Monday 27 March 2023

The Bev Diet (part 2): Psychological Preparation (or I heart oatmeal!)


(Got another phone call today from a friend I haven’t spoken to in awhile. She heard I’d lost 45 lbs and asked what I thought of Noom. I explained I’ve never used Noom, and started trying to explain the Bev diet…so thanks, Monnie, for pushing me into making this next post!)

One of the most important aspects to this weight loss journey I’m on involves changing the way I think about food and me. To be successful, you will likely have to do the same.

First of all, if food is one of your major sources of pleasure in life, you really are going to have to dial that back. Figure out why that is, if there’s any other way to inject pleasure back into your life (sans food!), and go for it! I’ve tried my best to maintain some of my eating pleasures, like creamy pasta and ice cream! But more on these later.

Another distorted idea I needed to confront was this notion that “I didn’t really eat all that much”. Which, on some level, is actually true. I never sat down with a whole rotisserie chicken for dinner, for example. Or ate a dozen eggs and half a loaf of bread for breakfast. But if, like me, you are basically 75 lbs overweight, after a lifetime of on-again off-again dieting, you have to acknowledge the lies you routinely tell yourself. Obviously, as reflected in the gallons of fat stuck to my stomach, hips, thighs, breasts, etc., I CLEARLY AM EATING MUCH TOO MUCH!

The clearest evidence is in those curves and folds I’m always trying to camouflage.

I think I can recall talk about this kind of thing in Weight Watchers back in the day*, how people tell themselves they are “big boned”, etc. Listen, I’m 5ft 5inches (and a half, let’s not forget that half-inch, which may be gone anyway, now that I’m in my sixties, but whatever).

What I had to do was analyze my weak points regarding food and over-eating. And the biggest problem, for me, was dinner. Cooking dinner. Cooking anything, really, but dinner especially. Because I would make dinner from about 5 or 6 pm, and I was making dinner while I was hungry! So what happened was—especially when my kids were young and I was fixing dinner after working a day in the molecular genetics lab—was that I ate dinner twice: once while I was preparing the food, and again when I sat down to the meal with my family (or, as we are empty nesters now, with hubby). So I decided to do something daring:

                I GAVE UP COOKING DINNER!

Yup. I told hubby I was trying something new diet-wise and that it would help me immeasurably if I no longer had to cook his meals. I started buying him frozen meals, too. And then I found a great place nearby that makes tasty and reasonably priced fresh meals (Le Maitre Boucher, if you’re a Westend Montreal local). If you’ve ever used a meal service like Hello Fresh (and we did try it, for about 3 weeks: good food, expensive compared to home cooking, high in calories, tremendous amount of shipping waste, not to mention the necessity of being around to get the package of food or having to worry about it being stolen! And then you still have to cook the darn meal!), you already know what you’re willing to spend on dinner. It came to about $25 for the two of us, or $12.50 per meal. And that was using their introductory specials, which seemed to rely on a lot of ground meat…but I digress.

Of course, hubby could have taken up doing the cooking. But he’s really not into that, which is fine (he does a lot of things around the house that I wouldn’t do myself). Hubby seems to enjoy being a sous-chef (occasionally) but not being in charge of the meal. Except for breakfast. But I digress again.

The thing is, I’m sure this would have been a non-starter if my family was still young. Which is why I stress that you must really think about your issues around food/cooking and approach them accordingly. Like, if I still HAD to cook, I’d have figured out some other strategy to confront my snacking during meal prep, such as sucking on Hall’s throat lozenges (or something equally odious) while cooking dinner (something that makes everything taste bad, so you’re not tempted to eat while cooking). Chewing gum might work. Cooking on weekends (never managed to do that when my kids were young, alas). Or eating a meal BEFORE you start cooking, if you have to.

What kind of meal can you prepare in no time to eat before the real meal is cooked, you ask? Let me tell you about my secret weapon, a food I eat several times a week, preferably at dinner-time: 


One-third cup of oatmeal (in ¾ cups of water, add a bit of salt, about 2 mins in the microwave but you have to watch it & stir it down several times when it threatens to overflow the bowl! Then let it cool covered for a minute, add ½ cup zero fat Greek yogurt and a splash of milk. I mostly use artificial sweetener and cinnamon or 1/3 cup of raspberries). This is a full bowl of tummy warming nostalgic goodness. Healthy and filling. And the yellow no-name brand is the best!

So: you have to confront the truth about eating too much. WAAY too much. For years and years.

And then the corollary: you really are going to have to eat much, MUCH less. How much less?

I try to keep my calories below 1200** daily. I also eat three filling meals, and manage to indulge my cravings for creamy pasta and ice cream, too. Well, frozen vanilla yogurt, to be accurate.

I have never felt deprived or starving eating this way. And I’ve been doing it for 10 months now. But I do still struggle with eating too much frozen yogurt, or eating out once in a while. There are weeks when my weight fluctuates, before I finally get my act together and make it work again. I'm still human and fallible, but at least I’m relatively confident now that I can handle these ups and downs. 

Psychological preparation and checking in on how I’m doing helps a lot.

Finally, you have to be prepared to change what you think about eating: every meal does not have to be a three course extravaganza. Every lunch or supper does not have to include meat!

You need to eat much less than you think.


*And I’ve been on WW about four times, including once when I was pregnant, as I thought it would help me keep my weight gain down as my pregnancy advanced. Instead, it was the most depressing thing ever, as my weight continued to climb…

**Of course, this should vary with sex, height, and age. People who are male, taller, and/or younger need more calories. Again, please consult a medical/nutritional specialist, especially if you have health issues.

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