Friday, September 23, 2016

Calming Down

Today is only the third day since I gave up calorie counting, and I feel immeasurably better. I am much more relaxed and the tension over food is gone. I know that is not a "normal" response (meaning, a response one would have if they never had food issues), but I have struggled with eating disorders for many years, and I don't want to ramp that back up. To be clear, I know I have a problem with overeating sometimes, or eating too often, just because something tastes really good. I sometimes make a choice that is not the best for health, just like most other people I know who do not have an eating disorder. Sometimes the cheesecake just looks really good, or you take seconds on dinner because it was delicious, even though you're not hungry anymore. I think those are pretty normal behaviors. Not saying they are *wise* behaviors for an obese person, but if a thin person has a slice of cake after dinner or takes seconds, no one thinks twice about it. It's not a sign of disorder. What IS a sign of disorder, or the first symptom of an ED coming out of hibernation for *me* is the "voices in my head." I don't mean literal voices. I mean the running dialogue of thought that is generally calm and low key turns into a rambling commentary about food, moving to a higher and more fervent pitch as I am exposed to food thoughts and smells and sights. THAT is not normal, so when I start getting this tense feeling and thinking, "omg, I have to have a burger and fries, I miss having a burger and fries but I cannot eat that because it will put me over my calories for today, and I CANNOT go over my calories for today, because I went over yesterday and I am never going to lose weight if I don't stick to my calories, but oh that burger that lady was eating looked SO good and I really want a burger and not a salad, and not chicken or vegetables but a BURGER and fries...." and so on... then I know the eating disorder is coming back to life. And that's what was starting to happen with all this weighing, measuring, tracking, counting, etc. As soon as I quit, all of that noise in my head stopped, and I felt relaxed and not hyperfocused on food anymore.

I have to stay here, in this healthy mind-space about food and eating. It is *really* dangerous, not to mention terribly distracting to me, to spend all that time and energy on FOOD like I used to do when I was binge eating years ago. I NEVER want to go there again. I do need and want to lose weight, but not at the cost of my mental health. Do you want to know what I think would happen over time if I kept trying to force myself into the calorie thing? I think I would become bulimic. I think my BED would rise from the dead along with my obsessive food thoughts, but I would not be able to control my eating and would, at this point, do ANYTHING not to get back up around 300 pounds, and I would find a way to purge after the binges. I know I would. I cannot go there, just can't.

So that leaves the question: what to do about the unhealthy extra fat I am carrying around? WLS is still on the table for next year. But I also still have time to try and work this out.

The last couple of days I have not restricted AT ALL. I have not told myself I *cannot* have any certain food... only that I *want* to eat for health and that I will *usually* avoid higher carb foods. I know that ruling out whole foods groups (like grains) gets tricky for me (mentally) but I also know they are not helpful in my quest for health. So I tell myself, "if you want bread you can have it. But do you really want it?" and sometimes I do... often I can skip it. If I do want it I take half the portion I think I want. I look at my food and decide if it will be healthy or not. I don't add up calories in my head. I am just... trying to relax about food again.

Yesterday for breakfast I made this "Paleo Pumpkin N'Oatmeal" (not because I am going Paleo, but because Paleo recipes are, in general, a healthier choice for me) and it was so good!

Paleo pumpkin oatmeal

I had a little bit leftover today... just a few spoonfuls... and heated that up to have for breakfast with a pastured pork sausage link and some berries and a small nectarine from the Farmer's Market. I am having some coffee with coconut milk now, and the dinner plan is smothered pork chops with onion and mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and sauteed fresh green beans. I often will make mashed cauliflower in place of the potatoes for myself, but I don't have any on hand so I will limit myself to a small spoon of the potatoes, load up on green beans, and have some fresh cantaloupe for dessert.  I did go to the Farmer's Market this week and got some locally grown squash (butternut, acorn, and spaghetti), apples, plums, berries, nectarines, celery, carrots, leeks, greens, onions, and melons.

This is my method: plan healthy meals based on protein and produce. Stock up on the healthy stuff and prep it so it is ready when I am hungry. Get back on the bike today and get back into the riding habit. I'll give it a week for the food thoughts to settle and see how the scale responds to that. I will cut back in non-triggering ways as needed.


Evie said...

With all your issues, I would definitely not recommend WLS. I have had it and the only way to keep the weight off is ONLY eat small portions and only what you are supposed to have at that point, a protein! Or a high fiber unprocessed carb. If you eat anything else, you will gain weight. I feel it is easier to gain weight once you have the surgery, for some reason. But I shouldn't be able to gain eating 1000 calories in a single day, but I can if I eat what I desire (albeit only 1000 calories) and not what is on list of foods for that day.

