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Yesterday I posted my strategy for stopping funk-induced out-of-control eating.  I talked about how I get back to basics with food choices, water drinking, etc. and just focus on keeping a food journal and watching my portions.

I never thought about portion control as a hot topic but Michelle M. left a passionate comment:

If a food (or “edible product,” as many binge foods are — bagged snacks, dip, sweets/baked goods — have you ever seen anyone get “out of control” with baked salmon and steamed broccoli?) makes one feel a loss of control/eat compulsively, then “portion control” is NOT going to help. There is no such thing as portion control when one is in the throes of a binge. How many times did I tell myself I would just take one teaspoon of ice cream from the carton, only to find myself back in the freezer after 20 seconds for another..and then again…and then finally sitting on the floor with a carton and a serving spoon, repeating that “one bite” until the half gallon was nearly gone…and then hiding the carton in the bottom of the trash so no one would know? The only thing that works with those types of foods is ELIMINATION. There will never be a carton of ice cream in my house again. Would you advise an alcoholic to keep it to one shot of whiskey or half a beer? Some “foods” operate on our brains the same way as a narcotic does. There is no safe level of exposure. Sorry to Weight Watchers and “moderation” and all the “diets” that keep DRUGS in our bodies and never result in sustainable weight loss — if a food provokes that reaction in our neuropathways, it’s got to go. If you eat a food in secret, hide the evidence, feel that you physically can NOT stop your hand from going to the food to your mouth and back again, that food is your trigger and you have to eliminate, not moderate.

I can totally commiserate with Michelle. I’ve been there. I’ve taken that “one bite” of Ben and Jerry’s, which resulted in an empty pint. I’ve bought packaged cupcakes while grocery shopping only to shove them in my mouth on the ride home and hide the wrappers so no one knew. I’ve even ordered entire large pizzas  (stuffed crusts mind you) while alone in hotel rooms and proceeded to eat the entire pie while watching the evening news.

My response to Michelle was:

I agree with you that portion control doesn’t work in the throes of a binge and I’ve done all those things you mentioned, but the way I’m referring to the above is those times when you grab a bag of pistachios and mindlessly eat the whole thing while you’re working. When I start to feel out of control I consciously start to weigh out a serving again.

That being said though, you have to find a balance with the moderation vs.elimination. Anytime I told myself I could NEVER eat a certain food again, say, pizza (huge trigger food for me) it backfired. So at first I found substitutes for pizza — I made my own, I severely cut back on the times I was around it, but I still do enjoy a slice now and then. I do believe moderation is possible but you have to really control your environment and make smart decisions on what you will and will not indulge in.

Moderation has worked for me. Instead of straight elimination of certain foods I got creative in the kitchen to make substitutes. Instead of ordering a pizza, I’d make my own on English muffins. Instead of buying ice cream I’d keep frozen bananas on hand for fruit soft serves. Instead of store-bought cupcakes I’d make single servings of things like this.

I guess that’s a form of ”elimination” but not once did I think, “I can never have a slice of pizza again. Ever!” Because if I’m out with friends and they want to go for pizza, I don’t want have a panic attack. If my kids want to go out for ice cream, I’d like to enjoy a small cup. On our anniversary I want to split a slice of chocolate cake with my husband.

Controlling your environment is definitely key, but to say you have to eliminate trigger foods for the rest of your life is a little extreme. I have no doubt that certain foods cause physical reactions in our brains and bodies, which cause cravings and overeating. But sometimes I don’t think it’s actually the food that is the trigger for me.

When I’m in that “bingey” mood I will turn to anything I can find whether it’s cheese, chips, chocolate, pretzels, nuts, etc. Sure there are some foods, I have a hard time controlling myself around because I like them (hello, chips and salsa!) but there are other times I just want to eat to eat, to fill a void,  to deal with depression. And frankly, any old thing in the pie hole will work. It’s why sometimes I find myself making batches of butternut squash fries at 10 p.m.!

I know my way isn’t the only way so I thought I’d pose this as the Question of the Week. Are you in the moderation camp or elimination camp? What’s your experience?

 
  • Brenda

    I agree with you, anytime I have eliminated anything and restricted it’s backfired. Right now I’m at a place where I have come to realize that if I can’t do something long term then I shouldn’t.

