What strategies do you use to maintain?
I thought I would start this thread so people could share what strategies worked for them, in hopes that it would help people with weight maintenance. I have a history of being a yoyo dieter and back then when I was, it was not fun. I guess I have been maintaining my weight in a healthy range for over ten years, although I will admit not all my strategies I would consider to be good ones:stars:
Here are some things that have helped me in no particular order:
-Recognizing that for me, food an addiction (more specifically carbs) and breaking that addiction.
-Understanding that not everyone has food addiction, meaning I can't eat like everyone else.
-Understanding that yes, I have an eating disorder caused by a physiological problem and not a mental one (carbs are the root cause of my issues with food/weight control, not lack of willpower or low self esteem etc.)
-Placing the blame where it really belongs: "on how we have manipulated food for a pleasure experience from a need for basic survival"
-Recognizing that although exercise can be used to help manage weight it is not a good strategy because it aggravates the problem some people have with carbs.
-Recognizing that my weight problem is caused by over-eating, and determining why I was over-eating was the key to success.
-figuring how not to "overeat."
-understanding the difference between eating for pleasure and eating for survival.
-recognizing the difference between false hunger "eating in response to insulin spikes" and real hunger "I need food because I am under-eating."
-understanding the difference between the relationship our ancestors had with food (eat when its there because it may not be tomorrow) and the relationship modern humans have with food (well its always there, but I will eat it anyways because it makes me feel good).
And the most difficult one that I still struggle with.
-learning how to eat in society with the food that is available, without gaining weight.
I haven't quite mastered that one yet. Right now I am just using the "avoidance" strategy. Meaning avoiding social functions and eating out etc. Mostly for fear of feeling uncomfortable when people accuse me of having an eating disorder because I avoid eating desert. Now that I know that it is physiologically based it is easier to explain, but at one time I had no words to defend why I can't eat the same way everyone else can. I used to just eat desert to avoid the comments, but that was when I used to exercise 2-5 hrs a day. It was the only thing that relieved the intense feelings of hunger I would have after meals. But now that is gone because I have gone low carb, so I'm not really sure how I am going to deal with that.
Anyways, I am hoping my post helps some people. I hated being a yoyo dieter so please share your stories on strategies that have also helped you. Because I think it maintaining your weight is possible.
yeah, I have a HARD time with social eating. I really almost never eat anything I don't cook myself. I get so TIRED of having to do that, but otherwise I can't really be sure what's in things. I can gain five pounds eating one "normal meal" and not even overdoing, and it takes months to get it off again, so I have to be rigorous. *sigh*
I figure if I go to a restaurant I can always order a salad with a high fat dressing that has either protein or cheese on it. Where I have more trouble is when the menu is set, or you are at some else's house for dinner. Its awkward because it isn't really a life or death situation, like allergies for example. I can eat high carb, I just regret it when I do. I have a diabetic disorder anyways, so maybe I could just tell people that. I still can't get my head around how I am going to get through the rest of my future, when our society is basically HC. That isn't going to change anytime soon. 8)
I also encounter a lot of social pressure to eat. To be honest, it does cause me to avoid many social situations. I'm really the oddball with my boyfriend's friends because I don't drink (they drink all the time, and a lot!).
Social eating is one of my biggest problem as well.
I don't drink because I worried that it will trigger my urge to binge, even though alcohol is safe, when I was younger I would wind up in the kitchen eating brownies or bags of chips late at night if I was at a social function drinking.
punkin..thank you so much for taking the time to post that. I need to read that post over several times. I relate so much to what you said. My problem is yo yo dieting too. I don't know what comes over me but when I get the urge to binge I just cannot stop. I imagine it is like an alcoholic who cannot stop. Today I was doing so well...even had salad and tuna fish for dinner at a salad bar...my daughter decided to get some mini muffins from the salad bar..it was like a drug..I started craving and sure enough I got some and then went on a binge. Do you have any suggestions of what to do when you are craving carbs and just feel the desire is taking over your body? Would going back on a strict no carb diet for several days kill the cravings. I am so disgusted with myself right now.
sarahatl, it's hard. We live in a culture that has elevated food to a grossly distorted role in everyday life. Food has become our celebration, our comfort, our reward, our entertainment, our distraction from annoying daily events. We are constantly bombarded with messages about indulging ourselves and "deserving" this-or-that.
What I have found most helpful, in those moments of feeling irrationally tempted, is to shut down those lying thoughts immediately. Just say to yourself, sternly, "STOP! This is ridiculous. They are just ordinary muffins. They aren't worth much of anything. I don't need to listen to this crap in my head." And then direct your attention elsewhere.
