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Why Planning My Meals In Writing is Good For Me

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Spontaneous or intuitive eating is the Holy Grail of weight loss and maintenance, and for me it is just as elusive as the Holy Grail itself.
I truly admire and yes, a little envy those who get to the point of eating when hungry, stop when full, with no food off limits, and still maintain a healthy weight.

Each summer I stop writing a plan or write it but don't really follow, and each September I go back to planning meals in writing, after 2-3 months of struggling with desire to eat more and more, even cravings and binges.

I follow Beck Diet Solution and Bright Line Eating principles, which have a lot in common, the main principle is making a written food plan the night before, and sticking to that plan.
In the ongoing group reading challenge of Beck Diet Solution (pink) book in the Spark Team of the same name, I made a few new insights.
I shared them on the team message boards, but I put them in this blog too, for my other Spark Friends.

Why need to refrain from eating "just one bite" of unplanned food:
I can easily resist desire to eat as long as I don't actually put the first bite in my mouth.
Visual and mental cues (seeing or imagining food) have a weak or moderate power over me.
Taste is a very powerful cue and trigger. Eating "just one bite" of the desired food provokes a strong craving, which I usually cannot resist, it's like trying to extinguish fire with gasoline.
I only have a choice to resist until I taste the first bite.
It is hard to believe, because the initial desire to eat is so mild and so easy to resist.
My inner peace is more important then tasting that "one bite".

Why I need to see through irrational thoughts telling me "it is OK to eat this unplanned food because {insert excuse here}?
Once I believe it is OK to eat Unplanned Food, irrational thinking becomes the inclination of my mind.
For example, if I go to a restaurant with a good plan (whatever healthful main course I picked and a large salad), chances are good I'll eat what I had planned and I leave the restaurant satisfied and happy.
BUT if I believe it is OK to eat just a small slice of bread, most likely I will believe that it is OK to eat 2-3 more slices too, plus pick at leftovers on plates of others, plus eat dessert.
It is like turning the switch in my head from rational thinking to irrational thinking.
Same happens at home when I believe it is OK to eat a few bites of whatever while I'm cooking, or when I believe it doesn't matter if I eat twice as much fruit after dinner than I had planned.
The key is Believing.
At other times, when I'm aware it is not OK but make a conscious decision to eat an extra treat, despite knowing a calorie is a calorie and despite knowing I put myself at risk of a binge... at those times I often manage to eat only the extra food I consciously allowed myself, and stop right there.

Note: I believe many features of Beck Diet Solution are universally helpful (like eating sitting down, slowly, noticing every bite), but I know food planning does not work well for everyone.
The author does not recommend BDS for people with eating disorders (p37), and warns if the reader "has been following the program faithfully but still experiences frequent binges, they might need to consult a mental heath professional" (p169).
Adding to that, my personal observation is that the more typical "Rebel" personality one has, the harder it will be for them to stick with a plan, as their resistance to rules imposed by self and others may outweigh the benefits of the program.

So, this is what I have been up to in the past weeks.
I wish you a lovely weekend, Spark Friends, enjoy beautiful sunshine and fall colors!

At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance Spark Team:

Beck Diet Solution Spark Team:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MARTHA324
    Seems to me that works best is what works for YOU. Planning out what I'll eat and not deviating seems too containing for me...and that's me.

    You remind us all once again that there is no one way for everyone.
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    93 days ago
    Always enjoy when you share! Thanks!
    emoticon With much you have written. Still working on my own experiment. emoticon
    104 days ago
    For some of us (me, for example) planning process is just plain fun. It's an intellectual process that's intriguing. Considering options makes me feel rich. Completely enjoying the choosing opportunity makes me feel powerful. Having a plan makes me feel safe.

    So many good reasons to plan your food choices. Write it down, speak it out loud, keep it in your head - but if planning brings you pleasure - by all means - plan away!
    115 days ago
    Great blog. So many things in this blog I can relate too. Wondering if I am too much of a "rebel" . At times BDS seems so restrictive to me it seems to backfire for me on occasion. Although I learn so much about myself with BDS and it's alternative thinking for me, I can only do what I can do that day. If I give myself some grace then it is like 3 steps up one step back. I will get there, but it might be a while.

    Thank you for your thoughts.
    123 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    Yes, that first bite! So true! I've tended to believe I've become immune to that kind of slipping up, but I sampled a snack food of DH's recently, and it's cleverly designed to have you take another and another - cheesy, salty, spicy - and probably zero nutrition!
    128 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/24/2019 12:57:22 AM
    Oh so true the first bite is the top of the slide. Then the craving doesn’t go away for days and it is easy to ignore slight rise in the scale number. I write a weekly food plan and shop to it. I try really hard every time I shop to stick to the list
    130 days ago
    We each "found" extra weight for different reasons.

    We each "get rid of it" through different methods.
    131 days ago
    I have been on the Fork Over Knives Food Plan for 11 months. I don’t need to log what I eat - feels so free-ing. I lost 20 pounds and all my Dr is thrilled with my numbers.
    131 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your path. You have found your Holy Grail and I rejoice with you, dear Kriszta! Wishing you a wonderful Automne season.
    131 days ago
  • LIS193
    Great blog
    132 days ago
    It seems to me that uncovering what supports each of us best and sticking to it IS the Holy Grail. So, perhaps, you have found your Holy Grail: Planning Meals in Writing.

    emoticon emoticon

    Always appreciate your thoughtfulness and sharing of your thinking.
    132 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
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    132 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this blog which was very interesting emoticon emoticon
    132 days ago
    I agree with that first bite. Interestingly for me, I can (usually) have a small sweet or treat between dinner and bedtime without it setting me off. However, sweets at work or conferences just send me on a tear. In those situations I'm like the alcoholic for whom that 1st sip is the beginning of the end.

    For me planning is freeing, not constricting (though I've always been a rule-follower). It's like having a financial budget. And, I CAN PLAN for treats when it's important to indulge a bit. I don't feel deprived at all.
    132 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    Great blog. Thank you for sharing
    132 days ago
  • ALICIA363
    So much of this rings true for me!
    Thank you for the words.
    132 days ago
    Super blog . . . so clear and helpful. YOU know what works best for YOU and that's all that counts.
    132 days ago
    I can totally relate to the one bite. The only time it works is if I am leaving a situation. I take a bite and I'm gone, leaving the food item behind. Hugs for you. The struggle is real, but so is your determined persistence.
    132 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    This is not an easy journey after all these years of eating healthy. You have a good plan in place.
    I wish you the best. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs
    132 days ago
    I have to write my food plan down, too, intuitive eating will never happen. Nor will I be able to write anything without editing. That doesn't bother me, why should having to have a plan?
    132 days ago
    132 days ago
    132 days ago
    You summed it up for me, too. It just is NOT worth that unplanned bite! Nope. It's far easier to stick to the plan. All about choosing our hard! It may be hard to resist a particular food, but for me, it's much harder to have cravings and feel lousy!
    132 days ago
    My inner peace is more important than tasting that "one bite".

    I feel that this describes you well Kriszta, that you have struggled to reach that state and sometimes have to work very hard to maintain it but you have absorbed all the tools needed to do just that so kudos are in order. Like you I have to see my plan in writing and although I may juggle my week's menu from day to day due to changing circumstances it remains my map for seven days.

    Thanks for sharing all your important thoughts! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    133 days ago
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