Weight Loss Support - Crazy cravings

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Secret Swan
01-12-2014, 02:08 AM
So I am not a binge eater. I've been an overeater for quite a while, but not in the compulsive way binge eaters describe; I just eat too much.

But tonight. Ah, tonight I was suddenly starving. Not for the food in my slow cooker, ready at any moment, but for a big bacon cheeseburger and fries with fry sauce and a pint of chubby hubby. So, ok. I'm a calorie counter, so no food is forbidden. But I also cannot have that dinner. I could swing the burger part with some advance planning, but not the fast food followed by ice cream. It's just not going to happen. And I NEEDED it.

Usually if I feel like that about a food, I find a way to eat it. Maybe not that day, but in the near future. This time I wanted them NOW. There's no way I could eat all the things I wanted on the same day and stay on plan, but my need was so strong that I just told myself I had to eat my real dinner first and then see how I felt. So I did. And I still wanted the junk. So, so badly.

So I stalled. I read the forums here and on MFP. This led to an additional craving for a hot dog, but also gave me the knowledge that low calorie hot dogs exist. So I decided to get some, since that at least would fit my plan. By this point I knew I wasn't even really hungry, but I couldn't shake the need for an expanding list of foods I know are a bad idea anytime, much less after my third meal of the day. It was a weird mental snap. But again, I stopped and told myself I could not go to the grocery store in that mood. I could have a hot dog, but I wasn't going to Safeway until I tried something healthier. I turned to the freezer and zapped myself some broccoli with cheese sauce. And instantly calmed down and felt better. It was like flipping the sanity switch. I still went to the store for the hot dogs, but I wasn't even tempted by the mcdonalds I passed to get there, and I just bought what I came for and left.

Now I'm home and still deciding whether or not to have a hot dog. I can afford to, but will it set off the crazy chain? I don't get what happened.

So, what the heck? Why is my brain trying to sabotage me so close to my goal? I've been doing so well! And I don't think I've been overly restrictive. I DO go over my calories sometimes, and I do find ways to eat things I want. Why did I feel this way? And why did the broccoli fix it?

01-12-2014, 12:27 PM
Without knowing anything about you, your calorie plan or typical choice of foods, I can tell you as someone who has had issues with both binge and starve that the only time I have actually felt like I NEEDED to eat cravings, as strongly as you describe was when I was pregnant... Just saying..

01-12-2014, 12:54 PM
I have had those cravings before. I don't know what causes them, I really don't. It seems to be a range and combination of things.

I've had those cravings when definitely not pregnant. But I'm really, really hoping that if I ever decide to have kids that I won't get them all the time during my pregnancy. That is a seriously scary thought!

01-12-2014, 01:24 PM
Had you been inadvertently eating low fat for a few days? It sounds like you were possibly craving some fat and cheese, so that cheese and broc snack helped take the edge off.

Secret Swan
01-12-2014, 02:26 PM
I am definitely not pregnant.

I have had a lower fat week because I usually cook once a week and last week happened to be lower in fat, but I had a restaurant burrito Saturday night and I had plenty yesterday. I had steel cut oats for breakfast, a tuna melt for lunch, chicken salad and crackers for a snack, and all this hit while I was waiting for my pulled pork to finish cooking. (I woke up craving meat, so it was a much meatier day than usual too.) I usually eat 1200-1400 calories in a day. I try to plan for 1200, but then eat more if I am hungry or if I just happen to go out and want a beer or whatever. I have not been to mcdonalds in at least six months, but I'm not thinking I never will again or categorizing it as evil or anything. I looked up things to order before my last couple of road trips, but I just wound up finding better food and didn't go there. I did go completely off my plan while traveling over Christmas, and I had intended to have a cheeseburger during that time but I wound up being so full from holiday meals that I ordered other things when I was in a position to have the burger. So maybe I subconsciously feel I missed my chance? But I could have one today if I wanted! Like with the Mexican food, I know I can have it, but I don't usually let myself have higher calorie things without a little planning (I have some healthy snacks around the house, and I can just have those if I want to nibble and I'm in my calorie range, but a meal requires more forethought).

Well, I will make sure to eat more fat this week in case that was it. It makes me happy anyway.

One thing I am thinking, in the calmness of the morning, is that I AM close to my goal, and therefore I am thinking a lot about maintenance and how to stick with this lifestyle in a sustainable way. I really enjoy the way I've been eating these last six months. Most days I don't feel deprived. Heck, people at work are envious of my lunches! But I think it's sinking in that if I go out for Mexican on Friday I should not go out for a cheeseburger on Saturday. Less-healthy foods have to be treats, not daily meals. Forever. And I'm pretty nervous about sliding away from that attitude. I also got rid of all my old clothes this month and did some shopping for new things that fit the new me which is wonderful but feels like burning the bridge I'm still a little bit standing on. So maybe I'm not missing a key nutrient or anything, maybe it's just a matter of me being scared of maintenance.

01-12-2014, 06:19 PM
I'd say there's a good chance the mental aspect of maintenance played a role. It is a scary time, for me as a regainer,it's especially scary, but like you I feel like I've found a way of eating that I enjoy that can work as a lifestyle as long as I keep staying healthy and not regaining in the front of my mind.

You might want to consider some strategies for the long term that will calm your mind about the backsliding. For instance, WW has you weigh in monthly in maintenance, if you made a chart or marked on your calendar out in the future your monthly weigh-ins you'd know you have a reminder out ahead to stay on your maintenance plan whatever it may be.

I have weird cravings sometimes that seem to come out of nowhere, too. Sometimes they pass on their own sometimes I have to eat something. I think the broccoli with cheese was a great idea for a snack, warm comfort food, melted cheese, yum. Glad it worked for you.

Best of luck for continued success, congratulations on how far you've come!

01-12-2014, 06:44 PM
Yeah, those two possibilities you mentioned make a lot of sense.

As far as being apprehensive about a lifetime of maintenance...I've been in maintenance for a few years. For about a 6 month period last year, I pretty much threw caution to the wind and ate (and drank) whatever. I also slacked on exercise. So the laws of the natural world kicked in and I gained about 8 pounds. I lost that regain after getting structured again.

What I learned from all this is that indulging on a regular basis wasn't even all that fun or enjoyable. Indulging became just a way of life and I quickly got used to it. I guess, as with anything, you get a little accustomed to what you're doing and it loses its appeal, causing you to need something more extreme to make it feel good again. I've realized that I actually prefer some structure. The mindfulness makes me appreciate the indulgences I do have more, plus I feel better and food tastes more vibrant.

Also, you may find that in maintenance you have more wiggle room than you expect. Mexican and burgers on consecutive nights may very well be totally fine for you. :)