Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Plan

First, I have to say that my breakfast this morning--
1/2 cup of Rogers Porridge Oats, cooked
1/2 a Delicious apple diced,
2 Tablespoons of raisins,
4 pecan halves chopped and
a sprinkle of cinnamon felt like eating candy for breakfast. It was wonderful: and I wondered if it would satisfy my sweet tooth after supper.

All that food is allowed (and encouraged) by the Diet Plan I have chosen -- the Mayo Clinic Diet. It is a portion control/food exchange program based on the food pyramid. (The servings in the diagram below are a range--at the calorie level proscribed, the servings for me are all at the lowest end!)They recommend I consume about 1400 calories a day (which actually seems low to me) and exercise 30 to 60 minutes (which I will work up to). I'm using Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away the Pounds" videos for now. I plan to add weight lifting and yoga (for flexibility and relaxation) to the mix.

In addition, I'm using the cognitive therapy techniques outlined by Judith Beck in The Beck Diet Solution. Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person.

This approach is conventional. On the face of it, this approach does not "fire" food as the *Star* of my life. It does not help me towards the goal of making my issues with food into "non-issues." Not in the short term, anyway.

Yet I have a couple of reasons for approaching things this way. If it all blows up in my face and I end up regaining whatever I lose, then I guess I'll start again with a different approach.

I'm thinking of the paradigm of psychotherapy. When you hire a therapist, you agrees to focus, fairly intensely, on whatever it is which is disturbing you and holding you back from living your life fully. There comes a point, (at least in therapy that works for me) when the therapy --or rather-- the focus is over. At that point, you have tools to deal with the things which disturb you and you have had enough practice implementing them that you don't have to pay someone to hold your hand any longer.

So with that in mind, these are the reasons I'm using a diet plan to address some of my issues with food.

#1. I know how to eat. In the past I chose a whole foods portion controlled diet plan in order to learn how to eat. I know how, so that's not the reason this time. This time, I need to establish the habit of eating a variety of whole foods once again. I get into a rut of eating mostly carbs, protein and fat when left without a plan. Beck exhorts me to plan what I will eat the next day every night. I've done it for two nights now and it's a struggle to come up with enough fruit and veggies. But that's obviously what I need--so it's great.

#2. If I have an imposed limit of what I can eat, I am forced to find non-food ways to handle my emotions. I'm afraid that if I continue to rely on my hunger cues alone to manage my food intake --they'll be overridden by the urge to eat when I'm upset like the land is flooded when the rain swells the river. I need sandbags on those banks--and a food plan with a caloric limit gives me the boundaries I need around how I eat.

#3. I need to learn not to be scared of being hungry. With a food plan written out and in place, I can reassure myself at a glance that there is food available to me, I will eat again, and that I don't need to stand in front of the fridge (or the baking cupboard) for reassurance.

This plan in particular encourages eating a lot of fruit (four servings of about 60 calories each)--and I must remember that fruit is as plentiful as candy bars whenever I'm out running errands.

Reducing hunger is a worthy goal, though, too. Food has volume. Energy dense foods, like raisins, provide a lot of calories in a very small amount. That's why they're great snacks to pack while hiking.

But, if I want to feel full, I need to eat foods with a lot of volume for the number of calories they have. Veggies are great for this. I was shocked to learn that 2 cups of spinach is equal to one serving of veggies. Two whole cups! Yikes. I had a huge spinach and tomato salad for "dessert" last night (dressed with a teaspoon of olive oil and two teaspoons of red wine vinegar and salt--the fat is important too) and I was full right up until bed-time. I didn't need a sleeve of crackers and a hunk of cheese to satisfy my hunger before bed.

I was grateful.

So, this approach, should help me manage my food issues as well as help me lose weight. I have resisted "going on a diet" for months and months simply because I did not want to focus on food. It felt like taking many steps backwards. I don't want food to be an "issue" in my life--but it is, whether I deal with it up front or try my best to deny it and sweep it under the rug. A "diet" directs my focus onto food, yes. And I make better choices that way--not just about food, but about how to handle those other things I use food to (inappropriately) manage, too.

At least, that's the plan.

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