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Archive for the ‘portion control’ Category

Day after day, I see me making more changes without stress. It’s easier to not eat (and at the same time not THINK about not eating). It’s easier to empty packages of food from my pantry and not feel that I have to restock, which means I’m really getting control over my earlier feelings of deprivation.

What are my keys to easy change?

  1. Breathe. Whenever I take a deep breath, really filling my lungs, and breathe out slowly, I feel more in control of myself.
  2. Enjoying the moment without criticizing myself for not being more “perfect.”
  3. Remembering that tomorrow’s issues are in the future. As long as I’ve reasonably provided for my future, that’s all I need to do. Unnecessary worrying is pain.
  4. Looking at the pain immediate gratification gives. One bite more than full enough is discomfort. An extra half hour surfing the web is time away from my other activities.
  5. Know my goals. A clean, well-organized house, and a vegetable-rich, tasty food life, and lots of self-love.

I like this change.

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The dysfunction in our family included a general lack of health and normal sanitary care. After a few years, we stopped going to the doctor because we couldn’t afford it. Dentists were out of the question.

Coupled with that was our family’s superior skill at avoiding reality. We could sit in a pile of bills and filth, yet never seem to be able to stand up and wash the dishes. With dentists being too expensive, you’d think we paid close attention to our teeth? Wrong. In spite of living within spitting distance of a Colgate factory, we did not brush our teeth regularly, and had no choice financially but to let cavities grow. Aspirin was cheaper than tooth repair. We took aspirin so much that sometimes our ears rang. Ironic, huh?

When I got out of self-financed university, I got a job with a dental plan and started repairing the damage. That included 4 crowns and innumerable fillings, plus orthodontia. One dentist even remarked that my teeth looked like Turkish children’s teeth (in a time when Turkish people were new poor immigrants to the area).

I’ve been good about my paid-for teeth since then, and I’m blessed with good mouth chemistry, which keeps the absolute number of cavities low. But during these years of fixing my teeth and having an ED at the same time, I developed a habit of going to the dentist or orthodontist, getting the painful work done, then eating brownies afterward. Lots of brownies.  Kroger was my spot – I could go to the bakery section, grab a pan of ready-made frosted brownies, and head home for some Tylenol and a binge.

Yesterday I had my first filling in over 10 years. It actually just replaced a broken old filling. And guess what happened? Brownie cravings like you couldn’t believe. Since I live in Germany, there are no Krogers. Odd, since that’s a German name. Anyway. The other stores don’t sell brownies either, so I was left with no choice but to make some.

My brownie recipe is easy to put together, so I bopped off home and mixed some up. Out of the oven, left to cool. And left. And left. I did not want to binge on one of my biggest formerly favorite foods.

Result? No binge required, simply a small piece that I neatly corrected for at dinner time. Dear Daughter came through later and took a bigger piece than I did. I think I’ll take the rest to work and let others clean up my extras. Pretty cool.

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Forgetfulness is on the rise. Last weekend, I made some cookie dough, a lovely lime butter cookie. As I prepared the first pan, I wondered how they would taste if I added some white chocolate, so I added a bit to a small piece of dough. Nice note, the white chocolate had coconut in it.

They baked up perfectly, and the white chocolate melted into the cookies, so I didn’t even find the chunks back. Just melty lime flavor, coconut and a hint of chocolate. Yum. After eating a reasonable portion, I promised myself that I would finish baking the rest on Monday.

Well, Monday became the next day, and before I knew it, it was Friday. The dough was too old to risk baking. Later that same evening, I stayed up quite late, jsut watching a movie and surfing the internet. As I went to bed, I scrounged around for a bite of something sweet. That’s when I remembered the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that I had planned to eat that evening.

Forgetting about Ben and Jerry’s? Forgetting about cookie dough? Interesting. This new me has a few surprises, it seems.

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Cleaning your plate.

Buying food at a restaurant.

Ordering the Value Size meal.

These are some of the biggest pitfalls you encounter when you are learning intuitive eating. You want to eat to a smaller level of full (see my post about hunger and fullness for more info) yet it can be harder than you think. Once I even justified finishing a large portion by telling myself, “Those French Fries look so sad. I can’t just leave them there all alone.”

Here’s a technique to help you reduce your portion sizes, and to give yourself immense pleasure while doing it.

First, remember that loving and caring for yourself is the reason you are doing this. It’s also the reason you overate, but your love for yourself has brought you to this place. Now is the time to practice taking loving care of yourself. Tell yourself this, out loud, to reinforce your conviction.

