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.

“Eat Me,” said the Snack Bag

“I’m small, I’m portion controlled. Only 70 calories and you can enjoy my wonderful sweet and salty tastes,” said the Skinny Pop Kettle Corn Single Serve bag in the drawer. The one with the other Skinny Pop and a few Pirate’s Booty bags. They all came together in a sack from the grocery store snack aisle which had no business leaving the store let alone get into the house.

Why, you ask? Because even though they are nicely portioned out, there just isn’t enough stuff inside to be satisfying. So I end up eating two and then three trying to get enough. They are empty calories that I can afford to squish into my day if I’m careful, but then there are other foods that are so much more satisfying and sustaining that I have to cut out if I am to stay within my daily calorie target.

Or I could just keep eating my planned healthy little clementines and baby carrots or even real food for dinner AS WELL AS the empty snacky foods. Seems I’ve been doing a good bit of that lately and it doesn’t make me happy. So why do I do it? There’s the question.

I don’t particularly feel deprived. I’ve been eating carefully for almost a full year and know that I can eat anything I want as long as I can figure out how to account for it within my limits. Mostly that’s calories – I’m eating 1540/day now, but aiming for less – but also a minimum of 70 gms protein, under 2300 gms sodium, and 35 gms or more of fiber, plus 80-125 oz of water.

So I spend time every morning planning out what I’m going to eat that day, all three meals and snacks. It usually reminds me that I have food scheduled and planned that I know is actually in the house and available. I arrange for my beloved slider basket from the club at least once a week because I love it. But I also read labels as I shop and even as I look at restaurant menus for possible takeout. Foods I used to eat regularly I just can’t justify eating anymore because of the calories. Oh, I can eat them, but to make it work, I need to not eat much else. I love Pad Thai but hey, I love not starving the rest of the day more.

Back to snack bags. The fact is, I don’t really like eating baby carrots and healthy things. I know I should, but I don’t. I still have the acquired love of salty things even more than sweets. I can pass on ice cream but crave tortilla chips – but know that I just can’t stop myself with a measured amount. So the snack bags of popcorn are replacements for the chips but inadequate ones, so I keep eating more.

Next project: find snack sizes of tortilla chips. Maybe that will be satisfying enough that I can stop with the measured, portioned amount. If not, I’m back to carrots even though I don’t want to be.

Eating All the Things

I’m having a week full of days where I Eat All the Things, as my friend Lisa calls it. Days where little crackers and ice cream and donuts and raisin bread just find their way into my mouth without a plan. Although no food is forbidden on my eating plan, it’s been painful to watch how easily I succumb to old patterns and habits for no particular reason. As a result, every day for the last four days I’ve watched the scale nudge up. Oh, not that much, but losing even half a pound takes so much effort and care that it distresses me to see it go up. I’m walking a thin wire of controlled but satisfied, and out of control and overwhelmed. And guilty for not doing this perfectly.

Part of all of this is being on a new medicine, Otezla, for my psoriasis. One of the side effects (and there are many) is nausea, and to counter it, I’ve been nibbling carbs. Okay, not necessarily nibbling. But not bingeing and gorging the Old Way, either. And I’ll give myself enough credit to know that I needed to log whatever I ate even if it upset me to write it down. I have to be accountable to myself because to NOT do that, it’s a slippery slope to gaining it back so fast it makes my head spin. Been there, done that more times than I want to admit.

I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t control the impulses to Eat All the Things. And that’s what it was. I stopped pre-planning my daily food and just went crazy. So today I’m back to drinking water at 5:30 a.m. and planning out almost everything for the day before I took my first bite. There was a little – but not much – wiggle room but there is great comfort for me in having the structure of knowing what I will do today. I planned a slider basket lunch from the club because I enjoy them and there’s lots of protein, which keeps me full and less likely to eat something I don’t need. And dinner will be simple but again, lots of protein and fiber with my rotisserie chicken from Sam’s and fresh steamed broccoli and carrots. Tomorrow will be something different, but that is today.

I think I’m going to need to do this tracking and planning for the rest of my life. It’s not that much of a burden, but NOT doing it leaves me without the control I need to just move on from those tempting carbs, and they’re always carbs. To make it easier, I dumped out everything that had been a temptation and got rid of it in yesterday’s garbage day. Only to have donuts in the office, which are deadly. I can do better. I’ve done better for months. But I’m not perfect and I have a lifetime of unrestrained eating. I’m the only one who can restrain me and it’s time to get back to work doing it.

Me and Noom

You know about me and Noom: I started it on January 1, 2020, so I have almost 10 months using the plan. The last few months have been pretty static which I understand because I’ve gotten a little sloppy and have had injuries. But I’m also getting a little bored and it was time to take a look at what I’m doing on this journey and what needs some tweaking.

The big thing I like about Noom – and it’s huge – is the articles that help me understand the psychology and physiology of eating with tips to help make different choices. This is the feature that makes Noom different from other weight loss programs and I’ve learned a lot that I’m able to put into practice every day. I’ve also learned to weigh myself every day without feeling that I’m being judged; the scale just gives me information.

Noom also gives me a goal specialist who checks in with me weekly, and a group – but I’ll be honest, I don’t pay that much attention to either one. I’m on a Facebook group for Noomers with 100+ pounds to lose and am getting more support there from people whose journeys are more like mine, and from talks with friends who are also Noomers. We have a common vocabulary (ask us about our elephants).

All weight loss programs including Noom have trackers for food and exercise as well as daily food diaries, and all have apps so you can do all of this on your phone. Noom is app-only while WW and MyFitnessPal also have desktop options. I prefer typing on a keyboard so that aspect of Noom is limiting for me. Making it even more confusing, Noom works differently on Apple and Android devices. The Apple version has more features but I don’t know what they are until someone posts about them on the FB group.

All weight loss programs have food databases which vary in accuracy and breadth. Noom is the newest program and their database is sometimes wonky. I missed being able to save frequently eaten combinations of foods such as home-prepped taco salad ingredients, as well as the ability to create, save, and enter home-built recipes such as my meat sauce or chicken teriyaki. I think that’s possible on the Apple version but not on the Android and it made me crazy.

So after 9 1/2 months of Noom, I signed up for MyFitnessPal to check it out and have been doing both programs for the last week. This isn’t sustainable – trying to track everything in two places is too much work – but for now it’s given me a way to evaluate and compare different aspects of the programs. I still like the Noom articles but I prefer the food database and recipe and meal builders in MyFitnessPal. And I really like being able to see micronutrient values of what I’m eating for calories, fat, carbs, protein, fiber. I can see how they relate to Noom food colors but I like the numbers.

Noom has a way to manually enter the steps I track on my pedometer; MFP doesn’t have that but you can synch a device like FitBit (which I don’t have or really want). But you can track exercise and weight in both.

Oh, and I’m down 3 lbs this week and back to my lowest weight since January for the first time in months. Not because of MFP but because I was ready to actually pay attention to what I’m putting in my mouth. That’s what matters, no matter what plan I follow.

Bottom line: I think that people with less weight to lose than I still have can be satisfied with Noom, and I’m very glad I spent the time and money to start there. The articles were a huge help. But I think I’m ready for something else, at least for my tracking.