This takes a lot of practice, but basically it's a cost-benefit analysis, done very quickly in your head, and the more often you do it, the more it becomes a habit.
The tempting foods themselves are usually a lie, anyway, meaning they are really not that good. We eat them in a minute or two and they are gone, while the "fallout" of feeling discouraged and disappointed in yourself lasts a lot longer. In time, as you practice saying "NO" to these urges, you will get better at recognizing the benefit of staying on-plan and being proud of yourself vs. the cost of giving in and feeling like nothing good came of it.
I understand what you mean about "desire taking over your body"--I'm sure most of us have experienced those moments where we are fighting against our urges and feel like we've gone temporarily crazy. That struggle feels so intense that I think we end up seeking relief, one way or another, and relief will only come when we stop arguing with ourselves. The "giving in" option is easier and only takes a split second. But the "saying no" option has way better results and will leave you with positive feelings. My point is that the longer we remain embroiled in that consuming "Oh...should I or shouldn't I? I shouldn't--but I want to!" argument, the more likely it is that we will throw up our hands and say "Okay, fine, shut up, you win!" to the urge. So the best thing to do is get out of that argument as quickly as possible.
Think about how people treat small children who are having a tantrum. It's a waste of time to try to reason with them or convince them to see the wisdom of what you are telling them to do or not do. They'll just dig in their heels and escalate the tantrum, a lot of times. The parent, who knows what's best for the child, has to step in and lay down the law. It's not much different when our inner entitled brat starts clamoring for some silly food that isn't good for us and isn't part of our weight-loss plan.
I hope that helps. I've been maintaining within a very narrow range for two and a half years now, and believe me, it is work. There are a lot of lessons to be learned along the way. You will be doing yourself a huge favor in addressing these problems now and taking them seriously. It does take time and effort but the payoff is well worth it.
peanutte: Such good advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to post that on my behalf. You are right it is nothing but a tantrum and next time I am going to refuse to give in. I have feeling that my "inner entitled brat" is very stubborn but I will win out! You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned our culture has distorted the role of food. HFCS is in EVERYTHING! Sometimes I almost think it a conspirarcy to get us to eat more. Last week my husband bought a jar of dry roasted PLAIN peanuts...just a jar a peanuts...and wouldn't you know they had sugar in them!
sarahatl, you are welcome.
It's really good to get in the habit of reading labels before buying anything packaged. I'm not scolding your husband, just making the point that we should try our best to know what we're eating. I've seen so many posts where a person "found out" after eating something that it had hidden carbs, weird ingredients, MSG, etc. You shouldn't "find out" after the fact--just take a second to look at the label in the store. My mom always has dry-roasted peanuts in her house and I never eat them because at some point, years ago, I looked at the label and saw that they have MSG. No wonder they taste so intensely salty.
If your grocery stores have bulk departments, that's a great way to get your nuts because you can usually find a variety to choose from: raw, roasted, unsalted, lightly salted, etc. So you can pick exactly what you want, and they are usually just nuts, oil, and salt. You can also control the amounts that way, so you don't end up eating more nuts just because they're there.
These types of little, conscious choices can really add to your positive momentum and keep you feeling solidly in charge of what you're doing. That is one way of "treating yourself"--treating yourself to choices that emphasize your goals.
Social situations are really hard. I am pretty new to this, only about 5-6 weeks, but I wanted to post this to share something that worked for me this weeked filled with social events.
During the hour prior to the event, I ate a BIG wonderful high-fat hi-protein low carb meal, and then when I got to the party, I was not at all hungry. i could and did honestly say, "oh, no thanks, not that hungry right now." and then--here is the trick--immediately change the subject to ASK the person who is pushing the food on you something about themselves. "I saw you got a new car! it's so pretty, tell me all about it. Was it hard to decide on one? had you considered hybrids? ..." and then their focus is off you and the food, and onto themselves. i found this really worked. Quick deflect, then attention on the pusher. (And in the one case who kept coming back and back with the brownie plate, I finally said, "do you by any chance know where the restrooms are?" and just left her. )
Hope this helps!
Sorry, this is a sub forum I often forget to check in. I am not exactly sure why some people struggle with the carb addiction as much as others. I am learning as I read people's posts. I would consider myself a former "carb-addict" meaning I am not really addicted to them anymore but could probably easily slip back. For example my family eats carbs and a lot of them, although I am lucky in that my husband doesn't like sweets. But other people family/friends I am around do. I have "dangerous" carbs in my house for my husband but I don't touch them myself because I know the consequences for doing so. I even have to catch myself from licking my fingers after making him toast with jam in the morning. That is a mindless habit, that I can do without even realizing it.
