Since I began the food diary two months ago, it has been hard to resist talking – and writing – about it incessantly. I don’t think I’ve ever had to think so much about eating, so it is often on my mind.
True confession: Left to my own devices, I’m an under-eater.
One of my dearest friends suggested this to me years ago, but I had a hard time understanding how I could be gaining weight by not eating enough. My Fitness Pal warns me about “starvation mode,” but we’ve all seen photos of people who are truly starving. They are not chubby like me. I really do not believe I gained an extra thirty pounds by eating too little.
I think I gained it the modern way: eating too much junk and too many calorie-laden restaurant meals as my metabolism was slowing down. Under-eating some days and way over-eating others has probably been my norm for the past decade.
The first month of tracking, I lost ten pounds, most of it in the first couple weeks. I think a fair bit of that was water retention. Does sugar cause water retention? I think it does, because when I cut the added sugar, my joints no longer felt swollen and achy and I dropped several pounds in a week.
(In case it isn’t obvious, I have no scientific training or medical knowledge, and nobody should take dietary advice from me. Except my husband and children, who should.)
Then, I stopped losing weight. I was also struggling to consume 1200 calories, much less the 1470 recommended for me, and felt miserable. I wasn’t bothered that the scale wasn’t budging. I was bothered that my digestive track wasn’t budging.
This is the primary reason I stopped eating meat years ago. Apparently forcing myself to eat both eggs and yogurt every. single. day. has the same effect. I decided to listen to my body and stop forcing myself to eat “high quality” protein.
Healthy eating is stressful. All the best advice out there might not actually be right for any given person. Apparently, I can only process so much protein a day, and most of it needs to come from vegetables and grains.
Sorry if that was TMI.
So, for the past two weeks I’ve been eating less animal protein and more of everything else, and I’ve lost a couple more pounds. I’m not trying to eat low carb or low fat. I am trying to eat 1200-1400 calories a day.
I’ve stopped trying to eat the five small meals a day that experts recommend, because it’s too much work planning that many meals. I eat my three regular meals and, if my calorie count was low for the day, a bedtime snack.
If I crave chocolate in the afternoon, I do eat a square of dark chocolate. If I want orange juice, I drink it, ignoring the juice-haters. I have no forbidden foods. I don’t deprive myself, other than relegating sweets to special occasions. (Although I am not craving sweets, it does still feel like deprivation when I see others enjoying them.)
The nighttime snack (often cereal and milk because I need to get my calcium) helps ward off the junk food envy. My family likes to eat chips or candy at night, and the sound of munching makes me want to crunch something, even when I am not hungry. So a snack before bed works for me, even though I keep hearing that I should not eat at night.
I feel like the foundations of better health will be built upon breaking the rules.
At least, it will be built upon breaking expert rules, but they change their minds so often that I’m probably better off ignoring most of what they say anyway.