Saturday, May 5, 2018

What Diet Is This?

Sometimes I get emails or comments from people who look at my Instagram or read my blog and are confused. I eat "keto" desserts and breads, regular potato chips and dip, "lower carb" versions of most foods (like subbing vegetables for pasta), high-carb bread sticks and mashed potatoes, fast food, and ice cream. What kind of diet is this?? It's NOT keto... too high in carbs. It's not "low carb" because I eat beans, crackers, fruit, and honeyed carrots. It's certainly not low calorie with all the butter and half and half, and it's not even "healthy" including hot dogs, bacon, and candy! What is going on with me and my unconventional diet?

Well it's not a diet, and you're right. It doesn't fit any of those categories. And I'm not trying to put together some new-fangled eating plan that everyone else can follow. All I'm doing is putting together the physical, mental, and emotional pieces of what I personally need right now in order to keep my weight below 195 pounds, forever.

I made a list. For this to work long term, it:

Can't be a struggle
Has to feel natural
Must give me a sense of calm and peace
Cannot trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, or deprivation
Will not be hard to manage
Can't totally exclude foods I have enjoyed my whole life

In the past I have tried many diets: Medifast, AIP, Whole 30, keto, low carb, Weight Watchers, South Beach, calorie counting and many more. All worked for a time but were just not doable long term for me (see my regains for evidence). I'm trying to choose the parts that *did* work and felt calm to me and include those in how I eat now. And I am taking the parts that derailed me or led me to "going off" my diet and not doing them again.

I'll give an example. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who is very kind went to a bakery. They thought of me, and knowing how much I have always enjoyed good bread, they bought me a nice baguette. It was a very sweet gesture! And I do love fresh bread with butter on it. In the past, avoiding all bread while I was eating low carb or restricting wheat was hard for me. I did it, and sometimes it didn't bother me, but NEVER having bread again? That bothered me. Maybe you think a food shouldn't be so important. But it's not about the food's importance. It's about a bigger picture of restriction, for me. Why doesn't matter. What matters is if I feel like "something" is stopping me from doing "something", I feel an urge to get rid of whatever is restricting me. That's because it feels like I am not in control, and it's not my choice; it's the diet's choice. Whether that makes sense to you or not doesn't matter. What matters is my health and my ability to keep a hundred pounds off forever. So saying "no bread, ever again" is not my plan. In fact, I ate some of that baguette my friend brought me. A lot of it. Not in a binge, not in an out of control way... in a relaxed way. I went out and bought the best tasting butter I could find (because there's no point in eating great bread without amazing butter, if I'm going to eat bread!) and I had a thick slice when I got home. For lunch I had two more slices with lots of butter on them! And I had two more at dinner, and one more piece the next day. I mean I ate like half of that baguette... and then that was it. No stress, no guilt, no rushing to eat the whole thing because I can never have bread again. No stuffing myself with Pizza Rolls and cookies because I am already "off my diet" so may as well eat everything in sight. No regret, no dismay. It's just bread! Do you see how being able to choose to eat it, or not eat it, makes the bread so much less important?

It's like that with everything. Nothing is off limits. I just make choices. No one, and no "diet" makes them for me. Every meal is easy to navigate so far. If I think "hey lasagna would be good for dinner tonight" (and I know my family has always liked it, too) or maybe one of our regular meals that I always cooked when we lived on our farm (meat, potatoes, gravy, vegetable) I don't have to stress. I have choices!

I can eat the meal as is, but smaller portions of whatever is most carby. Usually I stick to about 1/4 cup of starch (eyeballing it).
I can make extra vegetables to fill up on if I want to have the main dish in its usual form.
I can substitute lower carb foods for the high carb foods (say, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, sliced squash or other veggies for pasta, green beans instead of split peas in soup).

Same for breads and desserts, which are usually very high in carbs. I have choices. I evaluate if the carby form is "worth it" (like freshly baked bread or a homemade birthday cake) or NOT worth it (regular pasta, rice, a crescent roll from a can). Then I have choices.

I can eat it, usually in a very small portion, but keep my other meals around it lower in carbs.
I can say no thank you.
I can substitute a healthier food (such as keto bagels, low carb mug cakes, or fresh fruit).

It is all up to me and in my control so there is no reason for me to ever feel triggered, deprived, or resentful. That has been part of my struggle and regain, so whether you think it is a valid feeling or not, it IS a feeling and if we are honest with ourselves about our feelings we can begin to address them and change the outcome.

If I am going to eat ice cream or potatoes then why do I say I am "lower carb"? Why bother? Because it's a fact that to lose weight and keep it off and keep cravings at bay, I have to keep my carb intake at a reasonable level. That's something I learned on Medifast: if I stay under 100 grams of carbs per day, I feel better and it's just easier. Once in awhile, I go over, but that's rare. Maybe once a month. As a general rule the only "counting" I do is to read labels or look something up online to check how many carbs are in a serving. 90% of the time I aim for 15 grams of carbs or less in a serving of anything (that's the Medifast formula, too... 15g/carbs times 6 meals equals 90g carbs/day.) I no longer eat 6 meals a day, but 15 grams has been a good ruler for me. I usually eat two meals (biggest at dinner) and maybe a couple small snacks. I'd guess most days I eat 60ish grams of carbs or less.

