Posts Tagged ‘overeating’

A Self-Induced Plateau

268.  Again.  That’s 19 pounds in 16 weeks.  Creeping ever closer to numbers that put me on-schedule instead of ahead of schedule.  Which is too close to behind schedule for comfort.

I know why I’m not losing, but need some momentum to the boulder rolling back up the hill.

Here’s how I’ve ended up on this plateau:  As regular readers and other friends know, back on June 16 my lovely wife delivered a brand-new sprightly daughter.  And since then, kind, sweet, talented cooks/friends have been delivering delectable dishes to our home.  For which we are truly grateful, as it means food is something we don’t have to think about as we figure out how baby Kennedy fits into the family structure (or, perhaps more correctly, how the family fits into baby Kennedy’s structure).

The problem with that (not thinking about food) is that I haven’t been thinking about food.  I’ve been just eating food, with the intention only of satisfying my hunger.  Which, for this body, is not enough.  I have to think more critically about what goes on my plate.  The food we’ve been brought is all healthy and delicious, but it’s time for me to stop and think, “Hmmm … do I need to fill the plate or will only one spoonful of that pasta do me better?”

I have this (well-meaning, but fat) voice in the back of my mind that keeps telling me it’s somehow rude to not eat the wonderful food people bring me when they bring it to me.  It’s not rude.  At all.  None of these fine people have intended me to eat everything at once, and all this food will freeze quite nicely.  But that voice, it’s a strong presence.  I suspect some of you know whereof I write.

Rude or not, this week it’s back to responsible portions.  I need to catch up.

 

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Five Resources That Help(ed) Me Understand Food Better

It’s Five-Things-Wednesday …

Regular readers know I’m a veteran of the diet wars.  Along the way I’ve picked up some nuggets of wisdom from which I’m now able to piece together reasonable nutritional advice (for myself).  Here are five sources I recommend … but remember, nothing you read (except this blog) is necessarily entirely correct, honorable and true.  Not all good advice applies to all people.  Use these resources, but read them all with a critical eye and an experimental mind.

1.)  MichaelPollan.com.  Yeah, I know, broken record on my part.  Go read his stuff.

2.)  The South Beach Diet.  In case I wasn’t clear enough above, I’ll say it a different way:  Do not start the South Beach Diet.  Do, however, read the book and learn about things like the glycemic index and how different foods affect the way your body works.  It’s a quick read and it can lead you to other resources you may find helpful.  I should add that when I was “on” the South Beach Diet about seven years ago, I was amazed at the rapid results, dismayed by the (high) cost eating that way and always hungry.  And when I went “off” said diet I gained what I’d lost (and more) almost as quickly as I lost it.  I suppose if you are able to employ a personal chef and shopper and are not encumbered with a job or a desire for bread, it might work long-term.

3.)  The End of Overeating.  You may have missed my recent post on this.  Go here and read all about it.

4.)  Dead Weight.  This infographic from the fine people at good.is works as a nice motivator for me.  It reminds me that, no, a second helping of pecan pie isn’t worth the cardiac arrest it might eventually induce.  I don’t always remember, but I’m doing a better job.  Let me disclaim here, however, as I’ve done in other posts, that the BMI is just a tool, and that like all other tools it should be used in context.  Used as a blunt instrument and applied to everything health-related, it’s as helpful as a ball-peen hammer in a nanotech lab.

5.)  Common Sense.  No, not the Tom Paine pamphlet (although it wouldn’t hurt you to go read that as soon as you finish reading this post).  There is no end of good and bad information available to me on the internets, from well-meaning friends, from Big Ag, from Big Pharma, etc., about what is healthy and what is not.  It’s my responsibility to consider as much of that information as I can, critically, and within context.  What’s in the food I’m putting in my belly?  How does that food make me feel?  How does my body use it?  Does my body reject it or is it of value to me?  I inherited some genes that make food stick to my ribs (tenaciously), but my body is my responsibility.   I’m obliged to use my portion of good sense to keep it in working order.

 

“Why Does That Chocolate Chip Cookie Have Such Power Over Me?”

That’s not me asking the question, it’s former FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler.  Dr. Kessler, he’s a pretty smart guy – Harvard MD, Chicago JD, pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins, ran the FDA under both Democratic and Republican presidents – and a couple of years ago he wrote a book about why we (me, a bunch of you readers, him, etc.) can’t stop eating things we know are killing us.

The End of Overeating:  Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite is something you should read if you’ve ever wondered why you are driven to distraction by the dessert menu at Chili’s … even though you just pounded your way through a basket of chips and salsa and the chicken-fried steak.  Or if you’ve ever wondered why your spouse, buddy, parent, kid, etc. exhibits that kind of behavior.

The Wall St. Journal and the New York Times both agree.  This book is worth your time.  Kessler asked the question in my headline of himself, and had the training and resources to figure it out.  He’s not some skinny doc preaching from an ivory tower to the unwashed masses about why we should avoid bourgeois chain restaurants, this is a guy who says (in the Times article) of himself:

“I wouldn’t have been as interested in the question of why we can’t resist food if I didn’t have it myself,” he said. “I gained and lost my body weight several times over. I have suits in every size.”

I feel like we’re brothers, me and Dr. Kessler.  In the WSJ article, he says:

“The one thing I can assure you: At the core, it’s fat, sugar and salt. Not everything activates each of us the same. Here’s the fundamental point: We are wired to focus on the most salient stimuli in our environment. If your kid is sick today, that’s what you think about. For some people it’s sex, gambling, alcohol. For many of us it’s food. And within that category, different types of food are salient. You have to condition yourself to take the power out of the stimulus.” (Emphasis mine)

Several of Kessler’s points are the same  as the Michael Pollan ideas I discussed in a previous  post.  But the ideas in this book (or just in the articles linked above, if you really don’t have time for the book) are exactly the answer some of us have been looking for.  He doesn’t give you excuses – or at least he’s not trying to – but rather ammunition to use in your war (should you choose to declare one) on the kind of “food” that’s trying to kill you.

I have some examples of what Kessler’s writing about.  You may recall a few weeks ago I wrote about a visit to a local pub that used to be a favorite of mine.  I’d been doing fine on my path to better eating.  But that afternoon, I decided a basket of fries wouldn’t hurt me.  And the waitress brought my beef-n-cheddar melt on white bread instead of wheat.  And I finished a couple of the chicken fingers my sprightly daughters left behind (because they were, you know, there).  I used to eat that stuff, if not every day, four or five times a week at a minimum.  It’s been long enough now that the taste it left in my mouth was not, shall we say, a welcome one.  More importantly, it took me more than 24 hours to get rid of the overwhelming need to eat fatty, sweet, gooey desserts.  Which I was able to resist, partially because I recognized the cause and was aware that indulging the craving wouldn’t end the craving.

Seriously, before that meal it had been months since I had that kind of craving … but all it took was one meal of the kind described by Kessler to kick those cravings into high gear.

Last week I had the same issue with potato chips.  I knew better than to eat them, but once I did my desire for more, More, MORE fat and salt and sugar and fat and salt and sugar and fat and salt and sugar was the single most important thing on my mind for the rest of the day.

Kessler’s writing about powerful stuff here, and he wants to help you and me.  It’s an easy read.  Take the time, and if it doesn’t apply to you, pass it on.  Trust me … you know somebody it can help.

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