I am not an obsessive person, but I think about which food I can eat and when most of the day nowadays and I am two years out. There is no such thing as wow, that looks good, I would like that. If you do that, be ready to gain. You are a different person after the surgery. You cannot be a normal person eating a piece of cheesecake or a bit of burger because it looks good. If you want to be that, don't get the surgery. I can guarantee you that you will not get the results you want and will probably be bigger than you already are. And the bigger surprise is that this will be your life forever. When you diet, there is a stopping point, a maintenance, where you can add things in, not as much as you hoped, but enough where a piece of cheesecake won't demolish a weeks worth of eating healthy. But with WLS you will always think, have I had enough protein today? Ok, then I should go for a veggie to get some fiber in, if I really want something sweet I can add a bit of sweetner to my oatmeal, but I cannot do the cheesecake, ever. That is a fact, otherwise I will be back up to 275 before I can imagine.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I think you knew this before you even tried this experiment. Your biggest challenge is to trust yourself. YOU know yourself best and as I have read your blog for many years, it is obvious you know what does not work. I advise you to make a list of all the dieting tactics you can imagine. Then draw a line through the ones that do not work for you. You have tried so many and I think you could cross out quite a few. Circle any techniques that you know help you. Then do those as habit. Anything not crossed out or circled, give each tactic a try for a week or two until you can cross it out or circle it. It won't take long doing this to find exactly what works for you: your own personal, custom weight loss template. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

What do you weigh? What is your goal?

Lyn said...


That sounds rather dismal for someone like myself who has made food such an important thing. I wish I didn't feel like food was more than just fuel... but it does sound like WLS forces one to choose food only as fuel.


That would be an interesting exercise.


I weigh 245 pounds and my first goal is to get back under 200. I would love to get back to 175. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree ^

Anonymous said...

But WLS will not solve the emotional part of your eating. It would frankly be very easy (if you have the emotional eating issues that you do) to only loose very little weight on WLS or first loose weight and then gain all of it back.

I do not want to hurt you or upset you.

But as part of the WLS process it often includes meeting with a psychologist.
Maybe that would be helpful.
(And yes....yes I've said you've seen so many therapists and none of them could help you. But in the end they can only guide you.
You are the one who has to help yourself.)

Wishing you nothing but the best.

Lyn said...


no problem, nothing you said is upsetting. I agree that WLS would not solve the emotional eating part. I did meet with a psychiatrist when I was talking to the last counselor who had experience with treating eating disorders. At this point I do not think any counselors, professionals, life coaches, dietitians, nutritionists, or doctors have anything to help me. I am the one who has to help me... just as you said. I am the one who has to help myself. Which probably tells me WLS is not "the answer" either.

Kira said...

I wanted to share this post I read recently that talks about the emotional response to restricting (among other things). It really rang true to me. I hope you find it helpful. I think you are on a very brave journey.

Anonymous said...

I am so impressed by your perseverance. Eating disorders are a hard thing to deal with. I believe that with your strong attitude and effort, you are going to reach your goals. Thanks for sharing your journey here.

Meryl said...

And fyi, the "psychological" exam that is required before WLS is not designed to really uncover reasons for the patient NOT to have the surgery. It's a check box. I have been through it and it didn't begin to touch on my disordered eating or whether WLS made sense for me. And in reality, while I am keeping off roughly 70 lbs almost 7 years later, I have gained back another 50 and struggle every single day with my compromised metabolism and continued food issues. It's no magic pill. Not even close. It's embarrassing to still be fat and be tied to a life of mandatory supplementation, malabsorption, and other digestive issues...and still be fat. I do not recommend it as a quick fix because it sure as heck is not.

LHA said...

Lyn, I know I would have had the exact same reaction to counting calories. I left that behind long ago once I realized that I obsessed over food constantly while doing it, but it took years for that realization to sink in. Also, the way you are eating right now sounds to me like it might lead to a successful weight loss plan with some tweaking. I have used a similar approach. To paraphrase what you are not restricting any food 100%, you try to choose healthy foods, you eat something higher carb or calorie if you really decide you want it but keep it to half a portion. I have used this exact method, with a few additions for the past couple of years and have lost 90+ pounds. My additional actions are to avoid sugar totally whenever possible (which is about 98% of the time), to use intermittent fasting to help achieve weight loss (I eat two meals a day, with nothing after 5 pm usually), try to eat my bigger meal early in the day, I try to never eat if I am not truly hungry, and I exercise an hour a day when possible (which due to work schedule usually means about 5 days a week). I also made a hard and fast rule that I will NOT feel guilty if I stray from my usual better eating habits in one way or another. The guilt and shame were fueling my weight gain and inability to lose weight for sure! If I eat a piece of pie at a dinner party, then okay....I ate a piece of pie. Period. I know I can't do that very often and I always strive to avoid sugary things but still, it was just a piece of pie and it was just one day. For those who can strictly adhere to a "diet" that restricts some foods/food groups totally my hat is off to you. My wonderful nutritionist has helped me realize for me, restricting too stringently ultimately leads to weight gain and there are studies to prove it. I agree with the anonymous commenter who stated that you know what works for you. I applaud you for not giving up and for working hard to find a solution that will bring you better health. Wishing you all the luck in the world in finding the best solution!

Anonymous said...

I have had an eating disorder for about 40 years. I had gained weight up to 228 lbs. I'm a binge eater and only continued to get worse over the years. After seeing regular therapists with no improvement, I finally went to an eating disorder clinic "The Emily Program." I found there was a huge difference between an eating disorder psychologist and a regular psychologist and therapist. I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder and spent 6 years in outpatient treatment with weekly visits to an eating disorder psychologist and eating disorder nutritionist. They helped me tremendously.

