Diet, “Diets” and Nutrition

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon lately.  Well, interesting to me anyway, so I’m writing about it and you’re stuck reading it.  HA!

No, wait!  Come back!  I promise not to be a jerk after all! 

Whew.  Hi again.  😀

So lately I’ve been trying to lose weight.  As mentioned in my last couple of posts, the bingeing had pushed my weight up past where I felt healthy, so it was time to bring it back down. 

But I’ve noticed something that occurs when I’m “losing weight:”  I eat more crap.  No, really.  See, normally, I’m . . . well, I guess the annoying, trendy term would be “foodie.”  I LOVE food.  I love the way it tastes, the way it smells, the transformation it undergoes when you cook it different ways.  I love the whole “food experience.”  And there is room on my plate for everything: just like I watch both B-movies and Oscar winners, I eat both potato chips and free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free whatever.  I have no issues using butter and cream, though I don’t eat them a LOT, mainly because I just feel congested if I eat too much of them.  (Dairy is not my friend, as a general rule.)  I like vegetables, and will eat them bare, raw, cooked, spiced, sauced, in any way, shape or form.  I.  Love.  Food.

But when I’m dieting, I eat less “real” food and more crap.  I’m more likely to eat a Lean Cuisine than to throw some chicken and veggies in a pan with some soy sauce and garlic.  (Man, it’s lunchtime, and writing this is making me SERIOUSLY HUNGRY.)  I’m not sure why, since chicken and veggies isn’t exactly a decadent meal, calorically speaking. 

Part of it I know is because when I work out, I lose my appetite.  For a few years  in college, that was my method of weight control: skip breakfast, workout at lunchtime instead of eat, small dinner.  And lots of Tootsie Pops to keep my blood sugar up.  (Um, that apparently might have something to do with why I’m now hypoglycemic.  Don’t try this at home, kids.)  And now that I’ve gone back to working out pretty much every day, my appetite is shot.  I come home and don’t even want to THINK about food.  And it’s not like my appetite kicks in later.  It just . . . goes away.  But I know I need calories, and if I can’t even bring myself to microwave some spinach and throw a Boca burger on the plate, I can usually shove a Lean Cuisine in the zap-box and eat THAT.  At that point I figure calories without nutrients is better than no calories, no nutrients.  (Plus I avoid that seductive starvation high if I keep eating, even if it’s only frozen diet dinners.)

But I have to admit that I’m fascinated by the paradox of eating more crap when I’m trying to lose weight.  And make no mistake: I’m Losing Weight, not Taking Better Care of Myself.  There’s a HUGE difference there.  And part of the reason for the former instead of the latter is because I needed t start exercising again, and frankly I won’t START exercising unless I’m doing it for weight-loss.  I’ll KEEP doing it once I’ve started, but I won’t start.  That in itself is kind of ridiculous: that I’ll do something for cosmetic reasons, but for my health, not so much.  NICE.

So I’ve been trying hard to remain aware of the phenomenon.  Because for a while I was eating frozen dinners EVERY NIGHT, and I KNOW that’s not healthy.  So for the last week or so, I’ve been eating Asian-style chicken soup and steamed clams with green beans and shrimp with veggies in pepper sauce.  But I’m definitely aware of the effort it takes; effort that it DOESN’T take when I’m just eating.  Not eating to lose weight, but just eating normally.  (And it’s not the effort of learning to cook differently, since most of the stuff I’m eating is stuff I would eat ANYWAY; it’s the effort of cooking AT ALL.)

But I think it’s also an interesting commentary on my state of mind.  I’m not sure what it says exactly, but it’s an interesting thing to be aware of.  The idea of weight loss as the only goal, the penultimate acheivement, no matter how ill-gotten.  And it sort of ties into what I was thinking about yesterday: that whole scenario about losing weight eating diet dinners, only to end up with high blood pressure from all the salt.  And wondering in the end if you’re really better off with high blood pressure than you were with aching joints? 

So I’m charting a path through the voices in my head, and the land mines they lay out.  Yes, it’s ok to lose weight.  No, you may not do it either by starving or existing solely on frozen diet dinners.  Yes, you can lose 30 pounds.  No, you can’t lose 60.  Yes, you really DO lose your appetite when you exercise.  No, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to skip meals.  Yes, it has to be a healthy meal.  No, the vegetable in the diet dinner doesn’t count (I don’t care WHAT the government says, those teeny servings are NOT ADEQUATE NUTRITION). 

