THIS: Fourth article in a series on Rebooting Your Way of Eating – Planning for a Maintenance Diet
NEXT : Fifth article in a series on Rebooting Your Way of Eating – Why I eat and the need to know yourself
I have to admit that I have always proven to be good at one thing – and that’s eating. It has always been something I have excelled at, and something that I am quite able to multi task at while reading, writing and blogging. The big problem is, of course, that the combination of sitting and eating does not a healthy life make. I could of course mix it up a bit by eating on the run to add activity to the equation – but seriously, and without a doubt the over-consumption of food is the reason I was always on the tubby side.
Over the last few years, the chief (bad) habit I have had to learn to control is that of finding my off switch to eating. I always have a sense of guilt if I do not finish everything that is put in front of me – whether it is small, medium or large sized helpings! It’s a state of conditioning.
My overriding memory of meal times as a kid, many years ago, is that we were not allowed to leave the table until every scrap of food had been cleaned from our plates. As we grew older, our conscience was used against us as coercion. A common refrain, as we watched the famine images being shown on our black and white TV during dinner time news. was “Do you think kids in Bangladesh would leave that on their plate?”
Later as a teenager, free choice allowed over eating to become a badge of honour. Being able to out drink my friends and rivals at the pub, as well as having the ability to finish the biggest burger and chips afterwards, was celebrated.
Naturally, as an adult with my own children, I had to finish everything as an example to not leave food on their plate before leaving the table – besides, as I would say, kids, do you think the starving children in Somalia would leave that on their plate! And so it goes on. Over eating is not only a habit, it is often normal practice within our modern Western society of convenience and plenty.
I have never been a small guy. Playing physical sports till my late 40’s and power-lifting throughout my thirties, it was all muscle – or so I told myself!! Eventually the day does come when you realise that you do not really need to keep eating just because it is there. Even now, at 60, I still have to think twice when making a meal and remember I am only cooking for one and not for the whole family as I use to. It’s easier said than done, believe me. There is always that nagging doubt that it just doesn’t seem to be enough there to feed a growing lad. The motivation to change came about when told I was pre-diabetic, had very high blood pressure and was 20 kilos over weight.
In part, it is my history of overeating that makes it necessary to do a reboot every so often. It’s a maintenance period, a retune, to eliminate some of the bad habits picked up that result in diet creep.
Even when vigilant in your own particular way of eating, it is still easy to fall into the old habits of over eating. Remember that the rationale behind my reset period is not to lose weight but to give myself time to rethink how I am going about my daily meals. It’s a chance to reconnect with why I eat the way I do. Being a mindful, non-obsessive eater is not concerned with following a particular menu on an enforced diet plan. It is about enjoying the richness and variety of foods available and enjoying them in a sensible manner.
The 14 day reset is about THINKING and REFLECTING on not only what could be done to improve the way of eating but also to confirm what is being done right. It is about refining my attitudes to food, reconnecting instinctively with the food “I feel like” rather than eating food just because it is there.
It also reflects the dietary model and cycling from step 5 back to step 1. Learning to step away from that half empty plate, and not feel guilty about it, is an ongoing battle. It is concerned with listening to what my body is saying when hungry.
Hence that is what the past 10 days have been all about – and now there is only four to go. Having put the four day juncture behind me, the number of days is down to single figures. This is an ongoing journey. It is also a time to focus on the deliciousness of food rather than just the nutritional value of what you are consuming. After all I only eat twice a day as a rule, so why not eat what I enjoy within the constraints of a few mindful rules! Like yesterday when I woke up feeling like porridge with a banana and cream!
A reset should not involve huge changes. It is a readjustment which means there should only be minor, but important changes to your already existing eating habits. This is something you do when you are already eating in a relatively hassle free and happy way. This is not a yo-yo diet plan where it is binge, starve, and binge again, but is a revision of an already clean eating plan. I often leave my meal decisions to closer to the time of eating and mentally scroll through what I have available and think about what I really feel like eating.
The planning of the overall menu that I will eat over this period is crucial. Remember too that this is not a weight lose diet. I am already at a weight and composition I am happy with. That took several months of “active” dieting which is a completely different thing. I am now at a stage where I am maintaining my weight and health with what I eat now. At present I do not consider the calorie content at all, but focus on the macro-nutrient profile of each meal. In general I tend to be Low Carb in outlook and avoid sugars, excessive fruit, grains, starches and high carb foods, although not completely and still incorporate them in a planned fashion. So how does the structure of my eating plan differ when on a reset?
I am actually hesitant in answering that, as everyone is different. What I do suits me and may not suit you. Obviously what one person enjoys can be an anathema to another. Availability to, and taste in food, are different for everybody. This is dependent on age, sex, activity level, culture, job, beliefs and intolerances. Your living situation will also impact. As for me, I am retired, have depressive episodes, live to the beat of my own drum and rise when I feel like. I go to bed at 1, 2 or 3 in the morning – when I feel tired. You may not be so lucky to have the choices I do, and may be a working single, have family to care for, health problems that need to be addressed or other needs I do not.
This is not a blueprint for others to blindly follow – it is what suits me and my lifestyle – it is not a pattern that will suit everyone but it may give you ideas for your own change to adopt a healthy lifestyle. So please keep this in mind when reading my basic KISS (Keep It Simply Sustaining) rules.
Briefly the 10 KISS rules are:
- Plan, think and keep it simple
- Select the base meal ingredients and allow for a few meals out
- Focus on macronutrients and portion control
- Eat two meals a day to planned time frames
- Keep it primarily home based eating
- Reduce carbohydrates to fibrous vegetables
- Limit dairy, have carbs in the first meal and a high percentage of protein in the second
- Drink only water, tea or coffee
- Practice “compensatory eating” and “planned cheats”
- Keep records and be accountable
Along with these guide rules, I also have recording sheets. Check out a partial copy of my Macro-nutrient Chart and an Eating Plan Sheet that helps me record ingredients and the food eaten for later analysis. This then helps inform and allows me to decide on changes to my way of eating.
I will expand on these and the 10 KISS rules in another blog.