I used to live my life binge eating. I grew up around relatives who liked to have piles of food for each meal and encourage us to ‘eat up’, ‘gotta stay strong’. I came from old German stock. There was the German Scottish old school idea to eat up and clean your plate. In my immediate family, we were six and sometimes I felt like I had to eat quickly before the food was all gone. We never went hungry, so I’m not sure where that idea came from, but I remember eating quickly so I could get seconds before the food was all gone.
At school it was the same. Lunch time was short and I learned to eat quickly so I’d have time to finish. There was also the problem of being bullied and made fun of because I wasn’t thin and I also wore glasses. In the 60’s that was the kiss of death. I was insecure, and afraid of everything and wanted to sink into the background. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and was very withdrawn. I have a very strong memory of junior high (middle school) orchestra. I played the violin. I remember the girl sitting behind me bouncing her violin bow on my butt and laughing when my butt would shake. It’s amazing what you remember from childhood.
Food became my best friend. It was a comforter for me, made me feel better, didn’t judge me, and was always there for me no questions asked. I learned to eat in private and hide the evidence. I ate at night, and in the car when I was alone. We were best friends. My favorite binge foods were chips and chocolate. There were many times when I would eat a 1 lb. bad of m & m’s with a large bag of potato chips or Doritos.
Over the years, I have gained and lost a lot of weight. I have gradually learned to not be afraid of food and not to crave food. It is better to get to eat something once in a while than to never eat it and let it prey on your mind. But it took a long time to get to that place.
I have never been a normal weight. There have been periods of time when I have been thinner, but I have never been thin. Because of my mobility issues and the desire to get more healthy and stronger physically, I started a program of keeping a food log and charting what I eat.
It is working for me. Since August of 2014 I have lost 42 lbs. It has been slow going. I have discovered how much my lymphedema really does affect my body and my weight. But the weight is coming off even if I would like for it to go faster. I have a certain amount of calories allotted to me each day and the number adjusts depending on my weight. I keep track of what I eat with the Lose It online program. When I stay within my allotted amount of calories each day, my chart stays ‘in the green’. If I go over my allotted amount, my chart turns red. I never let my chart go into the red. Our family has become proficient at reading labels, tracking fats, carbs, calories, sodium and measuring with cups and tablespoons.
When my weight seemed to slow down to a crawl, daughter wondered why it was happening. She began researching on the internet. The only problem with that is, there are many opinions on what is and isn’t good for you, and what does and does not help in weight loss. Some things she would try out on herself before recommending it to me.
One thing she read about seemed to make some sense. Your body can become accustomed to the amount of calories it gets over time. If you greatly reduce the amount, your body will think it is being starved and will start hanging onto nutrition and fats to keep functioning, and will slow down the metabolism to help in the process. So, one side of this thinking believes you need to keep tricking your body. That once a week you should have a day of overeating, to reset the levels again of what you take in and need to live.
To me, that sounds like how I used to diet. I would starve all week, have my weigh in and then pig out and eat anything I wanted for the rest of the day. I would then have to work all week long to make up for the pig out and the losses wouldn’t be consistent or steady. I would fear getting on the scales again the next week to see if I actually did lose anything. It taught me to fear food and fear the scales and fear being out of control.
So for a long time I didn’t want to try daughter’s idea. Daughter tried it a few times and her weight loss seemed to be quicker and progress faster than mine did. Now she can overdo it more often, not worry about it, add some extra gym time to combat the excess and has been steadily losing. Sounds like what ‘normal’ people do without worrying about it doesn’t it?
When she first suggested the ‘day of excess’ I was too afraid to try it. I had been successfully losing despite how slow it sometimes felt. I was eating what I wanted for the most part without craving something I felt I couldn’t have. It became normal to turn down certain things as being ‘too costly’ too eat. The calories I would have to account for, or the fact that a double cheeseburger and a large tator tots would use up almost an entire days worth of calories taught me to choose smaller amounts or less caloric alternatives. This is working for me, so the idea of having that day of excess made me afraid I would lose control and would go back to eating the way I did in the past.
While I have had my occupational therapist trained in lymphedema wrap therapy come out and wrap my legs, I have discovered that the weather affects certain people and certain diseases. In my case, when the barometric pressure changes, (easier to say when the weather changes), my body swells and hangs on to every bit of fluid it can. Since I wear a catheter I began to notice my daily output sometimes slowed down despite the fact that what I was drinking was usually the same. And when we began paying attention to my legs and the swelling, sometimes during the week my legs would get hugely ‘puffy’ and the therapist would tell me all of her lymphedema patients were the same way on that particular day.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a 5 lb. gain on my weekly weigh in and looking back, remembered that most days my catheter had been less full and my legs had been puffy. So I can recognize when the scale is going to fight against me despite my efforts at ‘staying in the green’. This past week I weighed in and stayed the same, despite having a week of every day leaving a few allotted calories uneaten each day. I hadn’t been paying attention to my legs or output, so was a little bummed out. A day of ‘whatever I wanted’ sounded good to me.
Now, that meant that for breakfast I added two eggs to my oatmeal and bacon and fruit meal. I began looking online at the nutrition counts of various pizza joints and the emotional and physical satisfaction I might receive from eating that compared to what I would have to log etc. My other possible choice was Kentucky Fried Chicken. We ended up getting Popeyes fried chicken, biscuits, some mashed potatoes and green beans. We also had some fresh ears of corn in the fridge we decided to cook to go with it all. Sounds fairly innocuous, right?
Now keep in mind, my daily allowance of calories at this time is 1686 calories. My ear of corn was 77, a half tablespoon of margarine, my half cup of their sauced green beans was 40, half cup of their gravy mashed potatoes was 110, two mild chicken thighs was 560 and one biscuit was 260. Yumm! And then decided I wanted another biscuit, (gasp!) and a wing which added another 260 calories for the biscuit and 210 for the wing. This brought my meal up to a grand total of 1682 calories! You see where this is going right? I had already eaten breakfast that day and a small lunch. So, since I was already over my calories, and had intended to go over and not worry about it, I put this out of my mind somewhat.
I stay up late all the time. I have never been a morning person and am more of a night owl. I usually allow for a midnight snack in my daily allotment, so despite the fact I had already put my chart ‘in the red’ by quite a large amount, I still had my late night snacking to add to my day. This time, emotionally, I seemed on the verge of ‘binge mentality’…of being out of control and wanting to eat north america, so to speak.
So by the time I went to bed Sunday night, I had added 444 calories of snack foods to my day. Subtract the 84 calories I had ‘earned back’ from my exercises during the day, and my daily total was 1024 calories ‘in the red’. I have not had a day like that since I began this Lose It program last August. It was a little disconcerting to realize that I could so easily be on the verge of reverting to former eating habits.
But today is a new day. I woke up, eager to get back on track. I like the way things have progressed. I like my daily log. I like keeping my chart ‘in the green’. I can pick and choose, and rarely want something I can’t have or am not willing to fit into my daily log. I don’t crave or want to eat cookies and sweets and usually don’t keep them in the house to tempt me. And I like spreading my calories out over the day fitting them into meals and snacks.
And so, it is half way through my day, my mind is ‘back to normal’ and I have only eaten 792 of my daily calories, leaving 894 for my supper and midnight snacking. Piece of cake! LOL Back to normal feels much better. I don’t like the feeling of excess, emotionally or physically. I haven’t been that full in a long time and it is not something I want to do very often.
So…the journal in the life of a home bound, handicapped, elderly foodie continues…
See you next time.