Diets and hunger and, well, me.

For all ye runners, shredders, dieters and sneaky custard creamers...

Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby LucyLastic » 26 Jan 2015, 01:18

I recently watched the BBC Horizon three part series on diets. If you haven't seen it, the basic premise is that as there are multiple reasons for weight gain, a 'one fits all' approach is unlikely to work. It divided volunteers into three groups (constant cravers, feasters and emotional eaters) based on test results and gave each group a different approach (intermittent, high protein-low GI and low cal with group support respectively) adapted to the main reason for their weight gain (genes, low gut hormone levels, history). The constant cravers and feasters were described as not receiving adequate signals to the brain to let them know they were full. I'm sure this must be the case for many people, but my real question here is:
Is hunger the real problem?

I have had weight issues for quite some time and am now significantly overweight, so was very interested in this programme. However, informative as it was, I couldn't relate to how they were describing the reasons for overeating. They kept discussing 'hunger' and how feasters eat more at one sitting because their bodies have low levels of gut hormones and their brains therefore don't get the right signals regarding hunger, how constant cravers don't feel full, etc.
For me, eating, especially when I eat 'bad' food, is never about hunger. Their test suggests I am a constant craver. I do think about food a lot and often eat when I don't need to. But it's rarely because I am hungry. I am pretty well informed when it comes to diet and nutrition and can cook, so it's not that I am ignorantly stuffing my face with pizza and burgers. I choose, on a regular basis, to eat food that I know is bad for me, to eat too much, not because I am hungry and need it to make me feel full (physically or emotionally) but for the sake of it. I can't think of another way of putting it. It might be boredom, lack of activity, poor planning, subconscious self-destruction, but it definitely isn't hunger (or rarely, at any rate).
Does anyone relate to this? And more importantly, do you have any ideas on how to tackle it? I have seen GPs on countless occasions, been referred for CBT, which was useless as I had no patterns of behaviour that could be targetted, and I don't know how to go about losing weight in an achievable way. I have tried Weight Watchers in the past, which worked for the first few months, but became hard work and I fell off the wagon. I am definitely not an emotional eater - when I was pregnant I weighed less at the end than I had at the beginning - my parents had both died, my sister spent 4 months in hospital and I'd been given an in utero diagnosis of severe bilateral ventriculomegaly and given the option to terminate until the very end. Didn't eat my way to oblivion and actually lost weight as I was eating healthily 'for the baby' and I was back and forth to hospitals for the entire time. Too preoccupied to eat rubbish.

In general, though, I have a very low 'to hell with it' threshold, so my nigh on daily good intentions are almost always immediately trampled by the 'ah, f*ck it' feelings. This applies to food (as above), booze (if I have a glass, I'll drink the bottle, so have stopped booze altogether), sleep (mean to go to bed earlier than the night before, but once I'm through my evening slump, I'm wide awake from 10 onwards and can be sitting here at 3 not feeling tired in the slightest, even though I fall straight asleep when I go to bed). It applies to all kinds of things. I should compare energy suppliers but haven't, because I can't be bothered. 'Ah, just f*ck it' strikes again. Go for a walk. Do painting with C. Put a wash on. Same thing. It's like a mix of selfishness, apathy and self destruction. I don't think I'm depressed. I've been for counselling when I have felt 'down' in the past, but I don't feel like that. I just don't understand why I actively choose these self-destructive behaviours when I KNOW better. It impacts on all kinds of things, but the most obvious and pressing is my health - it has now got to a stage where I really want to do something about it, to change these instincts/reactions, whatever they are, because they are now making my life difficult, uncomfortable and ultimately, much shorter.

Well, this turned into a much longer and more 'about me' post than I initially intended.
Thanks for getting this far. Any advice would be gratefully received.

I guess I should go to bed, as I only got four hours on Fri night, was rudely awakened by a lively 2 year old this morning and it is one o'clock in the morning, but am fighting against 'You could watch *one* more episode of Doctor Who...' There really is no helping me, is there? :-/
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby lizandimo » 26 Jan 2015, 02:55

Don't have any advice I'm afraid, but I have these (((())))

I very much relate to this:

LucyLastic wrote:It applies to all kinds of things. I should compare energy suppliers but haven't, because I can't be bothered. 'Ah, just f*ck it' strikes again. Go for a walk. Do painting with C. Put a wash on. Same thing.

