Food Talk

I don’t normally talk about eating. Well, that’s not true. I do talk about eating a lot of crap. Like the fried ice cream that hubs and I shared.

Or my suggestive-looking German dinner. (I had a friend tell me it looks like a demented muppet, which is better than what I was thinking…)

Or giant beers on a Monday night.

I don’t talk about when I’m trying to eat well, which is basically all of the time except when I give in to things like desserts and drinks on the weekend. Anyway, I’m going to talk about that other eating. The non-crappy kind where I try to decline desserts and not spend evenings on intimate dates with the fridge.

About five years ago, I started Weight Watchers (WW). WW showed me this complete new way of eating and I was really successful on it. I lost 26lbs in a little over four months and kept it off for a good three years until I started gaining some back. (Some of that weight gain was from muscle I gained in Crossfit and some of it was from big fat cupcakes I shoved into my mouth.)

Anyway, when you’re on WW, you count points. So everything you put in your mouth has a point value and you have a certain amount of points you can eat each day. I kept a food log so I wouldn’t go over my points. This is where it started. Instead of seeing food as food, I saw everything as a point value. If it was too many points, I wouldn’t eat it.

Fast forward three years and I got soooo tired of counting points. I got to the point where I would look at someone else’s meal, calculate the points in my mind, and think, “omg, do they know that meal is 32 points? That’s more than you should eat in a day!” So, I quit WW and decided to use MyFitnessPal to count calories, because there was no way I was going to quit keeping a food diary. MyFitnessPal was different enough that I kept logging my food – every single day – for another two years. Which brings me to today. Big surprise! I’m soooo tired of counting calories.

I was talking to my friend, Kate, last week about how I’ve wanted to lose 10 lbs for the past 80 years and how the four pieces of cake I just ate at work weren’t helping with that. (There were a lot of flavors, had to try them all!) She asked me if I ever kept a food diary. When I told her that I’ve done that every day for the past five years, she said, “that sounds exhausting.”

Yep. It is. Now I’m at the point where the thought of food just stresses me out. I mean, once I’m eating it, I’m fine. Obviously. You can look at my ba-donk-a-donk and see that. I just hate accepting dinner plans because it’s out of my comfort zone of the five meals I eat regularly at home. Am I going to eat too much when I’m out? Am I going to eat just right? <—thats where the stress comes from

Later that day, I told hubs how sick I am of logging my food and how I wished I didn’t have to anymore. I tried to rationalize it by saying that it helps me know when I should stop eating for the day. He then lovingly told me I eat whatever I want anyway, but I just write all the crap I eat down.


So here I am on day three of not logging my food for the first time in five years. It’s one of those habits that is so engrained in me that I’m still counting calories mentally but I’m hoping that will go away soon. I’m also hoping that not seeing how many calories I have left in the day will change my eating. When I see I have a certain amount left, I think I talk myself into being hungry even though I might not be. Then I eat those calories just to be hungry later and eat again anyway. I’ve never heard of keeping a food diary as being a bad thing, but I think it is for me. Maybe. We’ll see how this goes.

Long story short: I’m gonna eat when I feel like it and not write that shit down.


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31 responses to “Food Talk

  1. Melissa

    I think it will be good for you to take a break from the food logging and not stress about it all the time. I love FF’s comment. So harsh. So true. But I realize this is a really hard thing to do, and I’m proud of you for trying.

    • Paula

      Muah! ❤ I already deleted my MFP account, the bookmarks from my computer, and the app from my phone. That in itself was liberating. I can't wait to not mentally calculate. That's gonna be so nice.

  2. Sara

    Word sister! I stopped logging my food a couple months ago. I mean come on, you know how many calories are in practically everything! Food diaries are exhausting. Now I am working on trying not to feel guilty about eating something not so healthy.

    On a side note, I am so doing that “flipping the bird” dance the next time Youness pisses me off.

    • Paula

      Did you still do it mentally afterwards too? (I was laughing at that gif for a good 5 minutes last night!)

      • Sara

        A little bit a first, but I’d like to think I am eating healthy foods that enable me to lose weight – most of the time.