It’s just . . . oh, let’s say it’s entertaining.  LOL.

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15 responses to “Diet, “Diets” and Nutrition

  1. Oh, it’s so true. I live on lean cuisines for lunch and yogurt for dinner. I get my protein, veggies and carbs, right? However, I was finding that I was having terrible muscle cramps all over – hands, arms, feet, legs. Well, duh, I wasn’t getting the nutrients I need. So I added a multivitamin, and now I’m working on adding more veggies and salads. But it’s so much easier to rely on convenience foods, and you can’t beat the portion control.

  2. I was exactly the same. You’d have thought to stretch that decadent 800 calories a day limit that I’d have “spent” my calories on more substantial foods. But no. Jelly beans, yogurts and powdered soups. I think also the appeal of knowing exactly how many calories were in a packet contributed to my weird diet though.

    I catch myself trying to be a foodie now. I’ve started loitering around organic produce and health food stores, but resist the temptation to just morph into orthorexia instead. That damn ED is so sneaky. Frying pan…fire….

    Lola x

  3. I have eaten crap! Those preformed meals are too easy to shovel in. Gotta treat yourself well(er) to get the optimum results.
    What the hell do I know?

  4. wow. you and my husband have so much in common.

  5. That’s one thing I love about the intuitive eating approach — no need to eat substandard stuff just because it’s low calorie 🙂

  6. Why don’t you just go with it. If your not hungry then don’t eat. YOu eventually will get hungry and then eat! Or do you think you will binge?

  7. it all reminds me of my best friend who is now a total vegan and subsists on chips and random candy…

  8. *crakcs up* Harriet, that’s funny! Well, not funny THEN, but funny NOW, if you know what I mean. (Things are always funnier in retrospect.) I had a friend who did just the opposite: they took FOREVER to officially diagnose her with anorexia – partly because she was so good at faking sanity, but mainly because her blood work was always good. She ate tons of vitamins and bananas (for the potassium), but not much else. So she was underweight, but seemed healthy. Sneaky, sneaky. 😉 (I tried that, but vitamins on an empty stomach made me sick, and I cannot STAND throwing up. That’s probably the only thing that saved me from binge/purge bulimia, although I did the exercise version for a while.)

    You know what Lola, I think the jelly beans and powdered soups make perfect sense. I always ate Tootsie Pops because they were so few calories that (as long as I didn’t chew them) I could make them last for an hour or two. That way I always had something to “eat,” even though I wasn’t actually eating. If I’d eaten more substantially, I would have been hungrier, and more often.

    POD, they are DEFINITELY easy. And salty! I find that when my system is really depleted I CRAVE salt.

    LOL, Emily! Oh man, I feel for the poor guy.

    Hi Catherine! Welcome! I actually really like the IE approach, and it’s helped TREMENDOUSLY with my . . . er . . . food issues. 😉 But the frozen dinners are not so much about the calories (because I can cook low-calorie and do it well), but about the fact that I have to eat SOMETHING, the thought of food (when I’m working out a lot) makes me sick. So I can bring myself to shovel in a frozen dinner, but the thought of FIXING something, smelling it, watching it cook, etc. makes me ill.

    AHahahahaha!!! Dan, for me it does NOT work that way. I wish it did. But once my body stops being hungry, I don’t get hungry again. And then 2 or 3 days will go by and the starvation high will kick in, and then I REALLY don’t want to eat. So it’s more a knowledge that I won’t eat and will trip down that merry road to borderline anorexia than a fear of bingeing. Two sides of the same coin, and I get to walk the edge of it.

    Oh, further proof Miz, that “vegan” or “vegetarian” does not automatically mean “healthy.” Hilarious. (Actually my mom is a vegetarian but doesn’t feel well on tons of starchy food, so she’s gone to great lengths to learn to cook food that tastes good, is veggie, and is NOT full of carbs. And it’s really, really good.)

