Weight Loss Support - Food Planning Struggles




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Panacea86
09-14-2011, 01:18 PM
I have been eating healthy for nearly two years, and I want to lose many many more pounds. I definitely beat myself up badly about failures, but try to recover from them with better planning.

Here's the problem: I think I plan too much.

My mind is always on food. As much as it was when I was over eating, but now it's always focused on when/what/how healthy the next piece of food I put in my mouth will be and how long will it last before I'm hungry again (I think I'm terrified of feeling low blood sugar or feeling sick from hunger).

Before I lost weight, I ate 6-10 times per day, grazing on chips, cookies, cake, burgers, fries.

Now on my weight loss journey, I eat 6-10 times per day, grazing on romaine salads, bean soup, quinoa, vegetables, protein bars...it feels like it's nonstop eating. I have learned so much about food, and I look to eat clean, with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, beans, and my grains.

The problem is my schedule (full time work and full time graduate school), I guess, and my tendency to have a lot of my meals under 200 calories. I need to stay full and healthy, and I need to pack enough food, quickly.

It feels like I cannot ever win or get a handle on this. I say all the time, I just wish there was a pill I could take instead of ever eating again. Sometimes food just haunts me. I'm sick of food :(


zoodoo613
09-14-2011, 01:45 PM
It looks like you're having great success doing what you're doing, but if you're tired of it, there's room for change.

Me, I'm never sick of food. I love food. I could eat it all the time. In fact, I gave that whirl for a while and here I am. But if you're sick of food, why not try eating less often? Double up some of those mini-meals into a real meal.

On week days I usually eat about 4 times a day: 8am, 12pm, 3 or 4 pm, and 6 or 7 pm. I rarely get overly hungry, except if I don't have that afternoon snack, or dinner gets pushed later than usual, and I rarely feel stuffed (unless I go nuts). There's no rule that you have to eat as often as you are.

christine123
09-14-2011, 01:53 PM
My mind is always on food. As much as it was when I was over eating, but now it's always focused on when/what/how healthy the next piece of food I put in my mouth will be and how long will it last before I'm hungry again (I think I'm terrified of feeling low blood sugar or feeling sick from hunger).

This. I have been experiencing something similar. I am always thinking about what to eat, when to eat, how long it will last. I hate feeling hungry and I've gone through a terrible month-long situation where I have been hungrier than I can stand. I've had some awful overeat/binge fests and I am trying to reign it all in. What I'm finding helps me is eating larger meals less often. I feel like I actually get that "full" feeling longer and that helps me feel more satisfied. Eating many small meals makes me obsess more about eating and I never really feel "done."


ChickieChicks
09-14-2011, 02:29 PM
great screenname, BTW! :-)

But anyhoo....I eat all day long, too. Approx. breakdowns and times, as follows:
Breakfast - 7am- 150 cals
Midmorning coffee -8-9am- 150 cals

Lunch - 11-12 - 300 cals
snack - 1-2 - 100 cals
snack 3-4 - 200 cals

dinner- 5-6pm - 300-350 cals

snack- 7-8pm- 100-150 cals

I am always eating! But it has never worked for me to just eat a few times a day.

kaplods
09-14-2011, 02:42 PM
I don't think the time or intensity of food thoughts, plans, and preparations has changed much for me, but I didn't really expect them to. The end result is different, but the time and effort hasn't changed.

Most critters are programmed to think about food most of the day, and that's true for humans as well. It's in our genes, because thinking about food (and other ways to survive and pass on our genes, like sex) has survival value. Survival in the natural world is the prize for being strongly survival (including food) motivated. Not everyone inherits the same degree of food-motivation, but I think it's difficult to change what nature gave you. You can modify it, but your modifications may never be your "autopilot" setting.

Just because we've taken ourselves out of the natural order of things, doesn't mean our brains change, especially the primitive parts that are responsible for prmitive survival instincts and drives.


I think healthy eating (whether you're trying to lose weight or not) simply does require a substantial amount of thought, planning and preparation, unless you can afford to pay someone else to do it for you.


I think we're taught to see the planning and preparation for weight loss or weight maintenance as a nuisance (in a way that we don't when we're eating whatever we want to).