        Also, I love that SNL pizza skit. It’s Almost Pizza!

  3. Marianne

    Ugh. I’m right there with you! I’ve been journaling food through WW and MFP/SparkPeople for 4 years and I am so sick of it! I really don’t want to do this the rest of my life but it gives me slight panic to not know the point/caloric value.

    • Paula

      After 6 months on WW, I was able to look at food and guess the points value within 2 points and the calories within 100. I bet you can too after 4 years! You could always keep a mental tally for a few days and see how you like doing that. But I know it’s super hard to get out of that habit, so I feel ya girl.

  4. I kept a food diary for a while too, before I started blogging (not that I actually blog now…but whatever…). I did it for about a year, took a break and then did it for another year. I hated EVERY second of it. Food really became an obsession for me while I was logging. Sure, I lost weight faster, but all I could think about was my next meal, and how many calories I’d have left for the day after that. And if I did have any “extra” calories left, I’d cram whatever I could into my face just to use them, regardless of whether or not I was stuffed already. On the flip side, I’d stand in my living room doing jumping jacks just so I could have those Doritos with dinner instead of green beans if I was close to my allotment for the day. Once I stopped counting, I still ate whatever the hell I wanted, and somehow managed to lose 50lbs. Took 3 years to do it, but this time I think it worked! So, good for you — you’ll go crazy at first, but you’ll feel better about food choices in the long run!

    • Paula

      I used to work out to get extra WW points just so I could eat more too. I would have the employees at the gym asking how many miles I ran since I was on the treadmill for so long. Yet another reason I’m glad I left WW. It’s weird not logging my food but I’m liking it so far.

      P.S. Blog more dammit.

  5. “I’m gonna eat when I feel like it and not write that shit down.”

    I like this plan! I really hope this puts you in a good place with food. Food is more than a number damnit!!

  6. diana

    I stopped logging food and lost 8 lbs and kept it off. I think I had actually been over-eating because it seemed ridiculous to let those 3 points at the end of the day go to waste so I would grab something from the fridge at 11pm even if I wasn’t hungry. I feel like WW gave me an excellent basis to know what to eat and what not to eat, and maybe I’ll go back to it if/when I fall off the wagon again, but for now I think taking a break from logging is an excellent idea!

  7. I’m the same way! However, I tried not counting anything and it was good for a time. Then…well, let’s just say things got WAY out of hand. I think it may be my slight OCD but I must keep up with what goes into my body, good or bad. It really does help hold me accountable (even if I end up eating half a pie, four servings of cheesy-insert a vegetable name here-casserole, and half a pint of ice cream). Just holding myself accountable is what helps.

    I recently started counting my macros (IIFYM) and so far, it helps. It is also known as reverse dieting or flexible dieting. It certainly allows for those days when you do have plans to go out to eat or drink and allows for the flexibility…just as long as you hit your macros spot on. That’s all that matters. So far I love it and I’ve lost inches (the scale has actually went up but my jeans are getting loose so I will take it!). Maybe look into and see a Registered Dietitian about setting up your macros? Just an idea 🙂 It satisfies the inner OCD/must-count-numbers-of-things-going-into-my-mouth me but also allows for so much flexibility that I don’t feel restricted or stressed and so far, I’m not tired of it. 🙂

  8. Ananda

    I did the same thing for a long time, logging every calorie with My Plate. It got to the point that it was almost an obsession but, like you, I wasn’t always using the information to make the choice not to eat a certain food. I was just logging it in order to have a ‘complete record’ or something. One day I was trying to recall how many ounces of beer I drank the night before and realized this was stupid so I just stopped. It was hard at first and I felt anxious but now it’s so far behind me and I would never keep such a long and detailed food diary again.
    I’ve been trying the 80/20 approach and to build meals according to Zone principles. Obviously I go off track some times but it’s good for the most part

  9. I feel you! I have lived in fear for a long time about not knowing what or how many calories I’m eating but I recently re-read Bethenny Frankels books about being naturally skinny and then the unhealthy relationship that women esp put on food. I love her approch and it has really helped me move away from counting and start seeing. Look it up and read it! She really does have GREAT advice.

