The Food Monotony Project

Earlier in the year, I bemoaned my lack of weight loss and set a goal for the year of losing 40 lbs. – then did nothing to try to reach that goal. There’s been a number of life changes at work and at home that have put the pressure on and lately, I’ve felt that actually just getting through the day is achievement enough. This happens to all of us – it’s nothing to feel sorry for yourself about, or to dwell on unnecessarily, but instead you brace oneself for a bumpy ride, hold on to your seat, and wait till things smooth out, which they usually do eventually.

During this time, the thoughts about what to do different this time led me back to something I rejected long ago, as well as something I wrote on 2 years ago. The first thought was on a post about food monotony, that is, food as a utility. It’s a notion I had that part of the problem about dieting is that you replace one food obsession – eating too much – with another type – eating the correct types and quantities. I speculated that just thinking about food less might be many naturally thin people’s way of keeping slim.

As an exercise to test this, I decided that to limit my food intake to some simple, basic – even boring choices – if I can get used to it, might make my ‘live-to-eat mindset’ shift more to an ‘eat-to-live’ mindset.

The second thought surrounded a long-reviled concept that I thought might just help: calorie-counting. When I went on low carb 6+ years ago and peeled off 80+ lbs., I didn’t count calories – I counted carbs – just like Atkins said. Well after a year of flatlining of my attempt to take off the 30 lbs I put on since my inital 80+ loss, I wondered if perhaps it might help to count the calories and the carbs.

Yeah – I know – heresy. In the low carb world, you don’t have to do that. But I think I might. The reason being: I think I’ve tricked myself into thinking that I’m doing low carb right – when I’m doing no such thing.

Part of it, I think, is the way the Atkins book is written. In it, he puts forth the proposition that you just count carbs – not calories – but then spends a lot of time discussing portion control. Isn’t portion control controlling calories?

In reflection, I was better at portion control the last time around. Perhaps because I was consciously working at low carb, learning the ropes, so to speak. Now I can live low carb effortlessly, unconsciously – but without conscious focus, I’m simply taking in too much calories.

And while I believe that Atkins does give you a metabolic advantage, it can only go so far.

So along with food monotony and calorie counting, I have one more arrow in my quiver: nicotine.

I wrote about nicotine last year – how effectively it can kill appetite – as well as how I didn’t lose weight using it. I’ve also written about this failure in greater detail recently, but haven’t published it yet. A conclusion I’ve come to is that I just need to come up with a better ‘dosing schedule’. I have to be clear on when to take it and when not to take it.

I have almost a year’s experience in how not to take it – I have some good ideas on how to take it to assist ketosis in appetite suppression.

So these concepts ran through my head from the beginning of the year until this past weekend. That’s it – I really didn’t act on them.

Then I got way sick Saturday night from some stomach flu that left me with a fever on Sunday. I slept most of the day, and food, coffee, and nicotine lozenges were out of the picture.

This involuntary fast was cleansing in a way. I survived deprivation of these items without feelings of withdrawal. That was reassuring, and gave me the impetus to try to implement the new regimen I’ve been kicking about since the New Year.

So Monday, I cut back my coffee consumption to 4 cups of black coffee a day – in the morning. If that still seems like a lot, I used to drink 8 cups every morning, then go to work and probably down another pot before the afternoon. So now I’m drinking a quarter of what I used to drink as little as a year and a half ago.

Tuesday I decided to try the food monotony bit by taking the approach of: food in work is ‘eat-to-live’. Try living on Atkins shakes and bars during the day. That’s it. You won’t starve, but it’s not ‘dining’. It’s sustenance – that’s it.

In the evening – eat light. Maybe a little less than recommended just to begin.

Lastly – use the nicotine lozenges sparingly, but at the right time.

So I did this. During the day on Tuesday, I had nothing but a shake in the AM with my vitamins, then a bar in the afternoon about 2pm – I try to adhere to the Atkins rule of ‘wait no longer than 6 hours to eat’. After the bar, I had a lozenge. When I got home, I ate very sparingly – just some bologna (one of my favorite comfort foods) and a piece of low carb bread. Right after I ate this, I had another lozenge.

While I need to swap in better food choices in the evening, at the least, conceptually, this first pass at a new approach seemed successful. I’m drinking half the coffee, one-third of the nicotine, and probably less than half the calories. Let’s try this another day and see where the flaws in my thinking lie.

4 thoughts on “The Food Monotony Project

  1. I too have been trying to loose weight again after initially being so successful. About six years ago, I lost 75 pounds, then had surgery. I put back on 30 while dieting. Then two years ago, my daughter and husband moved out and I got serious again since I had to do my own cooking and lost 35. I’ve gained back 5. It’s time to loose again. But my daughter and husband moved back in, and my husband and son live with me also. I seldom do the cooking. Yet family is very supportive of my low carb lifestyle. I’ve discovered to loose weight, I need to stay at or below 20 carbs. My downfall these days is knowledge…I’ve discovered all the low carb foods that are available. for Dreamfields pasta, low carb pizzas, protein powder shakes. Even low carb, these foods count up fast. It’s hard to go back to the basics. Good luck with your most recent attempt.

      1. Love Dana Carpenter’s cookbooks and solid advise. She said she did low carb before it was a fad and had to eat real food. My current approach to my work day is vanilla protein powder mixed with diet coke and Dexatrim Max diet pills. Today I made it through Tasty Treat Friday where someone in the department brings in a sugary, high carb snack and leaves it on a table where I get to walk past it several times. And last night I braved Golden Corral with my family had had prime rib, chicken, ham, scallops, fish, chopped steak and a few pieces of melon. One day at a time, one hour at a time. I really think my issue is eating too many carbs of foods that are considered low carb.

  2. I agree with two things. Firstly, I agree that you need to watch your calories. On paleo I did not lose weight unless I did this and I had to count carbs. Watching carbs lowers your hunger levels but that is pointless if you still eat despite that!

    Unfortunately, my second agreement is nicotine. I remember years ago I lost all my weight on the cigarette and coca cola diet. Worked like a charm to reduce appetite but boy was it unhealthy. But the coke gave me a physical feeling of been bloated and the cigarette worked on the hunger.

    I think that working on your mental health helps. It has for me. Trying to do little things everyday to reduce stress, improve your mental well being and anxiety etc. I will be posting more about this stuff but I think that there is no point taking on the physical side of dieting if you are not also taking on the mental side. Reducing stress goes a long way to help.

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