One of my problems has always been that I just love food. I don’t only eat as an emotional crutch, I do love food. I have a big appetite too and probably have an issue with my cut off valve needing an overhaul.
When I started off on this journey I knew that one of the things that would be really hard to overcome was the hunger from a lack of food. I knew that the more healthy wholesome foods were going to do me good, make me feel better and give me more energy. I knew I could make them tasty and interesting BUT I worried that I would struggle with the small portions and lack of food. History has shown me that a ‘normal’ measure of cereal is less than I’d leave out for a starving mouse.
Now you can go about combating this in three ways (and I’m really talking here to people who have lots of weight to lose who are standing at the bottom of a huge mountain wondering how they are ever going to get to the top).
1. Plan lots of healthy snacks, pre-prepare them to stop yourself from grabbing the wrong stuff, weigh them out and faff with all that baloney – it works for some people and I’m not knocking it but it’s not for me
2. Graze rather than eat three meals a day. Spread your food out so that you are eating little and often rather than sitting down to three small meals a day. Again this works and I have and do practice this at times and it really does help.
Or – my favourite
3. Eat lots of food!
I know some people will say it won’t work but it will. It did, it does, it worked for me. I didn’t worry at all about portion size in the early days (to be honest I don’t worry about it now that much). I thought sensibly about this before and during my current journey and I figured these things:
1. I have A LOT of weight to lose, more than a whole average sized man – I have time to deal with this, it’s going to take a while, nothing is making it happen over night so I took a long term view of my weight loss and a life long view of my diet and lifestyle changes… very very important. When you get that life long perspective it helps you to realise that you have time to tweak things, getting started is the important bit.
2. I had been eating so unhealthily, 70% of my diet at least has been fatty, unhealthy killer food – I decided that I was eliminating ALL of that stuff, all of it, no more will anything remotely fatty touch my lips as a matter of routine. I will allow myself treats but not for the first few weeks at all and then only in moderation, like ‘normal’ people do. So 99.9% of my diet is going to be healthy, nutritious, low calorie food anyway and large portions of that has got to be better than large portions of what I was eating. Let’s face it a plate piled high with a tuna salad is not going to ever add as much fat to my body as a plate piled high with pizza and fries is it? I figured I have to lose weight if I swap out the latter for the former regardless of how much is on the plate right? Right, I did and I never went hungry, I still don’t go hungry. I have odd days where I’m starving and could eat a passing human but I cope with those days by… you guessed it… EATING lots of healthy good stuff!
3. I had not been moving, other than to walk to my car and back but I knew I was going to be moving a lot more, it all started with 20 minutes dancing with the kids (which was more like stepping from one foot to the other but very quickly escalated). So, I’m going to be doing more, which will use up more calories so who cares if I have a double serving of salad or two pieces of chicken breast or a four egg omelette instead of a 2 egg omelette? What does it matter if my fruit salad has 12 helpings of fruit in it and two fat and sugar free helpings of yoghurt on top? Again I was right because I was full and the weight was coming off.
So that’s it, that’s my tip. Don’t think about portion size if you know it is going to make you hungry, miserable and give in to unhealthy temptations. Just don’t do it. Focus on healthy food and moving more. Forget about amounts of food, seriously just forget about it. Eat until you feel full in those early days, just chow away.
I did this and was losing good chunks of weight in my early journey, I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tempted to give in, I felt full, I was satisfied, I didn’t feel I was depriving myself. And you know what? I planned to address my portion size later down the line once I’d gotten into moving more and eating healthy but I never had to bother. As I became more healthy, more active and more fit and more emotionally stable and more inspired and encouraged by my success, I found my appetite diminished all by itself! I found that I was, for the first time ever, leaving food on my plate uneaten, I was leaving the table before the serving bowls were wiped clean, I was just eating less. I wasn’t using food so much as a crutch anymore, I wasn’t having pangs and cravings so bad, I just didn’t need as much food.
Now and then it comes back, that old feeling of insatiability and I recognise it and try to relate that need to something, is it an emotional need, is it a physical need following serious exercise? I try to figure it out while I’m preparing my food and usually by the time I’ve understood where the craving’s come from it’s gone, before I even get to the table. If it hasn’t gone then I eat a lot that day, but I eat a lot of good stuff.
I also let myself have things I crave. If I suddenly fancy chocolate I have some, but a small amount, which for me might be one normal sized choc bar instead of a family sized one or pack of 6. I don’t do one chocolate button, I’ll do a small packet and that is rare, very rare but when I want to I do it. In the early days I fended off cravings with distraction techniques but then I realised I’d served my time and I could allow myself the odd indulgence. Just be careful that it is rare or an odd occurrence, if it starts becoming a daily thing you are going back down the slope so keep check, don’t let that happen.
I’d advise avoiding all of your demon foods for a couple of months to wean you off them, some are just addictions and some are even allergies. Allow yourself to start feeling and seeing the benefits of your weight loss, then you are more resilient and can control that temptation better. Also when you crave a snack type food try to get the lowest fat, best quality you can, I go for organic choc high in cocoa solids these days and you can find tiny bars in chocolatiers or you can purchase per chocolate so getting one is no problem. I tell you spending less than you would on your family bar of mass produced choc on one quality, supreme chocolate and sitting savouring every morsel of it is ultimately more satisfying than stuffing a whole bar down your neck.
Look at things differently, keep a healthy perspective, don’t let food or lack thereof make you miserable, you might lose weight more slowly but there are benefits to that… research shows time and again that the slower the more likely you are to keep it off, the slower the less chance of skin saggage, the slower the more likely you are to adopt the changes as real lifestyle changes and habits that you will take on forever not just as a quick fix.
Don’t shock your body and mind into too many changes at once, improve your diet, increase your exercise and gradually everything else will fall into place.
I’ve read a lot of inspirational things while I’ve been blogging and one of those in the early days which really hit home was a guy who said he had 500lbs to lose and he didn’t think he could do it, he knew he couldn’t do it but he thought “You know what, I can’t lose 500lbs but I can lose 5lbs” and when he’d lost 5lbs he thought “I can’t lose 495lbs but I can lose another 5lbs” and when he’d lost that he thought… well you know what he thought and I think at the time I read that he’d lost about 50 of those 5lbs in less than one year he was half way up that mountain of his and going strong.