Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stage 3: Two Days of Counting, and More Calories

The next stage involves stepping up your game in terms of controlling your eating. Instead of calorie counting and meal planning one day a week, you will be doing it two days a week. That being said, the difficulty will be eased by the fact that the calorie total is going to be increased to 1400 calories per day. Instead of one day at 1200, you will be doing two days at 1400. It’s best to space these days out. I used to do it on a Tuesday and Thursday so that I could keep the option to eat whatever I wanted “tomorrow” intact. As before, it is important to allow yourself to have whatever indulgence you want the next day should you desire it. You may find that the extra 200 calories feels almost luxurious in comparison to the extreme restriction of your one day a week 1200 calorie days.

At this stage, you may be finding that your desires and cravings on the calorie counting days do not necessarily manifest the following day. That is, you find that the hunger for chocolate or whatever that you suffered badly when you are counting has vanished by the next day. This realization will help you gain more and more control as you will get an increasing sense of the transience of your cravings and desires for food while you build up your capacity to delay indulging in them.

At this point, if you haven’t already, it helps to diversify your eating habits. Incorporating things like vegetable soups, fruit smoothies, etc. into your eating gradually will help deal with cravings for salty and sweet foods. You can also start to consider eating things you may not normally eat that fit such cravings. For instance, olives are quite salty (as are pickles) but quite low in calories. Frozen bananas that are food processed or blended with crushed ice, artificial sweetener and low fat milk make for a low calorie ice-cream-like treat. I will provide a list of some of my favorite recipes for various types of food at the end of this plan.

On days when you can eat freely, consider at this point the quantity of sweets and treats you may be eating and what is “enough” to satisfy your desire. Be sure that you are purposeful in your eating and savoring foods that you eat for pure pleasure. You may find that you don’t need to eat all of a candy bar to feel your sweet tooth is gratified. When you eat sweets or salty snacks, look at the calories and consider how much you might be able to eat on a day of calorie counting when you are restricting calories. Since you have 200 extra calories compared to before, you may be able to eat small portions of these foods as part of your plan if you would like to use your calories in this way. Keep in mind that there is a "price" to be paid for any empty calories used on a restricted day. You can have 1/3 of a candy bar, which won't keep you full for very long, or something like a banana which will keep you full longer. These types of choices are ones that you should try to become more familiar with as time goes by. I sometimes weigh the pleasure of an infrequent morning doughnut against the loss of a more filling meal of healthier choices.

You may remain at stage 3 as long as you feel you need to. When you feel you have "mastered" this level (and, again, "master" means that you are comfortable with it, not that it is easy) and that you are ready to face more time controlling your eating, you can move on to the next stage.

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