  • LaNae

    Moderation!!! I’ve maintained a 70 lb weight loss for 7 yrs with moderation and exercise. I was successful following WW after many, many years of being overweight. I love food and am miserable with elimination. That being said, there are some foods that I am naturally cautious with and try to limit my in-home exposure (ice cream, cheese). I no longer follow the WW plan on a daily basis…I took what I learned and created my lifestyle…which includes wine, an occasional cupcake and a meal out every weekend. I do stay on the scale…it keeps me honest…and if I discover that my weight has crept up more than 5 lbs over “goal” I reign myself in. I live my life doing a bit of bargaining…”Okay…if you want this now then you don’t get that later.” It may sound a little weird, but it works.

  • Sondra Brown

    I think everyone is different, depending on emotional and physical issues. I have to keep my blood sugar in check or I lose control. If I start the day with carbs, like oatmeal, I have a very hard time controlling my sugar cravings. If I eat protein then I feel fine, sugar cravings are much less. Hormones and depression also play a part. Different things work at different times for me. Sometimes elimination is the only option and other times I’m okay with portion control. I think each person has to learn what works for them and not judge others for their choices. I think that’s what you’ve said many times Roni.

  • Jill

    To everything a season. There are times when I need to be stricter with myself and eliminate a trigger food, or a food that’s not that great for me, but that I’ve been lazily turning to. Cutting it out forces me to recalibrate and think about foods with more intention.

    As a general principle, though, I am in camp moderation. As long as I’m honest with myself about my intake, I have found it a very effective strategy to just moderate. You learn a lot about yourself, really – why am I acting like this is the last cookie I will ever see? Do I need another serving of this lasagna? Is delicious a reason enough to eat even though I’m satisfied? Why am I eating right now? If I live life with my eyes open and my mind alert rather than on auto-pilot, I’m able to moderate my intake.

    Plus, I find if I give myself a small goal, I can change my perspective in a useful way. I will focus on eating enough veggies, and getting enough protein, rather than on eating fewer x,y, or z. I need positive goals rather than negative goals. That’s something I’ve learned about myself in re-learning how to eat.

    As a final thought, learning that I CAN eat in moderation is very liberating! It’s way less daunting to think of a life of healthy weight maintenance when I know that I can do so with cupcakes and pizza in my life. And without guilt. Elimination for me (long-term) ties too much worth to food choices, and consequently too much guilt for poor food choices.

  • Karen P

    I’m an abstainer- wheat and most processed sugar ( I can have 85% chocolate, a little bit daily). When I abstained from wheat and sugar products and processed foods I thrive. I do well mentally, physically, and over all health. I’m 48 and I feel like I’m 28 ( even though I’m in menopause).

    I spent 40 freaking years trying to stop binge eating. The ONLY thing that stops me is not starting to eat the food. Moderating junk for me is like smoking a shorter cigarette rather than kicking a long term addiction.Or like an alcoholic drinking moderately. NOPE! It didn’t work.

    I know I’m not the only person out there, even in my binge support group people heap the “eat in moderation” in a pile on my head. Would they tell an alcoholic to have a sip? Probably not! Hate the addictive properties, not the person.

    Good thing I’m 48. I do what’s best for me and teach others how I want to be treated. If they are offended, that’s their deal. Never mine. The most important thing is you do what you want to do, the way you want to do it. Find what works for you, then tell US. I’ll applaud you either way.

    It’s not easy to think, speak, do, and live on your own terms. But so worth it. It’s worth it to all of us that we own our own stuff, in our own time. Life changes. The next 40 years are on my terms. I LOVE that. Good luck.

  • http://lessofabetterme.com/ Kitty

    I am sort of in both camps. There are some foods that I’ve learned that, well, life is ever so much easier for me if I just don’t have those foods in the house. I might occasionally eat them when I’m in a situation where I the portion is controlled because of limited availability or just buying a single item. Example: Cookies. I really do get off track if I have them at home and I can’t just moderate. So, I just don’t buy them or make them. But, I can occasionally buy one cookie at Subway.

    On the other hand, for most foods, I think I can moderate. I often eat dark chocolate and I’m perfectly fine at eating a specified amount. My most favorite snack in the world is pistachios which I have on most days. And, each and every time, I measure out in advance how much I am going to eat. And, I can do that with those foods.

