Hi. My Name is Justine, and I’m a Yo-Yo Dieter

5 Apr

This pattern is getting really old.

I recently tried a very strict Paleo diet (the Autoimmune Protocol) to see if I could make any strides in symptom management for my fibromyalgia.  My dedication and determination was met with another disappointment: not a whole lot changed.  My sinuses did clear up quite a bit, but everything else was as unpredictable and uncomfortable as usual.  My intestines were wishy washy, my sleep was a nightmare, and my pain/tension headaches still made random visits.  I followed the A.I.P. for about 3 weeks and then began reintroducing some whole foods that I assumed would be “safe” for me.  My grand plan was essentially ruined.  I wanted to gauge how individual foods affected me, but since I never got around to feeling better, the whole thing was kind of a wash.  I gave it a good month of clean eating before getting to the next inevitable stage: “Screw it!  Where’s the ice cream?!”

I did figure out that coffee makes me flare up big time.  I’m pretty bitter about this, because I don’t even drink it that often.  I can’t even enjoy an occasional cup without feeling sick all over.  I also learned that bananas (despite being a lower-fructose fruit) always make my belly feel rotten.  My theory is that the large amount of resistant starch+fructose causes a bacteria feeding frenzy.

I also had one of the worst colds I’ve had in awhile during my trial.  Since the diet was meant to calm the immune system, I wonder if my defenses went into sleep mode and let things get out of hand.  It’s possible that my body was just in the process of adjusting and didn’t have the energy to fight off a bug simultaneously.  My histamines were out of control.  My eyes would water to the point of continuous involuntary crying.  It was truly bizarre.  Weird hospital critter or strange diet response?  Who knows!

The past few days, I have been overeating/binging again.  This hadn’t been a problem for a long time.  It’s not uncommon for restriction to lead to feelings of deprivation which develop into binge eating of “forbidden” foods.  This may be an underlying factor, but I think it’s more likely that I just slide back to my old habits when I’m feeling defeated.  I put all of my effort into a new approach and when it fails, I give myself permission to stop giving a shit for a little while.  I gravitate between mental and physical battles.  Sometimes, it’s just easier to stop trying and allow daily stomach aches back into my life.  It really doesn’t help that overeating makes me feel better temporarily.  It gives me a nice serotonin boost which means I sleep like a baby and have less pain.

On the diet, I wasn’t feeling particularly deprived.  I just got bored and am frustrated with my results.  My Paleo meals were delicious and satisfying, but you can only make so many lettuce burgers, stir fries, and stews before wanting to shake things up a bit.  If I didn’t have so many limiting factors (histamine & FODMAP intolerances, reflux, history of disordered eating), a Paleo diet might actually be a realistic template for a health nut like me.  I have no problem eating fruits and vegetables in lieu of pasta and Cheetos.  Unfortunately, a lot of “healthy” foods make me feel like death.  Onions and bananas make me sicker than potato chips.  A bowl of mineral-poor oatmeal sits in my stomach better than a plate of vitamin-rich sweet potatoes.


Perhaps it’s a cliche, but I get really sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I also feel sorry for myself and believe most people are unable to grasp how terrible it is to have such a malfunctioned nervous system.  I have received insensitive comments such as “Coffee is amazing!  I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to drink it everyday!” after already explaining how sick I feel when I have it.  Thanks for rubbing it in though!    Fibromyalgia is gaining ground as a “legitimate diagnosis”.  It always has been “legit”, but similar to IBS, it has a reputation for being one of those illnesses that people assume is “all in your head”.  There’s no actual damage taking place, so how bad could it be?  It can be really horrible actually, thanks for asking.  Sometimes it seems as though my intolerances are an inconvenience for people and are not taken seriously just because they are not life-threatening allergies.  Sure, an onion won’t kill me.  However, it can give me such bad brain fog that I feel like I’ve been drugged.  Neuroticism breeds illness breeds enhanced neuroticism.  I keep trying to fix my brokenness, because I refuse to accept that I may be broken forever.  I may have to bite the bullet and have some testing done to see what my (non-diet!) options are, because…

This pattern is getting really old.