I don't feel I could have ever gotten better without the help of eating disorder specialists. There are constant mind games we play with ourselves about food. In my mind these games were continual all day long every day. I just didn't see that a regular therapist understood the depth of this. I managed to eventually lose 90 pounds and have kept it off for 6 years. It has not been easy and I still struggle but I feel I am about 75 percent better.

I also don't see how weight loss surgery could possibly fix this problem. My problem is almost 100 percent a mind problem. For me weight loss surgery would just compound the problem. I have read about so many people and their experience with side effects. That would have made me even more depressed.

Just my experience on this huge struggle.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,
you are so brave to have faced these issues.
The Emily program is a great place. ����
I would recommend them any day for anyone with issues around food.

And you are so right; a "regular" therapist is totally different from a therapist that is specialized in eating disorders.

Take care of yourself.

Lyn said...


thanks, I'll check it out!


your insights have been very helpful. I mean, I don't have the answers or even a decision yet, but the information you share really is helping to shape a sound decision for me. I appreciate it a lot.


that sounds reasonable and doable. I really think that for those of us with complex food issues, we HAVE to form our own eating plan and find what works best for our mental AND physical health. It sounds like you have done a good job of that!


Thank you for sharing that experience, wow. I think a lot of people don't get how difficult eating disorders are to try and "fix" (put in remission). Eat less, move more just is not going to be enough. There is so much more to it than that as your experience shows. I haven't heard of the Emily program but looking over their website, it looks like it would be very helpful. We don't have a program like that near where I live but maybe there will be something, someday. I would love to have a specialist help me with this. I am so glad you were able to get better and I hope you keep improving and feeling well. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

if you just let me know what state you are in I can post a list of NEDA (national eating disorder association) approved therapists. Maybe one will be in your area.....?

Lyn said...


Thank you. I was able to check for NEDA therapists on and there's nothing close. I also have checked with my insurance company and there is nothing in my area on their provider list either.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, contact some of the NEDA therapists and see if you can work with any of them by phone or Skype. There are therapists out there who are willing to do that. It's also possible one of them could point you to a therapist in your area. They might not be on your insurance and you might have to pay out of pocket or go through an appeal process, but wouldn't thoroughly working through your eating disorder be worth it?

JM said...

Lyn I am in the PNW as well but maybe in a more urban area? There are a LOT of ED specialists where I am I also checked that website and none listed in my area though I know that's not true. Doc Google helped me find several with website and reputable resumes. I also had to pay out of pocket for recovery. But what is the alternative right? Good luck and hang in there it's not a quick fix nor is it easy but possible... YES and I really do agree an ED therapist is the way to go.

JM said...

Also just heard about a place in Portland called Be Nourished they might have some good links.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

Have you ever considered keeping a photo food journal? I have very similar difficulties with calorie counting where it almost immediately triggers food obsession and binge eating, however I find that I do need to stay mindful of what I'm eating or I start to put on weight. So I use an app (I use YouFood but there's others) and I take pictures of absolutely everything I eat, unless I am at a client meeting or somewhere that it wouldn't be appropriate. I have seriously found it to be a life saver.

-It lets me be mindful of the types of foods and the portions that I'm consuming without actually having to weigh, count, or measure anything.
-It makes it more fun to put together healthy meals and arrange them in an attractive way for pictures, which makes healthy eating more enjoyable
-I feel free to eat what I want, but it makes me really have to think before I eat, because I don't really want to have to post a picture of that half a cookie I grabbed from the lunch room
-It makes it really easy to see when I haven't been eating enough produce, and then I make an effort to make sure my pictures are more colorful and full of fruits and veggies
-I am often eating the same things in the same portions and so I can just re-log those pictures, saving lots of time

I really think this could be beneficial for you!

Jennifer said...

I do not want to be discouraging. WLS did nothing for my emotional eating. Sure in the beginning I lost weight. 100 lbs. Then I stopped. Over the next 5 years I revised it twice trying to get back to losing. No luck. The dirty secret is I had not dealt with my emotional eating. It sunk my surgery because I "grazed" right around the limits. Smaller amounts, but still eating all day long.

I understand how you feel. I spend a day planning meals. I think of food. It helps me get through struggles. I look at blogs for new ideas on what to make. And it can be obsessive. Blogging really seems to be helping. I am hoping it will continue to make a difference for me.

I hope that before you drastically change or surgically arrange your body you accept it can not fix our issues!-- We have to find a healthy outlet for such. My doctor does not want me counting calories; because she knows it just gives me something to fixate on food wise. I do have a Net Carb limit of 50. Other then that, no rules or restrictions. If I want cheese cake and I am willing to spend the whole allotment, then I have cheesecake. The rest of the day will then be nothing but lean proteins and leafy green veggies dressed in balsamic vinegar. Not ideal, but this way I do not beat myself up because I had cheese cake. (I have to say tho, I try really hard not to do this!-- protein and veggies all day long afterwords feels like a death sentence.)