My eating goal for March was to write down how I was feeling each time before I ate. I didn’t exactly do this, however it has been on my mind a lot and I’ve learned two fairly crucial things during that time:
1) Substitution. If there’s one important behaviour to learn it’s simply this: to substitute healthier foods for unhealthier treats or to substitute treats for treats instead of having extra. So for example if I buy a treat to have with my lunch and then someone gives me something tasty, I need to learn to have the tasty gift in lieu of anything else, and put the thing I bought aside for another day. I’m also into substituting fruit for sweet treats and herbal tea for regular, and also just substituting the idea that I “need” or “deserve” a snack with the idea that I can get through to the next meal with nothing extra.
2) I’ve become aware of my eating pattern and, for once, it seems relatively stable. There are good bits and bad bits but they are all quite predictable – which is saying something! Along with my regular meals (breakfast – split into 2 on workdays, lunch and then usually a starch-less dinner) on workdays I will usually have a small treat after breakfast, a larger treat with lunch, and then nothing until I get home – which often results in bits of picking around dinner or while in the kitchen (nothing particularly bad but still unnecessary). In terms of hunger, I am always ravenous in the morning and then once lunch is over I have very little hunger for the rest of the day – which is great in terms of going snack-less until dinner, but I do think that big space of time probably needs something in it to boost my energy. Often in the evenings I will arrive home wiped out and that’s when it’s tempting to give up and eat more than I need to. Also, predictably, I will have one truly horrible day a week (usually a Friday or the last working day) where I’m just tired and exasperated and my eating gets out of control – not so much between meals but I tend to make poor choices at meal times and then eat out in the evening or on the way home. In my mind these are called my “horribilus” days (for extra impact I suppose!) and as much as I try to eradicate them it always seems to happen! The weekends are usually good, although sometimes I find carbs creeping in to my evening meals more than I used to, and on Mondays I’ll quite often have a small treat to myself while I’m at home alone.
The plan for 2Q:
I have two processes that I’m going to be “growing into” over the next three months – one is to workout 6 times a week until it feels comfortable to do so, and the other is to cull useless bits of eating from my diet until that also feels comfortable and like second nature. My weight has been inching down very gradually during February and March (about ½lb a week on average I guess) and I know from experience that it doesn’t take much to tip the balance from maintaining in to losing at a steady rate. There are some parts of my diet I am quite pleased with but clearly I have to cut back somewhere in order to lose at a faster rate – fortunately I have plenty of ideas about where and how to cut! Overall my main thrust is to be comfortable with treats just one or two days a week, rather than five, and to clean up my act around the edges of meal-times, stick with the actual plan not some snacky approximation of it!
In concrete terms, these are the habits I am hoping to chip away at (in terms of priority)
- Horribilus days shall be gone completely! I think this will be a tough one but to start off with I can try to reduce the frequency (once a fortnight?) and also the intensity (one horribilus meal would be less harmful than letting the whole day go to pot) = (1) item/week
- After-lunch treats: I want to try and substitute these with fruit = (4) items/week
- Evening grazing: If I get home I just have a healthy dinner with no starchy carbs and that’s IT. No extra snacking beforehand, no extras with dinner, no carbs – apart from our once-weekly pasta night when I must have just a small portion. This is not food I need because I’m massively hungry, it’s just to keep me going through the night, so I should be able to make more rational choices. Try to have either spinach or broccoli on a daily basis. = (5) items/week (adding Monday to this)
- I think I could use more protein so I’m going to add in a protein or maybe nut-based snack just before leaving work. This is to stop me getting distracted on the journey or once I get home but must be lean and nutritious! (4) items/week
- No snacking in between breakfast & lunch and lunch & afternoon snack = (8) items a week
- In general I’m also trying to switch to herbal tea whenever possible, and will be taking an iron supplement for a while to see if that helps with fatigue. Those are not point-scorers but just general items. I drink herbal tea whenever I am ill for some reason – why not treat myself that well when I’m well, well?! There’s at least a pint’s worth of milk calories to be saved too!
- Weekend evening meals – work on cutting down on carbs by buying more exciting proteins = (2) /week
- Monday treat… (1)/week
That’s 25 items, although the snacking between meals (-8) is almost gone anyway and I’m not in a rush to change the Monday (-1) or the small breakfast treats at this stage (-4). That leaves me with 12 addressable instances of over-eating during the week, or roughly one thing a week to eliminate. At first I was thinking about just doing one thing and trying to maintain one new change each week, but I think I’ll just jump in and give myself a score for each day based on how I do – then hopefully I can improve my score week on week.
I think if I avoid the Horribilus day I will give myself an extra 5 points for that, to make a round 30 for the week – because it’s the hardest thing to overcome!
Cue more tracking and a giant 12-week checklist, I guess…. 😀