  • Noelle

    I think it depends. I don’t keep certain foods around because when they are around I don’t like how I eat them. So, keeping them out is a way of taking care of myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat them, I do, but having say, a 5lb bag of trail mix in my kitchen doesn’t do me any favors, so I might get a small bag (well, less than 5 lbs anyway) if I’m out and hungry. No deprivation, just trying to take good care of myself, part of which is knowing my limitations. There are some foods like chips though that come in a big bag and I can eat a couple of and not feel drawn to all day. Again, it just depends.

  • ellen

    The rule that I follow is that I will enjoy a trigger food when in a social situation (pizza for dinner or dessert); but, NEVER when I am alone, I cannot trust myself to have only a bite or taste. That’s a slippery slope that will result in an empty container and lots of guilt. For me, saying “No” once in the grocery store is a lot easier than having a trigger food call my name until it is gone.

    • Tina

      That’s a really good rule.

  • Jessica Griffin

    Pretty much any baked goods I have to severely limit the # of portions available, since I know that I’m more likely to just keep eating those. I’ve found the portion measuring is very helpful to keep me on track, but there really are some foods I just don’t stop eating. With those foods, I only make a few at a time, or I freeze all but a couple of servings, so I’m not so able to binge on them. Because of the way I limit available portions, I am sort of forcing portion control and therefore am able to manage a “moderation” approach to all foods.

  • Erin Downing

    Most things I can eat in moderation. Potato chips, any brand any flavor, are not one of those things though. If I’m at a sandwich place, I will eat a small bag of them, but never buy a regular sized bag to have at home. If they are there, they call my name. until they’re gone.

  • Christine

    I find that if I pay attention to my mind and body when I reach for those “trigger” foods, I usually realize that it has nothing to do with those foods. I am reaching for something to distract or numb. Separating physical hunger from emotional hunger has really helped. When I am physically hungry, I crave different foods than when I am emotionally hungry (i.e. salads vs sugary baked goods). I do sometimes eat when I am emotionally hungry–I think it is a good thing that I want to comfort myself–I just try to not overeat then. And when I am physically hungry, I try to pay attention to my fullness and stop when I feel comfy (this is hard!).

  • Imacrazymomof4

    Thankfully I don’t have such severe triggers that would be compared to giving an alcoholic a sip…that would be really annoying and torturous. Bread and muffin type things make me crave more all day so I try really hard to limit those…but when I treat myself to those things I just compromise by eating more veggies or not having a dessert. I was a religious diet coke drinker until I realized I was addicted to it. Once I came to that realization I said ‘no more, nothing is going to make me feel like I HAVE to HAVE it’…that was 15+ years ago. So I guess that could be considered elimination but I eliminated it because I felt like my day wasn’t okay unless I was drinking it, not because I couldn’t be trusted to not drink every ounce I could get my hands on. I knew I was drinking tons of chemicals and who knows what it’s effect was having on my body. I detest it now, and can’t even believe I drank it, and never crave it so that’s good.

  • lauramich

    Roni, are you familiar with Yoni Freedhoff’s blog, Weighty Matters, or his new book, The Diet Fix? One of his philosophies is that for life-long weight loss and maintenance, you have to be living the healthiest lifestyle that you can enjoy. When it comes to indulgences, he suggests asking, “Is this worth the calories?” and “What is the smallest amount that I can enjoy?”

    By the time I discovered Freedhoff, I was already maintaining (lost 145 pounds, have kept off all but 15 for 4.5 years—and have no interest in re-losing more than 5 of what I gained back), but almost everything he says resonates with my own experiences. So I guess that I’m both an eliminator and a moderator, because the more accustomed I’ve become to healthy eating, the fewer things are “worth the calories” to me—so I’ve eliminated them. But if it’s worth the calories? I make room for it.

    Not worth my calories? Most fast food, most packaged sweets, bagged snacks other than pretzels or tortilla chips, most fried foods. Worth the calories? A bit of dark chocolate every day, homemade brownies, homemade ice cream (the last birthday present I got from my dad before he died was an ice cream maker), the occasional order of sweet potato fries. My body feels better when I eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein, and icky when I load it up with sugar, salt, and grease. When I honor that, it’s not a struggle to eliminate what’s not worth the calories and be moderate with the indulgent foods that are worth it.

    • RoniNoone

      I haven’t! I will look into them!

    • lauramich

      Oops, Disqus ate the rest of my comment! I’ll try this again, without the bad HTML!

