Living Well Part 1: Food

As you know, in mid-November I decided to join Weight Watchers Online. (If you don’t remember or want to know the reasons why you can go here). I think it’s about time for a check in and evaluation. I’m going to start this series with my relationship with food in light of one of my friend’s concern when I first started, “I’m afraid food will become both enemy and consolation for you” (as if it isn’t already that for most heavy people- aw, skinny people can be so cute and naive).

From the start you should know that I’m not a dieter. I don’t believe in deprivation, I believe in balance. I don’t think nutrition is about never eating processed sugar or carbs or sweets or dairy. You can find some pretty reputable resources to support my theory (and believe me, I’ve read tons of articles on nutrition). I especially don’t support “low fat” dairy, besides low fat milk and slow churned icecream. I think it’s better to have less of the real thing than more of its less delicious substitute. And according to a study I read in the NY Times dairy has a pretty neutral effect on weight gain.

Part of the reason I feel this way is because I watched my mom do tons of fad diets while I was growing up. She did an all liquid diet, Atkins, and many more. Yeah, she’d lose 50 or so pounds. Then she’d gain it all right back afterward. Besides the fact that these diets never helped her to learn how to eat in a way that was sustainable and healthy, they also seemed pretty dreadful. Among the reasons I’m fat/been fat is that I love food and I love eating. I love good flavors, enjoyable textures and the pleasure of chewing itself.

So both now, and back when I lost that first 85 pounds, my focus isn’t on dieting, it is on eating healthily which means roughly sticking to the food pyramid. And always allowing myself at least one sweet a day (and I’m not talking fruit, I mean a donut or muffin or brownie or dark chocolate or…you get the picture). What that looks like for me is eating more fruits and veggies, less sweets, lean meats (seasoned to perfection, of course) moderate dairy and enough carbs to keep me going but not make me lazy.

What I’m liking about Weight Watchers Online is that it’s helping me to better gage how much to eat throughout the day and week. Also, it’s helping to motivate me to reign in my sweet tooth.

I’m pretty sure now that the reason I stopped losing weight around 175-180 was because I didn’t realize that I needed to reduce my daily calories more. When you’re heavier your body requires more calories because it takes more energy to do everything. So the more you lose the less you have to eat to keep losing. I didn’t really think about that before. I was focusing more on what I was eating and when (breakfast is a necessity! and food right before bed time or near it isn’t wise) then on how much. I was portion controlling, of course, but not extravagantly.

The point system of Weight Watchers Online has been helpful because it helps you to figure out a healthy amount of calories to consume throughout the day without forcing you to actually calculate all the calories yourself (NO WAY am I doing math all day!). Eventually, at least for me, you start to get a good sense of how much your meals will cost and how to best use your points throughout the day and the week without having to do the calculations in your head all day. Also, your body starts to adjust so that your cravings are more in line with your needs.

Also, like I said, it’s really helping me to snack on fruits and veggies instead of sweets. When I’m busy this really isn’t a problem. I only snack when I’m feeling idle. So when I was on the road I didn’t have to worry about it, but now that I’m back in the midwest waiting for a new tour I’ve been snacking. And let’s just say fruits and veggies aren’t my go-to options. In part because they often take more work. Also, because I can be finicky about my veggies when munching on them alone, like lately I’ve been boycotting carrots for no good reason (usually I like them).

Since fruits and veggies don’t cost any points, they are a much smarter option between meals. That is really helping motivate me to pick up an apple or bell pepper instead of a handful of Oreos or M &Ms.

I’ve still got a ways to go to be as healthy as I was a year ago. Being surrounded by so many sweets during the last month has been too tempting to resist. Even so, this program is helpful. Most of all, it is been reminding me how much I love eating well and it’s been encouraging me to be less lazy with food.

The more I think about food, and tracking what you’re eating all day and figuring out how to use your points well certainly makes you do that, the more I think about how to make my meals as exciting and enjoyable as they are healthy. I play around with more spices and become so much more conscious of the colors and textures of the foods I’m preparing. When my meals are more interesting I’m more satisfied and I’m less inclined to overeat or gorge myself on sweets (or peanut butter – which I’m totally addicted to).

Photo by Andie Mitchell, http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com

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