I also think that seeing the planning and preparation and food thoughts of weight loss/maintenance as a nuisance gives us a reason to give up. "This is too hard, I hate doing this, I don't want to do this forever."

But the fact is we're probably going to do it anyway, because it's the way our brain and environment is set up. We just have to pick the best way to do it, or autopilot will choose for us (and usually it's our autopilot that got us in trouble in the first place).

Gabe
09-14-2011, 04:40 PM
I find that, if I have something I actually like, it's much more satisfying than if I have something that I merely tolerate, or that I don't like. I've also found that, if I pack my own option, I'm less likely to break my plan. 'Cause, you know, I've already packed something.

If you're getting sick of the food that you're having, try something else. I'm another one of the ones who does three larger meals a day rather than grazing; if I'm grazing, I'm limited to 200-300 calories per sitting. That doesn't give me a whole lot of leeway, and limits my food choices. Maybe change it up some days so that you're not grazing, and see if that works better for you. Alternately, find other healthy alternatives, so that you don't feel absolutely bored with your food. I still get excited over eating roasted nori, even though it's basically fish food. :)

Panacea86
09-14-2011, 04:54 PM
I should say, I'm sick of prepping meals and planning them. I'm so tired of planning and shopping and putting food in storage containers, shoving them in my lunch box (the lunch box itself nauseates me at this point LOL), and sitting there every night with a calculator thinking "is this enough?", "too much"?, "will I feel ok with this food?".

Stresses me out. It occurred when I started going to work full time. The eating is a full time job, in itself!

And it doesn't make me want to binge on carbs, it makes me want to just never eat again. I'm tired of my relationship with food.

Panacea86
09-14-2011, 04:58 PM
I didn't mind as much when I was at home, I mean obviously there is a freedom there, but I knew I could easily eat when I was hungry and that's that. I feel so much pressure to bring the perfect amount of food every day to work to appease my stupid body and still lose weight.

Munchy
09-14-2011, 05:11 PM
I should say, I'm sick of prepping meals and planning them. I'm so tired of planning and shopping and putting food in storage containers, shoving them in my lunch box (the lunch box itself nauseates me at this point LOL), and sitting there every night with a calculator thinking "is this enough?", "too much"?, "will I feel ok with this food?".

Stresses me out. It occurred when I started going to work full time. The eating is a full time job, in itself!

And it doesn't make me want to binge on carbs, it makes me want to just never eat again. I'm tired of my relationship with food.

You sound like me before I went into nutritional therapy. I went from eating super healthy, to not enough, to this to that. So much planning and I'm STILL a planner.

I'm fine with it, though, and I finally learned that perfection doesn't have a place in weight loss. You may want to look into seeing a nutritional therapist who will have you do homework (reflective journals, etc) to see if it helps.

It helped me, and I've been obsessive and too involved in my own healthy eating/planning/etc to enjoy my life. I'm finally not feeling like it at all.

lin43
09-14-2011, 06:51 PM
One of the reasons I've always historically hated dieting (besides the obvious :) ) is that it always made me focus too much on food. I HATE thinking about food as much as I do when I'm dieting. This time has been better, especially with my smartphone app (I just enter the food and move on).

However, in short, I know what you mean. I like Christine's suggestion to eat fewer meals. That's what I do. Years ago, I tried the 5-6 mini-meals a day thing, and TO ME, it exacerbated the problem of mental food obsession. I do much better when I eat fewer, bigger meals. I don't have a hard-fast rule, though. If I need a snack, I'll have it. Sometimes, I'll eat only two meals (like today---I was rushed to get to work, and had no time to prepare lunch. I was mildly hungry but not starving, so I survived).

Tomato
09-14-2011, 08:51 PM
I went through something similar. I grazed all day but I never really ate. I think the reason I thought so much about food is because I was half hungry all the time. Now, I eat 5, sometimes 6 times a day (depending on what I eat and what kind of exercise I do or what is my day like in general). I eat extremely healthy and clean and often, I am still fully satiated 3 hours after lunch. For example, today, my lunch consisted of roasted skinless chicken breast with roasted butternut squash, pumpkin and red bell peppers. Three one-bite potatoes. Plus a big salad (out of spinach, so it was romaine lettuce, orange bell pepper, grape tomatoes, cucumber, some olives, sundried tomatoes and a bit of feta cheese. Low cal yogurt dressing. It WAS a lot of food but little impact in terms of calories (I don't count calories anyway).
Try switching to less frequent but bigger meals during the day to see if it changes anything. Good luck.