      Yoni Freedhoff has also recently published a book, The Diet Fix. One of his philosophies is that for life-long weight loss and maintenance, you have to be living the healthiest lifestyle that you can enjoy. When it comes to indulgences, he suggests asking, “Is this worth the calories?” and “What is the smallest amount that I can enjoy?”

      By the time I discovered Freedhoff, I was already maintaining (lost 145 pounds, have kept off all but 15 for 4.5 years—and have no interest in re-losing more than 5 of what I gained back), but almost everything he says resonates with my own experiences. So I guess that I’m both an eliminator and a moderator, because the more accustomed I’ve become to healthy eating, the fewer things are “worth the calories” to me—so I’ve eliminated them. But if it’s worth the calories? I make room for it.

      Not worth my calories? Most fast food, most packaged sweets, bagged snacks other than pretzels or tortilla chips, most fried foods. Worth the calories? A bit of dark chocolate every day, homemade brownies, homemade ice cream (the last birthday present I got from my dad before he died was an ice cream maker), the occasional order of sweet potato fries. My body feels better when I eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein, and icky when I load it up with
      sugar, salt, and grease. When I honor that, it’s not a struggle to eliminate what’s not worth the calories and be moderate with the indulgent foods that are worth it.

      I’m a lot like you, Roni, in that I can still eat a LOT of food. When it comes to calorie-dense stuff like pretzels and nuts, I moderate my intake by mixing them with lower-calorie, higher-volume foods, such as a sprinkling of trail mix over plain Cheerios, or a few pretzels tossed into a bowl of air-popped popcorn.

  • http://www.ConfessionsOfARecoveringChocoholic.com/ Laura Jane

    I really think it depends on the person. There are definitely people who have successfully maintained weight loss using both approaches. I’ve tried both, but I still haven’t successfully maintained my weight loss, so in that sense neither one worked better for me. I think the moderation approach does have some dangers. Mainly, for me, when I’m tempted by sweets, my brain finds creative ways to justify indulging. If I’m following a moderation approach, I find some way to justify eating another cookie or another bite of ice cream. I have to be in a constant mental battle with myself to determine if eating a certain food qualifies as moderation, and it’s just exhausting. Also, when using that approach, I have to tell myself “no” many, many times a day which ironically leads me to feeling very deprived (even when I’m not at all). However, on a complete assistance approach (which I’ve always done for a specified period of time – never thinking it would be for life), I do feel sad that I can’t have sweets, but there really aren’t any mental battles. I know that I can’t have sweets at all and that’s that. I find the first few days are absolute TORTURE, but after that I settle in and overall it’s tons easier than the moderation approach. That said, I’ve only done the total abstinence thing for a period of up to a month, always knowing that I could have those foods when the month was up. I don’t think I would be able to get through the torturous period if I didn’t know that I could eventually have those foods again. Also, my personality does not tend to go all out after the month is up, which I know might be a concern for some, but I just never have. Even when I’m allowed to have those foods again, I definitely do much better with them than I did before the complete abstinence time, but gradually over time I end up with similar habits than I did before I started. The bottom line: I think there are pros and cons to both and I’m not sure which one is even better for me. I do think there should be a lot more support in general for people who want to go the complete abstinence route, since most people frown on that and think moderation is the way to go.

  • http://manifestyourself.com/ Kimberly Whittaker

    I go between both camps… some things, like sugar, I try to eliminate at all cost… but when it comes to specific foods like mac n cheese, chips, ect, I try to use moderation so I don’t binge later.

  • Jen

    Team moderation for sure…but I still make healthier choices like for instance I LOVE granola type cereals and indulge in them too often so maybe once a year I buy them and TRY to use it with moderation. I also buy sugar free ice cream for myself and regular ice cream for my kids. I measure my portions. Pizza is a struggle for me and it will always be

  • Alison C.

    I definitely believe that it depends on the individual. When I look at my history with binging and foods, there are definitely some foods that I will never be able to eat again. Those foods are ones that I have never, in my entire life, been capable of eating a single serving of and been satisfied. But I’m okay with that. I’m so exhausted of trying to eat those things moderately and utterly failing, it’s almost a relief for me to allow myself to just not eat them anymore. I don’t think everyone, or even most people need to do this, but you do have to be honest with yourself about whether you do or don’t need to. So I may never eat another Snickers bar in my life. But consider how many I’ve eaten already (far far far too many) and the impact that will have on the entire rest of my life: It’s healthier for me not to eat them, and that little bit of pleasure can be gotten elsewhere (from laughing with a friend, playing with a puppy) without the potential binge that always seems to come with the candy bar.