But like you I have know idea why I do it, even knowing better. Part of me thinks I'm too tired to care sometimes. Just wanted to let you know you're not alone, and also I hope you've gone to bed!! (last night we sat and watched 3 episodes of Silent Witness even though I should have gone to bed after the first one)
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Treeb » 26 Jan 2015, 03:01

I'm overweight, though not obese. I eat for a lot of reasons. Hunger is one of them, but so is boredom, habit, avoidance of other tasks, enjoyment of the tastes of foods, self-sabotage, etc. etc. I can sit there feeling completely full and still continue to eat because it is yummy or just because it happens to be sitting there near me. I definitely think that a lot of people eat for non-hunger reasons.

You say you avoid booze now because you know if you have a little you'll just end up drinking the whole bottle. I do the same for most unhealthy foods - I rarely keep crackers, chips (crisps), cookies, chocolates, ice cream, etc. in the house because I know if it is there I will just eat it until it is gone. I may enjoy the first several bites of it, but after that I'm just eating it for really no reason. So, I just don't buy these things and honestly I never really miss them when they're not in the house. I find other, healthier, things to snack on instead, or just have a cup of tea, or don't eat anything since I wasn't actually hungry to begin with. I do buy these things every now and then as a treat or if dh wants them or whatever, but every time they are in the house I fall into the same trap of eating way more than I need.

I don't really know why we fall into these patterns, or how to change it. I guess the biggest thing is recognizing what is going on, knowing what your triggers are or what situations cause you to eat like this, and then trying to avoid those triggers and situations. I wonder if something like mindfulness or meditation could be helpful in tackling a problem like this? It's not something I've tried, but I know others on here have recommended mindfulness programs in the past as well as the Head Space meditation app.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Cofa's Tree » 26 Jan 2015, 07:27

((())) wanting to change but not knowing how is tough.

How are you with exercise? Could you try committing to something like the Couch to 5k programme? Or set yourself the goal of doing your local Saturday morning parkrun? Or do you have a friend to sign up to an exercise class with so you have the motivation to see her and not let her down by not going? Being active, in whatever way you can manage to begin with, will bring so many benefits that eating may just fall into place once you get going.

How about using something like the My Fitness Pal app where you log all your food - seeing it written down might be a first step to getting control back.

I know these aren't dealing with the underlying reasons, but little steps and all that... If you feel up to it, come back and join us on the Getting Healthy thread for gentle encouragement/kicks up the bum (whatever works for you!). I'm getting near to half-way in losing the 4st I've got to shift so you can give me the kicks up the bum this week as I fell off the wagon early last week, but have climbed back on :D
Last edited by Cofa's Tree on 26 Jan 2015, 08:52, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Marrow » 26 Jan 2015, 08:36

I can definitely relate to the eating out of boredom / habit / because it's there. I've been trying to start losing weight for over a year, and actually successfully started the diet 4 weeks ago.

What has worked for me is a combination of getting a Fitbit for Christmas, it being a new year, knowing I'm going to be doing job interviews soon, the getting fit thread, and coming off Cerazette (not TTC - for other reasons).

But I have a history of yoyo dieting - I've lost 2-3st at least five times!
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Nix » 26 Jan 2015, 10:18

I am the same Lucy, I have started to recognise a sedate numb feeling I get after scoffing something bad for me. Food is a drug to me. I have found it hard not to eat the whole box of special toffee at the back of our desk that everyone else seems to ignore without any problem. I feel like the bad stuff is everywhere too- it's not just my fault. Adverts for chocolate are everywhere, supermarkets display the reduced chocolate on the ends, instagram and Pinterest are full of tempting treats. I'm not sure what the answer is. For me it's not to cut it out completely because I don't think I am ready for that but I can reduce the amounts I eat. I have daren't keep large bags of chocolate or large bars in the house.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby issi » 26 Jan 2015, 12:01

This website has some excellent advice on changing habits based on self-knowledge - as many people have pointed out here, the strategies that work for you depend on things like whether you are an 'abstainer' (i.e. have to give something up completely otherwise you end up over indulging) or a 'moderator' (i.e. the thought of giving up something entirely just makes you want it more, and you're therefore likely to have more of it). She also has categories for how you respond to inner and outer expectations which is really important in helping you decide which strategies to go for. Another interesting thing she talks about it 'loophole spotting' - she has a long list of different loopholes that people emply to get out of keeping a habit that they have decided they want to keep - sounds like it could be useful for identifying reasons behind your 'ah f*ck it' thoughts. Here's a couple of links:

For loopholes: ... -spotting/
I am really bad with number 3: it's ok to not bother today because I'm going to be sooooo good tomorrow :?

For strategies start here - it's a summary of her book but there's loads of links to stuff on her site (I haven't read the book - it's not out yet I don't think): ... sentences/
For food, I find the "Strategy of convenience" essential - i.e. make it inconvenient to eat junk by not buying it, but easy to eat well by having tasty yet healthy stuff in the house.

