Friday, August 5, 2011

Diet Rules To Break - Rule #4

Near Vallecito Lake, Colorado
May, 2011

Our week turned a bit topsy-turvy.  The plans for a grocery shopping trip to Atlanta went out the window on Tuesday afternoon when Mr. B managed to pick up a nasty, 24-hour bug.  He was not a happy camper and we were caught completely by surprise because 1) he is not normally prone to that sort of things and 2) who catches a 24-hour virus in the middle of the summer???  At any rate, he was better by Wednesday morning, but not inclined to get excited about riding in a car for 3 1/2 hours and spending 3days where the temps and heat index is even more brutal than it is here in East Tennessee.  So we scrapped the Atlanta adventure, have gotten some things done around here and are so excited about the trip to Beech Mountain, NC where the 10-day forecast keeps looking better and better (translate cooler and cooler).  We don't give a rip if it rains the entire time we are there, we just want temps with a first number of 7.  We leave early Sunday morning.

Diet Rule to Break #4 should bring out some spirited discussion which is the whole point of looking at these separately rather than my just linking to the article and asking your opinions.  If this is the first time you've look at Gains and Losses since I started talking about the Rules, it would make more sense if you read these posts (here, here, and here) before continuing.

The following in red italics is copies directly from Family Circle magazine (2/11):

Old Rule: Eat everything in moderation. Don't make any food off-limits, or you'll want it even more. If you're craving a high-damage goodie, have a few bites and be done with it.

Break It: Recent research has found that a few nibbles of a tempting food may actually spark overeating. In the study, people who ate a small chocolate truffle wanted to continue eating high-calorie, high-fat food just 25 minutes later. Researchers say that a small bite of an indulgent food activates a "pleasure goal" that makes people crave more.

Revised Plan: Identify your trigger foods. While you don't want to label entire categories of foods (like sweets or desserts) as "forbidden," focus on the one or two foods that make you lose control. It's a smart move to keep them out of the house. "Rather than saying, 'I can't have this food' say, "This food doesn't work for me,'" says New York City diet doctor Stephen Gullo, PhD, author of The Thin Commandments (Rodale Books). When you decide to treat yourself, go out for one serving of your trigger food (like ordering a child-size ice cream cone), he says. Then tell yourself that one portion is enough. "The people in our study who truly believed that one truffle would satisfy them were not tempted to eat more," says researcher Juliano Laran, PhD, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration.

Sharon's take on this one: I totally agree on this one, but with a caveat or two.  In my many years of "dieting" before I stopped DIETING once and for all, I did learn that there are three foods which I simply cannot eat or have in the house.  They are true "trigger" foods and once I start, I cannot stop.  (Longtime readers of this blog know exactly what those three are, but now that I've raised your curiosity and you simply can't concentrate further until I repeat them.........they are Triscuit crackers, any type of potato chip and kettle popcorn.)  Do I still eat these from time to time?  Yes, but I now do it with my brain shouting, "you're gonna pay for this for a few days."  And sometimes, the shouting stops me.  That goes right along with the information stated in the Break It and Revised Rule above.  I would love to eventually eliminate white sugar and white flour from my eating as both of those prompt "cravings," but I've realistically come to the conclusion that it will never happen completely and I can be proud of the fact that items containing those things make few appearances in my eating.  So I agree with the "spirit" behind the breaking of this rule.  I also believe that my maintaining friends will tell me that based on your personal journey, this rule might be relaxed a bit when maintaining.  But I also believe they will all attest to the fact that all of us will ALWAYS have certain "trigger" foods that need to be avoided.  

I found Mr. Gullo's statement very interesting and wanted to ask you for comments on that.  Mr. Gullo is advocating the power of positive self-talk.  Rather than the negative, "I can't eat that," telling yourself, "that doesn't work for me" sounds more positive.  And I agree.   

But suppose you are in a social setting, feel food being forced on you or you are being "watched" to see what you eat.  What statements have you found work for you?  The people from whom I receive the most "challenges" would look at me as if I was alien if I said, "that doesn't work for me" at the next family breakfast.   That just isn't the way I normally talk - the statement would seem unnatural because it would be.   

Many bloggers insist that "no, thanks" is enough and if it goes beyond that, it's THEIR problem, not yours.  In theory, that's exactly right, but many others of you know that, in reality, it isn't that simple.  

Here's one that I've discovered works for me and you are more than welcome to copy it.  It's laughable and sometimes borders on lying, but it works for me in situations where unfortunately, truth has gotten me nowhere.  My statement is simply, "my stomach is bothering me and right now, that just doesn't look good or sound good."  A few years ago, I did have some major problems with heartburn that were eventually tied to a medication I was taking.  My family and friends all knew about it and no one questioned when I didn't want to eat something.  They also know that I've felt poorly since January and have tried several different combinations of meds since then.  What they DON'T know is that I'm currently on none of those meds, but the "stomach is bothering me" works like nothing else ever has.  Sometimes I see Mr. B's eyes roll all the way back in his head to keep from laughing, but then he just nods because he knows what I'm doing and he sees that it works.

So there you have it - your blog friend is a pathological liar.  But it works like nothing has ever worked for me before.  It works with my mother and it works with my MIL who are the two that give me the most flack over what I eat or don't eat.  What more could I want??    

I never intended to share that bit of info on the blog, but it worked itself into what I was writing and made me want to ask what specific statement OTHER THAN, "no thanks" works for you.  Maybe you've got something unique to you that will make us all smile!!  And BTW, my stomach feels just fine this morning.   LOL!

