Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sick of obsessing about what I'm eating....again.

This is a cycle I get into every few years.  When I did WeightWatchers, I was obsessed with what I was eating - how could I get the fullest for the fewest number of Points?  I ate mostly fake foods because, after all, chemicals are lower calorie than real food in many cases.  It was almost a game to me.  OK I am hungry and need a snack.  What can I eat that will leave me enough points to eat a big dinner and finally feel satisfied?  If I eat this 100 cal pack of snickerdoodles that has more ingredients than a homemade turkey dinner, it will only "cost" me 2 points and I can still eat an extra serving of Kraft Mac n Cheese for dinner.  But - that 100 cal pack didn't fill me up at all.  So while I was making said Kraft Mac n Cheese, I also ate whatever was sitting around in my kitchen.  And it usually wasn't carrot sticks.  Thus began the daily obsessive balancing act:  eating and eating and eating fake foods in a binge-and-restrict manner until I accidentally lost some weight by taking advanced step classes and causing my metabolism to completely and utterly crash.

So now I am eating mostly Paleo, definitely low carb, gluten-free and no processed foods.  Am I happier about what I am eating?  Kinda.  I wish I could say that I love to sit down to eat because its so yummy to eat nothing but fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, lean meats, nuts.  But it's not - it's frickin' downright boring.  If I eat one more frickin' salad and *insert salad topping here like chicken salad, hard-boiled egg, avocado, etc.* I will vomit.  If I enter my meal plan into my current favorite calorie-tracking website (myfitnesspal.com) and see that I'm over calories or carbs or sugar ONE MORE TIME I will scream.

Should it be this hard to simply eat?

That is the question I would love to examine.  Do I need more cookbooks?  No.  I have approximately 50 cookbooks on my kitchen and living room shelves.  Cooking from the farmer's market, The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Cookbook,  The Mayo Clinic Heart Healthy Cookbook, The essential/ultimate/critical/you will die without it Diabetic Cookbook, etc., etc., etc. [Sidebar:  I cannot remember the exact titles of these books so I haven't put them in quotations - I am paraphrasing their titles, please don't quote me!]   I have tried them all and I get bored of them all.  Why?  What am I doing wrong?  Do others feel this way, too?

Food is fuel.

That's really all it is.  Every meal does not have to be a smorgasbord of delight.  Is spinach good for me?  Yes.  Do I find it revolting?  No.  So eat it.  Shut up and eat it.  Plan things that I really love into my routine, and sometimes - many times - just eat because its time to fuel my body with calories to allow me to move on.

This is what I'm currently working on.  Food is fuel.  To be really cliche:  Food is not love, therapy, emotion, friend, neighbor or hobby.  It is fuel.  COOKING is a hobby.  But every meal cannot be that way - sometimes a meal just has to be fuel.

One of my favorite sciencey blog writers, Peter Attia, MD writes:
If you find yourself feeling frustrated at how difficult it is to get from consciously eating well tounconsciously eating well, remember that you are on a journey.  If you are consistent and patient, if you remind yourself that you are embarking on a journey to change your life and not a short-term fix to look good in a bathing suit next month, you will embrace the right mindset to find the ‘sweet’ spot of unconsciously correct eating.
 This resonates with me.

Give me your thoughts, my 3 readers.  Is food just fuel or can it be hobby and enjoyment?


  1. I can barely even consciously eat well for more than one meal in a row. I can't even imagine unconsciously eating well. I can tell you that all my cravings are carbs and meats. I love healthy foods- good salads, fresh fruits. But I NEVER crave them. So unconscious eating is pretty much never good eating unless it's a total accident. Sad face :(

  2. Hi, friend. Just today I said OMG I can not stomach one more bite of salad. Seriously. I am salad-ed out. Some of the snacking is becoming more intuitive for me. I'm reaching for cheese, nuts, fruit vs chips and that is natural now, but the meals are a struggle. For me, I need to cook. Period. It needs to be interesting while healthy. It cant just be plain meat + boring side or salad. I can't wait until we get back from vacation to start cooking again!!

  3. As you said, Amy, I do reach for low-carb and high protein/fat snacks. Nuts are a staple --and they were always "off limits" before. What to do on nights when I'm exhausted, feeling off and don't want to cook or eat salad? Tonight I ordered chinese. FAIL. My Chinese place is MSG-free and gluten-free (they coat the meat in corn starch and actually use wheat-free soy sauce) but still not good for me. THere's lots of sugar in the sauce and I ate some white rice. BUT: I'm not perfect. I ate, mealtime occurred and I lived through it.

    Robin I was where you are for years...I only started having these weird insulin and food allergy issues after my thyroid was removed. Sometimes...honestly...something has to give. A career and three little ones? Yeah, you're not the priority right now. I get that.