  • http://nowforthelastten.wordpress.com/ Sophie

    I’m trying to find a balance between cutting out and moderation at the moment! I think it’s possible but it takes hard work, as evidenced above.

    http://nowforthelastten.wordpress.com/

  • BigTickles

    I think what is so wonderful about weight loss or any other challenge is that we each have our individual journey. It may depend on where you are in your journey if you need elimination or portion control. From my experience, I have and still do both camps interchangeably.

  • jody

    I tend to go for the Elimination theory. It starts with the purchase, then the darn stuff is there tempting you and working your nerves until you give in. if it’s never there, never present in your frig, freezer, pantry, it can;t have that power over you. I prefer elimination…i just don;t trust myself and I agree with the Alcoholic theory mentioned in Michelle’s response.

  • Mary

    I have this to share: when your commenter suggested that only certain “trigger” foods are binge problems (and therefore need to be eliminated), she unfortunately wasn’t speaking for me. I WISH it was just certain foods — I live alone and I just wouldn’t keep them in my house. However, for me bingeing is about dealing with feelings (actually, NOT dealing with feelings) by anesthetizing myself with food. I overeat in those moments and feel incredible relief, peace, etc. (Only temporarily, as later I feel AWFUL.) I do not turn to any particular foods for this. ANY FOOD DOES THIS. When a binge moment hits, I have overeaten turkey, cereal, yogurt, eggs, and so on. Things you wouldn’t think of binge foods. I hasten to point out that I am therapy and trying to address why I stuff myself to avoid dealing with my feelings. I have this tendency with everything, by the way — it’s why I don’t drink anymore. But food I can’t completely give up on, obviously, so it’s kind of daily struggle. Just wanted to throw this point of view out there for others. Because of my experience, I am in the camp that we need to know why we binge more than we need to deal with the foods we binge on. I do understand that for some people it’s only certain foods. But since we’re not talking about “oh, I really love ice cream, it’s hard for me to stop at one serving!” and are instead talking about stuffing ourselves past the point of normal (I hate to label it that, but there ARE people out there who simply stop eating when they are full, regardless of how much they love the food, so there IS something “abnormal” about this practice), I think the action needs to be dealt with, not the tool you use to fuel that action.

    • RoniNoone

      YES MARY! I’m the same way. I could really binge on anything because it’s not the food.. it’s something else. I’m glad you mentioned this.

    • Tina

      I agree. And for the record, have totally binged on salmon! How delicious is crispy skin salmon?!

  • http://www.andreaswellnessnotes.com/ Andrea@WellnessNotes

    I think it depends on the food and the person. I eliminated eggs and wheat because I can’t digest them. And, for the most part, I didn’t replace wheat with other flours, etc. But once in a while I’ll have an almond flour cookie, etc. But overall, I do better without baked things around…

    My aunt is visiting us right now, and she eats very healthy and doesn’t have “food issue baggage”, but she cannot control herself around nuts. She mentioned this to me a while ago, and I now saw it first hand. She deals with it by not having nuts in the house…

  • Bobbie

    I’m for moderation. There are things I know I will binge on if I keep them in the house so I try to find substitutions for them. For example, if I want ice cream I can only go out and buy a single serving. I do not buy any and keep it in the house. I can’t even keep the little mini cups or else they will be gone in a day. Hard or shredded cheese is another thing that I can not trust myself around. Instead I substitute it with laughing cow cheese or feta as I can limit those easily. I find if I give up foods I love, it causes me to binge on other foods more.

  • LG

    It’s different for me depending on the foods. There was one time in my life that I dealt with a binge food, like packaged maple sandwich cookies, by buying FOUR BAGS of them. I ate the first package really quickly, but vowed to myself to keep four bags stocked in my kitchen (i.e. more than I could ever eat in one sitting). I did this with mini chocolate bars, too. Sure, I ate a ton at first and re-stocked and re-stocked, but they didn’t call to me nearly as much when I knew I could have them anytime I wanted and I couldn’t “binge myself out of them”. Now I can keep them in the cupboard without a problem (if I wanted to).
    Things like sheet cake or cupcakes – ok, cake of any kind! – I can’t do moderation with in my house. So I basically shop for single servings on the occasion that I just NEED to have it. social occasion. I might try that.