Holistic Ebony Shout-out, Calories Schmalories & the Autoimmune Protocol

9 Mar

I recently secured an internship with http://www.holisticebony.com/.  If you haven’t yet, check out my staff writer bio here: http://holisticebony.com/meet-our-new-staff-writer-justine-cadwell-rd-lrd/, my first article here: http://holisticebony.com/3-ways-to-eradicate-your-superbug-exposure/, and my newest article here: http://holisticebony.com/7-brain-tricks-that-will-blow-your-mind/ Holistic Ebony is dedicated to the pursuit of holistic wellness (right up my alley of course).  Feel free to check out the rest of the site!  Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to explore in an article/blog post.  I will take any excuse to research an interesting topic that I can get!


Towards the end of February, I was undergoing a 3 week calorie counting quest.  By the end of the second week, I had almost lost another pound (0.8 to be exact).  Instead of charging forward for a third week, however, I decided to throw in the towel.  I have come to the conclusion that calorie counting for a short period (say a week or 2) is a nice way to get an idea of how many calories are in the foods you commonly eat.  It’s a good reminder to see that a slice of your favorite pie has enough calories to constitute a meal.

But beyond that, I hated it!

My original guidelines for calorie intake were derived from my current weight, creating a deficit intended to lower it at a predictable rate.  As mentioned, I was feeling hungry and as though my body knew more than what the formulas decided for me.  Imagine that, inner wisdom vs conventional wisdom!  I increased my calories accordingly.  The calorie counting approach isn’t really compatible with the Appetite Awareness Training I just went through (check out January 2014 archives: http://thehungryguineapig.wordpress.com/2014/01/).  I’m not sure a person can eat according to their appetite while trying to reach a specific calorie goal set by somewhat arbitrary measures.  Many people with eating disorders use calorie counting to fuel their methods.

I was told by several current/former calorie counting women in my life that their goal was 1200 calories/day.  This is the bare minimum number of calories recommended for women seeking weight loss.  If you go too low, your efforts will be counterproductive, because your body will assume starvation and hold on to every last calorie you feed it.  I’m not a fan of this 1200 calorie goal.  I feel it’s far too low for the average woman.  Perhaps weight loss is possible with such restrictions, but do you really want to spend the rest of your life eating 1200 calories?!  Your metabolism will follow suit when eating so little.  It will likely set you up for greater weight gain in the future should you decide that a life restrained by 1200 calories per day is not a life worth living.

I’m just proud of myself for sticking to calorie counting for 2 whole weeks now that I’ve decided it’s a stupid waste of time! ;-)  To each their own I spose.

The best thing I gained from calorie counting was the motivation to exercise (so I could eat more calories)!  I started making regular exercise a habit, and it’s been incredibly beneficial.  My arm muscles feel stronger, so my neck muscles are less ravaged.  This translates into less tension headaches (one of my biggest nemeses).  Yes please!

My new weight goal goes something like this: meh.  I’d rather just focus on balancing happiness with dietary freedom/restriction & feeling well.  Whether this equates to stuffing myself silly with corn chips and dancing until the sun rises or eating Paleo stews and sleeping for nine hours, so be it.  Life is too short.  My weight is no longer a burden, because I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.  I wanted to tackle my unhealthy relationship with food, and I’ve been doing a good job of that.  If eating normally doesn’t mean fitting into my wedding dress ever again, so be it.


Currently, I am following the Autoimmune Protocol created by Sarah Ballantyne, the blogger behind the Paleo Mom: http://www.thepaleomom.com/.  The diet is outlined on her page and in her new book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Paleo-Approach-Reverse-Autoimmune/dp/1936608391It’s very restrictive.  Basically I can eat meat, most vegetables (no nightshades), fruit in moderate amounts (aiming to keep under 20 grams of fructose per day), certain fats (such as avocado and coconut oil), and some herbs/spices.  For more information as to why such a diet could help alleviate autoimmune disease, check out her blog and/or book.  You’ll find plenty of info! (Hint: It’s those damn leaky guts again!)