    The main point cliff notes style is this: You’re not an idiot you know that if you see a gigantic cupcake/muffin you don’t need to eat the whole thing. You don’t have to count the calories or the fat – eat half of it or a fourth etc. Eat whatever you want but make smart choices. We don’t have to count how many calories go into the salad we are about to eat but you know 2 cups of cheese, bacon, and dressing isn’t healthy. Personally I’m obsessed with pizza but I KNOW I’m not supposed to eat 4 pieces… so now I eat 2 and stop. It really is so stupid that I worked myself up all these years when if you just LOOK at food you’re smart enough to know. She also allows you human “mistakes” but doesn’t even call them mistakes – she’s like, “If you want to be that skinny girl that eats a huge bacon and cheese burger and fries for lunch do it! BUT the rest of the day you should make better choice to accomidate.” You can’t eat like at every meal. It’s all about balance — like a bank account — more good going in and less crap.

    • Paula

      Nice. I’ll check that book out. I’m sure it’s all common sense but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder. I have heard the, “it’s ok to have a cheat meal, not a cheat day.” Sounds like she has the same principle.

  10. I’d rather have 10 extra lbs on my ass than count all my calories and log my food. It just sounds nightmarish to me, especially the bit about the stress of going out to eat.

    I know people who even count the calories of their kids’ food. That is just no way to live.

    I just spent 3 minutes trying to remember what I ate for lunch 42 minutes ago. I’m pretty sure it was a roast beef sandwich. All you need for this level of freedom is a tiny bit of brain damage.

  11. I lost over 40 lbs about 5 years ago, and wrote down everything I ate and used myfitnesspal. I think it helped, but I just stopped using it about a year ago. It was hard to break the habit, but I have not gained any of the weight back. I think we all know what we need to do to stay healthy and that does not equal a number on the scale. Although I still weigh myself every day.

  12. Good for you Paula, I’m excited for you! You are going to feel so free! I go through phases of calorie counting in My Fitness Pal, but usually stop after about a week. In my regular every day life I kind of know how many calories and things I’m eating without actually tracking anything (or I did until I moved in with Evan…) but it’s those pesky weekends where I eat everything that get me. I would never track everything I ate anyway, I’d be logging one entry for hours.

    Anyway. I am just going to throw this out there, but maybe if you have been trying to lose the same five pounds for 80 years you are just not meant to lose those five pounds? I think your body is bangin! Plus, boobs are heavy.

    And I love the demented muppet. That is an excellent way of describing it, ’cause it’s certainly not what came to my mind either (speaking of dirty minds, I saw the game Dirty Minds on the weekend in a thrift shop and I am still kicking myself for not buying it, it looked awesome!)

    Sorry for the novel! You caught me in a writing mood.

    • Paula

      I do think my body is happy at a certain weight but it’s been creeping up the past two years. I just want to stop it from going any further! I have a lot of unhealthy people in the fam and I don’t wanna become one of them.

      Oh, and you should have bought Dirty Minds. You would love it! Plus, thrift store prices? You shoulda popped that tag.

  13. Laura WL

    Gurl! You kept a food diary for 5 years?! I have never made it longer than a few months. I dunno. I hate the hassle and also agree that it makes me food obsessive, which, I dunno, being so fixated on food started to seem really disordered to me. I am preggo now, so all food counting sort of out of the window (up 25 lbs, don’t care) but when I was in my mid twenties I calorie counted for the first time (and started running) and went from 155 to 130 and then gained back to stay at 140 for a very long time. When I would get into the high 140s I’d calorie count and exercise religiously my way back down to 140 and then stay there for about a year (I’ve done this for about 10 years). For me, its more about maintaining, knowing when you are gaining and then focusing a wee bit more on food until you fit into your pants again and then trying not to worry too much about food. 140 is a BMI of 24 for me, so nothing super spectacular, but I’ve learned to be happy there. Also, I think you look great and seem to have a really healthy balance (hence my lurking reading for many years). 😀

    • Paula

      Aww thank you! And I’m the same way. I fluctuate about 15 lbs. I get low and then gain some and realize I need to stop eating all the things. By the way, I’ve heard from several friends that having a baby totally changed the way they think about their body for the better! Something to look forward to. 🙂