Kahokkuri
09-14-2011, 08:54 PM
I should say, I'm sick of prepping meals and planning them. I'm so tired of planning and shopping and putting food in storage containers, shoving them in my lunch box (the lunch box itself nauseates me at this point LOL), and sitting there every night with a calculator thinking "is this enough?", "too much"?, "will I feel ok with this food?".

I definitely feel some of your pain. Calorie counting--and, for a while, doing WW--was straightforward when I lived in America. Prepping food didn't take me too long, but I certainly hated coming home from the grocery store and immediately putting everything into calorie-appropriate baggies and tupperware!

Now, living in Japan, the burden is double; not only do I have to package my foods so they're in reasonable serving sizes, but I also have to do lots of research to find the nutritional information. Japan doesn't require food to have that information listed on the package, and despite my best efforts I sometimes eat something without knowing what's going in my mouth. It makes calorie counting, especially when eating out, a HUGE pain in the ***. My relationship with food at this point is "annoyance" 80% of the time.

kelly315
09-14-2011, 11:29 PM
I've had this same problem many times. I'll eat really well for the whole day, then it will be getting closer to sundown (I try not to eat at night) and I still need a good 500, 600, 700 calories! Then, of course, I'm stuck trying to find something calorie dense, especially when I'm not really hungry. If I have to see another almond, I'm going to scream :p.

I think the over-planning is also very common. Food is very, very important in many overweight/obese people's lives, and that importance can't simply disappear. I'm a lot like you in that I transformed my obsession with food into obsessing over planning meals. I also use cooking/baking for others as an outlet, and will often make cookies, cakes, etc, just to give away. Then, of course, there are many times when I too wish I could simply stop eating all together. It's exhausting to think about food all the time. Let me know when they make that meal replacement pill, because I can't wait.

It sounds like you're eating really healthy, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I'm also a graduate student, so I know that there are times to eat every few hours, although it's not always the most convenient. If you feel like trying to eat that often is overwhelming you, maybe put two of your "meals" together a few times a day.

Panacea86
09-15-2011, 09:31 AM
By the sounds of it, I guess this maybe is just common. When I first started dieting, I was SO excited (and part time at work, and out of school, and didn't have to deal with my kid-parents to the degree I do now). It was easier, and my healthy choices made quicker results. Ooh I made this salad and lost 3lbs this week.

Now I'm sitting here analyzing grain compositions and GI levels, "can I eat brown rice, should I eat couscous, no I guess quinoa is best, where can I find it, wait basmati brown rice, do I have that???? *slams head on desk* ...with the subsequent worry "is this all too expensive, when should I shop, how much do I bring, did I wash my tupperware, I guess I have to skip dinner so I can make lunch for tomorrow" LOL

Overall I'd love a nutrition therapy program. If only.

indiblue
09-15-2011, 10:12 AM
There is such thing as too much choice. It can get extremely stressful.

Studies show the more choices people have to make the worse their judgment becomes. It's mental fatigue. It happens a lot with individuals trying to lose weight. There was a major article about in the New York Times recently: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all

I eat twice a day: lunch and dinner. Lunch is medium or large sized, dinner is fairly modest. It's a tactic called intermittent fasting. Calories are the same, they are just consumed in a shorter window of time.

I simply cannot eat until my "eating window" opens, usually around 1 PM, sometimes later. Eliminating the flurry of choices makes the choices I DO have to make- during my eating window- a whole lot easier.

Panacea86
09-15-2011, 10:30 AM
I've been trying to find a consistent meal plan, because I would be willing to stick to it. Literally eat the same thing every day every time of day for a while, but it's been hard.

I don't know if I would be open to intermittent fasting, as it seems my body does need food regularly. I do, however, think I have an irrational fear of feeling sick/hungry.

When I was obese I had pretty troubling issues with nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, and irritability that I attributed to blood sugar instability (no doctor, can only use common sense). I think that traumatized me into obsessing over how I felt before and after eating and in between.

