Friday, March 5, 2010


This morning, I had three pancakes with butter, syrup, and blueberries with coffee for breakfast. That may sound really decadent, particularly for someone on a food plan designed to lose weight, but the pancakes were small (about 4” in diameter) and I used very little syrup and butter. The trick is to just put on enough syrup to sweeten the blueberries (which were frozen and then heated in the microwave until they were hot). The calorie count on the whole meal was around 350 calories, possibly a bit less.

When I look at what other people are eating and what I am eating, I’m struck by the differences in our approaches. Many people are eating egg whites or fake eggs with vegetables, dry whole wheat toast, and fruit, or some sort of substitute bacon or sausage. I tend to mix things up depending on what I expect for the rest of the day. If I have a light lunch planned, I have a more elaborate breakfast (like this morning). If lunch or dinner are going to be heavy, I just have a piece of whole wheat toast with margarine.

Often, I feel that there are two possible paths to losing weight when it comes to food. There is the path of quantity or “quality”. I put “quality” in quotes because I know that it is subjective. Some people may feel that quality is related mainly to nutrition, freshness, etc. For me, quality involves taste as well as the other factors. My path has turned out this time to be one based on maintaining a certainly quality of experience in terms of taste and texture of food. I have hopes that limiting quantity and barring no foods from my diet will give me the long-term staying power that my previous approach in college (where I exercised and gave up all “bad” food) did not. I want to have control over food such that I can sample anything without binging. So far, so good.

There are problems with choosing quality of experience over quantity. In the early stages, your body will fight you (hard and often) to get you to eat more. Eventually, you grow accustomed to less food and it gets much easier. There’s also the issue of nutrition. If you eat less of everything so that you can have a square or two of chocolate, you’re bound to get less healthy food into you on a calorie-restricted diet. That being said, I doubt that the levels at which I eat are in any way a danger to me. I still eat fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein everyday. I just don’t eat copious amounts of any of them – a quarter cup of blueberries, a banana, two cups of lettuce, half a tomato, onion, and some form of vegetable soup made with pureed vegetables are typical for me, though sometimes I’ll have things like sweet potato, pumpkin, or raw carrots as well. Mainly, I’m concerned about dairy products consumption and Calcium, but I take a multi-vitamin and a specific Calcium supplement. The thing is, I’m not sure I could ingest enough Calcium even if I spent every calorie on “better” food choices.

The main benefit of the way I’m doing things is that I never feel deprived or tempted anymore. I hesitate to say this because every time I’ve said it in the past, I’ve gone off and done a mini-binge right after saying so (as if asserting what I’m about to assert tempts fate), but I rarely binge anymore at all. Another benefit of this method for me has been that I have a strong sense that I can do this forever, and that I know that once I lose all of the weight I want to lose, the way in which I eat will not be greatly different than it is now. I don’t know how thin people eat, but I can’t imagine it’s greatly different from how I’m eating now. They probably eat a few more calories (since I hover between 1500-1800 most days), but otherwise I’m guessing they aren’t so different. The nice thing is that I can say with complete confidence that I could do this forever, and I wouldn’t be the least bit frustrated or put out by the idea.


Sarah said...

Thin people eat like you do now. I know, I'm one of them. I used to wonder the same thing.

Just found your blog. I'll be going back and reading some more. Glad you have comments turned on.

dlamb said...

This is such a key point, in my opinion. If people do something so entirely different while they are losing, than they plan to do once they've reached their goals, they are almost guaranteed to have a very difficult time. I always did it that way, by starving myself.

As you've said before, not only eating but exercise has to be sustainable over time. I know of a blogger, the one who became injured, who lost the weight by exercising somewhere around 8 hours/day. Perhaps not daily, but often. It is hard to imagine anyone being able to do that long term, especially with injuries.

Since I've changed the way I eat radically, in the last few months, I've also assessed my choices and I always struggle with quantity vs. quality. For me, it is not even so much taste but the nutritional content. My entire life I've eaten absolute crap. I did it because I truly disliked the taste of most "healthy" foods and also because I could. During the last few months everything has changed in regard to my eating and everything is brand new. Sometimes I get so exhausted, making sure I get protein and the right fats and fiber and all that in the right proportions. Some of these can be very calorie dense and in order to also make it palatable for myself, I do a lot of work that I've never had to do before. NOT complaining, is all new and I know I will always have to do it. ALWAYS! Always weigh, measure and count, as well as making sure that I get all the right nutrients. Oh well, I keep thinking I should simply be glad that my past eating habits have not affected my health.
I often wonder if people with food "issues" have inaccurate ideas about the way in which thin people eat. Most are not privy to the habits of thin people, at least not their daily habits over long periods of time. If they see thin people eat at a party, at the fair or on vacation, they may believe that those individuals eat that way all day, every day. This is rarely true. Just as some of us budget money, some people "budget" their eating. I think that those who struggle with control may not realize that the thin person who just had a hot dog, french fries and a double scoop of ice cream made that her only meal of the day and that she ONLY ate that way TODAY.

My mother worked with a woman who was very thin and tall. She was in her 50s and told my mother that she never, ever, ate more than 1200 calories/day. No matter what, she stuck to that number. She also exercised.
I wonder what an overweight dieter may have thought and how envious or deprived she may have felt, had she seen this woman eating her entire 1200 calories at one sitting. The struggling dieter may have thought "it is SO unfair that thin people can eat this way and never gain an ounce. I wish I could eat like a thin person" and then go home and eat whatever she felt like, due to the frustration she felt, thinking that somehow she had been shortchanged when it came to the gene pool, or metabolism.
I am not saying that some thin people do not eat as much as they wish of whatever they wish. What I do think, is that generally speaking, most dieters would be surprised if hey knew the ACTUAL number of calories thin people consume, as well as their activity levels.