I think someone else mentioned mindfulness and meditation - I'd definitely recommend the Headspace app - it has a 10 day free trial. Regular meditation has helped slow my brain down a bit so that there's space between my thoughts and my actions so I have got better at controlling impulses (for me it's more time wasting than bad eating) and making good choices.

Hope some of that helps!
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby StJuniper » 26 Jan 2015, 12:15

I feel like my natural state is lazy/undisciplined/procrastinating, but that self-discipline begets self-discipline. If I find a way to improve in one area, whether it's housework, food, whatever, I do better in others.

I have found it very helpful to use joy as my motivator, not guilt. Resources that promote the joy of eating good, healthy, real food, the beauty of using your body, the peace of soul that comes from a clean living space, do way more for my interest in these things than resources that try to reason, scare, or cajole me into doing these things. My comfort-loving body hates messing around with stuff that it doesn't think is going to make it happier. Being strong makes me happy. Good food, just enough of it, makes me happy in a way raiding the cupboards for chocolate never does. On the flip side I never, never eat low-fat anything; full-fat dairy quite literally makes me happier than not having extra body fat could dream of, so I don't have time for low-fat.

Accountability also helps me. I do way better with self-discipline if DH is around, or have a friend checking up on me. Arguably it isn't really self-discipline but I think of self-discipline as a muscle and accountability helps me work it so that later I'll be able to use it without help.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby RedRum » 26 Jan 2015, 12:22

Following with interest. I was just thinking about this at the weekend. Maybe not totally the same, but I used to have substance abuse problems (a big long time ago) and the way I get with sugar, not all food, just sugar, seems to have a lot of the same patterns. I know it will make me feel awful, I know I will feel sick and queasy and ashamed, I know I don't even want whatever it is I'm bingeing on, but it's like there's a little part of me that takes over and I will keep going till it's gone. To the point of being secretive etc at work or at home with DH. So I'm aware as I'm doing it that it's bad and I don't want anyone else to know. Sugar is the key for me, and right now I'm working to cut it out, as much as possible, but I know full well that if I eat one Percy pig or one piece of cake I may as well just resign myself to the fact I'm going to eat the whole lot. I kind of feel like I know I can control it but there's a part if me that persuades the rest of me to give up without even trying.

Oddly, I'm actually pretty healthy in general terms and hover right around the top end if healthy bmi. I exercise, I eat well, but I self sabotage to an enormous degree.

ETA. Like STJ he better I do the better I do iyswim.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Rahgamuffin » 26 Jan 2015, 13:55

I have a very low cba threshold too - the only way I learned to control it was to not buy things. IIRC, you shop online? Do the order while not hungry & not tired and stick a note on your computer saying its easier to say "no" now. If it isn't in arms reach & you can be bothered to cook it or walk to the shop for it, then you can have it. I still snack pretty constantly, but on celery, apples, pears etc. instead of biscuits, cake & Chocolate. This works fine for me, but DH would just swing by the coffee shop on his way home from work and grab doughnuts because he knows I won't have got them.

DH is on a diet where you diet strictly for 6 days (no sugar, not even fruit, no carbs, no dairy) then have a complete blow out on day 7 - all the non diet food is hidden (The kids & I have a secret stash!) for the rest of the week and he shops on Saturday night before his Sunday 'Cheat day'. In theory anything left over goes in the bin, but in reality I stick them in a box for me & the kids. He can control himself for a few days, knowing he is allowed it later, where all the other diets he has tried, he gives up after a couple of weeks because there is no end in sight.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby FestiveTidings » 26 Jan 2015, 14:10

I can relate to this quite a lot. I did the test although I didn't watch all the programs. I came out as an emotional eater and a constant craver. 5 years ago I wouldn't have identified as an emotional eater but I've come to realise that in a way, I am. I eat because it makes me happy. I love food, I love the taste, the texture the smell, but I eat too much of it and possibly too much of the really bad stuff. So I try to limit it and keep the carbs down during the week and only have a takeaway on the weekend. But shit happens and sometimes it's easier to order in a pizza than to put some pasta on.

I'm still overweight and I know I can diet (more veg, lean protein and portion control), but i don't have the self focus on me at the moment to do it.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby LucyLastic » 26 Jan 2015, 18:20

Wow. Thanks to all of you for making it through my epic post. You deserve points. And thanks for the hugs and similar stories.

I have wondered if the cba attitude stems from low self-worth, but I don't feel like I have low self-worth, unless it is subconscious. I will do things if they're for C - get up, get ready, get out, but not if they're for me. It smacks of low self-esteem on paper, but it just isn't. It's annoying, is what it is.