I am 1 week in and feeling so-so.  Anytime I cut back on carbs, I can count on feeling fatigued and cranky.  I’ve also been sleeping poorly.  Eating carbohydrates boosts serotonin production.  Serotonin is a precursor for melatonin, a vital sleep hormone.  Paleo advocates often recommend circumventing this problem by adding more carbohydrates to your evening meal or eating a Tbsp of raw honey before bed.  I haven’t been skimping on carbs too much.  I eat squash and/or sweet potatoes at least once a day.  Maybe I just need to focus on better timing.  These symptoms are supposed to be temporary, but I hope my patience can hold out.  I want to follow this diet for 2 more weeks, and then start reintroducing foods to see if I notice any correlations with fibro flares:http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/5949/151398/fibromyalgia/ 

Autoimmune disease refers to a condition in which the body attacks itself.  Diagnosis is dependent on where/how this occurs within the body.  Multiple sclerosis suggests an attack on your myelin sheath, rheumatoid arthritis strikes your joints, Crohn’s disease wreaks havoc on your digestive tract, etc.  For a complete list of autoimmune & autoimmune-related diseases, check out this link: http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-diseases/.  There’s a lot!  Currently, fibromyalgia is not classified as an autoimmune disease, but it has been speculated to have autoimmune origins and often coexists with autoimmune illness.  For example, Raynaud’s phenomenon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud%27s_phenomenon (which I experience) is common in fibromyalgia sufferers, and it’s considered an autoimmune disorder.

The first few days of a restrictive diet are usually the hardest.  I’ve survived 7 days.  Can I make it 14 more?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Calorie Counting is a Bummer, but (Un)fortunately it Works

16 Feb

We’re 1 week into my calorie counting experiment and right on schedule.  I felt pretty hungry during the first couple of days, even though I was eating up to 1700 calories.  After a couple of nights of attempting to sleep on a fairly empty stomach, and sleeping terribly as a result, I started to add a snack before bed even if it meant going over my daily calorie goal.  Sleep is probably THE most critical factor in my fibromyalgia flares.  Without sleep, I’m toast.  Anyway, after 5 days I couldn’t resist the urge to weigh myself, because my work pants got noticeably looser.  I had already lost 2 pounds.  I only meant to lose 1 pound during the first week, so I loosened up on my calorie restrictions, aiming closer to 2000.  I would rather lose weight slowly and NOT be hungry all of the time.  It makes a lot more sense to me. :)  This morning, I weighed 132lb which is just where I want to be.  By the end of this week, I would like to be at 131lb.

One problem with calorie counting is that you are often making an educated guess based on ingredients.  If one source says that an egg has 70 calories and another says it has 80, these slight variations can mean a lot over the course of a day.  Also, the definition of “moderately active” is a bit subjective.  It is my belief that these 2 inconsistencies are what lead to my hunger and subsequent rapid weight loss after those first few days.

Calorie counting feels a bit like being in a secret club.  After mentioning my current experiment, I had several people either tell me about their experiences with the process or come at me like moths to a flame.  What are you doing?  Could I do that too?  I really should do something to lose weight…  I even calculated calorie needs for 2 curious coworkers.  The universal language among American girls is that of body dissatisfaction.  Even the most intelligent, low-maintenance women in my life have made comments to me about what they would like to change about their appearance.  Often, rather than clinging to a stick model ideal, they yearn to be where they once were.  If a woman knows they can and have been at a lower weight, they strive to get back to that magical place: when I was in high school…; before I stopped playing softball…; before I got pregnant…; before gaining the freshman 15…  It looms over our everyday thoughts: one of these days, I’m gonna buckle down and lose this weight.  When one woman takes the initiative, others stare in awe and want to jump on the bandwagon.  There’s definitely a “we’re all in this together” vibe whenever a woman brings up her weight goals.

