Monday, August 11, 2008

HYC / Less Neurotic?

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Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds
if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
~ Doug Larson

My weigh-in won’t happen until Tuesday night, but I’m feeling good about the past two weeks. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve been pretty darn fine! I’ve tracked my food for 12 out the past 14 days, and I know that will help at the scale. More importantly, I can feel a difference in my body. Progress, not perfection!

The latest issue of Bon Appétit magazine has a fascinating article called "The Food Writer’s Diet." Melissa Clark, food writer and cookbook author, eats for a living (can you imagine such a thing??) Yet she maintains a svelte figure – and evidently, is not the only one of her colleagues with this distinction.

Clark claims the key to being a thin professional eater is eating only the foods she truly loves, but less of them – and none of the foods she doesn’t like or want. She eats a little of the yummy stuff, then supplements with fruits and veggies to help keep her full. She also won’t eat foods that are bland and unappetizing.

I can’t honestly say the same about my diet. I can think of many times I’ve continued to eat something that wasn’t very exciting, not even particularly tasty -- but it was there. So I continued eating it. Does that sound at all familiar?

The article offers a few other tips worth noting, some of which we already know. Never skip a meal; have a healthy snack like an apple before dinner; practice portion control and conscious eating; always leave food on your plate; exercise often and with intensity.

But the thing that keeps running through my head is the closing paragraphs:

… the most important way that food writers control their eating is, ironically, by not being too controlling… I really think the happier and less neurotic you are about what you’re eating, the less likely you’ll become big as a house.

Think about the basic idea behind that hugely popular book, The Secret. The Law of Attraction says that we draw to ourselves the same energy we expend into the world. So if we’re miserable and constantly thinking about how deprived we feel when we’re dieting, doesn’t it stand to reason that this is exactly the kind of negative energy we’ll keep attracting back to ourselves?

Or to put it in a less new-agey kind of way: if you hate what you’re eating and hate your life because you can’t have any of the good stuff – why in the world do you expect to successful at losing weight? How long can you keep it up?

Not for long. I know. Been there and done that. Willpower doesn’t work for very long; deprivation doesn’t work at all. Tell me I can’t have a slice of cake and that’s exactly what I focus on – having a slice of cake (or two or three because I felt so deprived, poor me!)

So what do you think? Is there something to the idea of being less neurotic and obsessive about what we put in our mouths, and choosing to eat a little of the foods that make us happiest? Would this make a difference on our journey toward good health? I'm curious what you think.

Until next time…


Hootin' Anni said...

Oh this does...this DOES make so much sense!!! I was told a long time ago, that we should never deprive our bodies of ANY foods we like, just to remember that a little will go a long way.

It's pizza for me. At one time I could eat half a pizza and think nothing of it. Then, the kids left home, and I didn't use up my energy cells like I did when I was chasing them around, playing with them or doing something all the time with them...and the pounds got added. I realized that I'd forgotten what I was told. If you exercise little and eat a has to go somewhere...and to my hips, my waist, my stomach...even my face cheeks...everything ballooned. So, I won't deprive myself of my favorites, I just now eat a little and I'm still comforted. And lost a lot. Not all of it...but I am still able to fit in clothes I've been wearing since I realized I'm not playing ball, or jumping rope, or whatever the kids and I did before. Y'know?

Great blogging Pattie!! the day at the beach too. And the kitty [me being a cat lover at heart] is my favorite photo.

carla said...

pattie I LOVE THIS.

we all know that I firmly believe in the Law of Attraction but had not ever applied it in the way you did here...INSIGHTFUL.


Manuela said...

It absolutely makes sense!

I have to say that I am enjoying your thought provoking posts along with the opening quote that goes with each one.

Good luck with the weigh-in!

Kathy said...

I think it makes perfect sense but I also have trouble turning back the clock to maintain that mindset. I've been trained over so many years to think of good and bad foods that it's darned near impossible to make myself feel neutral about foods.

I'm all for broccoli that smells like bacon!!!

jovaliquilts said...

There's a book I bet you would find fascinating, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" by Brian Wansink. His research explores the factors that influence how much we eat, and his book is a fabulous read! You'll learn a lot about the subtle factors that influence us, things we don't even think about.

Katschi said...

Neurotic...that would be me around food. I have insightful days where I see the light and then the next I'm back to square one.
I notice that friends with no weight issues don't think nearly as much about food as I do but rather are signalled by hunger when to eat and then do. I think about what I'm going to eat all day
UNLESS I keep busy like I've been doing outside in the yard.
I definitely agree that eating only foods you enjoy and treats in moderation is a good way to reach weight loss success.
I hope that this will one day (soon!) become second nature for all of us for whom food & excess weight is a struggle.

RunningNan said...

It makes complete sense!

I too haven't weighed in. I just forget... That never happens.

jillytacy said...

I had to smile when I saw "progress not perfection"'s my mantra for this year! You made some great points in your post. I think when we obsess about not eating food that's all we can think about. But if you make food take a back seat and stop obsessing about it you tend to eat less. Depriving yourself of something just makes you want to eat more of it! I often eat because it's there not because it's yummy! Breaking that habit would go a long way toward maintaining a healthy weight!

