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(Another) failed nutrition experiment aka moderation does not work for emotional eaters

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bondi beach

I decided after my last marathon that I’d try eating ‘normal food’ for a change. That means normal bread instead of gluten free bread or homemade bread made from almond meal or flax seeds. That means ice cream and chocolate instead of expensive ‘healthy’ treats made from mostly nuts & dates. The logic was that nuts and dates have a lot more calories than normal flour/ice cream/chocolate so if weight is just all about calories in vs calories out, then I’d be ok.

Well, turns out the source of the calories does matter. For me, at least. In 2 months I’ve put on 2kg. I’m bloated and grumpy. I can’t do pull ups anymore and

I don’t know how this makes sense scientifically, I’m not a nutritionist. I don’t have an official insensitivity to gluten and when it comes to sugar, dates have just as much sugar as white sugar, so there’s no reason these things should affect me but they do! Urgh. I feel really too awful right now to keep going like this.

It’s really annoying because a part of me wants to believe in moderation. It wants to believe that unless we have a medical condition we should be eating anything we want, just as long as we don’t overeat.

Or maybe that’s my problem – eating sugar and bread does probably make me overeat a bit. Not hugely, I don’t think, because I eat a lot in general (easily over 2000 cal a day) but maybe enough to put on a kg a month. Hmmm.

There goes my moderation theory out the window. Again. (I have actually come to this conclusion at least once before – that it’s easier for me to quit sugar cold turkey than to try to moderate it. I guess I had to just double check that theory ;)

I have to stress at this point though that I’m not bothered by the number on the scales as such. Weight as a number is not the problem. Since I started Crossfit 5 years ago I’ve put on several kgs of weight but my recent weight gain is not muscle, it’s fat and I feel it and it’s not making me comfortable. In daily life it’s not a problem actually because all my clothes still (mostly) fit but I mentioned not being able to do pull ups anymore, which is super annoying, but also – running is harder the more weight you have to lug around. On Sunday I felt really slow running and my stomach was also really bloated and I hate that feeling. I was so bloated that I figured that people would just think I was pregnant. That was the only way I got through that run. Thinking that oh well, I look like a pregnant runner and not a hippo. This is not the mental space I want to be in.

A little extra muffin top I can actually live with more than the bloating. Bloating is the worst. It makes me feel very unstable in the middle, it feels like my body is not ‘together’ , it makes me feel weak and vulnerable. I don’t know how to explain this scientifically other than I know that 90% of the serotonin that’s produced in our bodies is produced in the gut as supposed to in the brain and I’m taking a break from my serotonin-boosting Citalopram right now so I’m probably especially vulnerable to everything that goes on in my gut.

But but but. Onwards and upwards, right? I’m only talking about a few extra kilos. If only I didn’t have so much stupid work/Brexit/more work related stress that made me want to eat all the bagels at all times to suffocate the anxiety. For some reason fruit and veggies don’t suffocate anxiety nearly as well. Such a shame. And it’s a shame that once you’re an emotional eater, you always will be… I just have to switch to gluten & sugar free baked goods in order to not make this problem any worse. For my body as well as for my mind.

Rant over :) Now time for breakfast which today is plain greek yoghurt with cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

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  • Katie Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 19:43

    I’d love to master ‘moderation’ but I can’t. The same applies when I hear that some people eat when they are hungry & stop when they are full, I don’t.
    Interesting about how you feel sluggish & heavier, I am expediting the same whilst trying to eat ‘normal food’. So there must be a scientific connection, as for bloating? Oh, that’s my absolute nemesis!

    • MrsB Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 14:23

      My husband is the person who stops eating when he’s nearly full. And often forgets to eat or just doesn’t want to eat. I wish I had his brain…

  • Kaie Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 14:07

    I still don’t understand what “moderation” means :) (saying while eating giant doughnut -not healthy version) I just think if you eat dates instead of white sugar then your body somehow psychologically feels being good and not piling the KG-s on.
    I try to eat generally health and not too much gluten or sugars, but unless I actually track, what I’m eating it’s dead easy to go over your limit without noticing. Why keeping weight off is so damn hard!

    • MrsB Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 15:12

      I think moderation means eating no sugar all week and just one square of dark chocolate on Friday night :D

      I hate tracking my macros even though that does SEEM like the only way to make sure I don’t overeat. It works better for me to eat ‘healthy’ treats, as then I naturally tend to be able to be a bit more intuitive with my eating and not overeat every single day. I don’t know how this works but with pure refined sugar (or fluffy bread!) I lose all the plot and just can’t stop eating…

  • katarina Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 09:51

    Fully agree with you there “moderation does not work for emotional eaters”. My take is that it doesn’t work with addicts either (like myself).

    • MrsB Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 15:13

      I feel like ‘moderation’ is preached so much that I’m almost scared to say out loud “I am not eating sugar” or “I am not drinking”… I feel like everyone around me thinks I’m a super weak human being for not being able to have just a little bit…

      • katarina Thursday, 9 November 2017 at 14:28

        I think “moderation” slogan is spread by the people who keep eating by the old food pyramid and somehow have not piled on weight and have no health issues or , more likely, don’t see the correlation with their excisting problems. Your description is way too optimistic considering how few people could actually have no added sugar for a week. I may have misunderstood and you may describe that way your own “moderation” habits. Regarding your last comment, does it really matter what “they” think if it works for you? Would they think the same way of a recovering alcoholic or a drug user? Little bit doesn’t matter? Sugar is highly addictive and causes lots of health issues. When you first went sugar free I thought you were incredibly strong to be abe to do that and wished I could do that. I’ve been suagr free since Jan 2015, however after last trip to Estonia I have had some relapses, but it has not affected me and I haven’t fallen back on a big scheme of things. This time while there I stopped saying that I don’t eat anything with added sugar, because most people there just don’t understand it. It’s ike I’m speaking chinesee. Even my own mother who has been diagnosed with type II diabetes recently. Caught her on having fructose sugar.

        • MrsB Friday, 10 November 2017 at 14:04

          I think what moderation actually means for the majority of the population is having one biscuit instead of a few every time they have tea or coffee. Which is a few times a day :) As for me personally, it was good to be totally and completely off sugar for a while. It taught me a different way to eat. Now I’m not that strict but I definitely stay away from things I know will make me binge, cakes/muffins/etc. Chocolate and ice cream I can (mostly) have a bit and then move on…

    • Kaie Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 15:17

      I know exactly what you mean, I’m such emotional eater as well. Only way to keep it under control is not to buy anything “unhealthy” to home. But even then I will manage to eat lots “healthy” stuff, like BAG of cashew nuts :( Tracking macros does get tedious quite quickly, but seems to be only thing, what really works.

      • MrsB Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 14:25

        Tracking my food does work short term but it also takes me down an old path of being super-obsessive… and I don’t want to go there. I think I’d rather be a tiny bit too chubby than do that…