Derailed into Storm Eating

(This post is really more of a journal entry because I need to get the words out to help me figure out what happened.)

Here’s a great description of “Storm Eating” from Dani at Clean and Delicious:

Storm Eating is binge eating or eating out of control.  It is anytime you can’t stop yourself.  You are aware that you are eating and you want to stop but you feel like you can’t stop or like you can’t control yourself.  It’s almost like you are watching another person inside your own body.  Sometimes this happens if we let ourselves get too hungry and sometimes it happens when we have an overwhelming emotion that we do not want to feel.  Storm eating is usually followed by regret and shame.  Many times it’s done in private or in hiding.” (https://cleananddelicious.com/the-four-types-of-eating/

My day started out well: up at 5:00am, 25 oz bottle of water consumed by 5:45. Sat with MyFitnessPal and planned out and pre-logged my food for the day before feeding the cats and making my usual breakfast: oatmeal with blueberries, 1 TB of whipped butter, and a TB of creamer. Got dressed, made second breakfast (blueberries with yogurt) and took it to work where I ate it 2 hours after first breakfast. Yes, I’m a Hobbit and need 2 breakfasts. So far this was all normal.

Went to the doctor for a follow up visit and headed to Panda Express to get my planned (and anticipated) Grilled Teriyaki Chicken entree. I love that stuff something fierce. But there was a big line for the drive through, so I shopped At Home first – and came out only to find the line three times longer than the first time.

This is where things derailed. It was almost 1:00 p.m. and I was legitimately hungry – but also very thirsty. You don’t drink much before doing to the doctor because you have to get on a scale there. This was not a good combination for me, both hungry AND thirsty.

Stopped at Tuesday Morning, which I’d planned to do, but ended up bringing home a box of Meyer lemon meringue cookies. Okay, not so bad, 8 cookies for 80 calories. Except why stop at 8 when there is a whole box full and I’m hungry? Never mind that I had just sent an order FROM THE PARKING LOT to Jersey Mike’s for my beloved #2 Jersey Shore mini sub on rosemary parmesan bread. It was 15 minutes away. But those meringue cookies were right next to me. It was not pretty. I had no excuse for picking them up in the first place except maybe just that I was hungry.

Picked up the sub at Jersey Mike’s and ate it outside on a balmy day. So tasty, so good. Pulled out my MFP app and changed the recorded food to what I actually ate. But when I came home, I was still thirsty. Instead of getting water, I got a diet soda. Not a good plan. Looked for something to graze on and found not very much because I’d already purged the snacky things last week.

But I managed. instead of green grapes (which were IN THE FRIDGE), I found mint chocolate chip ice cream which has been there for a least a month, bought for my brother who never came for Thanksgiving because I cancelled the visit. I wasn’t stomach hungry but my mouth was wanting something – and I must say I was a little afraid that I’d lost my sense of taste which is a symptom of Covid. So I was trying to see if I could taste what I ate.

So there was a little cup of ice cream. And some Ozery snacking rounds which need to not be in my house and are going in the outside trash as soon as I stand up. A little spoon of peanut butter. Topped by 1/2 serving of chicken and dumplings.

Now I feel sick to my stomach because I ate foods that my system was not really used to eating. At least not all in one day. And I’m heart-sick because I thought I had some of this under control and here it is, raging through me while I just find food that I really don’t want but am eating anyway.

I’ve stopped now. But I needed to write it out, and to write it on my food log to be accountable to myself. My 65 lbs weight loss is down to 60 lbs – but still, that’s SIXTY POUNDS down from one year ago. I think I’ve been feeling depressed and like a failure for having gained a little of it back, and when I’m stressed and depressed, I eat. Long-standing pattern that is very hard to break.

So what happened? Yesterday I had pizza for only the second time in a year. Last weekend I baked 14 dozen cookies after almost a year of not baking. Unlike tracking food in Noom, I’m actually seeing the macronutrient values for things like sodium, carbs, and fat – and I’m radically changing what I try to eat to keep myself within set limits. I forgot that “eating normally” for me really wasn’t all that normal which is how I got so fat in the first place. I need to remember that I can eat anything I want to, but not all in the same day.

