You could hear me whooping it up all over the house this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was down three pounds from last week. I have gained weight in the past five weeks, so what I really have is a net loss of two pounds. Still, that's pretty significant. I've shrunk a tiny bit in my measurements too.
What's amazing about Lean Eating is that so much of its focus is about how we eat and why we eat before we even begin to focus on what we eat.
The latest habit is to eat until we are eighty percent full. That is a tough one. I'm terrible at math. What is eighty percent full? How do I judge eighty percent? Also, eighty percent of how full? Are we talking about stopping at twenty percent short of stuffed, or twenty percent short of nicely satiated?
I thought about how Weight Watchers suggests a hunger scale and where one is starving and ten is stuffed. I remember in my WW days they said to keep your hunger levels between four (don't be too hungry or you'll binge) and seven(don't stuff yourself). Was I supposed to keep myself at the Weight Watchers equivalent of seven or of five?
Later in the week LE introduced its own scale, which is the reverse of Weight Watchers. One is uncomfortably full and ten is starving. They suggest stopping at two. Okay. I can do that - sort of. I have to pay attention to hunger levels before, during, and after eating. How hungry can I be? If I pause while eating and notice how hungry I am, I should sit with it for a minute and understand how much food I ate and what I think might make it go away. I can just stop eating at a certain point and try to leave some food on the plate. What are my satiety levels? Am I hungry later?
I was eating a delicious carnitas salad from Chipotle on Wednesday (romaine lettuce, fajita vegetables, carnitas, mild salsa, medium salsa, guacamole - total of about 470 calories). I ate it slowly as my earlier habit dictated and a little more than halfway through it, I began feeling a bit bloated.
My stomach said, "Step away from the salad."
I thought that was ridiculous. I eat entire Chipotle salads all the time. I would often find myself hungry in the late afternoon after eating them for lunch. There was no way I was going to stop eating. I definantly took another bite.
"Step away from the salad," my stomach said again. I really was heading to the stuffed zone. "Nope," I answered. "This salad was expensive and I'm not wasting it." I definantly took another bite or three.
"Step away from the salad, " my stomach said again. "Then my conscience added, "You're not hungry anymore. You are ruining your compliance score this week. STEP AWAY FROM THE SALAD."
My ID finally caved to the superego and I stopped eating the salad.
Thursday I bought a huge tossed salad from one of the many deli/food bars in the neighborhood. In the past I always bought a large and ate the whole thing. This time I ate it slowly and paid attention to hunger levels. I only ate half of it. I had enough salad for lunch the next day. The next time I know I can save money and order a small.
I know my teammates and I worry if we're eating enough. How much food do our bodies need to function? The experts are always telling us to eat by the numbers. Everything is about calorie counts. Maybe calorie requirements somewhat arbitrary? How can we really know the magic number of how many calories we need? Our caloric needs are going to change every day depending on activity levels. How successful were any of us at counting calories and measuring and tracking food? How about spending more time tuning into what our bodies are saying they need? I need to eat far more on Sunday when I work out at the gym early in the morning and then go to the barn and have a lesson with Tara in the afternoon than I do on Saturday when I just give Riddle a light hack and don't do much else that's physical.
There are so many external cues that make us want to eat. For example I may decide I should eat just because it's lunch time. The sight of some delicious cookies in the break room will trigger a desire to eat one. I could have a bad day and decide I deserve a treat. I have to ask myself all of the time, "Do I need to eat, or do I just want to eat?"
An excellent book on the topic is David Kessler's The End of Overeating. Kessler goes into extensive detail about how the food industry creates hyperpalatable food by manufacturing foods that layer on sugar, fat, and salt in combinations meant to hit all of the right pleasure centers in our brains ("the bliss point"). These foods have such an addictive effect on us that we are nearly powerless over them. The obvious solution to this is to avoid processed food in the first place. If this isn't possible, then conscious, slow, eating has been very helpful.
Pushing away the plate does give me an enormous sense of control. I do have some power over what I eat. It's a little scary though. Isn't the high of control part of what creates eating disorder?