I am not in the market to be a public service announcement but rather view this trend from an observational perspective.  We’ve been exposed to propaganda since birth about how we should look.  Even though we may be smart enough to see that it’s propaganda, our desires are the same.  We want to look good.  Looking good often correlates with feeling good (in theory), and who doesn’t want that?  Many psychological manifestations show up in very different behaviors/compulsions but often stem from similar causes: the desire to be in control.  Controlling our diets is one  way of feeling powerful in a world in which we often feel powerless.  If I can’t change the world, at least I can change myself.  Weight loss is an intoxicating fantasy to work toward, a distraction from the everyday blahs.  When these concepts are taken to the extreme, an understanding of eating disorders is pretty straightforward.  Some people NEED to turn a light switch an even number of times and some NEED to see a specific number on a scale.  Finding a balance between control and obsession can be tricky for some, but it’s where healthy weight loss often lies.

Appetitie Awareness Training Wrap-up and Calorie Counting

9 Feb

The last week of AAT was pretty uneventful.  Truthfully, I ditched the forms and switched over to mental monitoring.  Things were going so well that I had decided to only write down any unusual circumstances, such as binges or non-effective emotional eating episodes.  That never happened.  I was always mindful enough to determine whether or not a choice would be worth it.  When I knew it wouldn’t be or would mean stuffing myself, I didn’t eat it.  I’m not going to pretend this is how things will be FOREVER now that I’ve completed this program.  The idea is to come back to it whenever I find myself slipping back to my old habits.

After 1 month of utilizing this method, AAT accomplished the goals I had in mind.  I wanted to make myself more accountable for my food choices and dump mindless eating.  During this experiment, I willingly ate high FODMAP foods when I knew the discomfort would be “worth it”, but I also stayed tuned into my tummy during every meal and almost always conceded when it told me “ENOUGH!”  I learned to question my victim approach to “trigger foods”, realizing I had more power over my eating choices that I was giving myself credit for.  I had fallen into the mindset that my environment was more responsible than I was.  I know that I am more likely to give in when the situation makes it easy, such as having a whole pie in my freezer.  However, I also know that I can choose to eat just enough to feel non-deprived rather than tell myself “I should probably hurry up and eat all of this, so it won’t be here tempting me tomorrow!”  My black and white thinking has started melding into gray.

Yay healthy relationship with food!  The trick will be to keep it up while I attempt to make diet changes.  I wasn’t restricting ANY foods during my AAT, making success fairly easy.  Binging is the most seductive while restricting.  A person only has so much willpower.  However, there are further elimination trials I want to try in effort to reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms.  On an (almost) daily basis, I suffer from one/more of the following: neck pain, brain fog, tension headaches, dry eyes/eye pressure, post-nasal drip/cough/stuffy nose, shortness of breath, depression/anxiety (though mood disturbances have become less common since I started eating & sleeping better!),  & body aches.

I have certain diet ideas in the works for March but wanted to use the last 3 weeks of February for a different experiment: calorie counting.  I have never tried using the calorie counting approach for any extended period of time in the past.  It’s a pain in the butt for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of prepackaged foods with the nutrition info plastered right on them.  When you eat mostly homemade items made with real food, there’s a lot more measuring and headaches involved.  Calorie counting is not something I would ever do long term and doesn’t work for everyone with underlying health/hormone issues.  BUT since this is the method dietitians recommend to average folks trying to lose weight, I thought it would be interesting to give it an official try.

