Thinking About Food… or Not

Frequently, I read weight loss bloggers lamenting the amount of thinking they have to do about food in order to lose weight and/or maintain that weight loss. I have periodically complained about that myself on this blog.

But first I want to point out that there are at least two different ways that I (and maybe you) think about food.

The first is the way we are usually thinking when we complain. The obsessive “can I eat this?” or “will this fit into my points/calorie allotment/food plan?” This thinking is what wears us out.

The second thinking we can do about food is completely pleasurable. You know I watch a lot of food shows. Those chefs think a LOT about food. They love everything about it, like an artist enjoys his paints and canvases (or fabric and thread 🙂 ) I enjoy reading and then trying a new recipe. I love to think about how I can increase the flavor of something without adding calories. Re-working a recipe to make it healthier, so I can enjoy it on a regular basis, is more fun than doing a jigsaw puzzle. Okay, bad example. Jigsaw puzzles aren’t really that fun. Anyway, there is no reason to eliminate this kind of thinking.

For most of us, we will always have to be vigilant, and we will have to spend some time thinking and planning our meals so that we can lose weight or maintain a weight loss. But there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the amount of thinking you have to do.

  • Find a basic assortment of “favored” healthy foods that you enjoy.
  • Keep those foods stocked in your refrigerator.
  • Batch cook, and freeze in individual portions.
  • Watch for new recipes, or experiment yourself with different ways of combining your favored foods.

The longer you continue to eat in a certain way, the more familiar you become with the nutritional information and calorie count of those foods. I’m not talking about eating the same three foods over and over. You can have a pretty diverse diet without having to think too much at all.

As much as I enjoy food and food preparation and baking and cooking, it might surprise people to observe me for a week. Many days I don’t do any cooking at all. It is more assembling or thawing. This works very well for me. I don’t really have to do much thinking at all. I already know the calorie count of so many of the foods I eat. I still use my measuring cups to portion out things like yogurt and cottage cheese. I have a food scale on the counter for when I do need to weigh food. Sometimes I track my food online, and sometimes I just write it on a scrap of paper. Lots of times my food choices are so familiar that I just track it in my mind.

Think about food now. Its like practicing the piano. Pretty soon you will be able to play that melody (or make a healthy meal) without thinking about it at all.

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10 thoughts on “Thinking About Food… or Not

  1. I like puzzles – they are fun to me 😀

    I consider myself a foodie, but I also do a lot of the same meals because it does require less thinking and I like those meals – so I eat them more.

    I do think, though, that large losers see food differently and probably will forever. I think the problem stems from going from one extreme (I just eat what I want) to the other (I am so obsessed with my nutrition that it interferes with life). The balance is the hard part, and isn’t that what maintenance is – or supposed to be?

  2. Great post, Debby! As you know, I have some standard meals that I swear by, just so I don’t have to stop and consider the calorie count. I don’t batch cook like you, but the thought of having a real meal available without having to do much beyond thawing/heating up sounds really nice.

    Honestly, I rarely read those bloggers who are hyper-focused on their food and weight – I think they’ve swung too far in one direction and the obsession is too close to crazytown for me.

    • I love my standard meals. If I get tired of one, I put it on the back burner for a while, and do a different one for a while. Oatmeal has been on the back burner for a couple of years now 🙂

      Yes, I should take your advice and stop reading them 🙂

  3. GREAT post. How do you know exactly what’s been running through my brain lately? Part of what I whine about though is not whether it “fits” or not. I don’t count calories. (At least not yet, that time will probably come when I stop losing by just the healthIER choices I’m making.) It’s the actual TIME spent planning menus, prepping, shopping, assembling, cleaning up. I am so slow. I do all of your bullet points too. I don’t get enjoyment out of much more than the eating part. Oh, and the positive results! So now I’m trying to figure out how to be more efficient and how to enjoy it. It has gotten a tad better/easier, so I think there is still hope for me to graduate from playing chopsticks to a concerto.

    • Oh, Jeannie, you took me back! To when I very first started, and then just standing hurt so bad because I was overweight, and I SOOOOO resented all the chopping and prepping. And it wasn’t even for my favorite cookies or anything! Now that I think about it, it did really take a long time before I exchanged the pleasures of baking cookies for the fun of chopping veggies.

      “Chopsticks to concerto”–you have a great way with words!

  4. Food either keeps me well or makes me sick- inflamed, in pain, extra weight. I have no food Switzerland. Eating the food that keeps me well has the outcome of peace and wellness- body and mind.
    Time will pass anyway, so I might as well feel like a million bucks and feel well. Once I accepted it, then it got a lot easier. Good luck.

  5. Excellent points. I know for myself, one of the reasons I have disliked tracking lately is that it seems to drive me straight into crazytown where all I do is hyperfocus on food. And then if I don’t get the results (weight-wise) that I feel I deserve (based on tracking every bite), it makes me absolutely nuts which makes me even more hyper. It’s awful.

    But when I just cook and enjoy and appreciate the ingredients that go into making a beautiful dish, it’s almost soothing. Don’t get me wrong, after all these years, I definitely know healthier ingredient choices and that’s always in the back of my mind, but while creating a dish without being hyperfocused on “the calories” I get enjoyment out of the challenge of keeping us healthy.

    • Oh Helen, that’s exactly what happens to me! All those many, many past weight loss programs stressed tracking with a capital T. I know it’s very helpful for most. For me it fed my food obsessions and stressed me out.

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