One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

JOURNAL

Our Complicated Relationship with Food

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Weight Watchers came out with a new ad campaign and I love it!

They really nail all the emotions that lead me to eat for sure.

If you’re …

  • happy
  • sad
  • angry
  • down
  • mad
  • bored
  • lonely
  • sleepy
  • guilty
  • stressed

… eat a snack.

My favorite line in the commercial is:

If you’re human, eat your feelings, eat a snack!

It really is how I deal with everything.

Funny enough, The Institute of Food Science and Technology also recently posted: The Psychology of Food Intake and Portion Control. It’s a fascinating look at how some factors affect how much we eat.

Three observations in the paper really stuck out to me as they are things I have done or do battle.

1. The ‘Might As Well’ Mentality

“…resulting in what is often described as a ‘what the hell’ effect, where a dieter who has already broken their diet, might as well carry on and eat as much as they like.”

Basically the paper highlights how when people consume something that “has already broken their diet” they might as well keep eating.

Ummm, yeah. I’ve been talking about this for YEARS. Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2008 called Stateless Dieting

Then one meal or even a snack, sometimes something as small as one M&M, took you “off plan.” It “broke” your diet. That was it? That’s all it took, one piece of food and I’d be in an eating frenzy. All bets were off, my diet was broken. There’s no saving it now, I might as well eat that 5th piece of pizza and try that new Ben & Jerry’s flavor by downing the whole pint in one sitting.

This mentality is what caused me to gain more weight in my yo-yo era. I really would have been better off not dieting at all. In essence I was giving myself permission to binge on food because I already “ruined my diet.” I was stuck in the on plan/off plan mentality. If I was on plan, only “diet approved” food was being consumed. The “diet approved” items could be anything from only vegetables, no carbs, even nothing at all.

My hypothesis is that this mentality stems from a perfection gene. There’s no reason to make a good choice if we’ve already made a bad one. We might as well give up today and just wait to try again tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

I’ve been battling The Husband about this recently. He keeps saying he’ll eat better in the new year and I’m like no, no, NO! Make small changes now!  They all count!

#wycwyc is my response to the “Might As Well” mentality and I mumble it to myself daily about everything from food choices to fitting in more movement.

2. Always Small. ALWAYS!

“….individuals given 100%, 125% or 150% of a meal they previously self-selected typically consume all … In a series of studies by Wansink and colleagues, participants served themselves and ate 14.5% more ice cream using a 3oz vs. a 2oz spoon, and 31% more from a 34oz vs. a 17oz bowl. Forty students at a Super Bowl party served and ate 53% more chips from 4l vs. 2l bowls, 161 moviegoers served and ate 53% more popcorn from 240gm vs. 120gm buckets, and 158 moviegoers served and ate 34% more stale popcorn from 240gm vs. 120gm buckets. Importantly here, participants were not given more food which they then consumed, they were simply given a larger popcorn bucket into which they served themselves and from which they subsequently consumed.”

I may get in trouble as this is something we cover in the #wycwyc book but it’s so important!

We can laugh all we want at the small plate trick (use a smaller plate to fool your brain that you ate more) but it really does make a difference.

Almost every time I go to the movies I order a small popcorn and when I do the cashier will inevitably try to up-sell me to a large because it’s only 50 cents more or whatever.

My response is always the same:

If I order a large I’ll eat a large. Small, please.

I know myself. I have NO off switch when it comes to things like popcorn. All I can do is control what I make available to myself.

3. Make it Hard: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

“… the more effort required for consumption, the less is likely to be consumed. In a cafeteria setting, where crisps were available at the check-out for the main cafeteria, crisps were selected on average by 70% of consumers. When crisps were placed at the far end of the dining hall and required queuing at a separate check-out solely for the purpose of purchasing crisps, crisps were selected by an average of only 10% of consumers. In similar studies, consumers chose ice cream less often (5% time) from a chiller with the lid on compared to a chiller with the lid off (16% time), consume less nuts if they are shelled vs. unshelled, and consume less sweets if they are wrapped vs. unwrapped.”

This one blows my mind — 70% will buy chips only because they see them and they are convenient?! Think about that and the Weight Watchers commercial and now think about how many times food is easily accessible to us — gas stations, break rooms, supermarket check-outs, malls, even the gym. For Pete’s sake, my son’s small pool, where he took swimming lessons, had a vending machine. Why? Kids go for an hour swim class, do they really need that bag of Doritos to fuel their workout? And don’t get me started on Gatorade or post-sports game snacks. It’s like we can’t escape it!