I did the BBC test and it came out as mostly constant craver, some feaster and -1 for emotional eater - does that make me a detached eater?!?
I gave the 5:2 a go a while back and lasted two weeks. 500 cals just wasn't enough and I had a headache by the end of the fast days. However, 800 sounds reasonable as long as I plan ahead. I've tried MFP but, like Weight Watchers, I found it made me obsess even more about food, what I could and couldn't have and inevitably I'd forget to track by day 3.
I successfully lost weight on WW a few years ago and had a friend who was really encouraging which was a great motivation. She was online most days, so she was around on msn (ah, the good ol' days) to check how I was getting on or to swap ideas with. However, she and I have fallen out since (well, she fell out 'at' me) and none of my other friends would have that kind of 'availability'. My OH would see any reminders, etc as commenting on my weight, which he just wouldn't do.
Exercise is a bone of contention. I live in a rural area, but on a main road, so if I wanted to go for a walk/run, I'd have to drive somewhere first, or risk being bowled over by a car doing 60 if I'm lucky. My weight is such that I still have lingering after effects of SPD, so come the evening, I can barely move if I've been standing most of the day or if I've spent the day on the sofa. My knees hurt, my feet hurt, my hips hurt. Even lying down all night makes me ache by morning. So whatever I do, it has to be gentle. Swimming would probably be ideal, but the thought of trying to squeeze into my costume and go to the local pool fills me with dread. I have a Wii and various exercise games but if I try to do them while C is here, she 'joins in' (gets in the way) so much that it becomes just undoable. And frankly, any excuse to sit down... I also hate feeling hot and bothered. It makes me really irritable. So, I need to lose some weight before I can seriously contemplate an exercise programme. Or so I keep telling myself.
Any ideas for snacks that aren't a) 'bad', b) yoghurt c) fruit or d) cup of tea/coffee? I think this is often where I fall down - despite being obsessed by food, I can't think of things when I need them, so I resort to bad food. Breakfast is another stumbling block. Not so bad if it's a day where I have time to do eggs, but if I'm up and out, I have to resort to toast or crumpets or similar as I don't drink milk (or tea or coffee) and I am just not keen on yoghurt or fruit. So, if I've already had rubbish carbs for breakfast, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. And now I have to think about dinner and am completely uninspired, haven't been veg shopping yet and will probably have to resort to pasta.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Rahgamuffin » 26 Jan 2015, 18:38

aaaaaaaand breathe! You don't tip a jigsaw puzzle out of the box and it is made, one piece at a time. What do you want to change first?

*If you feel breakfast is setting you up for a bad day then focus on breakfast?
*If it is the reaching for snacks, then next shop only buy fruit/veg/nuts/protein (prawns, fish sticks?) instead of cakes. You may not want them, but that's half the point (celery or nothing..?)
*If it is your main meal, then plan main meals so you're not fighting the battle at the end of the day & tired
*If it is exercise then pick an activity (e.g. my current aim is to run once this week!)

One step at a time, find a reward for doing it - e.g. if all week none of my snacks are carb/sugar based, I can have a cake on day 7, or buy a new bra, or new ball of wool... One habit, every 3 months.
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby ChristmasGift » 26 Jan 2015, 19:27

I've only just come upon this thread but loads of what has been said resonates with me too. I am fortunate that I don't gain weight that easily but I have developed a severe sugar addiction which is at times embarrassing. I work in an office and we always have birthday treats, biscuits and other goodies hanging around. Everyone else seems to be able to take them or leave them but I just can't. Anyway I am currently trying to reduce my sugar consumption as it's ridiculous and I find that if I opt for very savoury snacks I am far less likely to cave in than if I have something sweet which seems to open up the flood gates. Things I find good as snacks: Olives, or hummous and carrot/cucumber sticks, dried fruit/nut mix (though I have to buy individual portions otherwise I'll go through the whole packet).
On being obsessed with food - I find when I get in the right frame of mind I can use that to my advantage by looking for new recipes and planning what I will eat. If I have a weekly meal planner or even just plan in advance what I am going to have I will usually end up with something decent to eat but if I am making dinner or lunch with no prior plan it often all goes to pot.
Another vote for mindfulness too - I have been doing it for a couple of weeks now (for other reasons) I find even in that short time it has slowed me down to a point where I feel I have less brain fog and a bit more clarity which in my experience all helps me to stay in control.
And have some more ((()))
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Re: Diets and hunger and, well, me.

Postby Cofa's Tree » 09 Feb 2015, 08:40

How are you doing Lucy, have you been able to make any small changes? x
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