“The food environment is overriding all the biological cues,” said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, who blames what he calls a “toxic food environment” for the prevalence of obesity. He added, “Biological safeguards against weight gain are being disabled, almost like someone went in and changed all the wiring.”
For full article, read “People offered snacks will eat them, whether hungry or not.”
Sure, I read all that information and more, yet I soiled my own food environment, and the results almost devastated me. If you’ve been following my blog, you know my weight loss slowed down to a halt lately. I kept telling myself not to get discouraged; plateaus are common for those who want to lose weight.
What I didn’t do was examine absolutely everything that had changed. I hadn’t been honest with myself, and now I will be honest with myself and my readers: I changed my food environment. It happened subtly. First, I felt great about losing more than fifty pounds. I loved my new look and my new clothes. I felt a great accomplishment, and then ever so quietly, a whisper in my ear was saying, “You did so well, you deserve to have a little fun. Take a break. You earned it.”
While at a big-box store, I saw a bag (big, of course) of pistachios. What has TV been saying about pistachios? Lowest in fat of all the nuts. What have nutritionists been saying? Eat more nuts; people who eat nuts live longer. Nuts have good fats in them that we need. Bingo! I put the bag of pistachios in my shopping cart and strolled farther down the aisle. Hm. Dark-chocolate-covered almonds. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. “Almonds are another nut that’s good for you. Dark chocolate is good for you,” I told myself. “You can have those. You’ve done so well; you’ve earned them,” the devil on my shoulder said. The container (huge, of course) of chocolate-covered almonds made its way into my cart. By then I’m amazed I didn’t buy my real downfall: popcorn. It’s the one food I love above all else, with plenty of butter and salt, of course. At least I bypassed the popcorn and left the store with only two shopping errors, but they were major.
For a normal person a bag of pistachios and container of chocolate-covered almonds would have been fine, but I’m not a normal person. In seven days, I’d eaten every pistachio in the bag. I took to eating five to ten chocolate-covered almonds after a meal, as well. Now you know the truth about my “plateau.” It had nothing to do with normal weight-loss programs and everything to do with my food environment and inability to resist treats that I made available to myself. To make matters worse, once in the mindset that a few chocolate-covered almonds are okay, I saw myself taking larger portions of food than I needed, too. Something had to stop, and finally, it did. Why? Because I actually gained weight. Duh. Surprise? My weight went up three pounds, and I heard myself shout, “No!”
A psychiatrist friend once told me she gets her patients to stop negative thinking by yelling “Stop!” Saying it out loud makes clients hear themselves and recast their thinking in a more positive way. My yelling “No!” from my bathroom scale made me hear myself clearly. I could not let my potentially harmful behavior continue.
Back on the bandwagon I jumped, back to proper food portions, back to salads and no second helpings of anything. Ever. The pistachios are gone, eaten, digested, and the shells thrown away. I can’t undo what I did. The remaining chocolate-covered almonds, however, I put into a cabinet, out of sight, in a place that’s not easy to reach. I need to slow myself down before I eat, think, and be conscious of what enters my mouth. Again. That’s what I’m doing.
Because of my fall from the wagon, I have still not met my goal of weighing 190, which I had hoped to meet by New Year’s Eve. I reset that mini goal several times, but guess what: I’m going to make it, now. I have only one more pound to go, and I’ll be there, and then I’ll set another mini goal, and another and another, until I reach my overall goal.
On the bright side, I easily lost the three pounds I’d gained, once I climbed back aboard the food-plan wagon. I changed my food environment and left nothing to tempt me. It’s amazing how I could so easily justify my wrong food choices in so many ways. I can’t let that happen again.
Starting weight: 245
Weight last check-in: 191
Weight this week: 191
Total pounds lost: 54
Goal weight: 150