Things are going very well with my eating this week. I've easily been able to keep my calories under the 2000 max I set for myself, and I don't feel hungry or deprived at all. I posted yesterday a list of some of that I'd eaten the day before, and someone asked in the comments about my calories, saying there was no way I could eat all of that and not be under 2300 calories just for the foods I listed. I did respond to that in the comments of my last post, but it made me think about how easy it is to over- *or* underestimate what we are eating each day if we're not careful. It also made me want to talk about portion sizes. (I do measure or weigh my food when I count calories... always have. I figure it's pointless to count if you're not going to be accurate.) I don't really have any desire to list here every molecule I ate with measurements from my food log, but I do like to share the foods I am enjoying to give an idea of how I am trying to change my diet for my health.
When I was morbidly obese, I had absolutely no regard for serving sizes or portions. My serving size was however much I could eat without causing myself a lot of stomach pain, whether that was a supersized Big Mac meal and 6 cookies, or a whole bag of Oreos with milk, or 3/4 of a large pizza. I am stilled stunned when I think back on the huge volume of food I was able to put away without throwing up; I must have *really* stretched my stomach out with my binge eating. But as I cut back on the volume I was eating, those smaller sizes became normal and satisfying. Sure, some days I've felt like a bottomless pit and can't feel satisfied no matter what I eat, but that seems to be related to my monthly cycle. When I started counting calories six years ago, I noticed I was gradually becoming full sooner and with less food. It still took a lot, but it was about half the volume I used to eat.
Fast forward to Medifast. When I started the program, I thought I would die of hunger by looking at the size of those portions. Sure, you eat every 2-3 hours, but the meals were tiny compared to how I'd been eating! We are talking 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup portions for most of those meals. Some of them were only a few bites (3 tablespoons!). But because it was low in carbs and high in protein, after a few days the hunger went away... an effect of mild ketosis. And while I did not keep off all the weight I lost on Medifast, one thing it really *did* do for me was it allowed me to feel full on much, much less food. I am pretty sure that over the time I was eating Medifast, my stomach shrunk back down to normal and my body got used to being happy with 1/2 cup meals. I never felt *stuffed* except when I ate my Lean & Green meal, but sometimes it was hard to even eat all of that and I had to often split the meal in half to eat part at lunch and part at dinner. Five ounces of meat and 1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables was an awful lot of food for dinner.
So now I am eating regular foods and I find that I feel satisfied with small portions and quite full on 1 to 1 1/2 cups of food, depending on what I'm eating. It's nice. I feel almost like I had a Lap Band, because I am full on far less volume and am now physically incapable of eating even 1/3 of what I used to eat six years ago. And I have no intention of stretching my stomach back out. I eat to satisfaction, I sometimes eat to fullness, but never beyond.
This is why I am happy with 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, or one piece of fruit, or 4 ounces of meat. I do add in lots of higher calorie things that are healthy, like avocado, walnuts, even local pastured cream. Indulgences like dark chocolate or real maple syrup are not forbidden, either. But I need far less to enjoy those flavors now. A teaspoon of maple syrup or honey, one square of dark chocolate, 1/3 ounce of walnuts... all are things that I include in my menus because they greatly increase the enjoyment of my food. I do try to be picky about quality; the honey is raw and local, and so are the walnuts. But I am done with being restrictive, and my goal right now is to get into the habit of counting calories, staying below 2000/day, and making healthy choices.
Yesterday's menu included:
oatmeal with pumpkin, cinnamon, walnuts, ground flax, maple syrup, and whole milk
a smoothie made from frozen peaches, whole milk, vanilla, and stevia
a hard boiled egg and a piece of cheese
3 Satsuma oranges
coffee with sugar free caramel, half & half
a low carb shortbread cookie made from almond meal
roast beef and deli ham
low carb chili from the freezer, topped with sour cream
square of dark chocolate
Totals: 1723 calories, 93 g protein (21%), 184 g carbs (41%), 75 g fat (38%)
Sounds like a lot of food, right? Lots of enjoyment and variety! You can fit in a lot of things if you keep portions reasonable!
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