I think one of the reasons I have been successful is because I weaned myself off carbs slowly over time. For example I cut sugar out of my diet over ten years ago for health reasons other than weight issues. Then over a year ago I cut out processed foods. And now more recently the starchy veggies, fruit and grain products. Now basically I am eating mostly the veggies on atkins induction, spices, nuts and seeds, tofu, pure chocolate, some meat and some dairy (sour cream, cheese, and heavy cream). Although I went through a bit of the induction flu, I didn't have the problems that other people seemed to have on induction including the intense carb cravings (which is what you are describing). Now the things I eat that have carbs, taste like candy. What I mean is that they taste the way candy used to (really good), the only difference is that I feel like a million bucks afterwards, not sick to my stomach. I remember just over a year ago eating a whole bag of chocolate covered cranberries and not being able to stop. But after I felt so sick to my stomach. I also used to keep a lock on our carb cupboard because I had a serious problem with mindless snacking on carby foods.
I wish I could give you better advice because my brain doesn't function the way it did a year ago, ie. ooohhh there's a chocolate bar, just one bit, I can have just one bite right? Now I think about making an asian cold slaw with shredded chinese cabbage, green onion, fresh ginger and garlic with a peanut sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Because yesterday I ate that and not only was it completely satisfying, I felt better afterwards than I ever have after eating a chocolate bar.
I used to be completely addicted to chocolate ie. I never bought it EVER. Because if I did it would be a disaster for me. I never thought I would see the day where I could actually eat unsweetened chocolate. Because really it is the combination of carbs and fat that are addictive in chocolate, and if you remove the sugar you lose interest in the chocolate completely. Now I put unsweetened chocolate in my fat bombs and I love them. That is really what happens once the carb cravings are gone. Veggies you thought you would never like (for me steamed cauliflower/brussel sprouts/cabbage) now taste wonderful, have lots of wonderful nutrients and make you feel good.
But I am not kidding myself in any way, I know its a slippery slope. I am following the atkins diet loosely and am sticking mainly with the foods in the induction phase. I am going to slowly introduce some of the foods higher up on the ladder in time, but I am going to proceed with extreme caution because I know I am(was) a pretty serious carb addict. My diet right now is very high in fat, somewhat low in protein, and fairly low in carbs (20-25g/day). What I basically do is use the low carb/high fiber veggies as vessels to deliver fat to my body. The atkins diet is too high in protein for me, my body doesn't seem to take well to too much protein, which is what mean by "loosely following" the atkins diet.
Anyways, I hope that helps in some way.
punkin....I strive to be like you. Right now I am fairly good about no sugar or processed foods but every so often I go on a binge. I had two binges last weekend but now am back in the saddle...it is one day at a time. Can I ask you do you eat oatmeal or steel cut oats? I just cannot do eggs for breakfast. I do not eat a lot of meat but I do eat it occasionally just to get the protein. I eat tofu. I so related to your comment about licking your fingers after making toast/jam...yes, something as little as that could set me off! I think I am eating way to much fruit. I may have to go back to eating just one piece a day which i difficult (i like berries on my steel cut oats) and an apple later in they day. I use stevia in things to sweeten them. Do you think I am sabotaging myself by using stevia in my oats in the morning?
PS...would you want to share the recipe for that Asian slaw? :)
Hi Sarah, I am so sensitive to carbs that I have had to reduce my carb intake to almost nothing, to be able to maintain my weight. I am basically following the atkins diet, and I am just above the induction level eating 20 - 25g/day. And basically sticking to most of the foods on the induction list except nuts and seeds. You might want to pick up the newest version of the atkins book, even if you don't decide to do it because it is really good to understand the theory behind the diet, it is an excellent diet for anyone who is particularly sensitive to carbs. I also have the added complication that I also seem sensitive to protein. It seems like I can only eat around 60g a day, but apparently its probably because I have a small frame (read it on another thread). The atkins diet advocates a lot of protein and I think that's ok for some people, but not for others.
