Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's Break Some Rules - Rule #2

Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park
June, 2011

I loved the response from the first Let's Break Some Rules post.  If you missed it, please click on the link and read it now.  This post, and the next few, will make much more sense if you've read the background.  

It seems that most of you are breaking OLD rule #1 that advocates staying off the scale and judging progress by how you feel and how clothes fit.  Most everyone, losers and maintainers alike, have found the routine that works for them but it does include a regular date with the scales.  I loved seeing the variety.  This tells me we've found what works for us as individuals and are not simply following the crowd.  I also saw a distinct differentiation between those of us in weight loss mode and those who are maintaining.   Once we reach maintenance status, we'll need to re-evaluate rather than just plodding along in the same way.  

Lori of Finding Radiance made a statement that really resonated with me.  She says several pounds can be gained (she is a 100+ loss maintainer) before it shows up in the way her clothes fit, so that is NOT a helpful way for her to measure progress.  I am that way as well and could NEVER, EVER use the fit of my clothing as a tool for whether or not I've gained weight.  By the time I felt it in my clothes, I could be up 20 pounds and that's no lie!

But it's time to move on to Rule #2 and this one should illicit some spirited discussion............

Words in italics and red print are copied directly from the Family Circle Magazine article (2/11) 

Old Rule: Eat mindfully. Listen closely to your internal hunger cues. Chew each bite slowly, savoring the flavors, and stop as soon as you feel full.

Break It: Mindful eating works great for people with a lot of time and self-discipline—but it can be frustrating for the rest of us, says Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and a member of the Family Circle Health Advisory Board. "People end up feeling bad about themselves because they think they don't have any willpower," he says. Truth is, we're biologically programmed to eat as much high-cal food as we can, and working against that instinct can seem like an uphill battle. In Wansink's research, people tend to eat big portions of calorie-dense food almost automatically, especially when it's served in big bowls or plates.

Revised Plan: Re-engineer your environment so that it's easier for you to eat less, says Wansink. Switch to 10-inch dinner plates, "de-convenience" tempting treats by putting them on a high shelf, and portion out single servings of snacks instead of eating out of big containers. But a little mindless eating is actually good when it comes to fruits and vegetables, which most people don't eat enough of. Serve steamed vegetables, green salads, and cut-up fruit family-style at the table during mealtime (plate everything else at the stove)

Sharon's take on this one:   I will immediately and emphatically say that for me, the mindful eating fad is a joke!  Please do not be offended because take note that I said, FOR ME!  One of my strongest goals for this blog has always been that it be a place where differing opinions are welcomed and accepted.  But it also seems to me that this rule acknowledges the fact that "mindful eating" was somewhat of a fad and is now considered largely unsuccessful.  To stop before every meal or snack and ask my body, "what am I hungry for" or  to just stop eating when full (especially if there is more food in front of me) is simply a joke.  As research shows, our bodies are biologically programmed to want high density, high calorie foods in larger amounts than we need.  The restaurant association has certainly learned this about us, haven't they?  Yes, this rule is one I am very glad to see someone speak out about.  I could name four or five blogger friends who tried this approach as an experiment, found great success for a week or two, but quickly realized that yes, it did take way too much time and willpower and eventually led to failure.  For the vast majority of us, healthy eating and weight loss go hand-in-hand with careful planning.  Free reign with choosing what we "want" got us in this mess and free reign with food will most likely NOT get us out of it.  I love the suggestions in the "revised" plan and utilize many of them regularly.

In other news......................... I am thrilled to report that the work on my den should be completed by late Friday afternoon.  I simply cannot wait to move back into my den and have a day where I can stay in comfy clothes till NOON if I want to without worrying about construction workers showing up who knows when!!  

Mr. B finishes his summer class one week from today and we've got one two day trip and one nine day trip planned before faculty must report back on August  17.  

I mentioned in my last post that I had no challenges until this weekend.  Well, I was wrong!  Sunday was MIL's 80th birthday and her choice for celebration was dinner at Olive Garden on Monday evening.  I've talked about Olive Garden before and if you don't know, it is one of the WORST restaurants for a weight loss mode person to emerged from unscathed.  Nutrition info is available on their website, but finding something suitable is not easy and the first thing one must do is RUN from their very healthy looking never-ending salad bowl and breadsticks.  It is calorie laden and not a good choice EVER.  I ordered the Ventian Apricot Chicken which was very good, but then of course Mr B and his mother ordered not one, but TWO desserts.  I've written before about their sugar addiction and how many times it has sabotaged me.  Not their fault (although I've always felt a little consideration would be kind), I'm a big girl and should be able to say no, but MIL won't leave it alone and as always, I ended up eating my share of the two desserts.  Those feelings are some I'm still working through and am tired of, but I end up being angry with myself and angrier with them.  Enough of that - you've heard it before!  I was back on track the next day and back at my pre-Olive Garden weight yesterday.  So, no harm done except psychologically.   Next challenge is a large party at MY house Sunday afternoon.  Heavy hors d'ouvres, one of my greatest nemesis!  Yikes!

What are your thoughts about breaking Rule #2?   Have you ever tried the mindful eating approach?   What did or did not work?   Are you following that approach now?

P.S.  Sorry about the constantly changing font in this post.  It has something to do with copying and pasting from the Family Circle article.  I got tired of trying to fix it and wanted to get this published.  Although Mr. B might disagree, I promise I'm not losing my mind!!


  1. I read a great book about intuitive eating months ago, maybe even as long ago as last year. I was struggling so much with my eating and regaining. The book said things that had me sitting there nodding in agreement. It was so me! But when I got to the part about eating mindfully and trusting your body, I got scared off. I don't trust my body. I think my body will say "eat bread." But I really think that is not the best thing for me, anymore.