At home I specifically avoid keeping ice cream in the house, again, because I know myself and I know I can’t be trusted. I don’t want to give up ice cream forever (never going to happen) so I simply make it less convenient for myself. I do this with bread and most sweets I like as well. I reserve them for when I’m out instead of making them available to myself at home all the time.

Actually, I do this with things like juice for the kids too. Since it’s not available at home they always reach for water. And since they mostly drink water I don’t feel like I have to pull my hair out when they get that post-soccer Gatorade from the coach.

We are our own worst enemies when it comes to weight loss and maintenance. We eat our emotions, then battle the “might as well” mentality and our culture/environment just keeps supporting all our bad habits.

Once you become aware of these things, once you see your own patterns of self-medicating with food and choosing new “start days” every week, once you realize that little things like ordering a small or making certain foods less convenient actually matter, then you can start to change your relationship with food.

It is possible. It just takes time and persistence.

Now that I got all that out of me, here’s today’s Food Journal!

  • 5:45 a.m.  Costco baby head sized Pear
  • 7:00 a.m. Post-workout protein shake – Nature’s Bounty Protein made with 1% milk
  • 8:00 a.m. Homemade waffles with the kids made with pretty much this recipe put in the waffle iron but I ran out of flax.
  • 11:00 a.m. Hummus with grape tomatoes, peppers and green beans. I buy single servings of hummus in little containers because I can’t be trusted.
  • 1:00 p.m. Hot and sour soup, green salad with ginger dressing, spicy salmon roll with brown rice, tuna avocado roll with brown rice. Out to lunch with The Husband.
  • 5:45 p.m. Whole wheat pretzel — I had one left from a bag I bought from a farmers market.
  • 6:30 p.m. Dinner was slow cooker experiment — turkey sausage with sorghum, tomatoes and peppers. It was awesome! I’ll try to post to GreenLiteBites tomorrow!
  • 9:00 p.m. Small Dark Chocolate bar 85%

In other news…

  • I posted some fun gift ideas on TheUnwordlyTravelers
  • FitBloggin’ has a new social team! — Translation: I’m getting really good a delegating!
  • The Olympic Lifting coach I see on Tuesday’s told me I was “coachable” today and it totally made my night as I was feeling really insecure.
  • Making sleep a priority again. Hopefully this time I won’t have kids talking in their sleep and waking me at 3 a.m. like last night!

 



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Discussion

There are 18 comments so far.

    Dana

    December 2, 2014

    I so needed to read this tonight. Thank you for putting into words, what I have been struggling with mentally since the day after Thanksgiving

      RoniNoone

      December 3, 2014

      You are so welcome! Just remember, everything counts!

    Dawn

    December 3, 2014

    Great great post roni, so many great things you touched on. I laughed at myself when you mentioned nuts in the shell as they (peanuts) had even become an issue so I went to mixed nuts like almonds, hazel nuts and walnuts and my kitchen hammer lol. I can tell ya now I seldom eat more than 10 at a time if that. Husband still complaining at me for stepping on bits of shell in the floor too lol.

      RoniNoone

      December 3, 2014

      Yup! I do the same thing! My kids love cracking them too. SO bonus, they eat more nuts and I eat less! lol

    Bling Betty

    December 3, 2014

    The editor in me can’t resist: it’s out of “sight,” not “site.”

      RoniNoone

      December 3, 2014

      HA! Even my editor missed that one and she edited something else in the line.

    The subject of the Weight Watchers ad – eating in response to intense emotion – has been a personal and professional passion of mine for just over 20 years now. It’s also obviously an issues that many, many people struggle with.

    Given that, I feel compelled to share what I have discovered. Initially (early to mid 90s) I addressed my own and my clients’ emotional eating through psychological work and “non-dieting” perspectives (I had studied Geneen Roth’s work and others, “Overcoming Overeating”, “Intuitive Eating”, etc). While we matured psychologically, we were having trouble controlling the drive to overeat and generating weight control/health at the same time. In the “trenches”, it was clear that I was missing something.

    Over the next few years through continued searching and study, I discovered the role of “hyperinsulinemia” (the medical term for 75% of the population’s genetic tendency to over-secrete insulin in response to starchy and sweet carbohydrate) in compulsive eating, emotional eating, etc. Interestingly, the research community has clearly and consistently confirmed the inverse relationship between a nutritional intake that is too high in starchy (i.e., your popcorn example) and sweet carbohydrates and “satiety” (sense of “fullness”). Personally, if I’m eating starchy food like that, my typical response is that I can’t get enough of it, and I can’t read my body’s “satiety” signals to tell when I’m “full”.