Second, prepare the food exactly the way you want it. If you like salad, main course and dessert, get them all ready. By the way, I strongly recommend both veggies and dessert at a meal.

Cook the usual amounts, but don’t put it all on the plate at once. Take a plate and put a small portion of the first course on it. I recommend starting with half the normal amount. Eat this smaller portion. Dig in, and enjoy it. Smell the food, taste it, remember that you’re loving and caring for yourself with every bite.

Repeat for each course, giving yourself the space and time to enjoy what you’re eating.

When you’re done, check in for fullness. Are you satisfied? Is there any single course or dish that you want a little more of? Do you want to do another whole round of each course? Are you ready to go do something else? Give yourself what you really need, whether it’s more food, or if it’s permission to not eat any more. You deserve it, because you take good care of yourself.

Done. Congratulate yourself for this successful activity. It doesn’t matter how much you ate, because every time you practice this, you will improve. You will get better at taking care of yourself, of eating what you want, of eating the amount you want, and most importantly, ENJOYING it.

Gradually, you can continue to reduce the initial portion size, until you find the right amounts that sustain you both for the next hours, and for the weight you are becoming. Enjoy!

Followup tip: at a restaurant, divide the food into portion sizes and do the same as best you can. Push the other food off to the side of the plate a little, and focus your attention on the portion you have separated for yourself. At a fast food restaurant, rip the food in half or quarters, and temporarily forget the rest.

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Remember the book Overcoming Overeating? Good book, and I used the method successfully to rebuild a positive relationship with food. One of the cornerstones to the method is to stock up on your binge foods and coach yourself through eating them until they stop being dangerous. It was great – I even carried a food bag around with me for a while until I really convinced myself that I would always care properly for me. This method, while successful, has led to a full pantry and cabinets.

A couple of days ago, I went downstairs, craving chips, and found that the 3 bags were all expired. I grabbed one of the bags and had a snack. Some gentle feelings of “I shouldn’t eat this” started coming back, so I took action.

First I reminded myself that I can eat anything I want, when I want, in any quantity I want. How many potato chips did I want? I wanted to eat some while I fixed dinner, but not so many that I wouldn’t enjoy dinner. That worked.

After dinner I wanted a few more, so I poured some into a bowl and enjoyed them. That satisfied me until the next evening. Then a slight craving came back, so I had some with dinner. At that point, I began to worry that I might dive into a binge.

To counteract that idea, I reminded myself that I trust me to do the right thing. Even if I eat too much one day or meal, I will eventually correct the situation. I prefer to correct within the same day, but this is a technique I’m still learning. Then I decided to find out how bad it would be if I ate the whole bag. This particular package had 200 grams, and 100 grams has about 500 calories. Therefore, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, since I had already incorporated most of the bag into my regular diet, compensating for the calories. Maybe that day I might eat 500 calories too much if I finished them all.

That ended the craving. Since it wasn’t going to be a caloric disaster, I didn’t need to obsess about it. So I finished my work, then took my daughter shopping. I’m back in balance with the potato chips.

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My current plan is based on what I’ve learned from the Eckhart Tolle and IOWL podcasts. So far, the plan has increased my feelings of peace, helped me to stay in the present moment, and helped me strengthen my eating habit of 3 fruits and 5 veggies a day.

Every week or so I find myself adjusting the specifics of the plan, but here’s my current one.

  1. Do guided journeys to visualize my future state
  2. Keep completing my thoughts and want so I can fully accept my choices
  3. Reduce amount of food eaten
  4. Improve type of food eaten
  5. Stay present in food choices and life choices
  6. Adjust until goal reached
  7. Reward myself frequently and fully
  8. Take a current photo and make me skinny
  9. Meditate daily on my desired future state
  10. Write about the future me

Odd, I’m not so sure I’m actively doing some of these things. It’s more a pretty plan laid out on a blog post. When I’m really honest with myself, I’m pretty much only trying to eat the fruits/veggies, cut down a little on food, and stay present.

Guess I’ll have to take some more action and see what happens. 

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It generally doesn’t take many bites. If I’m really hungry, the first bites are like heaven itself. Afterwards, I notice that I am still hungry, but the flavor intensity has worn off.

Lately, I’ve had a strong signal that it’s time to stop eating. First, I look at the next bite, and I get this “blech” feeling in my stomach. If I take that bite, then it’s like eating cardboard. At that point I know that pretty much every bite after this will only add to a feeling of being too full.

This isn’t happening when I’m halfway through a bag of Chee-tos, mind you. It’s more like after 1.5 pieces of toast, or one sandwich. Is this what you call intuition?

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