    I was talking to a co-worker yesterday who said that she finally “broke down” and bought an Sbucks oat bar after holding out for several days. She said she tries to eat healthy for the rest of the day when something like that happens. But I often end up overeating junky foods or bingeing once I’ve “broken the dam”. Hmmm. I think I need to take her stance on it…if I can! (My weight stays prettymuch the same, and it’s a weight I like, but I want more peace with food.)

    I liked the commentor who mentioned only having dessert or pizza when at a

    • LG

      Sorry, in the second paragraph, I meant that I liked the commentor who mentioned she only has pizza or dessert as part of a social occasion. I should try that!

  • Paula

    I keep junk out of the house. I don’t say never, but if I want ice cream or pizza or some other less than healthy choice, I have go outside of my house to buy it and that helps me make it a conscious choice not mindless. Not keeping crap in the house keeps mindless/endless snacking close to nil.

  • Ana

    Hmm I think what both of you said is related, not necessarily opposite. For me there’s almost 3 states: 1) bingeing – totally out of control, standing over the sink eating to try to numb my emotions 2) overeating – certain foods are calling my name and I eat more than I would prefer to and 3) eating till I’m satisfied.

    How I deal with it depends on what state I am in and what type of food I’m eating. If it’s bingeing – ideally I can catch myself soon enough to make a healthier substitution. If it’s overeating, we’re probably talking about a carby food (ex – cookies). In that case 90% of the time I will not bring it home because I’m not able to exercise portion control. That bag of chips ahoy is going to be gone in 2 days max and will be polished off entirely by me. I’m totally OK going to buy a big fancy chocolate chip cookie at the coffee shop and really enjoying it or getting some ice cream on a Sunday. But I know I can’t be trusted to exercise portion control with certain foods when they are in my environment

    I do struggle with how this will work when we (hopefully) have kids. Right now there are 2 of us and both of us have similar food issues, so it works to not have the few trigger foods around. But I’m not sure about not ever having cookies, chips in the house for my kids. That’s how I grew up and I consider that to be one of the causes I did not to exercise portion control around treats (eat as much as you can! who knows when we’ll see a cookie again!!). Still figuring it out!

  • Adam Hansen

    She is doing her best to do reach her goal and it is true that she can do it as she has stamena.

  • Tiffany Walker

    I agree with you that telling yourself you can never have a certain food again is a recipe for rebellion. I have also done substitutions as you mention and made healthier versions of whatever I am craving that I can eat, guilt-free, and I think that is a good approach the majority of the time. I think if you are coming off of a time period when you have been struggling with bingeing it can be key to eliminate processed and trigger foods from your diet, at least for the time being. I think that once you have broken that cycle and are not feeling helpless against the cravings anymore (I agree with the poster that many processed foods have a narcotic effect) it is possible to have those foods again, on occasion. I think it is a bad idea to make them a regular part of your diet again, but the goal should be to develop a healthier attitude and approach to food, not to become obsessive about eating the perfect diet.

  • Jen in SC

    For me personally, making certain foods completely off limits or thinking of them as “bad” foods just gives those foods too much power over me. Then I become obsessed with them, which inevitably leads to a binge.
    But once the all-or-nothing labels are removed, and they are just neutral – just food, and an option if I want some – then it’s remarkable how I can enjoy them in moderate portions, leaving me feeling satisfied but not sick.

  • RG

    I tnd to follow the rule of I can have it if I cook it. Or if its the planned splurge of the week. I eat well during the day (veg, chicken, Greek yogurt) but can’t convince myself to eat them at night so it helps to have a planned treat. nuts, olives, spanakopita triangles, toast pizza, fried eggs. I have no idea why salsa is OK but salad or cooked broccoli is not, but it doesn’t sink like a rock in my tummy.