I am learning as I go, and learning from past successes and failures. My plan is dynamic and surely will evolve over time. The diet that works for me is not a diet at all. What works for you will be different! I wish you much wisdom and patience if you, too, are working out the best way for you to eat and how to deal with all the many aspects of food and weight. If you have any questions about how I eat or why, drop me a comment and I'll do my best to answer!

*Editing on Sunday morning to add my weekly weigh-in. Scale says 191 pounds.


Anonymous said...

Matt Fitzgerald calls this kind of individualized plan "agnostic healthy eating."

Pretty much what I do myself. I agree with you that "diets" as such place the locus of control outside of yourself and are, thus, unsustainable. His book Diet Cults is really good actually, lots of food for thought (pun intended.)

You sound more measured and rational about food here than I can remember in the time I've been reading your blog.

this is the cron anon btw.

Diana said...

I agree 100% with your "plan". It never occurred to me to eat foods I love and still lose weight. It goes against everything I've know about losing weight. I first heard about this concept from my favorite podcast, Half Size Me. Heather Robertson's success story is inspiring. She lost 170 pounds, but more importantly, she has kept it off for over eight years. As she often says the question to ask yourself: “Is this something I am willing to do for the rest of my life?”. For me, this completely changed my mindset about losing weight.

Heather also talks about setting minimums, for example, 30 minutes of exercise every day. You can go above these minimums, but you can't go below.

I think the key, as we've both discovered after many weight losses and then re-gains, is that this is for life. Whatever we do to get the weight off is what we'll be doing the rest of our life to keep it off. That means keto, Medi-fast, Jenny Craig, NutriSystems and all those other popular quick weight loss diets are off the table (and I've done them all, with success and with major weight gains afterwards).

We've got this Lyn, we've really got it this time. Love you my friend. I feel like I know you after all these years. We've had the same weight struggles and successes. And this time, I think we finally found the "secret" to weight loss success, and at the same time. :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the culmination of all your dieting experience, and isn't it funny how it turns out not to be a diet at all. I hope you keep blogging for the next several years so we can see how this turns out. I foresee success!

Anonymous said...

I looked at your IG and have a question. Some days you post four meals and some days you post one. Is that all you are eating or is there more not pictured? Thanks.

Lyn said...

cron anon~

Thanks! Will check it out.

Thanks Diana! I agree, we are both in a good place this time around :)

success anon~

thank you!

last anon~

I generally post a picture of my actual meals in a day (one or two) and if I have an interesting snack or dessert that's unusual, I'll take a pic of that too. I don't take pics of things like the coffee I have in the morning, or a Greek yogurt I have for a snack, or other little things that I don't think are picture-worthy. But in general I will have coffee in the morning, maybe a matcha latte before noon, a small meal around lunch or a bit after, and my largest meal at 6ish. Sometimes a snack or dessert in there too.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, here are my questions. 1) Why do you have so many chocolate bars in your house if you are trying not to eat sugar? I am talking about your Instagram picture of your "chocolate collection." 2) If your stomach is shrunken and small as you've said on other posts, how can you eat so much at once, such as the big fruit cup and tacos you showed?

Lyn said...

last Anon~

1) That is part of my strategy for never feeling deprived, and always feeling I have control and choices. If I see a chocolate bar I like, I get it and stick it in with the others. I know I can have them anytime I want! It takes all the power out of the food and completely removes food obsession. I know they're there, so don't have to think about it. Also note, all of these chocolate bars are lower carb and fit my guidelines for approx 15g carbs/serving or less. I generally choose very dark chocolate, but there are a few other choices in there that are stevia sweetened and thus still lower in carbs. I might have one square a few times a week, and often share my bars with family members. Great for when I just want a little something sweet! 2) I could not possibly eat all the food in that taco/fruit picture, you're right! I ate the tacos but left 2 of the tortillas (there were 2 for each taco), plus had one spear each of cucumber, mango, and jicama. The rest was shared and a bit saved for the next day.

Anonymous said...

What about exercise?

Amy said...

My dental hygienist, after hearing I was on thyroid medicine, said how tricky it is to get the dosing right because our bodies fluctuate so much every day. It got me thinking about food and what our bodies need and how the whole one-size-fits-all diets with their menu do's and don'ts are really not ideal for the same reason. Particularly when you add in various stages of menopause, thyroid, blood sugars etc. What an intricate thing the body and it's various balances! No one can tell you what you should have or need but you. Trusting yourself to know what is right for the day/moment at hand is such a positive mental message. I, too feel that this time so many things are aligned for you, your mind seems clear and healthy and things are falling into place!

