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.

Two Loops

Lately I’ve had a couple of thought loops running through my mind. I think it has something to do with turning 60. The loops do not intersect. It seems they run on separate tracks, although they are about the same topic.

The first loop is this:

I am 60 years old. I do not want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about food and weight and weight loss and weight gain and weight maintenance. I want to live the best possible life, the most meaningful spiritual life that I can. I want to enjoy a meal with friends, accept a treat when offered. I want to celebrate with food occasionally. I want to physically be able to serve God and serve others. I think often about Dallas Willard (the author I loved so much.) He lived the life I seek. “Dallas Willard would not obsess over food decisions like this,” I often think.

I am not talking about gaining weight back. But to eat this way, I need to be content to maintain at a higher weight range.

The second loop is this:

My back hurts. It would help if you lost some weight.

Yep, that’s the whole loop. While my back would not be healed by weight loss, I know for a fact that losing weight does decrease pain.

For a while, these two loops went through my mind on a daily basis. Each of them I acknowledge as truthful statements. But each of them requires that I make a decision and act on it. That has not exactly happened. One day I will follow one loop, and the next day I will follow the other. This, at least, keeps me maintaining my weight at this higher level.

You know, the truth is, that by “not making a decision to follow one loop or the other,” I actually have made a decision. For now, the truth is that I have made a decision to not actively pursue weight loss. To hold life a little less tightly. To live with a bit of pain and a little less angst. To still eat from a very healthy food template and to exercise on a regular basis. But to understand and agree that weight will not be lost this way. And for now, that’s okay.

And Speaking of Blips…

A nice new reader kindly informed me that she would like to read my archives, but she was wondering how to get the pictures to show up.

Gulp.

I made a big goof. I’m so sad about it. My “media storage” was getting full (well, I do put a lot of pictures on my blog.) About a year ago the same thing happened, and I simply deleted some of the first photos from my media storage. I thought that at the time I had checked, and the pictures still remained on the blog, they just weren’t in my media library. But that is not what happened. And this time I was quite gung-ho, and I deleted all the photos in my media library between February and November 2014. And sure enough, ALL of those pictures are gone from my blog posts! So I am very sorry if any of you are reading older posts and the pictures are missing. I hope to be able to re-build those posts, but that will take a lot of time. In the meantime, I figured out how to buy more storage for not much money, so I won’t have that problem again for a long time.

And so now I’ll share some more pictures from the week with you!

I found a small, but very sturdy round table at a local antique shop for my dining room! Its just the size I wanted. And, there was a set of 6 chairs to go with it! The table is really only big enough for four chairs, but it is nice to have extra chairs now, instead of scrambling when my sewing ladies come over.

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The chairs are so delicate. I love their cane seats.
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I really like the wood grain of the table. DSCN2470

And I like the foot of it too. Its sturdy, but more delicate than most of the tables I’ve seen like this.DSCN2472

Here is an idea I had last summer. I chose several of my best close-up photos of my flowers and had them enlarged to 8X10’s via Snapfish. One of my friends bought this neat frame for me for my birthday–we found it at Home Goods. I love how it looks.

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Regarding my previous blip, I have gone back to the gym. One day I got in a good bicycling session and worked out on the weights, and today I did the bike and got in the pool! And sure enough, it did make me feel better about myself.  I’m back to logging my food and making good choices. I made some of Shelley’s granola, so I can have it with my greek yogurt, and yesterday I made my low-cal version of my favorite beef stew. Did you know you could “healthily” almost any recipe just by adding more vegetables to it, using lean cuts of meat, and decreasing the amount of fat you use? Well, don’t bother correcting me. I know that that is my version of healthifying something–decreasing the fat and calories in a dish. You can do it however you want. I just like to have a bigger volume of food to eat. Maybe someday I will change. Fat chance. Haha. I crack myself up.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Bess completely enjoying herself. She is giving Pixie a run for her money as the queen of relaxation. The little guys love that I’ve moved their doggie beds over next to the wood stove.

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A Tale of Two Salads

There’s a little cafe in town where my friend and I enjoy having lunch. But honestly, I’m not sure I’ve tried more than one thing on the menu. I love this one particular salad so much that I order it every time we go there. One day it occurred to me that I could probably make this salad at home.

So as usual, I wrote down what was in it, and ran it through the recipe analyzer. Even using conservative amounts of the ingredients, it is about 400 calories per serving. Its so delicious that it is worth it for a special treat once in a while. And honestly, my at home version is probably half the calories of the restaurant version. The key ingredients are: chopped dates, apples, bacon crumbles, pecans, and blue cheese on baby greens with poppyseed dressing.

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I actually made this salad for Christmas dinner!

The day after Christmas I made plans to get back on the straight and narrow. This included making some of my favorite very low calorie foods to have on hand. So I took my leftover turkey pieces out of the freezer, and I made another batch of my low cal apple cranberry sauce. For my New Year’s dinner, I made one of my favorite salads. Its actually the basic ingredients of a turkey sandwich, just without the bread and served on a bed of lettuce–2 ounces of turkey, 1/4 cup apple cranberry sauce, 1 wedge of laughing cow lite cheese, and 1/4 avocado. There’s no need for salad dressing, as the cranberry sauce serves that purpose. This salad comes in at about 225 calories, and it is a completely satisfying dinner for me.

