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Maybe abstinence (from junk food) is not a bad thing

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Old 02-26-2014, 02:38 AM   #1
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Default Maybe abstinence (from junk food) is not a bad thing

Hi, I just registered right now feeling down and a little bit hopeless about weight loss. I am 194 tonight after eating way too much over the past two weeks and binging all night tonight on top of it. I feel depressed about it, and annoyed because I have tried so many times and have succeeded but can't make a permanent change. I've lost 30-40 pounds on Weight Watchers (informal, no meetings just old flex plan point counting since I dislike the new counts), and more "intuitive" eating; these are the only two methods I could stick with long term enough to lose more than 5 pounds. The intuitive eating only worked in retrospect since I was dealing with heartbreak and depression and really didn't care to eat.

I would like to be 127, my adult low weight but at this point being in the 160's (heck even 170's) would suffice. I hate how all my super cute clothes are do not fit and even my ugly frumpster clothing is tight and ill-fitted. I feel awful, look awful. Earlier this month I tried adding light exercise and focused on the journey versus outcome (just focused on new habits, not weight on scale, etc.) but even then I felt anxious and eventually couldn't keep it up. I want to just eat a freaking normal meal and not think about it anymore!! How to exorcise this obsession??

I really hate restriction. I hate the idea of it. It makes me feel deprived and more obsessive than usual. However I wonder if abstinence isn't such a bad plan after all. Maybe I just can't deal with certain foods -sugary and/or processed in particular - and should avoid them. They do me no favors. I used to think, that is no way to live and get indignant in my mind, that it was unfair and ridiculous to have to be extreme. BUt tonight I thought, I bet an alcoholic or drug user or gambler probably thinks the exact same way. I can't survive without food, but I don't require Little Debbie snack cakes to remain upright. Or Cheetos or cookies or gummies (fave candy). In fact all this food does is drive me binge-wild and cause headaches. I think by drawing a line between food that is necessary to live and food desires driven by cravings is almost parallel to drinking/drugging... really opened my eyes!!

Has anyone else successfully abstained from certain foods and shown good results (ie weight loss)??? Is it not advisable for someone with binge tendencies?
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:12 AM   #2
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Wow....it's crazy that you type this post on this day....because JUST YESTERDAY, I was driving and pondering THE EXACT SAME THING! (These thoughts must be floating around in the Universe or something lol).

I was thinking about my addiction to junk food and felt the exact same way. I decided, just yesterday, to abstain from it completely. Yes, I need food to live. But I don't need junk food. Junk food is my addiction, just like an alcoholic or a drug addict. When I eat it, I go wild. It's never enough. I have to eat tons and tons at a time. Then I feel like crap afterwards. But yet I find myself doing it yet again. So I've decided to kick my addiction completely. Right now, I'm challenging myself to 150 days with no junk food. I hoping that after such a long time away from it, I can truly rid the addiction....who knows, maybe I'll never want it again.
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Old 02-26-2014, 08:13 AM   #3
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So here is my take on it and I think many people have said the same thing. When you start eating better, your body starts to crave better foods and junk food has less of a draw.

When I first started losing weight, I was all gung ho on just eating fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, etc. And I will say that it worked for the most part getting me off a lot of high sugar/high fat foods that I used to eat. Over the years, I've modified my diet quite a bit and now I'm at a place where I allow myself to eat whatever I want. The thing though again is I rarely want what you might consider 'junk'. If I do want a piece of cake though, I've decided I'm going to have cake and not feel guilty or feel like it is the last piece of cake I'll ever have. Feeding my body lots of good foods is what makes me feel better, exercise better, sleep better, etc and that is overall what I want for myself.

