The next stage in the evolution of my relationship with food may be surprising to some, but I guess my entire approach has been relatively atypical all along. When most women who are trying to lose weight get to a lower weight, as I am now in the high 180's, they start to restrict their consumption more. For me, I have decided that it is time to add more calories back in once or twice a week.
There are several reasons why I'm going to do this. The first one is that I'm fully aware that even at about 2000 calories with a moderate activity level, I would continue to lose weight at a very slow pace. I have no fear that eating a little more occasionally is going to eliminate my progress. In fact, and this leads to the second reason, I think it will improve or at the very least not retard my progress because adjusting to eating more should ensure that I don't experience metabolic slowdown. I've always been inconsistent with my calories because I'd eat more when I was very, very hungry, but now I'm planning to be "slack" rather than waiting for the hunger to determine those days. This mainly entails not putting up with being hungry quite so often.
Note that a reason that is not on the list is that I'm finding it hard to continue or that I want to enjoy food I couldn't enjoy before. I enjoy all types of food now so this isn't going to change much aside from allowing for the occasional latte, an extra bit of fruit, or a slightly higher calorie meal on occasion. I'm in no way chafing at the bit to break out of my eating habits. I'm actually pretty satisfied with how I eat both nutritionally and in terms of food pleasure. I'm just responding in part to the situation I experienced last month when eating more improved my loss rate, not harmed it. I think my body is changing and this is what it is ready for.
The final reason that I'm doing this is that I'm about 40 lbs. away from my goal weight at which point I will change my eating to so-called "maintenance". That's when you eat to keep your current weight rather than continue to lose. When I get there, I want to already have habits in place that will be "normal" or routine for me for the rest of my life. A day or two a week now of this type of eating can only help me understand what that relationship will be like, though frankly, I don't think it'll be appreciably different from what I'm doing now considering that I've never been a severely restrictive "dieter".
For many people, I'm sure that 40 lbs. seems like I'm miles and miles away from "goal" and that this change is premature, but the road for me has been 230 lbs. long. I've lost 190 lbs. already, so 40 is pretty close to the end from where I sit. Additionally, though I'd like to reach my goal by spring of 2012, it will not be the end of the world if I've "only" lost another 20 lbs. instead of 40. I've got time, and my body deserves gentle transitions rather than severe changes. It's already done a lot of work for me over the last nearly two years. In the end, I believe this is going to be healthier and more productive, and time will tell if I'm right or wrong.