  • http://kirstenleah.blogspot.com/ Kirsten Leah

    It depends on my goals, really. Last year while preparing for my 1st Tough Mudder I was running 25+ miles (on mountain trails) a week and lifting five days a week, and honestly I was so focused on training that I had no brain capacity left to care what I ate. I would have lost my mind if I did plan my meals and eat strict in the middle of all that madness. I needed my reward foods for hitting my PRs! Following the Mudder, I got into this random buff mode, where I lifted heavy and only ran or biked a couple days a week. During this time I went pretty strict Paleo (some grain and legume protein sources because I’m vegetarian, but strict otherwise) and leaned out and toned quite a bit.

    The difference between these two is in the first, I was setting out to complete an event–accomplish something WITH my body–and in the second scenario, I focused more on changing my body’s appearance. Physical ability vs. physical appearance–I often try to analyze which is my biggest motivator. When I went strict with my diet, I knew that I would one day again have pasta, ice cream, chips, etc., but I was just saying goodbye to them for a little while. I could never accept completely cutting out those things forever.

    Now I’m back to training for TM and apathetic about what I eat. I really like some CrossFitters’ videos about how they get a donut or pizza after their WOD. I think that’s living the best of both worlds.

  • katie

    You know, she attacked weight watchers but when I was in weightwatchers i had my best success losing 30 lbs. When it stopped working was when *I* stopped working. Unfortunately in our culture food is tied to so many wonderful occasions and emotions so when you’re feeling down that’s an easy place to turn. No one to hang out with? Food. Need a hug? Food. And living alone I do have a certain amount of control over the things I bring into my house, but as Mary said below, it doesn’t have to be cupcakes for it to be a trigger food. What works, I believe, it what you pointed out in controlling your environment and being mindful of what you eat. Thats where the success usually hits with weight watchers is in the journaling. That’s where moderation comes in. It also, for me anyway, was good at getting me to forgive myself for “bad days” where I gave in to my emotions and ate my way through that entire cheesy pizza-o-glory. One shitty day of eating in a month isn’t going to pack up your entire diet unless you let it. But, in the beginning, if it’s easier, go with some elimination. I personally like to challenge myself occasionally. Have a personal “40 days without Cheese” if i feel like i’ve been O.D.ing the cheese lately. That could be anything. Sometimes it’s a good way to explore other foods. But mostly, I do it to shake up my eating by giving up something for awhile that i’ve started to over indulge in. So… I’m on team moderation but sometimes you have to begin with elimination.

  • Rohit Kashyap

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  • Nina

    I agree with you, Roni, you have to find some balance, otherwise you add too much pressure to weight-loss – and we all know that this pressure will explode sooner or later, and then two pints of B&J are inhaled instead of one…

    I try to follow this golden rule more and more: If you inhale it, eliminate it. Inhalation points to trigger food, and moderation with these foods is hardly possible, maybe only after many years of abstinence. If you still buy it and inhale it from time to time, don’t feel guilty about it, it happens. It just should happen less and less.

    Replacement is a good third party in this “food fight”. If you inhale a trigger food, you should think about a healthy and equally delicious alternative, e.g. homemade frozen smoothie instead of ice cream. The replacement, however, should really make you forget about your trigger food, at least most of the time.

    Moderation is possible for me with foods that I do not inhale, e.g. portion control at lunch or dinner is not a giant problem for me – except with trigger food like pizza. I usually know when I have eaten enough regular food. Emotional out-of-control snacking is the thing I am still fighting.

  • Farah

    I just lost all my weight in a 12 step food addiction program where I did not touch any “trigger” or binge foods for about 10 months (until I left). I love the program & it is truly a miracle but I never agreed with the “this is a trigger food so you can’t have it” mentality because just about anything could be a trigger food for me! Since I left I have lost even more weight & still continue to measure all my portions. I really enjoy it and know this is what works for me. However, I have also added in “trigger” foods like popcorn (organic, clean) & measured the 28g, had it as my “grain” and called it a night. I didn’t want more. I wasn’t tempted to binge. I really enjoyed my portion, as I do with all my delicious food! The same goes for nuts. I LOVED eating them in my past life & they were not allowed on my 12 step food plan. I have since incorporated them into my food but because I realize they are much higher in calories than even tritip, I choose to have the animal protein in most cases. Do I love nuts? Oh yes! But because I’m aware of their nutritional value as compared to other choices I have I don’t choose them as often. Nuts, pop corn are considered “trigger” foods, but honestly, anything could be a trigger for me BC I just grazed away without discretion in my past life :)
    Just because they are “triggers” doesn’t mean we have to pull them.

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