I thought a lot about a lot of the various weight loss methods that I have tried over the years. The only one that was successful was honestly a bit unhealthy and no longer works for me. I lost weight close to 15 years ago by counting calories. Most people would say that it’s not a terribly unhealthy approach. But what most people visualize is healthier food at reasonable serving sizes. That’s not exactly how I did it. When I got a food craving, say for a Big Mac. Fries, and milkshake, I’d have that and count that as my calories for the day. I literally ate nothing else.
Unfortunately, with my thyroid the way it is, that plan will no longer work. I have tried several eating plans since then. I’ve tried detox diets, the blood type one, shakes, counting calories, low-glycemic, paleo, and high-protein. I have come to the conclusion that I can’t follow these diets. What I didn’t realize was the reason why.
Maybe it’s because my head is all messed up either from my ex-husband’s gaslighting or my depression, but I have been exhibiting signs of a compulsive overeater. I had always had this picture in my mind of compulsive overeaters sneaking a giant bag of cookies into a closet and eating where no one would see them. I pictured them being the ones who can finish off a half gallon of ice cream in a single sitting. I didn’t do those things, so it never occurred to me that I exhibited other signs of a compulsive overeater. For example, when my coworkers leave candy in the faculty room, I take a few, then keep coming back. It feels like a compulsion. I’d find reasons to keep returning. I’d make myself coffee. I’d act like I was waiting on line to make photocopies. I’d return a mug that I left in my classroom. But it was embarrassing and I kept doing it anyway. There are also some things that I just can’t eat one of. I have to finish the whole can, bar, or container. I also eat compulsively when I’m tired or depressed. I have also been known to pick up one meal at a fast food restaurant and then eat another one when I got home (assuming someone else was living with me at the time).
Oddly enough, this realization came as a result of my last eating plan. I started the eating plan and followed it faithfully for almost a week when it came time for my “cheat meal”. No matter what I chose for my cheat meal, it didn’t last for a meal. It usually lasted for a whole day and threw my eating off for an entire week. That’s when I started to suspect that I had a problem when it came to food.
I decided to think back to the time when all of this started, when I first gained the weight. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism during a time when I working two jobs, eating McDonalds for at least two meals a day, I spent 3 hours daily in my car commuting, and my (now) ex-husband ignored me for the small amount of time I was at home. I started to wonder if the stress combined with the junk food and sedentary lifestyle could result in a hypothyroidism diagnosis. Like maybe the stress combined with the hormones in the meat caused my thyroid to stop working as well? There’s no proof of that, but if the doctors don’t know the cause, why I can’t hypothesize about it.
I did know that the problem went deeper. I really was like this since I was a child. I ate all of my Halloween and Easter candy in a single sitting. My parents used to give us candy in our stockings at Christmas and mine was always gone before breakfast on Christmas morning. I remember whenever my mom made my favorite cookies I compulsively snuck them. It was similar to the way I sneak foods in the faculty room. I just kept going back for more.
Needless to say, I have a problem. But what was the solution? Seeing as I had a compulsive eating problem, even if it isn’t nearly as bad as it could be, I decided to look into what was done in several compulsive eating programs. These rules will seem strict and that’s the point. Because I have figured out (by a lot of wasted time and failed diets) that there are just some things I can’t be trusted to do. These are also a long list of rules, but I’m working on starting them bit by bit, so hopefully they won’t seem so hard.
- Log my meals the night BEFORE I eat them and eat only the foods I have logged in the quantities that I logged.
- Eat three meals a day. No BLTs (bites, licks or tastes). No snacks.
- Do not eat any kind of sugar or flour. Yes that goes for any kind of sugar including stevia, honey, agave, artificial sweeteners, and dried fruits (the only exception is whole, real fruit). That also means any kind of flour including rice flour, almond flour, and coconut flour (which I have leftover from my paleo attempts).
- Only drink drinks without calories like water, seltzer (so long as there’s no artificial sweeteners), black coffee, unsweetened tea, etc.
- Maintain my portion control (see below for more details).
- Find some like-minded people to discuss and keep me in this program.
- Create an emergency plan to follow whenever I am tempted to go off of my plan
- Take it one day at a time.
Breakfast – 1 protein, 1 fruit, 1 non-flour carb
Lunch – 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 fat
Dinner – 1 protein, 2 vegetable, 1 fat
- Contact someone (an accountability buddy or one of the people in my life who I told about my problem)
- Gratitude (think of all the things I am grateful in my life)
- Serve (make it so that I’m focused on helping others and not about me)
- Distract yourself (knitting keeps my hands busy, but it won’t work when I’m at work)