After the first week of AAT, I lost 2 pounds.  I didn’t lose any additional weight but managed to keep those 2 off, so I’m calling it a victory. :-)  I am currently at 133 pounds.  The goal is to be at 130 by March 1st.  This is slow progress, which I prefer.  I was always taught to encourage people to lose weight slowly, because they would be more likely to keep it off.  However, a 2010 study of over 200 obese middle aged women showed that those who lost weight at a faster rate lost more weight overall and kept it off longer.  Perhaps for people with a lot of weight to lose, 1 or 2 pounds lost after a week of hard work is not going to impress them enough to motivate their continued efforts.  Whatever the reason for these results, I intuitively feel like slow and steady wins the race.

So, what am I doing exactly?  I used the Mifflin St. Jeor (http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html) & Harris Benedict (http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/) formulas.  These were the equations taught to me during my dietitian studies.  You only need to use one of them, but they are slightly different, and I wanted to find a calorie range to work with.  I calculated my BMR (basal metabolic rate).  This is the rate at which your body burns calories just to function.  Basically, it’s the fuel that’s required for you to maintain your weight while lying in bed all day.  Then, I multiplied my BMR by a moderate activity factor (explained on the Harris Benedict site linked above) of 1.55.  This gave me the number of calories I would need to consume per day to maintain my current weight.

Since there are 3500 calories in a pound, the logic goes that I need to deduct 500 daily calories through diet & exercise to lose 1 pound in 7 days (7X500=3500).  Since I need approximately 2100-2200 calories per day to maintain my current weight, I will be aiming for 1600-1700 calories per day.  As an alternative option, I could eat 1800-1900 calories on the days that I burn 200 calories through exercise.

I’m on day 2 and only slightly annoyed, more by the calorie counting process than the calorie restriction itself.  Wish me luck!



Food Hangover…and in other news, AAT Week IV: the Finale

2 Feb

I helped a friend celebrate her 30th birthday last night.  I don’t drink very often, so my way of joining in on the festivities was letting all of my FODMAP rules go out the window.  I indulged in onion rings, hummus, and wheat.  So how do I feel today?  Like I may as well have drank a 6-pack all to myself…

Week III recap:
I didn’t binge at all nor did I find myself sliding down the “what the heck” slippery slope.  I haven’t since starting this program.  AAT identifies the “what the heck” obstacle as allowing yourself to binge, because you already “failed” by eating something “forbidden”.  I already ate those 2 Oreos, and I was going to cut out all processed foods.  I might as well finish off the package, so I can start over tomorrow.  I used to struggle with this all of the time, but I’ve come a long way.

If I ate something just because it would taste good or satisfy a craving, I stopped eating it at moderate fullness.  I have learned to keep (mental) tabs on my reasons for eating.  Anti-deprivation eating was a big driver behind choosing to eat so many FODMAP rich foods in the name of celebration.  The philosophy behind Anti-deprivation eating is that you eat just enough of whatever food you are craving or want to eat for emotional reasons to stifle any post-deprivation inspired binges.  If you never give in to your cravings, they can build into a giant beast who convinces you to eat a whole pint of ice cream, because you didn’t get to have that doughnut that one time.

What’s on the Agenda?

I am going to combine the next 2 chapters into 1 final week: Effective Emotional Eating & Food Awareness Training.

Effective Emotional Eating:

Step one: Rule out biological hunger

Step two: Rate intensity of desire to eat (1-7)

1-3: Try distraction

4-5: Try distraction or urge surfing (observing your craving without acting upon it)

6-7: If urge is strong or persistent, don’t fight it.  Eat the food that you want slowly and mindfully.  Stop at moderate fullness.

If you are doing this correctly, you should feel better NOT WORSE afterwards.  Binges will always make you feel worse and are never worth it.

*Keep track of the emotions that make you want to eat

Food Awareness Training:

Instead of labeling foods as “good” and “bad”, try this instead…

Main Goal: balance taste against how you will feel later in the day, and make an informed decision based on this analysis.

I will be writing down what I ate and whether or not it was worth it.

The idea is to use this gathered data to create “Personal Food Guidelines”.  While I already have a pretty good idea of which foods will and will not be worth it for me, these foods and whether or not I perceive them as being “worth it” will continue to change as time goes on.


