Weight Loss Support - Calorie counting




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Locke
01-14-2014, 11:46 AM
Dear Folks,

I wanted to get your individual opinions on a subject I've been struggling with. First a little bit about myself. I'm a very obese 27 year old female. I've been struggling with binge eating since I was ten or so and bulimia since I was 16. To say my eating patterns have been unhealthy is an understatement. I typically try to eat far too few calories as punishment for my binges.

I've been working on my eating disorder and also being kinder to myself and to not let my dark and cruel thoughts run my life. I've been thinking about trying to eat mindfully and to not count calories so that I can learn to understand my body's natural hunger and satiation signals. Does anyone else here have any experience with this? How has it worked for you. Thanks!

P.S.- I'm aware there is a sub forum for people with binge eating issues, but I wanted to cast a wider net in this part of the forum.


mackinac19
01-14-2014, 12:01 PM
Hi Locke,

The urge to punish oneself after a binge is something many of us have felt. I personally spent a long time being bulimic (from age sixteen until my late twenties). Time has taught me that (as you point out) it's never beneficial to 'punish' ourselves post-binge.

I recommend you do two things: read the book Overcoming Overeating (which I found very helpful for not beating myself up or depriving myself of food) and check out the No-S Diet, which is a sane compromise between calorie counting (which I hate) and mindful or intuitive eating (which for me is a slippery slope).

The most important thing in the long run is to love yourself, no matter what. That kind of commitment leads to saner eating, I believe.

Best of luck!

mackinac 19

freelancemomma
01-14-2014, 12:18 PM
Welcome! You sound like a very intelligent, self-aware woman. From what I've read, mindful or intuitive eating works for some people and doesn't work for others. I guess you can try it and decide if it's working for you. Another option might be to choose about 3 options for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner, and stick mostly to those. Ideally, your daily fare should be tasty but not too tempting.

Keep us posted!

Freelance


Locke
01-14-2014, 12:29 PM
Welcome! You sound like a very intelligent, self-aware woman. From what I've read, mindful or intuitive eating works for some people and doesn't work for others. I guess you can try it and decide if it's working for you. Another option might be to choose about 3 options for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner, and stick mostly to those. Ideally, your daily fare should be tasty but not too tempting.

Keep us posted!

Freelance

I usually have a plan for my week that doesn't vary day-to-day. For example this week I'm eating peanut butter toast for breakfast, a salad with cottage cheese for lunch, and chicken breasts with green beans for dinner along with assorted snacks like fruit and nuts. I know that it's around where I want to be eating so far as calories are concerned, but I will also allow myself to eat a bit less or more depending on my appetite. I feel like this is a nice way to dip a toe in.

seagirl
01-14-2014, 12:34 PM
I tried that in the past, but I wasn't very good at tuning into my body's signals, and often confused "i'm bored/sad/anxious/tired" with I'm hungry. Or I was so bored/sad/anxious/tired that I didn't care about paying attention to what my body was saying.

I went on Wellbutrin recently for depression, and that has helped a lot. It seems to turn off the part of your brain that feels the "reward" from overeating. It is now much easier for me to listen to hunger cues and eat just enough to satisfy myself without needing bowl after bowl of food just because it tastes good.

It is always worth a try, though.

I do agree that stopping being cruel to yourself is key. That can help turn your mindset to not using food as a punishment (by restricting) or a reward.

Good luck!! :hug:

SouthernMaven
01-14-2014, 01:10 PM
Dear Folks,

I've been thinking about trying to eat mindfully and to not count calories so that I can learn to understand my body's natural hunger and satiation signals. Does anyone else here have any experience with this? How has it worked for you. Thanks!



Welcome Locke! Glad to have you here.

There is an Intuitive Eating thread here if you're interested in learning more about it. We are currently on thread #18; here's a link to it:

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/general-diet-plans-questions/281929-intuitive-eating-18-a.html

There's a lot of information there; if you skim through the thread you will find various resources mentioned. Feel free to join us to learn more about IE and decide if you feel it is right for you.

LiannaKole
01-14-2014, 06:29 PM
Hi! :wave:

I did calorie counting for quite a while, and it worked very well for me. I don't have any clinical eating disorders, but I do have life long bad eating habits that are a b!tch to break. I recently transitioned to what is sort of like intuitive eating. I eat when I'm hungry, and stop when I'm full. The catch is that it's all whole foods (and mostly vegan only because of food preferences and some allergy issues). It's much harder to accidentally overeat whole foods.

