Almost as soon as we moved to St. Louis, I started having what Buc and I dubbed as “eating emergencies.” I’d be going about my day fine, when suddenly a beast inside me would rear its ugly head and demand, “Feed me!” I became irritable at Buc and said words I seriously regretted and had to apologize for—all from hunger.
So now, in addition to a baby who was transitioning to all solids, I had another reason to reevaluate my diet: Apparently, I was “starving myself.” I concluded that, for my marriage’s sake, I better make a change.
If I wanted the “eating emergencies” and “food fights” with my husband to stop, I needed to stop trying to fend off my afternoon hunger with coffee (which was a great weight loss help in the past), and eat instead. As I listened to my body, I discovered that it really was food my body craved, not coffee, even though I love coffee! (A little less caffeine sure wouldn’t hurt my raging emotions either.) I needed to cook more satisfying meals, which I addressed in my last post; and I also needed to have some satisfying snacks on hand.
But the idea of adding more snacks to my diet unnerved me. I was scared of returning to habits that had put fifty extra pounds on my body in the first place. With all this self- and diet-evaluation, I realized that it was my poor choices during pregnancy that had packed on those fifty pounds. Lots of carbs, white flour, starchy things, sugary things. Bagels, muffins, pizza: these were what I craved most, and what I allowed myself to eat because, hello, I was starving for nine months!
Help for the Hungry (and Unhealthy)
Good thing that during our move to St. Louis I read Eve O. Schaub’s memoir, Year of No Sugar, in which the author and her family go on a yearlong sugar strike (with a few exceptions). Schaub’s conclusions after her yearlong project struck a chord with me. While I didn’t plan to attempt cutting out all sugar (an almost impossible task), she did convince me to cut down on my overall intake.
Two things I am doing as a result of my heightened sugar awareness:
- Limiting my sweets intake to about twice a week, as opposed to allowing myself to nibble on junk food every day
- Trying recipes for muffins, cookies, and cakes that don’t contain sugar (incidentally, these recipes also switch out refined flour for healthier options like whole wheat flour, wheat germ, nuts, and oats)
I’ve been implementing these changes for one month, and you know what? I don’t really miss my sweets. And I feel lighter, fuller, and more satisfied.
Specifically What I’m Doing to Get Fuller and Healthier (and Lose Weight in the Process)
Let me flesh this out a bit more, in case you want to tweak your diet, too: I used to eat something chocolate or sugary almost every day—a few candies, a piece of frozen Sara Lee cake, or an iced coffee from Mcdonalds (I especially loved my iced coffees, but I finally admitted to myself they were full of sugar, and majorly preventing weight loss).
Now I am skipping those choices almost every day but baking one healthy thing a week—like oat cookies, pumpkin muffins, or even Sam’s first birthday “cake”—to eat in place of my junk, or to eat for my snacks.
I’m not into finding obscure sugar substitutes like seasoned baker Eve Schaub. But happily, as I perused recipes to feed one-year-old Sam, I found a bunch of no-sugar recipes in the parenting book What to Expect the First Year, in the “Best Odds Recipes” section. This collection is designed to keep kids away from sugar for as long as possible, but it also provided just what I needed for myself.
The recipes I’ve tried have no hard-to-find ingredients, but rely on staples like dates, raisins, apple juice, wheat germ, oats, and whole-wheat flour. I love that everything on the ingredient list is good for me, and good for Sam, and I have enjoyed “indulging” in cookies and cake for a morning snack, or even for breakfast. I genuinely feel nourished by these healthy treats, and with these becoming my usual fare, I don’t feel bad for having a sugar bomb of a treat once in awhile. On a happy side note, already I’m craving those sugar bombs less and less, and finding that I am satisfied with a much smaller serving of sugar than I used to be (say two Hershey’s kisses instead of a piece of chocolate cake).
So far I feel great with these changes, and I plan to continue as long as I have the time to make this “bake-ahead” food. Indeed, baking my snacks ahead of time is key, so that whenever I have a food emergency, I also have a quick and healthy solution.
If you find yourself in the same desperate and ravenous situation I was, and if you want to lose some weight, I am convinced that one of the best things you can do for yourself (and possibly your relationships) is to get your hands on some sugarless recipes, use them, and then stock your fridge and freezer with these healthy, hunger-stopping treats. Your spouse, and your waistline, will thank you.
Epilogue: Thanks to the diet changes discussed here and in my last post (and probably thanks to all the extra flights of stairs in our new home, the busyness of unpacking, and a mobile baby), I dropped five pounds within the first month of living in St. Louis. And now I only have four more to go!
I know I’m late in commenting — I’ve been cleaning out e-mail — but I wanted to say that I’m happy to hear you’re thinking about nutrition, not only for Sam but for yourself and Buc, and how to eat to prevent those hunger emergencies. I’m having the opposite issue as you — you want to lose weight and I need to gain it — but still have the same nutritional concerns. I have Crohn’s disease so I already operate under diet restrictions such as low fiber, low fat, low sugar. I’m trying to gradually change my diet to more plant based rather than meat based. But I can’t right now because I need lots and lots of protein for healing. And I need to eat lots of calories to gain weight.
What I am learning, and that I want to pass on, is that we have individual bodies with individual physical needs. What works for me may not work for someone else. So, when I look at a structured diet, the Paleo diet for example, I look at it thinking about my body’s needs rather than taking the diet whole and complete. Pick and choose. I’m currently phasing out most of the gluten in my diet, and have been working on cow’s milk dairy. On the other hand, I’m also currently addicted to Lay’s baked potato crisps! My docs have all endorsed my plan to follow my cravings but they represent my body telling me what it needs. My primary doc told me I probably craved the potato crisps because of the salt. I think she’s right. I’ve been cooking from scratch a lot more since I left the hospital — frozen dinners haven’t been agreeing with me — and I don’t cook with salt, so I’m probably getting much less than I have in the past.
Anyway, I don’t want to ramble on, but I do think it’s important to support your instincts and snack on high protein (hardboiled deviled egg?) or veggies. Fruits still have a lot of sugar.
Cinda, wow, sorry to hear about the Crohn’s. I’ve known a few people with that, and I know it’s tough. It sounds like paying attention to diet is really crucial for you right now (as it should be for everybody, all the time…but a lot of people need some kind of wakeup call!).
Good observation about paying attention to what our bodies are telling us. I think there’s a lot of merit to that. I definitely wasn’t feeding all my body’s nutritional needs, hence the eating emergencies!
As I’ve kept to the plan (and I mostly have), I’ve felt better. But I agree on not going strictly with one diet. A lot of Adventists are vegan, but that’s just never gonna happen in my house. The hubby loves cheese too much, and I’d miss it too!
And hardboiled deviled eggs sound delicious. I should work more of those in! Yes, fruits have sugar, but I don’t worry about it too much because I’ve read it also has the surrounding fiber and other nutrients that “cancel out” the bad effects…if I were diabetic, it would be more of a problem.
Anyway, best to you in your diet changes. I hope they bring you back to good health soon!