Cammy said...

You KNOW I subscribe to this theory! :) I've had my obsessive moments (near tears because I went 20 whole calories over for the day--sheesh!) but on the whole, I've tried to focus on eating better rather than the best and exercising more as opposed to the most. It works great for us lackadasical types. :)

Great post, Pattie, and verrry interesting!

grammy said...

I just wrote in my Monday post about how good I feel now that I have lost some weight. I followed weight watchers point system for a year and now do more or less core. When loosing weight I had to stick to a plan. Now I feel free to just 'be smart'. Yes I do share a chocolate volcano cake at Chilies once in a great while...then I make up for it by eating smart all week. It frees me up to know I CAN. I tend to stick to foods I like to eat and are safe all week, then on the weekend I might splurge a little on a night out.

Rayann said...

You're so right! I am working hard on not categorizing food. I tend to put foods in categories, good or bad. This sets me up for disaster! Weight Watchers helps me to stay focused and on track.

Deborah said...

I LOVE the quote at the top, HOW TRUE.

Boy, what an inlightening post!

And so true. I seem to drop (a little) when I don't think about what I'm going to be able to eat next. Course I can't keep that mindset for more than a couple of day before I'm back obsessing again. How, oh how can I just let go of this food obsession?

Sheri said...

This is something I realized many months back. I decided I would not deny myself any specific food for the same reason - it draws my undivided attention to wanting that food. So, quantity is the issue. However, I am starting to really pay attention to the caloric value of one food, and when I see how many calories are in some foods I decide I don't want it that bad to consume so many of the allowable daily calories.

Merry Mary said...

"times I’ve continued to eat something that wasn’t very exciting, not even particularly tasty -- but it was there. So I continued eating it."

That sounds sooo familiar. Eh.

This post was great, it all makes soo much sense. Very insightful post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! That makes so much sense to eat what I love & fill in with fruits & veggies. I feel so much better when I've "eaten happy". Going to make a few tweaks! Have a great week!

Brooke Lorren said...

Well, I don't believe in the secret, but I have found that the only time I've been successful at losing weight is when I just ate whatever I wanted and write down what I ate.

When I wrote down what I ate last year, I got a little too controlling over it. I would plan all the calories ahead of time. Then when my husband lost his job for the first time (and then lost another and another because of this economy), planning and writing what I was eating got too stressful and I stopped.

So now I just write what I eat. No measuring, no planning, no forcing myself to fit into any mold, and eating whatever I want. So far it's working.

JC said...

I think it would make a huge difference. I know that what you think about you bring about. I just left a comment on another site telling the blogger the same thing. WOW!!!

One reason I like WW is that I'm not deprived. If I want cake I eat cake (for me it would be cheesecake or birthday cake). However. I have read in two different book that you experience all you can from a particular food in the first two bites. Not huge bites just bites. So, if I'm eating whatever it is I just have to have and I'm not physically hungry, I remember that two bites is all I need. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

The part I hate about food journals is that they keep you thinking about food all the time but sometimes they are a handy tool.

Grace and blessing to you.

JC said...

Any veggie that smells like bacon is the veggie I want. I wonder if that is why mama cooked so many things/beans, greens, etc. in bacon fat. YUMO.

new*me said...

i agree! Eat a little........we are creatures of killer cravings! If we don't allow ourselves to have a little now and then, most of us are going to jump off the deep end and dive into monumental portions and eat until we are stuffed to oblivion. Moderation. Moderation. everything, except LOVE!

Big Girl said...

I am totally about not being obsessive about what I put in my mouth. The more I obsess and the more uptight I am about things the harder the struggle.

Needled Mom said...

Just catching up AGAIN!!!! I know that those "three M&Ms" notation was meant for me!!!!

That article sounds very interesting. I will have to check it out. I really can see what you are writing about. So often we waste our calories on stuff that we really do not care a hoot about.

The beach looks like it was great fun. I am surprised that the day was so pretty there with all the fog we have had this summer. I know how the dogs love the water.

ptg said...

Hope you had a great weigh-in -- you deserve it!

And while I'm not sure that The Secret is really all that, I do know that some of the principles definitely hold true in my life...

livelife365 said...

I've found the best way, for me, at least, to drop pounds and keep them off is to focus on what the type of food I am eating does for me. For example: when I am consuming lots of healthy fiber and veggie proteins, knowing that I am also helping to control my blood pressure and cholestoral, while also mainting my healthiest weight, I am happiest. Do I sometimes crave other, somewhat less healthy, foods? Yes, but I indulge those cravings, in moderation, knowing that I can "cheat" a little, given that I eat the right stuff the majority of the time.

I Miss My Hair

Irish Mom said...

UGH, you hit the nail right on the head. I have posted about the same thing. I continue to eat things in excess that I DON'T even enjoy. I also eat things I DO enjoy in excess lol.

Its an addiction to me. I think its a touch of laziness as well. Its easier to grab a handful of crap then to steam some veggies, grab an apple, or whatever.

have a great week Pattie!!