Does that make sense? I don't know, people approach changing their eating habits in different ways and you just have to find the right way for you. One thing to remember is that if you do happen to have 'junk' food, be kind to yourself, remember that you are working on a process to eat better overall.
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Old 02-26-2014, 08:52 AM   #4
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It sounds like you've gotten sick of junk food, hear hear! I really hate the word abstain but if you're feeling naturally drawn to healthier foods then go with it. You know yourself better than anyone and if you can't stop at just one then don't eat the one. I'm with nelie on this, eating good food makes me feel good so I try to do more of that than the other stuff.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:18 AM   #5
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I had to get rid of all the junk food to lose weight. Some can have small amounts of sugary/carby treats and control it. Not me. I'll admit the cravings were bad at first. The bad cravings do go away. Heck, I used to dream about ice cream, cookies and chips. Now, I don't even think about them unless they are right in front of my face. We just don't have them in the house anymore. After I lost the weight, I do occasionally get a dessert when we go out to eat...which we rarely do. Now, the sugar makes me feel bad...jittery at first, then a big crash where I just want to go to bed. In all honesty, I do not miss junk food. I crave veggies and fruit like I used to crave sugar! With what you've shared about how you react to junk food, I'd say you would do and feel much better just cutting them completely out of your diet. It'll be hard at first, but trust me, that'll pass and you'll feel soooooo much better! You can do it!
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:48 AM   #6
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I remember reading some study once that indicated that most people who struggle with their weight like to eat a variety of foods whereas those who are "naturally thin" eat more routinely. That goes along with other information I've read about willpower and how having fewer choices makes resisting fattening foods easier. All this is to say that perhaps cutting out junk food completely is not a bad idea (at least for now). If you take a strict stand on it and just consider all junk food absolutely off limits to think about, to buy, etc., it may make it much easier. I find that I can sometimes derail myself if I allow myself to eat certain "trigger" foods in moderation. It may work for a time, but after a while, I notice that I get immoderate with that food. That's when going cold turkey often works. As odd as it seems, going cold turkey takes the pressure off me; I know I cannot have whatever it is I've banned, so I stop negotiating with myself about it.

Also, as nelie pointed out, I think after a time, our bodies start craving good food. I am MUCH less inclined to eat junk now that I was in my 20's. Yes, I still love sweets and fattening foods, but I choose them with care now and they're usually gourmet. Little Debbies, for instance, would not even tempt me.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:50 AM   #7
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What takes up the LEAST mental energy for me is what works. Abstaining makes things a lot easier, because you don't have to debate - "hm how much of this treat and which one hsould I pick because I am trying to lose weight so I can't eat all of it!"

You won't have to think at all because you already know that the answer is NO.

I abstain until I reach a point where I can honestly ask myself "If you died tomorrow without this cake, would you feel devastated?" and I can honestly answer"No, I've had the cake, woulda been nice if I could eat have eaten it before I'm dying at my last moments, but that is OK. There are lots of things that I didn't do or eat up until this moment, but I lived my life the best I way I could." At that point, that was when I knew that I could reintroduce some of that old junk food in my life and be OK with it.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabeskinny View Post
It sounds like you've gotten sick of junk food, hear hear! I really hate the word abstain but if you're feeling naturally drawn to healthier foods then go with it. You know yourself better than anyone and if you can't stop at just one then don't eat the one. I'm with nelie on this, eating good food makes me feel good so I try to do more of that than the other stuff.
This, exactly. I think you'll find the bulk of the desire for junk goes away with time and distance, as new things become palatable to you. That doesn't mean it goes away 100% but then again! most folks don't need to spend 100% of their lives avoiding a certain food to be healthy in the long run. You just need to figure out your type - some folks abstain complete, some can moderate. One doesn't do well with the approach of the other
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:20 PM   #9
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So watching what you eat makes you feel deprived? You are depriving yourself of good health, both physically and mentally when you are overweight. I'll take good health any day.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by nostoneunturned View Post
I really hate restriction. I hate the idea of it. It makes me feel deprived and more obsessive than usual. However I wonder if abstinence isn't such a bad plan after all. Maybe I just can't deal with certain foods -sugary and/or processed in particular - and should avoid them. They do me no favors. I used to think, that is no way to live and get indignant in my mind, that it was unfair and ridiculous to have to be extreme. BUt tonight I thought, I bet an alcoholic or drug user or gambler probably thinks the exact same way. I can't survive without food, but I don't require Little Debbie snack cakes to remain upright. Or Cheetos or cookies or gummies (fave candy). In fact all this food does is drive me binge-wild and cause headaches. I think by drawing a line between food that is necessary to live and food desires driven by cravings is almost parallel to drinking/drugging... really opened my eyes!!
For ME personally, I always make it a point to satisfy not only my hunger, but my cravings. The thing is that I'm craving healthy stuff too. I went through the process of going restriction-free and at first, I gorged on junk food, but then got fed-up with junk and started eating like a "normal" person (being defined as someone who eats everything in moderation and someone who is not obsessed with or have anxiety over food, not someone who is physically thin or fat).