Anyways, I used to eat oatmeal all the time! I loved it, and I thought I was doing my body good but oatmeal is very high in carbs. I found it filled me up but a couple hours later my body was screaming for more food. That is what is called "carb induced" hunger. For people who have metabolic syndrome or some variation of it, its like a mild form of hypoglycemia. It causes you to overeat. Once your body learns to use fat for fuel, "carb induced" hunger goes away. I think it takes a couple months of existing on a Low carb, moderate protein, High fat diet though. I don't eat a lot of meat (50 - 100g) a day and the only other protein I get is about 2 servings of tofu (80cal), that is about all the protein I can handle. The rest of mine comes from trace amounts found in veggies and cheese. I only eat eggs if I am not at home for breakfast. Bingeing behaviour is caused by carb addiction. For example, when I was on a higher carb diet, if I felt hungry which happened a lot, I would eat no matter what. I would get up in the middle of the night, I would open the carb cupboard and take a handful of crackers, I would go for seconds, I would eat a whole bag of chips. Now when I get hungry, I seem to be able to wait for the next meal. The hunger doesn't seem to drive me to overeat, it is more like a reminder: "ok you need to eat soon." I don't know if that makes sense. Sometimes the hunger even completely goes away. This a freedom I have never felt before (being on low carb).
I don't use artificial sweeteners (or stevia) only because I worry that it will feed the carb addiction psychologically and override the ability to taste the sweetness of trace carbs in natural foods. Since I have been low carb, anything that contains trace carbs tastes sweet to me now and the right combination will make something taste like candy to me. For example cashew butter tastes really sweet to me, where as when I was on a higher carb diet, it didn't. Same with coconut milk. When I went LC I switched out the sugar for the fat. It wasn't that hard for me because I love the taste of fat. I love dumping a fatty, creamy sauce all over some steamed cauliflower. It tastes a lot better to me than the oatmeal ever did. I always had to eat the oatmeal with sugar or it didn't taste good. The big difference is that now, the fatty sauce and cauliflower hold me for hours and I don't get the ravishing hunger I used to when I was on a higher carb diet. I am also not bingeing. To me, its just a better way of life, not thinking about food and how hungry I am all the time. I used to hoard food (carbs), that's how bad my addiction is/was. I was always afraid of going hungry so I would stock up on the carbs. Now I don't even care if I run out of something I like to eat.
What you describe, it where I was just a little over a year ago, eating healthy foods, but still on a moderate to high carb diet. I was able to lose a decent amount of weight but I had to exercise a lot, and I wasn't really able to maintain my weight once I got to my goal. It took switching to a LC diet, to be able to maintain, without gaining back all the weight I lost. Now, I have poor genetics, which is why LC works for me. Metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes runs in my family, so I am particularly sensitive to carbs. I was also fighting horrible hunger pains and bingeing a lot. Again, this is carb addiction not "true" hunger. I have had to develop a whole new WOE, not to mention my shift in thinking. I am still wrestling with what to have for breakfast myself. Lunch seems easier....Asian slaw. Here is the recipe:
3 cups shredded napa cabbage (chinese)
2tbsn chopped cilantro
1 - 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 chopped green onion
1 tbsn peanut butter (I sometimes use sunflower butter its lower carb)
3.5 tsp rice wine vinegar
3.5 tsp vegetable oil (I use 35% cooking cream instead)
2 tsp regular soya sauce
1 tsp minced ginger root
1 tsp minced garlic
I also add a bit of water to the dressing to make it a bit more watery.
The idea is that it is high fat, and low carb with a bit of protein. You can modify the dressing to taste, which sometimes I do. It should be satisfying enough that it doesn't cause an insulin spike or mild hypoglycemia a couple hours later. That it usually my goal with every meal. Sometimes I find I need a bit more calories to a meal which usually means just putting in an extra tbsn of cream.
Anyways, I really hope that helps. I do recommend you read the newest version of the atkins book. The induction period is difficult because you go through what is called the "induction flu." It is basically like going through withdrawal from carb addiction. Then the next couple of months while you are in OWL, your body is learning to rely on fat as a fuel instead of carbs. During that time you have to deal with mild carb cravings but eventually they start to subside and you also won't find yourself as susceptible to bingeing, if you decide to try to follow it. My only criticism of the atkins diet is that some people have to reduce the protein in favour of increasing the fat, to get it to work. That's me. I can only eat a little protein a day, because my body seems to be able to convert protein to glucose quite efficiently, which only feeds the carb addiction.
thank you punkin for taking the time to post this and the recipe. I will definately look into the latest atkins book. The oatmeal does not cause too bad of a craving for me surprisingly, although by glucose level goes about about 20pts. I can do low carb for lunch and dinner no problem at all but breakfast really is hard. Thank you again for your time!
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