Immediate things I can change:

  • Schedule my water to make sure I am not dehydrated, which makes me think I’m hungry when I’m really not.
  • Eat all my meals at home for the next week. I have more control here than when I’m out and about – and I don’t need to be out anyway. Seeing the doctor doesn’t mean I need to get take-out lunch somewhere.
  • Throw out the remaining bread things (Ozery rounds, Dave’s Killer Bread, Orowheat Sandwich Thins)
  • Melt ice cream. Do not buy more.
  • Schedule snacks like green grapes which I don’t really like but serve a purpose.
  • Start a gratitude journal to focus on finding positive things instead of things that make me feel like a failure.

Oh, and why was I out shopping? To get steps in. I do better if I have a cart to hold on to and push around. I can whip around a store like Sam’s or At Home and rack up steps without buying much if anything. Masked, of course, and avoiding other people. I was only actually out because of a doctor’s appointment with the other things planned for stops on my way home. Note to self: just go home next time, which is tomorrow.

Let me tell you about Noom

Almost nothing about a diet/weight loss program surprises me anymore, having been on a zillion of them in my life. Most boil down to being legalistic and rigid, and the second you tell me that I can’t eat something is when it becomes the only thing I want to eat. I don’t really like being in groups or classes and prefer working through this on my own, though I did like the accountability of having someone else weigh me – except when I’d gained.

On the other hand, they didn’t work long-term. None of them, even when I lost over 100 pounds, which I did several times. I’m good at losing when I want to pay attention to what I eat; I’m not very good at keeping it off and maintaining a target weight. Why? Because I was paying attention to the food and not to my inside self and the triggers that were setting me off.

Noom is a different kind of program. It’s app-based so you and your phone become very close. You weigh yourself once a day in the morning and record it in the app, and you also log food in the app. Those aren’t all that different; lots of plans do that, and tracking food is pretty essential to actually being accountable for what you eat. The app also has a pedometer to track your steps; many of you already do that with FitBit or other program, but this was new for me and it was nice to have it integrated.

Food tracking is common to all weight loss programs; each puts its own spin on it. In Weight Watchers, you count points. In others you’re counting carbs or grams of protein or fat. Noom does it with color groups based on caloric density. Foods are Green, Yellow, and Red. But you can eat anything, as long as you account for it, and you do look at the calorie count. Green food has a different caloric density than red food; you get filled up with food that has more water and fiber.

I’m a visual person and thinking of food by color groups makes it easier to picture and then make a choice between a Green Food snack such as fat free yogurt and a Yellow Food choice of 2% yogurt. Chicken is a yellow food; steak is a red food. Grapes are green, raisins are red. Mostly I just pick what I want – but then I use their food analysis tool to give me feedback on the choices. And since I log my food BEFORE I eat it, I can (and do) swap out one thing for another to keep things balanced.

But what’s really different about Noom is the psychology components. Each day has several small little articles on related things, such as mindful eating or breaking habits. Some of the style is a little cutesy but the information itself is sometimes new, or at least presented in a new way. And there are little quizzes to see how much you retain. It’s actually a lot of information in small enough bites that I’m absorbing more than in a lecture or reading a book.

You’re also assigned a goal coach, and after the first 2 weeks, are put into groups with a coach to help work through and respond to the articles. I’m honestly not finding that to be that much help because I found another option that works for me and that’s two Facebook groups for Noom users, a general one and one for those with large amounts to lose. I prefer typing on a keyboard over using thumbs on a phone, and like the more instant gratification of responses to questions from other users.

The thing is, I know my goal and I know how to break it down into smaller bits. I know there will be plateaus and slips as well as progress. I have a realistic idea of where I want to end up and how to celebrate the NSV’s (non-scale victories) along the way, things like behavior changes that become new habits or fitting into clothes another size or in a different store.

For me this is about getting healthier, and as of this morning I’ve lost 18 lbs; my BMI has already dropped 3 points. I got on a scale at the doctor yesterday and saw a number I haven’t seen since I retired. I’m happy with this program, how it’s working for me, and what I’m learning about myself and my habits.

Want to read a more detailed review of Noom? Check out this review in USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/01/09/noom-review/4422490002/