Friday, March 28, 2014

Don't Have to Sniff that Milk Twice

My husband has a saying that you don't have to sniff the milk more than once to know that it's bad.

I've never been a calorie tracker, but for some reason in December I decided to start tracking my intake using the USDA SuperTracker. I had non-weight loss reasons. I just wanted to make sure I was eating a balanced diet. Or so I told myself.

Bad girl! Sit! Down! STARVE!
For the record, this was not a typical day.
Plus, I was flat-out curious, because I had no idea how much I was eating, calorie-wise. With one or two rare exceptions, I have always eaten a lot. Fat, thin, in-between, I've always enjoyed food. But I kept getting the message from the world that there was some arbitrary level that I was supposed to eat.

I promised myself I would be totally honest with it, but not go hungry. I'd use it for analysis, not as a straitjacket. In practice, it didn't work out that way. I probably should have called the grand experiment quits when:
  • The kitchen sink was filled with measuring cups and spoons.
  • Ordering a restaurant meal was a stressful, estimate-based calculus.
  • I'd gloat over undershooting my calorie budget and be ravenous the next day.
  • Measured portions overruled whether I was actually full.
  • Not staying within the "allowances" gave me anxiety.
  • I considered giving up the whole milk I love for skim just to make the numbers work.
  • I ran out of everything but veggie portions before dinner and considered eating nothing that night but baked potato and avocado.
  • I'd eat a meal in front of the computer so I could record what I was eating.
So what was the last straw? Lately, I've noticed I was flying off the handle a lot to the point where it was embarrassing. Irrational, unreasoning rage over stupid things that I knew were inconsequential. I was chalking it up to pre-menopause. Then I asked my husband how long I'd been like this.

"Oh, a couple of months," he said. About the same amount of time I'd been food tracking. Could there be a connection?

I hadn't felt hungry, but still I wondered if I wasn't eating enough for me. Saturday I stopped writing anything down. I started eating what I wanted, when I wanted. I had a bowl of ice cream. I scarfed down the local restaurant's pot roast burger  with relish (more accurately, with enough horseradish to make my eyes water.) I didn't worry about exceeding some "allowance."

I haven't had a bout of agitated, unreasoning rage all week.

So to all those who recommend food logs: I tried it your way. Really. I tried. It didn't work for me. I'm allowed to stop beating my head against the wall. Even if I get pudgier, I'll take that over bitchier.

I sniffed that jug of milk. It was bad. I'm not sniffing it a second time.


  1. I'm having a bit more luck in just trying to eat healthier, and backing off a bit - but not eliminating - carbs like grains. I tried the Atkins thing a few years back. I did lose weight, but I was miserable and had apparently turned into a raging demon; when I announced to Brian that I had decided to quit, he said, "Thank God."

    1. My husband had pretty much the same reaction, MB. ;-)

  2. I hear you. For my money, it's not just a quantity thing, and a potential going-hungry thing, but rage and depression arise when I stop trusting my own body's signals. It's like you get into a habit of second-guessing yourself, and it creates this rift internally, emotionally - the real you, and the you that you're supposed to be... And of course, it's right to rebel against obedience when that obedience requires restriction - you sense the threat of starvation and are inspired to work to overcome it, so simply tracking your intake can make you hungrier than you would be ordinarily anyway, and it's like you rebel in emotional and physical layers.

  3. I hadn't thought about that angle. Thanks for your insight, Chris.

    1. :) That's been my experience of it... depression and anger, to do with not feeling like I've got my own back... So many layers!