  9. You know, When I’m trying to lose weight, I go through phases were the allure of really extreme eating is SO strong. Like Medifast. Or “The Velocity Diet”. In my mind, I think, “you know you could do that for a month (or 2, or however long it is supposed to last) lose that last 30 (or 40) pounds, and then transition back to your regular eating and maintain it. It would be so easy! And Fast!”
    The funny thing is these diets go against everything I believe in in terms of health and nutrition. Normally I would NEVER consider it, and I would lecture any friends that did one of them. But when I am trying to eat good healthy food, and only *somewhat* restrict, it is so hard, whereas something so extreme would be so much easier for me.
    I guess it comes down to that damn scale again. Right now I am trying to lose, and really barely restricting my calorie intake, so my weight loss is glacierly slow. And it just drives me nuts. Yes, I know in the long run, it will eventually come off, but it takes forever doing it the healthy way. But that’s the thing. It is healthy, and good for me. This si the first year in ages, I didn’t get sick, and I’m SURE that it is because of my diet and excersise routine.

  10. Oh, and I wanted to comment on your comment yesterday about “the thinner I get the fatter I feel”… (I totally wanted to call you after I read that because it caused an epiphany for me. Not that I really even know you irl or anything, haha) Anyways, it occured to me that the reason that *I* feel that way may be because, as I get thinner, I am subconsciously putting myself in a different “catagory”. i.e., I am no longer comparing myself to the other “fat girls” – now I am comparing myself to “normal girls”, so in my mind I feel even fatter. Cause, when I was comparing to fat people, I was relatively thin, but when comapring to normal people, I am relatively fat. You understand? Dunno if that applies to you, but you totally made a light go off in my feeble little brain. (And I KNOW I shouldn’t compare, but whatcha gonna do?)

  11. Hey Sassy, I think we were typing at the same time! I know exactly what you mean about the super-restriction. There is something bizarrely gratifying about seeing the scale numbers plunge. I have to admit that for me it’s a control thing: I watch the numbers drop and think, “I made that happen.” For me, I know that even though I’m CAPABLE of doing it, it’s really important NOT to do it, because it will inevitably lead to either more starving or a rebound binge. Not to mention the bad nutrition, like you said. 😉

  12. I love that you are so honest and aware of your own mental process! So many people have these dialogues unconsciously, and therefore have no ability to take a look at what they’re telling themselves and examine it critically.

    I think our tiny human brains can only concentrate on a few goals at once. If we put the focus on calories, and make it seem REALLY important, then other things are going to slip.

    It’s so cool that you’re on to yourself.

  13. This is very interesting and also something I struggle with…finding the balance between staying healthy, eating well AND losing weight!!! Am tired of wondering “how many calories is that” rather then – should I be eating this, is it good for me?
    *sigh*

  14. And not only that, Sassy, but for me, that whole “the thinner I get, the fatter I feel” phenomenon is also because when I’m losing weight I find myself more focused on what I DON’T like about my body than what I DO, you know? I’m suddenly conscious of rolls and bulges that I didn’t give much thought to before. So I end up feeling fatter. Does that make sense?

    Oh, Crabby, I think you’re right about those “tiny human brains,” LOL. Sometimes we give ourselves FAR too much credit!

    Oh, Missicat, I hear ya. Sometimes it really helps me to go back to Intuitive Eating when I feel like that, for what it’s worth.

  15. Like Sassy, I only restrict a little, and weight loss is slow. I don’t eat frozen dinners, and I try in general to prepare my own food. Somewhere along the line I reallized that when I wasn’t dieting, but living a normal life with moderate exercise (I don’t drive much, so almost everywhere I go is bicycle or walking), I would not gain, maybe lose slowly, but as soon as I tried to diet, I’d lose it and eat everything and more. Not to the level mentioned in your binge post taht I just read, but an outrageous, unnecessary, emotionally-driven amount of food. Working out does not cause me to lose my appetite, so I have food at home in all stages of preparedness. I keep shredded cheese, home-made pasta/pizza sauce, leftovers in the freezer. I live near the world’s greatest (and cheapest), and also the fanciest (and most expensive) Farmer’s markets, and I always have lots of fruits and veggies, which I munch on. Sometimes I buy seasoned tofu (and add it to steamed broccoli), and this is a mini-meal. I really try not to let my eating get too restricted, nor too lax, and in this way, I don’t lose control, I don’t binge, and I very very slowly lose weight.

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