What do you think about Rule #4 and share a unique statement  you've learned works for you when faced with a difficult eating situation i.e. forced social setting, feeling that others are "watching" what you eat, family trying to sabotage, etc.


  1. About Rule #4: Moderation is what got my weight off, along with portion control. If I want ice cream, I will have one scoop, or a very small bowl and no more. If I want Triscuits, I will count out one portion, maybe 7 or 8, seal the box and put it back in the pantry, then slowly eat my Triscuits. Portion control and no seconds are two of my main rules.

    As for what I say to forced food, I've done it all. I say I ate too much lunch and am not hungry, have a headache and do not really feel like eating, or stomachache. Sometimes I take it home with me and throw it away. I do that a lot. And I can always just take a bite or two and say that's all I care for. It works MOST of the time.

  2. How about, "I guess I'm allergic to that, because every time I eat it my whole body breaks out in fat!"

  3. Oh you probably know where I stand on this one. I gotta say I agree. As I've shared, I have an ever growing list of trigger foods. But I really do wonder if making certain things "forbidden" has contributed to them causing me to overeat when I do indulge. Anyhoo... here is my current personal plan for this whole thing: certain foods are just not in my house. BUT, now that I am maintaining I feel that I can occasionally indulge if I am out of the house. This does not mean I just leave and indulge though. It means that I had a social eating engagement already, and the food was there, and I might partake. That way, I can test my moderation skills but then when I am back home, nothing more to let a binge build. I am comfortable enough now to do this now, which is a change and progress for me. IMO. That said, I still think I am best off to make the wises choices when eating out when possible. Great topic:)

  4. This is a case in which the new rule works for me. Once I got over the notion that any foods were off limits, I seemed to experience a breakthrough of some sort and was finally successful at losing weight. That said, I don't keep my favorite "decadent" foods in the house. I prefer to go out for those partially for portion control, but also because it makes having them a little more special.

    As for managing those potentially-awkward social situations, I usually oblige the hostess, but take a super small serving (if that's all I want)and then rave over how wonderful/amazing/flavorful it is. That seems to soften the sting of the small serving. :)

  5. The first bite is the problem for me.

    :-) Marion

  6. Here, all my life I've considered myself a rule follower, but I've been in agreement with ever broken rule so far.

    I'm lucky enough that my family is hugely supportive of my efforts so they don't try to force food on me. Early in my weight loss journey, my mother did try to get me to eat something, saying "just a little won't hurt." I quickly replied, "Yes, it will." She looked a little stunned for a moment, but then agreed and she nor anyone else has tried to get me to stray.

    In situations with casual aquaintences, I just politely decline. I don't care to explain myself. It is probably rude, but oh well...

  7. I do go by the notion of identifying the trigger foods and avoiding them. For me it is potato chips (I did not know this about you Sharon!) and ice cream. There are others, but those two are triggers. I do not keep either in the house. However, I do have them once in a while. That is an old weight Watcher's trick, too, to go out and get something you really enjoy and then enjoy it. I am satisfied with a small DQ cone which totals 230 calories. I have had at least one a week all summer and work it into my calories budget. Potato chips: I can not do this yet. So just avoid them.

    But, for all the other foods that I enjoy that are not part of my getting healthy regime I manage most of the time very well by having a taste or a small piece. This can be chocolate cake and donuts for example. A small bite IS enough for me and here is why. I have been hard at this getting healthy thing for over a year. Lots if things have happened during this year, but the fact of the matter is that I have accepted that I am a very very slow loser. I can not lose weight if I do not hold my calories at about 1350, plus rigorous exercise. This is just who I am. I am a long way off from maintenance, but I know that once I get there all I will be able to have are bites of this or that to stay at my goal weight. So taking a bite here or there is a life practice that I have adopted for now and for later.

    I am not sure about all the author;s of the research that is cited in the article from Family Circle. I was intrigued that one of them was a marketing expert. I wonder who were the people on the team that did the research. It intrigues me that there was a marketing expert on the team because whether someone is satisfied or not by a bite, portion of whatever of their trigger food is hugely important to companies that produce food products.

    Thoughtful post, Sharon. Have a great weekend! michele

  8. I agree with you on this one. And I also think it can depend on "where you are." THere have been times when I could allow just a little of the supposedly forbidden or trigger foods and then go right back to eating well the next meal. There are other times of life when I just can't do it. So I don't think one rule can suffice forever. The "rule" or approach we currently take needs to ebb and flow over time to allow for whatever is going on in our lives.

  9. I have few rules with food, but some rituals that do help me with this. No food is completely off limits to me, but those tempting foods -- well, I often choose to say no!

  10. Your trigger foods cracked me up!

    Anyway, I do agree with the new rule, I think. Because as I read, I thought about cookies. I NEVER have cookies in my house. On the occasion that I will try a 'healthy' cookie recipe it is either 1) not worthy, and most get thrown out, or 2) too good, get put in freezer, and eventually most get thrown out. And the thing is, I don't dwell on it, I actually never think about it until I read something like this. I do occasionally intentionally buy a cookie for a treat, but really, 9X out of 10, I will think of it and decide its not worth how I will feel after (wanting more.)

    The only thing I can think of that I say occasionally is "its not worthy." My friends know what I'm talking about, and its usually a lighthearted way to diffuse the situation.