A Lesson in Eating Intervals and the Management of Cravings

For a little over a month, my dietary intake has changed dramatically. Before, I would not eat breakfast, and I would wait until I was feeling hungry to seek food. And because I was also dealing with depression I would opt for the path of least resistance. If I really felt like I needed to get going in the morning I would drink a Mountain Dew. Frozen taquitos were a staple, with several heaping spoonfuls of sour cream. Couldn’t have them without the sour cream!

If I was having a bad week, and couldn’t make it to the grocery store to ensure the frozen staples were available, I’d call up the Pizza Hut down the street and have them deliver. Dinner was always a crap-shoot, as my significant other became a source of food. I’d ask him to pick me up a burrito (or two), or have him get me a burger, or a large Coca-Cola Slurpee. Or some mix of the three. He works hard everyday and doesn’t always have the wherewithal to make healthy choices for dinner. And because he’s already going to be driving past these places, well, he’s been a target for my laziness.

All this has made me feel terrible – physically and emotionally – and when my depression started to lift, I felt myself more motivated to try to make healthy changes. So I sought out the assistance of a nutritional counselor and started making slow changes to my eating.

First it was just logging everything and being aware of how things made me feel. Then she asked if I would try to eat breakfast a few times per week. She explained a little about energy and sugar, and said while it was fine to have a quick rush of sugar, it would fade, so try to get a longer-burning carb into the mix. So I added a slice of whole wheat toast. That quickly turned into my current breakfast of two eggs (scrambled, with a little ketchup), a slice of whole wheat toast with some organic butter and grape jelly, and some probiotic mango juice.

Eating breakfast has revolutionized my hunger patterns. Eating breakfast has turned into also eating lunch, and eating dinner, and snacks – at regular intervals. Eating breakfast, and making sure I eat regularly throughout the day MAKES IT EASIER FOR ME TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES ABOUT MY FOOD. I can’t stress that fact enough. After having a stable diet for about a month now, when things happen and I don’t get one of my meals in a reasonable time, I notice myself having cravings and navigating towards older bad habits.

Case in point: yesterday was a big day what with my gym contract signing and fitness assessment for the weight loss program. I ate my usual breakfast by 10am but my appointments were midday, meaning lunch would be an issue. I brought a Fiber One snack bar with me, but didn’t find the time to gobble it up. And by the time I got out of the gym at 2pm, I found myself driving past a 7-11 and thinking “Wow, a Slurpee sounds really good right now”. I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t “treat” myself with a Slurpee, but I’d opt for some frozen yogurt instead. A better option, but not as good as going home and making myself a sandwich.

After coming home from froyo I again put off making any food plans. I didn’t snack. And by the time dinner was rolling around I was thinking about having a burrito, or a Five Guys burger. Hey, I can track it! Thankfully, my supportive partner didn’t relent when I mentioned the unhealthy options and he redirected me towards my regular chicken breast. When I brought up some lame excuse about being down to my last chicken breast, and that I wouldn’t have anything to eat for tomorrow, he offered to go to the grocery store for me as long as I ate my normal healthy dinner that night. And he insisted I eat a snack immediately. Wow, I’m lucky to have him!

Yesterday was a really important lesson for me in terms of how diligent I need to remain in order to keep my cravings and bad habits with food in check. Preparation is key to this. Once my program really gets going and I’m at the gym for 5 days a week, I’m really going to need to plan to ensure I get all my snacks and lunch at the right times.

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