Archive | January, 2014

AAT Week III

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”

Sources:

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

http://chronicfatigue.about.com/b/2013/01/10/msg-in-food-may-worsen-fibromyalgia-symptoms.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1106764

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22766026

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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“Diet” #1: Appetite Awareness

10 Jan

After mulling around and procrastinating the start of a new diet several times, it became clear to me that I am in no mood for restrictions right now.  I am not feeling strongly attached to any particular foods, just my laziness.  All of the diets I have chosen require lots of planning and cooking.  Lately, with winter in full swing, I just can’t seem to get motivated to cook.  The other night, I even ordered a pizza for the first time in my adult life (No joke.  I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a pizza for delivery before…)  Pizza places aren’t really my thing.  People around me want to eat pizza so often that I rarely get around to craving it.  I figured admitting that I don’t care about pizza is like saying that I hate America, so I felt an explanation was it order.  Anyway…

My current desire for convenience lies in the gray days and the lack of sunlight.  Once the sun goes down, (and often even before then), I am useless.  All I want to do is watch Dexter.

My ally from the FructMal days bought me a book for Christmas called “The Appetite Awareness Workbook: how to listen to your body & overcome bingeing, overeating, & obsession with food”(http://www.amazon.com/The-Appetite-Awareness-Workbook-Overeating/dp/1572243988).  As a fellow food sensitivity sufferer, she understands the complex relationship that develops between a person with known food intolerances and eating behaviors.  Since restriction is often encouraged or necessary in these instances, it’s very easy to become obsessed with that which you cannot have.  Restriction is the most common cause of binge eating, whether the “bad” foods are an actual threat or just a mental construct.  It’s safe to say that my problems with food are multifaceted.  I believe they started back in 2008 when I first started attempting to eat more vegetarian meals.  I was replacing meat with starches, mostly FODMAP heavy foods.  As a result, a lot of my food was being malabsorbed, making my appetite insatiable.  Binge eating also became a coping mechanism after an overdue breakup  and continued on in a misguided effort to cut out all of the foods that seemed to be making me ill (everything!)

Lately, I am much less obsessed with food than I have been in the past.  I have actually already made great strides towards conquering my bad habits around food.  Since I have a better idea of the foods that I can digest, I am able to shape my diet around those options most of the time.  I am no longer dealing with the sadness of losing a lover or the boredom of being stuck in a dull job, so emotional eating is less of an issue.  I do not consider ANY foods off-limits these days.  That helps food lose it’s power to some extent.  I still eat too many sweets when they are in front of me, but I have less of a need to seek them out.  For example, the last time I had ice cream was when it was served in a tiny dish at Christmas.  I haven’t eaten an entire pint (while sulking alone) for a long time.  To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I had ice cream in that context.  However my residual bad habits and holiday rationalizations (“Christmas candy comes but once a Nov., Dec., Jan. year!”) have allowed my overeating tendencies to take charge more often that I’d like.

In any case, I am going to use this workbook over the next month (at least!) to try and get a better handle on my binge eating demons.  If you’ve never had a problem with eating normally or you appreciate a good humored approach to it, check out this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSbpyxFC24k.  The “cookie radar” story is spot on, and the doughnut reference is only slightly exaggerated. 😉  If you are offended by swearing, I don’t know how the hell you ended up here, but I guess you shouldn’t watch the video.

I have been keeping a food diary on and off since about 2008.  My stomach issues really took hold around this time, so I was constantly trying to make connections between my diet and my digestive distress.  I wish I could visit my younger self and hand her a book about FODMAPs, but I’m grateful to be living in an era where these types of discoveries are being made.  I fired up a new food journal around the end of November 2013 and have been logging meals since then.  A fancy term for this is food monitoring.  I have found this method to be a helpful tool for figuring out some of my problem foods and pinpointing unhealthy eating behaviors.

I won’t be keeping  a food journal as of tomorrow, because the AAT (appetite awareness training) specifically forbids it.  The idea behind this rationale is that people have preconceived notions about “good” and “bad” foods and this interferes with our accurate appetite assessments.  Makes sense to me!  Instead, I will be using a a form provided by the book that allows me to gauge hunger and my response to it.

To begin the assessment, the workbook requests an analysis of your overeating behaviors. Thanks to my recent notes, I was able to assemble some data to help shed some light on my overeating patterns.  I wanted to include graphs, but it seems Microsoft Word graphs are not supported by the WordPress format.  Bummer dude.

