Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Word About Portions

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:
black coffee
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
protein bar
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!


dlamb said...

Lyn, you sound so wonderfully calm about your eating, these days. It is really nice to see that the panicky feeling you experienced previously has abated.

I totally get the empty vs. stuffed feeling and the reason for each. It is one of the reasons I only eat in the evening. "Mini binge" every day and cals still stay reasonable. ****Not**** recommending it to anyone else, just works for me. Always did. Also, as you said, due to the mild ketosis, I feel zero hunger during the day and I can focus on other things, knowing that I can eat pretty much what I want in the evening. This is not to say that I eat empty calories within my allotment, at least not the majority of them. It also depends on one's definition of "empty calories". Though I no longer do it, I have lost wt. eating this way, regardless of my food choices, throughout most of my life
A couple of years ago, when I found your blog, there was another one of your followers who was eating the same way and it worked for her too, for the same reason.
Whatever you do, I hope it gives you a sense of CONTROL over your life. I think that is the first step. Once you get that under your belt, you can tweak, adjust, increase or decrease your calories and choose food that is good for your physical and mental health.
Incidentally, I think I confused you with my final statement in my previous post. Sorry about that and thank you for your consideration. My intention was to leave it up to you whether you wished to post my comment or not. I own my statements and I stand behind them. I am too old to worry about what people think of them. I've never shied away from a polite debate if I believed in a cause.

Anonymous said...

Lyn- haven't been here in a while. But I am SO EXCITED to see that you are eating more. I know you are getting a lot of comments from people who are telling you what you are doing is wrong or right or blah blah blah. But, I think when you have done really good research and really read about restriction and what really happens, it all makes sense. It is unfortunate that so much misinformation is out there....but then again the weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry. I wouldn't expect much else. I hope you are able to stick it out, and be patient with your body as it heals. It takes anorexics an average of 18 months to heal, it makes sense it could take that long for you too, as you are coming off a daily calorie amount many anorexics follow. Be patient, kind and understanding with yourself. Remember that your body will heal once you let it. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Where are your fresh veges, salads, etc. etc., seems like you have forgotten all about those. Go back to the basics.

Lyn said...


thanks, I *feel* more calm! And you are right, we each have to find what works for us... not just with nutrition, but with food sanity, too.

Anonymous 1~

Thank you, I am very hopeful and feeling good. Lots of time to read and research right now, too.:)

Anonymous 2~

I usually don't eat as many salads when the weather cools down; I am more inclined to eat them cooked. I find the warmth soothing... thus the soups which are rich in vegetables. Pumpkin is a squash so that's one way I get my veggies in for breakfast. I like spinach and mushrooms scrambled in my eggs, too. But yes, I will increase my veggie servings and decrease the fruit in time. Right now I am just in heaven enjoying all these delicious fruits!

LHA said...

Excellent insight about portion control, which is the cornerstone of weight loss and weight maintenance! Good for you.

Running Bear said...

I totally agree that healthy portions provide a visual shock to someone shedding a lifetime habit of overeating.

Before I started my healthy eating journey, if you told me I could eat two eggs, a lite english muffin, an orange and some strawberries at 7am and barely think of food until 12noon, I'd have thought you were insane.

Now my kitchen has a scale, accurate measuring cups and spoons, and I keep quantities healthy.