Anonymous said...

cron anon chiming in on the chocolate comment to say that one of the habits I have from my anorexic days is minor food hoarding. I HATE running out of stuff. I used to collect a lot of food and actually never eat it at all. Then, in my binge days, I found it very hard to have ANY food around or I would eat it! However, just keeping "bad food" out of my house really didn't solve the problem at all, because it felt like again putting the locus of control outside of ME and MY decisions.

Now I have a bit of a happy medium. I don't hoard tons of food anymore and buy pretty much stuff I know I'm going to eat, but I definitely keep desserts in my house for the occasions when I want them. I think being able to keep some food around is a good method actually tamping down on binge urges. After all, if you truly trust yourself with food, it doesn't matter if you are near food... you can avoid eating it. Lyn, it sounds like you are close to this point with food, perhaps because the phentermine mediated your appetite and you now feel able to say "no" to food from an internal place, not because of outside rules or forcing yourself not to keep a food in the house. But IDK. Do you still feel there are certain foods you avoid buying or having around?

Lyn said...

exercise anon~

It's going well! Still walking a dog or two most days, still doing the arm strengthening routine twice a week and am aiming for 3x this week. Biking 10-15 minutes on alternate days, usually.


That is so true, and I hadn't thought about the fluctuating daily needs as something that affects our caloric needs as well. That's probably why setting one daily calorie level never worked long term for me. Some days we need more or less. During PMS I get much hungrier and crave salty foods, and this month I completely listened to my body on that and ate probably double the calories for a couple of days... including a lot of olives, pickles, cheese, salted carbs etc. Then the week after, I am barely hungry at all and can go all morning on a coffee and a matcha drink and not even want to eat until 1 or 2 o'clock. It all balances out! Just have to listen to our bodies and not force ourselves to undereat to stay within a calorie level, or overeat to reach a calorie goal.

cron Anon~

interesting! As I took that chocolate picture I laughed and thought I looked like a food hoarder! And in some ways, it is like that. The deprivation of not being "allowed" to have certain foods, of racing through the grocery store averting my eyes and trying not to buy certain things, of seeing commercials or other people eating things and then wanting them and not being "able" to have them, was what kept me regaining and stuck. Now I know that if I want a food I can have it. I mean I can really have it! No strings! I love that. I try to keep categories of foods I tend to want on hand: salty snacks like a bag of pork rinds, some olives, pickles, bacon. Creamy foods like Greek yogurts or sugar free puddings or savory sauces. The only 3 categories I have rather large collections of are the chocolates, ice creams (although that has settled down a lot and right now I just have 2 flavors of Halo Top and one box of sugar free ice cream bars), and cheese. The cheese is a little nuts... I buy any cheese that looks good to me, in the smallest possible package or 3 slices from the deli, and have a piece almost every day. And I always know what I have on hand; right now it's 3 kinds of sharp cheddar, a mild cheddar, a lemon honey cheese, 2 kinds of Havarti, 2 kinds of American, brie, cream cheese, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Asiago, mozz, smoked gouda, and swiss. Haha... well cheese has always been a favorite food, and this way I have NO worries about not being able to have it :) I expect I will narrow it down a bit as time goes on. And no, there's nothing I can think of that I avoid buying. I just bought muffins from the bakery for my family, and often bake them myself, but have no desire to eat them. I have one bag of keto cranberry orange muffin mix on hand for when I do want a muffin. My goal for this summer is to become more of a fresh local vegetable hoarder!

Anonymous said...

Mine is cookies. I can't deal with the thought of life without cookies. So I never buy them and I never include them in my calories (I log on MFP) but I do have a problem sometimes where when I am sad or lonely I go buy 4 or 5 kinds of cookies and sit watching TV shows with all those cookies and milk until I feel sick. If I ever come to a day I could have cookies in my pantry without overeating them I would feel so normal. I wonder if it's possible for me. I envy you right now.

Anonymous said...

Maybe u can buy smaller amounts of cookies to eat or get a few from a nice bakery?? Don't give up your cookies!!

Anonymous said...

cookie anons... sometimes you need to give something up for awhile in order to neutralize its emotional effect on your life. If you find you can live without cookies, ironically, you can then later bring cookies back and eat one or two at a time, normally (aka not in front of the TV). But you may find that without the emotionally soothing association you don't even want the cookies anyway.

No specific food should feel so important.

Anonymous said...

You are looking great Lyn. For some reason your posts haven't been showing up until the one with your picture update! Again,you look fantastic!

I'm almost 62 and still am struggling with weight and have also tried EVERYTHING. One thing you mentioned, that hit home with me, is keeping carbs under 100 per day. I had unrealistically tried the under 20 per day and that is not sustainable. Thanks for giving me a realistic carb number to work towards.

I appreciate your shares and hope to catch up on reading. I don't have instagrams hope I'm not missing any valuable posts.

I am very happy for you dear! Sherry

Lyn said...

Thank you Sherry! So glad something I said was of some help! The only thing on Instagram that I post is photos of my meals, sometimes, so you're not missing much :)