Now I’m not quite sure how helpful my rules might be for anybody else. We’re all different, and a person who is not tempted to drink beer doesn’t need a rule concerning beer. Still.
When I started I had just read “Thinner this Year” and so the first thing I decided to do was to try and eat only 2/3 3/4 of what I’d usually eat. The easiest meal to do that for me was dinner because I usually eat sandwiches for dinner, and I knew that I usually would eat three slices of bread with cheese or salami or whatever, and so I decided to only eat two and then stop.
One of the very first things I realized was that if I wanted to lose weight I would need to eat less and that that would mean staying a little hungry every day, or even several times a day.
I know there are all kinds of diets out there telling you you will never have to be hungry at all and lose weight anyway but that’s something I never managed. I have practiced for years to become an intuitive eater which means someone who knows when they need food, or need something else, and when they’ve had enough to eat but I still was someone who would then think, “I’m full and don’t need something to eat but I’ll eat that anyway.” Which is how one gets fat. So if I ate enough to never be hungry I would not lose any weight.
The question was if being a little hungry was really so bad. Now back in the day when I ate way more sugar than I eat now I would be really, really hungry every two hours. Like “If I don’t eat right now I’m going to starve and also faint”-hungry. Funny enough once I stopped eating too much fructose I got less hungry. And these days when I have that feeling of “I really, really want something to eat now.” I know I can still go for another one or two hours without eating and will still not feel faint or have a headache. In fact I will usually exercise while I’m that hungry.
So the second rule was “no snacks”. This is not a hard and fast one, though. If I’m really, really hungry, or feel like I can’t go without something to eat I may have 6-12 almonds or a tablespoon full of peanuts. I decide that snacks are a) not to be eaten every day, and b) not there to make me completely satisfied but only to tie me over until the next meal. I’m eating three times a day anyway. You can’t really starve if you eat and hour or two later.
The next rule (or maybe an addition to the first one) was: “No Seconds”. We eat our biggest meal for lunch and I would usually eat a huge heap of whatever we’d have (my husband puts our food on the plates and when I started losing weight he was still eating huge portions), and then I’d have another plate full because it tasted so good. When I started losing weight I would put my own food on my plate (or tell my husband that no, I did not want that much pasta, please put some of it back) or leave food on my plate after eating. He has become much better at gauging how much I need to eat even though he still feels that my portions are way too small. The thing is that a 65 kilo woman needs way less food than a 80 kilo man especially when he never sits still and she basically does nothing else but sit in front of a computer all day. (On a side note our son started out being overweight as well, and when I looked up how much he needs to eat I was shocked to see that a 13yo. needs even less than me. (Also my husband did loose weight as well and now eats much smaller portions himself. Because a 67 kilo man needs less food than an 80 kilo one.))
Again I planned for exceptions, if I’m extremely hungry after my first plate of lunch I can have a bit extra. But most of the time I would tell myself it’s alright, even if I’m still a little bit hungry because if I cant stand it I can always have a snack later. Then I’d want a snack really bad at five in the afternoon and then I’d tell myself not snack because dinner would be at 6.30.
That’s a rule I use with my son and that I installed for myself as well. If you’re hungry about an hour before a meal just wait until mealtime. Nobody drops dead because they went hungry for an hour.
My nemesis when it comes to controling my eating are beer, potato chips, and sweets. I had already established a rule that I could have no beer on weekdays. I tried not drinking any when going out but never managed to follow that one so these days I’m allowed one (1) beer per day on weekends, and two (2) pieces of chocolate. The end.
As for potato chips I started out with “only one bag per week”, then upped it to „only one bag per month“, and am doing very well with that rule. Some months I decide that I like losing weight more than potato chips and declare a chips-free month. Since I can’t et my favorite potato chips in town any longer I often buy two bags and tell myself that those are reserved. Like I bought two bags at the beginning of May and declared them to be for June and for my birthday at the end of July. And surprisingly I don’t have a problem having the chips sitting in the basement. Every time I think of them I tell myself I can have them later, no problem.
Staying within my self-imposed limits regarding chocolate has been exceptionally hard in the past few weeks. It all started with my son asking for milk chocolate. We never have any sweets in the house apart from very dark chocolate these days because I tend to demolish them instantly. Also the boy needed to lose a bit of weight as well, and he was onboard with limiting sweets. (He also has a doting grandmother who gives him strawberry shakes and icecream and sweets any time he wants.)
Since I had been doing so well with my eating rules I thought I could handle having a bit of chocolate in the house easy. Yeah. turned out no, I can’t. I bought milk chocolate and within 48 hours it was all gone. Even before my son even knew we had it. I tried again, and again, and I became better but not good enough. Also my son was eating chocolate like crazy. And even when I wasn’t eating the milk chocolate I was eating way more dark chocolate than I intended to.
So now we have gone back to having only dark chocolate in the house. My son had to admit that he is as helpless facing sugar as I am. And since I got used to eating all.the.chocolate again I took it and put it away in a cupboard in a part of the house we don’t use often. Interestingly it does make a difference if the chocolate is sitting right there in the same room or not. Also I decided to not eat chocolate during the week anymore, only on weekends.
It always feels a bit strange telling anybody about these arbitrary rules I’m making for myself. Reading about my rules won’t really help you lose weight either. I guess everybody needs different rules because everybody struggles with different things. For me banning something completely doesn’t really work because then I tend to binge-eat it. Telling myself that I can have it, of course, no problem, only not just this moment works much better.
I trick myself a lot. I used to think that I needed to be strong and disciplined, and that if I couldn’t sit there looking at a piece of cake and resist it was all worthless. These days I’m all about making things easier for myself. That way I can use my mental energy and willpower for more important things than thinking about whether I want to eat this thing or not.
And funny enough that has made me better at resisting the piece of cake as well. Not that I think cake is bad, only with my fructose-intolerance eating too much sugar results in big sugar-cravings, and then into feeling sick for days. Not a good thing.