    Essentially, though it “looks, feels, smells and tastes” like drive for food is emotional or psychological in origin, more often than not, there is a significant physiological component at work (I’m not arguing that there is no psychological component; sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t). I have seen many clients cry in relief when they figure out that their overeating has nothing to do with their “lack of strength” or “lack of willpower”.

    Further, I have tracked client response around this via an assessment instrument that I created for about 10 years now. When the nutritional side of the issue is brought in to balance (impacting the body’s pancreatic/insulin response), the average client reports a 57% reduction in “food cravings”, a 54% reduction in “carbohydrate difficulty”, a 57% reduction in “binge eating” and a 47% reduction in “emotional eating” … all in 10 days to 2 weeks. I should also note that “brought in to balance” as stated above does not imply dietary perfection; usually somewhere between 80-95% on target is good enough.

      RoniNoone

      December 3, 2014

      Thanks for sharing Gary! I, personally, experience this (at least I think) when my diet is cleaner (less processed, less starchy carbs) I have less cravings overall. I also had to deal (am still dealing with) the psychological aspects of weight loss, body image and overall feelings of worthlessness and a lack of confidence. I think both sides (psychological and physiological) are equally important. Especially because sometimes the psychological can influence what you eat which then effects you physiologically. Did that make sense? lol It’s definitely a vicious cycle.

      Beth Mason

      December 11, 2014

      I guess I’m all into commenting. I think I’ve commented more today that I have the whole time I’ve read your blog.

      So Gary, you are saying that the you’ve found a relationship between the starchy foods and the fullness feeling. An inverse relationship? That makes sense. My question is how is it possible to bust out of that routine?

    Sarah Deman

    December 4, 2014

    We talked about the new commercial at my WW meeting last night, and it was interesting to me that some people didn’t get it, like they thought WW was promoting snacking all the time. OR, they felt like the commercial was making fun of them for snacking all the time. I can see all sides, but I thought it was a fun way to look at the fact that we all have the same issues with food – its goes with everything!

      RoniNoone

      December 5, 2014

      I’ve seen some comments about that too. I immediately “got it” but I guess some come at it a different way. Surprised me too.

      Beth Mason

      December 11, 2014

      I heard the song from the other room and had to go see what the commercial was for. When I did I laughed out loud!

    Paula

    December 5, 2014

    I loved this post. I really liked the idea order small. I have not heard of that one or if I did, I have forgotten. So simple, but a fantastic strategy.

      RoniNoone

      December 5, 2014

      Thanks!

    Sarah

    December 5, 2014

    Roni I have been following your blog for a while, and this post stuck in my mind. It inspired me the other day when my friend brought over a tray of brownies for our coffee date, and left them all with me when she left. They weren’t even very good, especially compared to the calorie count on the label, but I found myself keeping them for all my normal reasons of not wanting to waste food, keeping them as a treat, justifying it that maybe my family wants them. I realized I had already eaten two, just from walking by them throughout the day. I remembered this post, picked them up, and tossed them right in the trash. I am embarrassed to admit how big of a step that was for me, but hopefully it will be the first of many big steps. Please keep writing and sharing all that you do because it’s making a difference :-)

      RoniNoone

      December 5, 2014

      Don’t be embarrassed!! That’s an awesome step and should be celebrated! I remember once in a WW meeting I confessed/celebrated eating a normal breakfast after a night of junk food. It was the first time I didn’t try to starve myself the next day and it was a huge step.

      Own every step…. it’s all progress!

      Beth Mason

      December 11, 2014

      Thanks for sharing because I feel that way too! There are many times that I keep around not so great food because of all of the same reasons. Even yesterday I ate a second sugar cookie, that wasn’t that good, because it was there and after I had promised myself I would only have one. WAY TO GO!

    Rebecca

    December 8, 2014

    Hi Roni, I just discovered your blog. Boy, do I ‘get’ what you talk about! My yo-yo era lasted for over half of my life. I topped out at over 210 pounds. I was, literally, suicidal – I drove my car to a cliff and was ready to do a “Thelma and Louise”! I was that desperate. It took a while, but I came to understand that diets don’t work because they only address what’s happening on the outside and what I needed to change happens on the ‘inside’. I now follow a way of eating that focuses on living from ‘the inside out’ – and it really, really works. Thanks for your blog and letting me share.