Here are the number of eating instances in which I overate during the past 7 weeks: Week 1: 3; Week 2: 3; Week 3: 7!; Week 4: 6; Week 5: 4; Week 6: 3; and so far this Week 7 (starting on Sunday): 6The very first day of “Week 3” is when I made all of that Christmas candy with Derek’s mom.  Coincidence?  “Chyea and monkeys might fly out of my butt!”  (<3 Wayne’s World)

This means, that on average, I overeat 4-5 times per week or during 20-25% of my meals

My tendency to overeat more than once in a single day is less than once per week.  12.5% of my overeating episodes occur during the same day.

50% of my overeating episodes involve “objectively large amounts”.  This means that half the time, a person would be apt to look at me and say “You gonna eat ALL of that?”  Otherwise, I just ate more than I needed to to satisfy my biological hunger.

I feel as though I “lose control” while eating less than or about once per week on average.

[This is often dependent on the types of foods I am exposed to and my attitude towards them.  I have identified certain foods as vices, so when I am around them, I sabotage myself into helpless victim mode.  “Well I was going to eat like a normal human being, but then you brought peanut butter cups, and now…nothing matters!  Give me all of them!”  Something like that, perhaps a little less dramatic, but perhaps not. 😉 ]

During most of these “out of control” moments, I eat objectively large amounts.

The book lists unhealthy compensatory behaviors, and I am happy to report that I rarely utilize any of them.  I just like stuffing my face and feeling sorry for myself when I gain weight.  You know, like the average American.

The only “compensatory” behaviors that I occasionally utilize are fasting or skipping meals.  I utilize these methods every week or 2, but I don’t think I would consider it starving myself in the interest of reducing caloric intake.  More often than not, I am just trying to settle my stomach after the abuse or I don’t feel hungry.  I try not to skip meals if I have genuine hunger.

My current weight fluctuates between about 135 and 138 pounds.  Today, I weigh 135 pounds, putting me at the very highest weight I can be for my height and still be considered “normal” weight.  On those days that I weigh 136-138 pounds, I magically fall into the “overweight” category.  Haha!  I’m a magician!  BMI is fairly bogus, but it’s still used by dietitian bozos (like me) and this book.  I’m assuming that its 2006 copyright is to blame, because we have better tools for assessing weight now, such as the waist to hip ratio.  It gives a more accurate idea of whether or not your weight is a heart health risk.  My ratio is 33/40 which yields an average result of .82.  >.86 means “at risk”.  I am not as comfortably distant from that category as I would like to be.

While my current weight is certainly “acceptable”, I would be more comfortable around 120-125 pounds.  This is the weight I used to naturally maintain before I started letting food control me.  Goal #1 is to work on my relationship with food.  Goal #2 (weight loss) should just fall into place when this first goal is underway.

Specific goals (as outlined in pg. 60 of the manual) for week 1: “eat scheduled meals/snacks, avoid getting too hungry, resist urges to eat when not hungry, stop at moderate fullness” and “explain negative feelings” (using provided form)

Sources

Craighead, L. (2006) “The Appetite Awareness Workbook”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyL8UfGZMJE

Less Restriction, More Analysis

7 Jan

I haven’t gotten started on my diet experiments for this year yet.  I have been crazy busy for the past few weeks, leaving me little time to plan.  However, I did take the time to look over my previous list of preferred diets more closely.  As a result, I have decided to make some cuts.  There was a lot of overlap between the Whole 30 and the 21 Day Sugar Detox, so I am just going to carry out the latter and nix the former from my agenda.  I also want to cut out the formal FODMAP challenge as well.  There are 2 reasons for this.  The first is that I already know that FODMAPs are a problem for me.  I instinctively avoid many FODMAP rich foods out of habit now.  Since the other diets I intend to carry out cut out so many FODMAPs as part of their basic premise, I will be allowed plenty of time to assess the effect of individual FODMAPS as I reintroduce foods.  The second reason why I think this is a good idea is that FODMAP tolerance can increase as a healthier bacteria balance is established in the gut.  If I spend several months eating clean, I may find certain foods to be more tolerable.  I know that it has made a difference in the past.  After my very first low fructose/fructan challenge, I found that I could tolerate much more fruit than usual before getting a sour tummy.  Finally, I am not going to carry out the Fast Tract Digestion for IBS diet either.  This approach limits resistant starch but not FODMAPS.  It requires resistant starch calculations at each meal.  This method sounds complicated and has not been validated by research the way the low FODMAP diet has, so I’d rather just keep its principles in mind rather than going through an extended trial.  This leaves just 4 diets: 2 of which are hardcore elimination diets and 2 which are lifestyle approaches.  I like the sound of that.  I will spend much more time reintroducing foods and assessing my reactions than following restrictive approaches.  Hallelujah!

The Last Diets Standing:

1.  The Paleo Approach

2. The Bulletproof Diet

3. 21 Day Sugar Detox

4. Perfect Health Diet