DSCN2437The great thing about salads is that you can dress them up or dress them down, depending on how hungry you are or how many calories you have left for the day. If you need more protein, throw some precooked chopped chicken or salad shrimp into them. If you just need something hot and comforting on a winter night, throw a potato in the oven. I like to put a little spray butter and some cottage cheese on my baked potato.

Do you eat salads in winter, or do you prefer to wait until spring to get your salad action going?

 

Thinking about Food

A few posts back I mentioned that I was slightly disturbed by HOW MUCH I think about food. Some of the commenters said that they also thought about food a lot, and recently, a couple of other bloggers have mentioned the same thing. One blogger’s therapist called it an eating disorder. That bothered me, so I started thinking about that.

And here’s what I came up with.

First, back to Dr. Sharma’s talks. When Dr. Sharma talked about obesity being a chronic disease, he pointed out that treating it (maintaining weight loss) requires abnormal behavior, just like a diabetic who sticks themselves to check their blood sugar each day–that is abnormal behavior. To maintain a large weight loss, most people have to track their food, make careful food choices, etc. That is abnormal behavior. But it is what is required to control this chronic disease. So right there, you can see how that would lead you to think more about food.

The second thing that came up was this. Several people that are about my age and height have said that 1400 calories seems to be the amount they can eat to maintain their weight loss. I know that’s true for me. That’s not normal either. I input a 60 year old, 5 foot 1 inch, 155 pound active woman into the USDA’s calculator. They said I could eat 2200 calories a day to maintain that weight. IN MY DREAMS. So us weight loss maintainers get to eat about two-thirds of what the “normal folk” eat on a regular basis. That said, if you make good choices, you can eat very well, and be very satisfied at 1400 calories. BUT IT REQUIRES YOU TO THINK ABOUT FOOD A LOT.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this morning.

P.S. If you are waiting for the code so you can watch my episode of The Quilt Show, I am too! The Quilt Show is having some technical difficulties. I will get the code to you as soon as I hear from them!

The Relentlessness of Food

Lately I’ve grown a little weary of the endless counting/journaling/calculating/decision-making nature of the way I choose to eat and control my daily meals. Food–its just relentless! Its always there. You can’t live without it.

Even when you decided almost 10 years ago that a certain food item is not healthy and you don’t need to have three a week and in fact you very very seldom ever eat one (hamburgers,) ten years later they’re still there, and you find yourself still wanting one too often. Even the “good stuff”–whole, healthy non-processed foods–if there is too much in the house at one time, its easy to eat too much of that stuff too.

I know its a temporary feeling. I’m not on any type of slippery slope. I just wanted to put that out there–its relentless. It never ends. Its wearying.

The Garden…and Other Things I Haven’t Written About

This morning I spent about 3 hours working in the garden. And I thought about taking pictures, but it just seemed like the garden is in that in-between stage when there’s nothing particularly interesting to show. Hopefully, in a few weeks, my work will be rewarded with lots of pretty flowers to share with you.

But while I worked, I thought about all the things I HAVEN’T written about lately. And how, just like the garden, even though I haven’t written about those things, it doesn’t mean the work is not being done.

Just because I haven’t written much about weight loss/maintenance DOESN’T MEAN I AM FAT. GIVE ME A BREAK. Maybe I have already said everything I could possibly think to say about the subject. Maybe I am busy living my life, and going to the computer to repeat my thoughts about what is necessary to lose and maintain weight has been usurped by much more interesting creative impulses.

Every day of my life I work on maintaining my weight loss. Some days it seems absolutely effortless. And some days it seems like a full time job. When I mention to people that I used to weigh a lot more, and we’re discussing keeping the weight off, I almost always say the same thing–“Its hard work.”

Just because I am not writing about food or recipes or low-cal cooking DOESN’T mean I have gone off the rails. FAR FROM IT. I’ve tried some really excellent new recipes lately. They were other people’s recipes, and they were tasty and healthy and low calorie. I didn’t even have to adjust them. They’re all out there on the web. I just didn’t feel the need to share them. And sometimes food tastes better than it looks. That’s the case with my latest try.

Just because I haven’t mentioned the gym lately, doesn’t mean I sit for hours in my Lazy Boy in front of the boob tube. How many times and in how many different ways can I say “I went to the gym. I did my weights workouts. The same exercises at the same weights. I got on the exercise bike, and I rode for the same distance in the same amount of minutes.” And on the other days, “I took Noah for a walk, and I came home and did my PT exercises.” And in case anybody’s wondering–yes, I am in an exercise rut. Its a rut I like very much. Which means that I will keep exercising consistently. Which is one of the most important factors in weight loss maintenance.

Oh, and one more thing. Just because I do not post pictures of myself that often, it does not mean I have gained a ton of weight and am embarrassed by my appearance. I live alone. My arms are short. You do the math.

Maybe, just maybe, if I am ever really healed of the chronic condition of WEIGHT, there will be no more need to write ad nauseam about the daily vagaries of my LIFE WITH FOOD.

I love you guys and I love blogging. I love the comments and “conversations” we have on this blog and some of my other friends’ blogs.

But sometimes the drama and the judgmental attitudes expressed by other bloggers just gets to me. Their opinions are arrogant and mean-spirited, and they are saying those things about people they don’t even really know. If you want to write about your own shortcomings, that’s fine. But don’t drag all the rest of us in with your irresponsible blanket statements.