This week, I had an interesting appointment with Cloe. She already had a lot of background on me and my past, the issues that bother me, and my dieting/weight history. This visit I really poured out a lot of my deep feelings about food and asked how to implement her recommendations.
She's always told me to
1. Normalize food. Eat what you desire BUT stay with single portions and avoid going back to binge eating behaviors. For example, if you want some chips with your lunch, go to a convenience store and buy a single serving bag and have it. If you really want a candy bar, go ahead and have it. ONE candy bar. She told me I need to get past my 'fears' of certain foods and of losing control, and not think of any food as bad or off limits.
2. Don't diet. Don't start up with the measuring, calorie counting, food obsession. Restriction can be very triggering. Relax and get your mind off dieting.
I have tried to implement this but with some hesitations. My doctor told me to do an elimination diet, and told me wheat and dairy in particular could be problematic. How can I normalize food if eating one bag of chips or candy bar makes me feel obsessed for the next one? How can I *not* count calories or restrict in some way if I don't want to keep gaining weight? I decided to tackle these topics again with her and be very clear about what I am afraid of and get clearer feedback about what to do.
I really put it all out there and told her how I feel and what I am doing. I explained in more detail why I am doing AIP and what exactly it looks like. I told her I think it is essential that I do lose some weight for my health... to bring down my blood pressure, take weight off my joints, make life easier to live, prevent issues with diabetes or heart disease. I asked her how I can do AIP, how I can lose weight, without the restriction triggering overeating, cravings, and eventual weight regain.
Cloe said to me, "Listen, be realistic. You can't go through your life NEVER having ANY of those foods. Can you really think you will NEVER have a piece of candy again? NEVER have cheese again? NEVER have any kind of chips or pasta or the foods you have eaten your entire life, ever again? It's not realistic. It's just not. So why torture yourself?"
I really am afraid of this. In my mind, even if I stick with AIP 100%, get through reintroductions, and maybe have a short list of foods I know are not healthy for me, I am going to end up regaining. In my own mind, I feel that even if I exercise and eat low enough calories and lose 100 pounds again, I am not going to be able to sustain it and will gain the weight back. I mean, I did it. I worked so hard, I lost the weight. And as determined as I was, as healed as I felt, I gained it back. I was not *able* to NEVER eat candy again, NEVER eat chips or lasagna or pizza again. And I honestly cannot see myself avoiding ALL those foods forever. Not because I want ice cream more than health, but because something in me wants, or needs, to not be so restricted that I cannot ever, not ever at all, have one slice of (even gluten free) pizza or a baked potato or a bowl of chili with corn bread. I *want* to be one of those people who give up all the carbs and sugar and everything. I just am not. I can cut back, I can have one of those foods on occasion, but you put "Never" in there and I really struggle.
Cloe told me that she really thinks a diet like AIP is a bad, bad idea for me. Far too restrictive. She said if I pick a diet or lifestyle of Paleo or some other plan that restricts entire categories of food, I am *going* to fall apart and go back to old habits eventually. Every time. She does think I should finish the elimination diet but start immediately adding foods back in (3 days apart which is the minimum recommended) to get some variety back. She highly recommended that when I finish the reintroductions I adopt a different approach to eating.
Before, she seemed to be telling me that weight was NOT important right now. I should be focusing on normalizing my relationship with food and getting out of a diet mentality. But she did acknowledge, this visit, that perhaps losing weight is something I can and should work on for health reasons. She changed her recommendations based on our very heartfelt and open discussion.
She said if I am going to succeed with losing weight AND healing my issues with food, I *must* choose a plan that includes all foods EXCEPT the ones my doctor tells me not to eat for medical reasons (which could be wheat or dairy, if they are affecting my health, and any other foods I find I am sensitive to through AIP), She told me I need to work through this and be able to eat normal foods in normal amounts. (I think somewhere in there I am going to have to exclude things that trigger me to overeat, although she didn't say that). She recommended picking between two options: Weight Watchers, or Livestrong.com (free online calorie and exercise counting program). She said although they are still diet programs, I can work on keeping my diet mindset in a specific time and place. I told her I was worried I would get obsessed with counting points or calories and figuring them up, but she said I can train myself to DO that (at appropriate times, maybe 3 times a day) and then 'leave it in the program.' In other words, add the points or calories to the tracker and then leave it and not think about it anymore. I have to admit I am hesitant. But I will look over the two options and pick one to try when I am done with AIP.
When I expressed my fears about losing control and going back to binge eating, she said "Look. You have to tighten your discipline. You HAVE it. You could not do something as strict as AIP or Medifast without self discipline! You would still be binge eating if you didn't have discipline. You have to work on strengthening it and having even MORE discipline so that if you do choose to have a piece of candy you tell yourself, 'I will have this piece of candy, and NO, I cannot have 10 more!" It is a very hard thing but she thinks I am capable and can do this. So I will try. Not being so restricted and knowing I can plan to have another piece of candy tomorrow if I want to can help with this.
We talked about how I still self-medicate with food sometimes (stressed? have some chocolate!) and how I tend to sub food thoughts for other, more uncomfortable thoughts (worry about the kids, worry about finances, feeling overwhelmed sometimes) because thinking about food, dieting, and weight loss is a lot easier to handle and not as emotional. That is one of the reasons why she wants me to normalize food (now in the context of a calorie-restricted program, while allowing almost any foods I would like to eat).
So that's how the visit went, and I am nervous about implementing her suggestions but I am going to try. I am doing reintroductions now, 3-4 days apart. It'll take me a month or more to add things back in and hopefully by then I will be ready to try something new.
I am 38 years old, female, a degree-holding stay-at-home-mom, and I weigh 278 pounds. I have been obese for ten years now. Time to get out of this fat prison I have made for myself.
--This is the original introduction I wrote when I first started this blog in 2007. I leave it as a reminder to myself of where I came from. Currently, I am 46 years old and weigh significantly less...see the blog for details. I lost 103 pounds, then had a partial regain, and am once again working at weight loss and better health.
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