At this point in time, I eat "junk" maybe once a week. Yes, I definitely watch what I eat BUT do not in any way feel deprived as my cravings are satisfied so weight management becomes easier and easier as time goes by.

I understand that this method is certainly not for everyone and is just another take on your question on whether abstinence is or is not a good thing.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:13 PM   #11
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This past week (7 days today) I completely gave up anything that was considered white (breads,pasta rice) and refined sugar (cakes, donuts etc) and I've been eating clean, like raw vegetables and 4 oz protein for every meal and some oat bran in the morning, oat bran is my only form of carbs, but I have to say I feel amazing!! I don't crave sugar, nor do I want it when I see it. I've also gone down 5 lbs, but I'm sure a large proportion of that is water weight.

I have to be one of those people who has to abstain from junk food. It spirals binge eating for me and makes me want to quit eating healthy. I also feel like my skin and hair feels better, maybe it is psychological but I for me going cold turkey just works, so I don't try to test the waters anymore to see if I can handle it. Although, when I'm out at parties I will allow myself to have a cheat meal (in small quantities) but I know with how much I can get (calorie-wise) with veggies, it's so little food when I pick carbs/sugary treats.

I completely understand what you mean by becoming obsessive, when I used to go on low-carb diets, everything I wanted was loaded in carbs, and I would actively search for it, buy it and eat it when no one was watching, I got so fed up with it I decided to give it up, it's worked in the past for me, and now it's helping me see the scale move again.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:41 PM   #12
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Foods can have drug-like properties, so I have to treat them that way. There are some foods I find easier to avoid altogethrr than to eat in moderation.

I find most high glycemic foods very easy to overeat, even healthiet ones such as fruit and potato with skin. The more carbs I eat, the more I feel I "need," not just want.

I've never really seen complete abstinence from trigger foods as an option, but maybe that's one of the reasons why my progress is so slow. I would never consider trying to use heroin in moderation, and I don't feel deprived by my non-use of heroin, so why am I so resistent to the thought of giving up foods that act like drugs in my body?

I think trigger-food abstainnce is at least worth considering.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:14 PM   #13
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I'm in the same head space and I've been pondering this for years.

I have Insulin Resistance, so I know that carby foods affect my body in negative ways. But it is an addiction. Last year, I regained about 10-15 lbs because I stopped tracking and following the food plan that works -- because everyone around me says "moderation is key" and I am just eating it once in a while (it = high glycemix index stuff).

The reality is that I just don't function that way. Eating rice once a week means that by the three week, I'll be eating rice two or three times a week... and so on and so forth. It just doesn't work for me.

I've been back on my plan and I'm focusing on just eating three meals a day; no snacking, and definitely Paleo/low-carb. I've started to lose weight again (and stopped gaining) and I know that the problems were re-introducing those pesky carbs back in my diet.

I just can't do moderation.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:12 PM   #14
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I don't usually abstain, but today I sort of did. I was shopping and realized I was totally out of snacks. I usually keep 1 or 2 kinds of snacks I like around--chips, cookies or crackers--something like that. However, I'm really trying to keep my diet nutrition focused, while maintaining tastiness and the love of food that I just naturally have. There's always going to be unlimited pie, cake, pizza, hamburgers, french fries, cookies, donuts, frappes, or whatever your vice is! Always! There is no shortage of these foods and they can be a temptation if you let them. I didn't buy snacks, but honestly, I didn't want them that much. The realization that I didn't want it, but I was about to buy it anyway hit me. I automatically thought to get snacks, then realized it was a better decision to spend money on nutritionally valuable food--after all, it still tastes good! Sweets just have too much impact on blood sugar to be healthy in anything over a small amount, generally. However, even small amounts are dense in calories and low in nutrition--and not to mention, if you've got them in the house, you'll find a reason to have one! Just one, though!...or two, or three..
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:59 AM   #15
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For me moderation is doable, even though it doesn't come naturally. I've never abstained from any food. The culture of abstinence doesn't sit well with me, I suppose. There are so many shouldn'ts and mustn'ts and don'ts in our world -- why should I pile on some more of my own?

If the day comes when moderation no longer works for me, I'll revisit my current position. For the time being, though, I can't see any compelling reason to say "no" to any food. I'd rather train myself to say "enough."

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