  14. Nicole

    First, I am so glad something I posted made it into the blog. 🙂

    Second, I have been in treatment for an eating disorder which got out of control at the beginning of the year due to my Thyroid running way low. I have had this eating disorder since I was a teenager but it became a full blown problem once Fibro entered my life. I am a binger and occasional purger. The reason I am bringing this up is because one activity that I never associated with the eating disorder is keeping a food diary. Living with ups and downs of food choices. Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and labeling myself as with the corresponding food choices. Pushing myself to deny my feelings and pushing them down with food. Punishing myself for my weight gain.

    Since beginning treatment with Intuitive Eating, I have completely changed my relationship with food, my body, and my emotions. I enjoy food for flavor and textures, not as a numbing agent. I haven’t had a food diary and haven’t counted calories in over 6 months. I no longer obsess about food and very rarely feel hungry. It is very liberating.

    I am not suggesting that you have an eating disorder. Just passing on how the Intuitive Eating helps to break habits like food journaling.

  15. I’m a conflicted WW alum myself and definitely understand what you mean here. After counting points, I moved on to counting calories and *thought* it was the best way for my Type-A personality to keep track of everything. But it just got so stressful and frankly, didn’t work well. Like you, I’d eat four pieces of cake (but then I’d stay “on plan” and eat carrots for dinner).

    I hated when people talked about intuitive eating because I tried and tried and it never worked…but then…something clicked. And it did work. I think giving myself the space to really make smart choices about what and how much I ate, regardless of the calories or points, helped me retrain my brain.

    • Paula

      Did the clicking happen pre or post Audrey? I know that having a baby gives women a different perspective on their body, so I’m wondering if that had anything to do with it? (Disclaimer: No babies will be made in my quest for food happiness.)

      • Mostly after…and I think it’s in large part because when I was pregnant, I was too sick to worry about what I was eating — I just wanted to keep it down. So I ate what my body needed (sort of a forced intuitive eating plan?) and then when I was feeling better, I just stuck with the plan. That meant mayonnaise and candy and cookies were back on my menu, but instead of over-eating, which had been my problem, I just naturally found myself eating smaller, more reasonable portions.

        Being pregnant and having her has certainly given me a different appreciation for my body — I really still feel shocked that it expanded and contracted the way it did, and that it was able to create a freaking person over 41 weeks — but I think my “click” was less about that and more about having a year-long break from even thinking about weight loss. It reset my brain and my body.

  16. Amber K

    I’ve been using SparkPeople since 2007 and it has helped me maintain my weight loss. Tracking just seems second nature to me now, but I don’t really stress about it. Awhile back I was totally obsessed, but now it’s more of just a check-in system for me.

  17. Totally relate to this – former WW turned MFP addict. It’s so hard to turn it off and I would do the same thing – “oh I have 300 calories left today? better go eat some crap while I’m not hungry!”. So healthy. I’m trying to turn it off but it’s a fine line because I tend to gain weight when I’m not being “responsible”. I just want to be like my mom who buys chocolate chips to bake and freaking FORGETS about them. I still can’t understand this way of life.

    • Paula

      Yes! That is my main concern: the weight gain while not being “responsible.” Just another thing for me to worry about. And now I’m worrying about your mom’s forgotten chocolate chips.

      By the way, congrats on finishing the ultra! 🙂

  18. Verlin

    The only part I don’t understand is that you had calories or points left at the end of the day. I swear that has NEVER happened to me (and I’m not being my usual sarcastic self here). I’ve done WW and the various calorie-counting plans. I need them once in a while to get myself back in check (like when I forget that I had 3 chocolate bars in a day), but 5 years straight does indeed sound exhausting. You, my dear, need a break.

    • Paula

      Hmm. Maybe I should rephrase that to the evening. I never had anything left either. I would eat as little as possible during the day so I could eat more at night because I would be afraid of having nothing left at 6pm and then being hungry at 9. I’m not sure how I kept that up for so long. Now I snack at 11pm if I’m hungry.

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