It's been good so far. I like it a lot. I'm still shaky on what a hunger cue is. I'm getting better at recognizing it. I can now tell when I am actually physically hungry like 4/5 times. Sometimes something confuses me, but it's so much better now. I don't mind hunger AT ALL - I relish it sometimes (I spent years never feeling it). It's random cravings that sometimes hit like a bus that are bad. I know they're cravings, but it doesn't make them less strong.

My advice - practice. Use logic. If you just ate a full meal and still think you're hungry, focus on how your stomach actually feels - does it feel physically full? Sometimes doing this helps me recognize that I just ate and am not really hungry. Ask yourself if a salad sounds good - if so, you're likely actually hungry; if only a big mac and some french fries sound good, it's likely a mental craving and not hunger.

Good luck! This stuff can be tricky and weird to deal with, but I do think it's possible.

Wannabeskinny
01-15-2014, 08:40 AM
I'm going to make a case for calorie counting since to me IE is a very vague and non practical way to begin a weightloss journey. For me IE is a final destination after some calculated work. Calorie counting doesn't have to be a permanent way of life. I do suggest that you try doing it for a month or so. The good thing about calorie counting is that it's black and white. There's no room to account for hunger, feelings, anxiety blah blah blah. It's a very methodical and practical way to really find out what you're eating. Most people are shocked when they take the time to measure what they thought was a healthy meal only to find out that they've wasted most of their days' calorie alottment on it. It's so easy to do and unless you take the time to stare at those facts in the face then you'll get nowhere in my opinion. Calorie counting is like a hard mirror. It makes you face the facts. How can you make changes without knowing the facts?

If you were a failing a business, the first thing that would happen is a thorough review of your finances. A very close inspection of how money comes in and how money goes out. At first this would be done by observation. Once enough data was gathered then assessments would be made on how to fix things. Clearly you might be spending too much money on ink, so you would find a cheaper distributor. You may have to fire some people, or you may have to find new ways to accrue revenue.

The same thing has to happen with one's body. You gotta take stock of what's going in. Calorie counting starts with observation. Write everything down, and then add it up. Then start making decisions about what you can change. Trim the fat so to speak.

Locke
01-15-2014, 10:33 AM
I'm going to make a case for calorie counting since to me IE is a very vague and non practical way to begin a weightloss journey. For me IE is a final destination after some calculated work. Calorie counting doesn't have to be a permanent way of life. I do suggest that you try doing it for a month or so. The good thing about calorie counting is that it's black and white. There's no room to account for hunger, feelings, anxiety blah blah blah. It's a very methodical and practical way to really find out what you're eating. Most people are shocked when they take the time to measure what they thought was a healthy meal only to find out that they've wasted most of their days' calorie alottment on it. It's so easy to do and unless you take the time to stare at those facts in the face then you'll get nowhere in my opinion. Calorie counting is like a hard mirror. It makes you face the facts. How can you make changes without knowing the facts?

If you were a failing a business, the first thing that would happen is a thorough review of your finances. A very close inspection of how money comes in and how money goes out. At first this would be done by observation. Once enough data was gathered then assessments would be made on how to fix things. Clearly you might be spending too much money on ink, so you would find a cheaper distributor. You may have to fire some people, or you may have to find new ways to accrue revenue.

The same thing has to happen with one's body. You gotta take stock of what's going in. Calorie counting starts with observation. Write everything down, and then add it up. Then start making decisions about what you can change. Trim the fat so to speak.

I agree with you on many of your points. For me this is not the first time I've dieted or counted calories. I've done so for years. I am really good at estimating calories and portion sizes. I have a kitchen scale and more measuring cups than I can count. The problem is that I restrict too much and then go off my plan. I'm not one that will overeat my calories and not know it- I'll intentionally go below what's good and then binge when the hunger hits. So I'm looking for an internal way of weight management; not relying on external clues (calorie tracking, portion size, etc) but truly listening to my body. If intuitive eating doesn't work for me (I didn't know this was a thing until yesterday) then I'll go back to calorie counting and try to eat more.

diamondgeog
01-15-2014, 10:45 AM
"I've been thinking about trying to eat mindfully and to not count calories so that I can learn to understand my body's natural hunger and satiation signals."

I second this, just in my personal experience, it is what I do and what I know would work for me. Also I have been in the 300s and I remember the body has a tremendous daily metabolic calorie usage at higher weights. So cutting down to say 1,500 or 2,000 right now would be neigh impossible and to me too drastic. You can probably lose weight at 3,000 calories a day for the time being. But whatever you can manage.

I would also say most people in the 300s plus have a lot of 'unhealthy carbs': fast food, processed food, and to me bread and pasta. But people vary.

I would if possible and I know this would be hard. But possibly try to go cold turkey on fast food, junk food, and bread and pasta. And concurrently with that or if you can't do that I think gradual changes to healthier foods is awesome.

