn said...

Fair~

Well, I've never had a chance to try and maintain at a healthy weight yet, but I hope to do so with Primal or Paleo style eating. Have to get there first!

Agreed about the simple/repetitive meals being key. I think having lists of those as my go-to's will help a lot. Eating the same thing over and over does take the thinking and emotion out of it.

Kristin said...

I am a day behind with blogs, but I wanted to quickly add my two cents. My thoughts echo a lot of comments but I am a firm believer that even if one has been told something a thousand times, it just might be the 1,001 comment that FINALLY makes something in the brain click that this stuff must be true.

@i should be full and many other commenters- I have an eating disorder so I understand what you are saying, but I would challenge your comment that Medifast can break a food obsession. I believe that the only way a person can ‘control’ or ‘recover’ from their disorder is to learn WHY that disorder exists in the first place and then decide to fight like hell to override whatever the root cause is. It is important to note that eating disorders are just like any other mental illness (depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, etc) where the wiring in the brain is messy and not communicating properly. However, this does not mean that we cannot overcome that messy wiring. Just like depression and anxiety, a person needs to arm themselves with tools to help control the symptoms. Obviously, this takes a lot of dedication and work, but it is possible. Until a person can let go of the demons that drive their disorder and arm themselves with effective tools to reduce symptoms, they will continue to be victims to their disorder. Again, Medifast isn’t helping break the addiction. Since weight loss does occur, it simply provides a false sense of control and an excuse to not address the real issues.

And Lyn- I would challenge you that if you really, truly wanted to make it work, you could find a therapist. I understand the time and money thing…I am a full time grad student and work two jobs just to cover costs of living and as much tuition as possible. Despite the lack of time and money, I decided a long time ago that maintaining my mental health progress was a priority. Therefore I now consider my therapy costs as an essential monthly expense (just like food and rent) and budget around that cost. I also MAKE the time for my weekly appt. by considering it part of my weekly schedule (just as work and class are). Therapy is easily the MOST EFFECTIVE thing I have incorporated into my life to lose weight and making the time/finding the money was hands down the easiest step I’ve take. Again, if you really wanted it, you could make it work.

Lyn said...

Kristin~

while I appreciate your comment, I will say that when you have children with serious medical issues they always come first. Also, at this time physical therapy is a more urgent thing for me. Since money is not unlimited, I have to choose where that $200/month will go. Right now it has to go for my children's medical needs and to my own PT appointments. Again, when people say "if you wanted it you would make it work" I wonder if they have ever been in a situation where they did not have food or decent shoes and coats for their kids. Believe me, many, many people want desperately to be able to afford basic necessities, healthcare, etc, but it is just not possible sometimes. I am very fortunate that I can now meet all our basic needs and then some, but there is a reason I am sitting here with a broken crown that should have been replaced months ago. Money is not unlimited. Perhaps you think I "can" or "should" be able to come up with more money, but only I know my own situation.

Anonymous said...

Therapists are overrated. I think it is a waste of money unless you have trauma of some sort to get over. Paying $50-100 to just talk to someone for an hour? Talk to a friend! Free.

Fair Enough said...

"Well, I've never had a chance to try and maintain at a healthy weight yet, but I hope to do so with Primal or Paleo style eating. Have to get there first!"

Lyn-I disagree-you did have a chance to maintain at a HEALTHIER weight. I wouldn't say the 170s was ideal for your height, but it was a lot healthier than where you've been, by far. You had a chance to maintain there and you did not-that's what worries me and why I'm talking about having to face your old demons.

Listen, I might be quite a few years younger than most bloggers here but I have experience behind me. I read these blogs because I can relate and had a very bad relationship with food for many years. I am speaking what I know and have learned. Losing weight isn't too bad-ok, it's not fun and it's not easy, I'm not trying to minimize that, but compared to maintaining, it's a piece of cake (ha ha)

Some/you might be thinking WELL WHY WORRY ABOUT MAINTAINING NOW...I JUST NEED TO LOSE!...and guess what...that was my original way of thinking, too, and it came back to bite me in the ass big time both mentally and physically. I ended up with a pretty serious eating disorder because I just did not know how to eat once I reached goal and completely freaked out in more than one way. I didn't do my homework at all, but I was also only a teenager. I didn't really quite know what I was getting myself into-I just wanted the wait OFF. I lost the weight healthfully but didn't know where to go from there. Planning ahead is extremely important and I mean *really* planning a head because I highly doubt you want to go through the time-consuming bull of losing tons of weight again (on Medifast nontheless.)