I think I need to just see what would happen if I didn't eat something every 3 hours (sometimes less, I'm seriously considering what to eat next in under 2 hours sometimes.)

khat
09-15-2011, 01:19 PM
I totaly understand you!!
I'm very organised and plan things all the time, but the one thing I can not do, is plan my diet anymore. Too much wasted time, too much stress if it's not how I imagined it, too much thinking about when where how.. It was just getting the best of me. I was obsessed. If it wasn't a perfect clean day then I would just spiral into a binge.. Not healthy..
Everyone is different, I think you should def try other things if you don't find this satisfying or even worse, a problem.. You are making this a way of life. You can't plan everything.. Sometimes you have a piece of cake, you eat out or just feel like you want some ice cream. You need balance and moderation. Not numbers and measurements.
I'm not sure how I got to this ''zen'' point regarding food, it was a lot of trial and error and I do occasionally fall off the wagon but it's never like it was before..
But I have to say, counting calories was good for me because I learned a lot and I can guesstimate and have some sort of perspective of how much I should eat.

kellost
09-15-2011, 01:51 PM
Hi there! Just want to tell you that I can relate, big time! I have a "planning" personality anyway (with vacations, schedules, you name it). While the planning has been helpful, it does get old!

Mostly, though, I relate to being food obsessed still. I have a food problem, and I know it! Food is on the brain constantly. I've been really on track lately, but that nagging desire for food doesn't really go away. I just have an obsession with food - I think about eating, grocery shopping, cooking, snacks. It's just always on my mind.

Munchy
09-15-2011, 02:05 PM
If I keep things relatively the same, I don't have to think about them, which is what I do for the work week. I eat six times a day: three meals, three snacks. I pack lunch and my work snacks after work each day before I make dinner, and then pop my lunchbag in the fridge. I have a preschooler, so I do the same for her at the same time.

8:30am Breakfast is approx the same calories daily consisting of one high fiber under 100 calorie bread item (which I buy and have stocked in a variety of wraps, breads, bread rounds, etc), egg whites with spinach, tomato or no tomato, and 1/2 oz of neufchatel or goat cheese OR one piece of TJ turkey bacon.

11:00am Snack is one serving of fruit

1:30pm Lunch is one cup of homemade soup (I have a rotation of recipes that I know are roughly the same calorie content and I make a batch on the weekend and freeze in one cup portions. That's one time cooking for 6-12 servings of soup).

4:00pm Snack is a baggie of veggies and a serving of hummus (I have a little tupperware that is measured out and just fill it up every night when I get home).

6:30pm Dinner is much more flexible. (When I have time, I make low calorie meals that I freeze into portions. Other than that, I have an arsenal of easy 10-15 minute recipes).

9:00pm Snack is usually 2 cups of popcorn or a frozen banana blended with 1/2T peanut butter, or a piece of dark chocolate, or wasa and cheese, or many others. It depends on my mood and my calories left.

Panacea86
09-15-2011, 03:13 PM
I guess it really is just a product of making this huge lifestyle change...just like any other (marriage, new job, new town, etc)...there are so many unexpected obstacles/perks that come with the changes, and it's sometimes hard to let go of how you reacted before.

Plus, your motivation can kinda run you over, I think. You get so excited to finally have the weight monkey off your back you become obsessed.

I need to learn to not fear mild over eating and mild under eating. Those are my biggest fears with dieting! A couple hundred calories too much or too little once in a while won't put the 95lbs back on me, or make me fall into hypoglycemic shock...so I can relax a bit. It's not forever, but for now, while I'm so frazzled.

Munchy, coincidentally, I just made a schedule for my food to take the pressure off a bit. I feel more at ease already.

Breakfast: lean turkey sausage and two eggs or a protein bar and fruit
Snack: I will make hummus and pair with celery
Lunch: spinach salad with beans and vegetables, a protein source (crab, chicken) and quinoa
Snack: tuna and green beans
Dinner: a protein source (fish, chicken) and ratatouille or a protein bar on school nights
Snack: SF pudding

And there I go. Leave it at that, maybe stop treating the diet like nuclear physics.