I just personally needed the cold turkey step to reset my brain and detox from my carb addiction. It was not pretty for a couple of weeks but worth it many times over.

Now I am finding I eat intuitively, crave healthy food, my appetite is under control.

This is a marathon. If you don't think calorie counting is your particular marathon strategy, you don't have to do it. I don't. Not saying it isn't useful. But plenty of people succeed without it. I would try to target carb/sugar stuff. Unless you get a handle on that somehow, either a cold turkey or a more gradual approach it will always be lurking to throw you back and/or make weight loss efforts so hard that it is much harder to succeed.

I am approaching things almost exactly as to what you are feeling will work for you. And it CAN WORK. And being hunger free is a beautiful thing. It will be tough, but consider cold turkey. Get support from those around you, know you will feel lousy, but getting over the hold trigger foods have on us is just awesome.

Ironically I can have my former trigger foods now no problem. I think my body can actually use carbs now but before I had messed by my carb metabolism so much it just stored them as fat almost immediately, I was getting no nutrition so I was hungry again soon (within an hour or less sometimes) of a huge carb heavy meal. Now I can go to a Mexican restaurant say, have some chips, a couple of enchiladas and it fillls me up for hours and hours. But I could not do this till I got my body back to working and over the carb addiction, which meant cold turkey for me.

Locke
01-15-2014, 11:20 AM
Diamond,

Thanks for your points. Believe it or not I haven't been eating fast food, bread, pasta, sugar, sodas, or much other junk food. I've been eating an oil-free vegan whole foods diet for the most part, at about 1200 calories a day of real food. I've been maintaining my weight by bingeing on alcohol mostly, and infrequently fried foods. Part of my plan going forward is to actually introduce more treats in moderation so that I don't binge, and of course working on my issues with drugs and alcohol. I never eat junk food when I'm sober because I'm afraid of it. My mind has been warped by years of drugs, alcohol, and bulimia. So I'm taking small steps away from restricting categories of food (like processed carbs) and just trying to eat healthy foods with small treats every once in a while (I had half a donut yesterday, my first treat this week, and it was fabulous).

Wannabeskinny
01-15-2014, 11:46 AM
Why would you go oil free? I thought the fat-free movement was debunked since the 1980s. I eat lots and lots of healthy fats and feel great, keeps me sated. I wouldn't trade my fats for all the grains in the world and I try to keep that in mind when I'm getting too comfy with my wheat indulgences.

Since you've already tried calorie counting and feel it gets too restrictive you have to try something else. If you think IE will work for you there's no harm in doing it of course, it's not an unhealthy to do. For me it's what I eventually hope to be like but I can't get there now. I have found success though with IF. I'm not religious about it but I try to only eat eat from 11am-7pm. I have 2 good solid meals and NO SNACKING. This system is helping restore my sanity and more importantly it keeps me from thinking about food all day long because it allows me to compartmentalize eating to only lunch and dinner. The rest of the time I'm free to worry about other things like my LIFE, my JOB, my FAMILY, and my HOBBIES. Snacking was a real problem, if I'm allowed to snack I will graze all day long. I'll be in the kitchen all day long rummaging and at the end of the day that's the worst thing for me.

Locke
01-15-2014, 12:26 PM
Why would you go oil free? I thought the fat-free movement was debunked since the 1980s. I eat lots and lots of healthy fats and feel great, keeps me sated. I wouldn't trade my fats for all the grains in the world and I try to keep that in mind when I'm getting too comfy with my wheat indulgences.

No the oil-free movement is still alive, albeit the high fat diets have replaced many of the low fat ones in popularity. The bulk of dietitians and nutrition researchers still favor a relatively low fat diet with the fat coming from healthy sources like olive oil. There are still some advocates of plant-based oil free diets; these have been shown to be greatly beneficial for heart health and cancer prevention. The reason why they aren't typically recommended is that they're hard to stick to for most folks.

Just cutting out oils doesn't necessarily give you health benefits, especially if you replace the calories from oils with nutrient-poor refined carbohydrates and sugars. Many of the studies that you refer to as debunking the low fat diet have participants discontinue the use of oil but still eat candies, breads, and pastas. Of course you're not going to see weight loss or optimum health if you replace olive oil with fat-free snack cakes. :)

That said I've been eating higher protein and fat lately and feel just as good, as long as I'm eating mostly whole, fresh foods. I'm pretty sure the human body can thrive at almost any macronutrient ratio as long as you're getting plenty of micronutrients in the form of whole foods. I've looked into IF and I may try it in the future. The research behind it appears to be decent.