    Now about the paying attention as we eat and listening to hunger cues. That part makes sense. But is easier said than done, IMO. If I only ate when I was hungry... ah, I'd be fine. (Assuming I was eating healthy foods, of course.)

    So how about a redefinition of mindful. Mindful eating could be us each eating what we know in our minds is right for us based on trial and error. For me, that is not bread, much as my body tells me I want it.

  2. I think I'm too warped to know what is "mindful" anymore! I need rules & parameters and I agree about the "how the clothes feel" idea - I just can't do it. I can also gain at least 10 lbs. w/o really noticing it in my clothes. I need accountability! Big time!

  3. I keep forgetting to think before I eat! I always remember when the meal is over.

  4. I practice the mindful eating some. Mostly for me it is about just being aware of what I eat and not scarfing it down without hardly tasting it. So, in that regard I try to be mindful. It helps, too, because I feel that I actually taste food more now and I take more time eating it.

    I survived an outing at the Olive Garden by eating basically the entire salad bowl of salad with no dressing. Hubby ordered what he wanted and I think I had a bite.

    I am glad that your den is almost finished. Where are you going on your two trips this time with Mr. B!

  5. I eat mindfully as far as trying to eat what I am hungry for. But I am keenly aware of portion size, and count every calorie. If I'm forced to eat dessert, as you were, I would only take a couple of bites and say absolutely no more. I will not be "forced" to eat an entire dessert. No way. And if it offends someone, so be it. Better them offended instead of me offended. Rude? Strict? Maybe, but I'm doing this for me.

  6. Mindful eating does not work for me. Those words mean something like "eat up, sister" to me. Mindful eating bought me quite a few of the pounds I'm still trying to shed.

    It works, I'm sure for people without weight issues, but not at all for me.

  7. I don't do the conventional thing with mindful eating. I just ask myself if this is what I really want and how it contributes (or compromises) my nutrition. It was a pretty big switch for me when I first started out, but 4 years later it's (mostly) ingrained.

    I have to (politely and respectfully) challenge you on MIL and Mr.B's dessert choices, which IMO should be about what they want and not about what you want. While I agree that anything beyond an initial, "Would you like to share?" is inconsiderate, the amount you eat (or don't eat) is up to you. The exception, of course, would be if MIL held her dinner knife at your throat (those things can bruise!)

    Oh, and I don't know about the OG's in your area, but I've found the waitstaff there to be helpful in de-calorifying some dishes by going off-menu. One kindly server had a chicken parmigiana prepared for me with grilled chicken, a barely-there dusting of mozzarella, and normal serving of wheat pasta. A big tip followed! :) (Oh, another tip is to have them remove your bread plate or put it under Mr. B.'s)

  8. Here's the thing with mindful eating: it does work if you can pay attention to your body's cues of not being hungry anymore instead of your mind's cue to eat more because it's there, it tastes good, or due to stress.

    I know that when I eat, there's often a time during the meal that comes when I do notice that I'm not hungry anymore. Mindful eating would suggest I save the rest for later or toss it. My usual routine is to eat it anyway because it's so good or whatever.

    A Better Approach: practice portion control BEFORE sitting down to eat because trying to do it during a meal is too darn difficult.

  9. Well, I purchased mindful eating books. I do like them and I felt I learned something. I do mindfully eat--when I feel like it.

    But sometimes it feels joyous to garf on food unmindfully. My food of choice for this: air-popped popcorn sprayed lightly with Pam and a little white cheddar seasoning on top.

    :-) Marion

  10. Ha! the mysterious blog font change trick. Glad someone else has trouble with it.

    Okay I'm gonna comment and then read the other comments. I have tried mindful eating. Let's just say I don't MIND eating too much LOL. But. I think I learned a little from it. I am more 'mindful' of what my body wants. Like, my mind/emotions ALWAYS want something sweet, so I might always choose fruit and yogurt, fruit and cottage cheese, yogurt and granola, etc. All healthy, But when I pay attention, I know I (my body) is wanting more vegetables, or more protein (which for me means meat.)

    The whole thing about stopping when you feel full, or even better, when you are 80% full, is where most of us fail, I think. For whatever reason, most of us love/enjoy food too much to just stop dead when we are no longer hungry. I think that is where the value of counting/keeping track comes in as a handy tool for us. That tool can also be abused. But now we're on a different topic!

  11. I have a daily food plan if you will, guidelines that I follow. I use the intuitive part to stop eating when I am full, not continue to eat past feeling full just because my food plan allows it! I am not always successful with this because sometimes it tastes so good I don't want to stop and other times since I am an emotional eater-I want to keep eating. It's something I will always have to keep working on.

  12. I don't trust myself to eat mindfully. I tried it in the past and I just did not have success. I think I need a little more structure. Also, I can't measure things on how my clothes feel. Does not work for me. Guess I'm a structure girl!

    Keep focused!

  13. I've never tried mindful eating because I knew up front that it would never work for me! If I listened to my body, it would tell me to eat chips and pizza all day long! I have to lead myself, not allow my hunger cues to lead. I would surely be in trouble if I did!

    On a different subject, I emailed you a while ago and never heard back from you. I wasn't sure if you received it or not, but either way I just wanted you to know how much I've missed you my friend. Thanks for checking in with me. Things have certainly been a little crazy around here lately, but I'm trying hard to get back to what I know I need. Speaking of which...I need a good long hike with a friend! Interested?