Craighead, L. (2006) The Appetite Awarness Workbook: how to listen to your body & overcome bingeing, overeating & obsession with food.


27 Jan

Week 2 was tougher than week 1.  This is to be expected from the likes of me.  I always get really excited about an idea and then lose interest just moments later.  My effort to fill out my forms dwindled and often occurred after the fact.  Sometimes, I would just fill out my entire form at the end of the day, but I was supposed to be filling it out before and after every meal.  In a sense, I am a little disappointed in myself.  On the other hand, I think that my binge eating is much better than it used to be and I am seeing improvements in my eating habits simply by keeping the AAT principles in the back of my mind at all times.

Week II recap:

Conscious Eating: I almost always make conscious decisions to start and stop eating.  I rarely stuff my face blindly, but it still sneaks up on me from time to time.  Old habits die hard.

Grazing: On the day before my birthday, I threw a party to celebrate.  I had made a decision ahead of time to allow myself to graze.  Grazing is a “no no” on this diet, but I was dancing the night away and eating whenever I felt the need to refuel.  I felt no guilt.  I think this is a good example of having a healthy relationship with food.  NEVER grazing is another black and white rule.  Avoiding grazing most of the time but allowing exceptions in the case of special occasions is a better approach.  I wasn’t worried about those calories going to waste.  Seriously, the amount of dancing my body allows in one evening is impressive.

Food Availability: I still have a problem with eating just because food is available.  For example, one morning I had already had a smoothie for breakfast and felt satisfied.  Then, Derek woke up and made scrambled eggs and pancakes just an hour later.  I wasn’t about to turn down a delicious breakfast prepared by someone else.  I don’t regret eating it, but I wish I would have cut my portions down.  He had already dished up my plate for me, and I didn’t have the heart to start pushing food off of it.  It’s funny, because this is a habit he got from me.  When I cook dinner, I almost always plate the food for both of us in an effort to help Derek avoid overeating.  What is the deal with boys?  They eat until they feel sick and have no quams about it.  Sheesh!

Unhelpful/Helpful External Cues:  I know that using smaller plates is a tactic that helps trick the body into feeling satisfied sooner.  When your eyes see a smaller portion on a larger plate, your brain assumes you’re being duped and primes you for seconds.  Food availability itself can be an unhelpful cue.  On one occasion I had eaten half of my meal at a restaurant, waiting for the other half to be boxed up for me to take home.  Unfortunately it was obvious to the server that my table mates and I would be lingering for awhile, chatting away.  As a result, 30 minutes after continuous mid-conversation glancing at the remaining food on my plate, I ate it.

Blood Sugar Battles:  Caffeine messes with my blood sugar pretty badly.  I drank one cup of caffeinated coffee on a semi-empty stomach (I had eaten breakfast about 2 hours prior), and suddenly I was craving food in an effort to feel normal.  I get brain foggy, anxious, and overall icky when this happens.  I usually drink decaf, because I know how sensitive to caffeine I am, but I was at a friend’s house and didn’t expect one cup to make me feel so awful.  On an unrelated note, I decided to eat a pear yesterday and feel like I’m about to give birth to a giant alien baby.  Damn my life.  Sorry.  I just had a poor me moment.

Mindless Eating: I am still multitasking while eating.  I love to eat and watch TV, and I don’t think I’m going to change that.  I will just keep making improvements elsewhere. ;)

Healthy relationship with food vs chronic multiple food sensitivities -  Overall, I eat pretty well.  However, I have loosened up on my avoidance of processed foods in an effort to chill out and discourage binge eating of “forbidden” foods.  With all of the low FODMAP restrictions already in place for my daily comfort, I have been making compromises where I see fit.  I eat salads at work almost daily and use whatever standard ranch dressing is offered on the salad bar.  I know it’s full of nasty ingredients, but my new healthy attitude towards eating says If you have to eat a couple TBSP of processed garbage in order to get a giant salad full of fresh vegetables into your body, just do it!  Sadly the other day while glancing at the posted allergen warning, I noticed MSG.  MSG is everywhere but usually disguised under terms such as “natural flavors”, so consumers are generally clueless about all of the products in which it lurks.  I often drink a mixture of unsweetened iced tea and sweetened green tea with “natural flavors” while on break.  It’s offered by my employer for free, tastes good, and isn’t the worst choice I could make in the beverage department.  However, it’s likely that those “natural flavors” are contributing to my MSG load.  Apparently MSG has been shown to contribute to symptoms in those with fibromyalgia and IBS.  Interestingly, I have been having more pain and anxiety than usual.  It was so bad yesterday that I couldn’t calm down, even after some deep breathing and a hot bath. Similar to aspartame, MSG in an excitotoxin.  Excitioxins have the ability to overstimulate neurons.  My nerves REALLY don’t need any more excitement.  Hence my caffeine and MSG hypersensitivities.  This is a good example of the impossible intersection of having a healthy relationship with food and eating for wellness in those with food sensitivities.  Welcome to my hell.  I am hoping to explore this topic in more depth throughout the course of the next year. 

Week III Goals (as outlined on the AAT form): “choose anti-deprivation eating, challenge excuses to binge, stop at the point of diminishing returns, reduce size of binges”


Craighead, L. (2006) The Appetite Awarness Workbook: how to listen to your body & overcome bingeing, overeating & obsession with food.




Appetite Awareness Training: Week II

19 Jan

Let’s recap.

My goals for week 1 were as follows: eat scheduled meals/snacks, avoid getting too hungry, resist urges to eat when not hungry, stop at moderate fullness, and jot down any negative feelings experienced during eating.  I did a decent job of sticking to these guidelines but discovered that my mindfulness could use some tuning up.  I display some ADD behavior at times.  I often multitask when I eat, because I want to get something specific done or just refuse to wait until I’m done eating before starting something else.  I drink my breakfast smoothie in front of the computer, text while I eat my lunch, and eat dinner in front of the television.  Distractions certainly impede upon accurate appetite awareness.

I did stick to the “no grazing” policy.  Eating at set times helps prevent overeating.  It’s easy to eat a little here, a little there, without having to experience the discomfort of being overfull.  This is a good way to gain weight without noticing.  No thanks.

Sometimes it is hard to gauge fullness, such as when eating soup.  I would eat to moderate fullness and then be starving a couple hours later when all of the water was absorbed and my body realized that my supper only contained 200 calories.  As a result, I would eat soup past the point of feeling moderately full, so I wouldn’t be hit with a snack attack right before bed.

In my notes, I commented on the fact that I was proud of myself for being less likely to finish what I had started “just ’cause”.  There is a cognitive deficit known as the “project completion effect”.  This is an instance in which you’ve already invested so much in one idea, that once it becomes clear it is no longer a worthy investment, you continue to pursue its completion for the mere satisfaction of finishing what you started.  I always think of this brain trick whenever I have the urge to eat past the point of satisfaction.  In the past, those cues have gone something like this: I love ice cream soooooo much.  I am going to eat this entire pint, because it will make me really happy to do so… (20 minutes and 3/4 of the ice cream container later) I feel sick and this ice cream really doesn’t taste that great anymore.  Oh well.  It’s not enough to save, I already feel sick, and I don’t want to let it go to waste….nom nom nom!…<groan>  Ignore your project completion cues when you can!  I also split a sandwich and bag of chips with Derek instead of us both ordering a whole sandwich when knowing that would be enough food to satisfy me.  Baby steps.

By eating according to my biological appetite, I lost 2 pounds in 1 week without trying.  Not bad.

Week II Agenda: I will continue to monitor my appetite but also start to take a closer look at the external cues that encourage me to overeat, including food availability.  I am to pay attention to whether or not I make a conscious decision to eat and a conscious decision to stop for every meal/snack. 


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