Whole Foods Help

I’m sure you could all list 4398583 bad habits I have told you about in the last few months, but I have never really discussed, in detail, my relationship with diet food. When I say diet food, I’m referring to anything fat-free, sugar-free, specifically marketed to lose weight, etc. Typically these things are lower calorie, have a mile high list of ingredients, half of which I can’t pronounce, and many of them have been staples in my household since I was a little girl. My philosophy has always been why would you ever waste the calories on something full-fat when there is a light version out there?!

Anyway, I was reading about clean eating the other day, maybe on Whole Foods or Health Magazine’s website? I don’t really remember, which exactly, but there are a ton of articles out there, and I was seeing for the millionth time how these diet products can actually cause you to gain weight because you feel like you can eat more of them, and that artificial sweeteners used increases your desire for sugar, all those things that are pretty much common knowledge in the “health” world.

I’m not concerned with the weight gain aspect, because that is pretty much my ultimate goal, but I was interested in some other facets of what the author had to say about digestion, how a body will respond to whole food vs. the lab-created versions, and essentially that the more processed food is, the more toxic it is to our bodies. Obviously not to the point where you will die instantaneously, but a body functions a lot better without adding a ton of manufactured stuff, specifically artificial diet ingredients.

So this morning, as I came down to get breakfast, starving as usual in the morning, I was thinking about what I wanted. This is never hard because I have a pretty small list of things I rotate through and lately it has been all about carbs, sunflower butter, strawberries, pancake syrup, and plain greek yogurt. I say these selections in very generic terms, but that is not the case at all.

So what do I mean specifically? I don’t just go to the store, see a loaf of wheat bread and pick it off the shelf for purchase. I try to find the lowest calorie bread possible, and I will certainly not be getting regular whole-grain English muffins that are 120-140 calories each depending on the brand, when there are perfectly delicious Thomas’ Light or Fiber One 100 Calorie choices!

In my mind it doesn’t register (I should say it doesn’t care) that they pump these choices with unreal ingredients as fillers in order to take the natural energy away from the grain. All I see is numbers, and to me that determines “good,” “bad,” “buy,” or “don’t buy.”

Sugar-free products are probably the worst. I haven’t ever purchased myself a normal container or maple syrup, that actually comes from nature, or jam that spreads without wiggling and jiggling because its full of fake, but when I look at the labels its disturbing how long some of the words are on the ingredient list, not to mention the fact that I have never heard the words, ever.

So despite my knowledge that these low-calorie options are not the best choices for my body, I still buy them, and have a hard time imagining ever doing something different. When I first got the intro packet the day before I was entering Hershey’s Partial Hospitalization Program, and saw that you had to drink a caloric beverage, and the milk could not be skim, I told Ryan I wasn’t going. Who drinks 2% milk?! What a waste of calories. It was the same with yogurt, pudding, chips, breads, salad dressings and pretty much any other choice I would be making on my menus. Everything I have ever eaten that has a light version, which was the only version permitted in my kitchen, was going to be replaced with the real deal!

Ryan loved these changes, and was hoping they would transfer to our home as well. He grew up drinking whole milk and thinks skim tastes like water, and crinkles his face every time I pour unsweetened Almond Breeze or Coconut Milk in a little measuring cup, because to him, our bodies have needs and would prefer to meet them through REAL FOOD. He was so excited that I might actually eat yogurt that wasn’t Danon Light and Fit or 0% Chobani and Oikos, but was quickly disappointed when he noticed nothing in our pantry was changing. I may have had to eat these things while under the watchful eye of professionals but that certainly did not mean these items were making it to our home.

Why couldn’t I practice the skills I was learning at program, and move them into our own lives. That’s simple. Because I wasn’t learning anything. I was eating the stuff to appease everyone, while still considering all these non-light products taboo. I didn’t want them, and I still to this day, can’t even determine if they taste better because I am too busy repeating in my mind how I can’t believe I would let Oil and Vinegar, rather than just vinegar, touch my salad bowl.

I’m currently reading the chapter in Intuitive Eating about Challenging the Food Police, and in the next few days, when I explore the section a little more thoroughly I intend on assessing and analyzing my thoughts a little farther, but today, I am wondering if any of you have had similar issues with breaking free from diet choices?

When I was making my breakfast selection this morning, I had serious craving for something doughy and delicious. When I opened my freezer and noticed I still had a few slices of Great Harvest Honey Wheat Bread left, from when they sent me a few samples, my mind couldn’t think of anything else. The downside was it wasn’t the low-carb variety I typically buy when I go there, meaning 30-40 calories more per slice, and I sliced this myself so I was already worried that the portions were off, and I was going to over eat.

What I have discovered was that if I don’t eat what my mind/body wants, it usually isn’t satisfied, so in an effort to make peace with the cravings, and ultimately form a better relationship with food and my body, I decided to have some bread even though I knew it could be difficult to deal with afterwards.

Since breakfast is typically my largest meal, in one sitting, I had more bread than I (well, ok, my ED) wanted me to have. I had three VERY thick slices…which probably equaled about 6-8 ounces of actual grains, in addition to my yogurt, fruit, and sunflower butter. Although calorically it wasn’t too off from my normal morning feast, it still felt so wrong because it was not something my brain could register as a “safe” choice.

So then, as I was sitting there finishing my tea and agonizing over the “ridiculous” consumption of bread I had, I remembered my conversation between Deb, the Great Harvest of Wayne owner, and myself just a few months ago. The company is awesome because they very rarely use any more than 5 ingredients in their products. It’s completely natural, totally healthy, whole food, that I, and you, should feel fabulous about eating to fuel our bodies.

I don’t want this to sound like a reframe was easy, because in all honesty, I’m still cursing myself for eating what I keep thinking of as a whole loaf of bread, which occurred nearly 8 hours ago. But at the same time, I wasn’t full to the point where my pants were coming undone, it really did taste amazing, and I didn’t die because of a few extra calories. So although I’m still beating myself up a bit mentally, the discomfort will hopefully subside as the day progresses, and next time it may just be a bit easier. Plus Zumba is tomorrow and I definitely plan on going, which means new, increased meal plan, is a must meet!

I don’t think I’m ready to purchase full-fat Chobani, or drink whole milk, consume a pie, or anything like that, but if you have any suggestions on making peace with the food police, and transitioning from a meal plan of all low-calorie, diet conscious food, I am seeking the help.

What are some of your favorite whole foods?

How do you reframe your thoughts if you have guilt after a meal or snack?

What are some ways you change negative self-talk to a positive mentality?


14 thoughts on “Whole Foods Help

  1. Um, ok, so before I responded I had to check to make sure this post wasn’t written by ME and you posted it accidentally 🙂 Seriously. When I took the plunge into recovery, I made the decision to try to gain weight….but nothing in the kitchen changed. Oikos 0%, Special K chips, Fiber One cereal, 80 calorie non fat yogurt, 35 calorie bread….it’s all still there. I’d rather eat 4 slices of that non-taste-light as air bread than a thick grainy slice of regular bread. Well, I wouldn’t, but my ED does….why IS this? I was on a business trip this week and decided to throw caution to the wind for those two days. Only buy things I didn’t know the calorie count of, and focus on eating balanced and whole and healthy instead of counting calories. So yesterday for lunch I went to our company cafeteria and I had a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a fruit bowl, and small salad from the salad bar. I ate it and FREAKED in my mind. There was obviously TOO much turkey on the sandwich. The bread – it was so thick and grainy, it had to be 200 cal a slice. The fruit bowl was definitley more than one serving, it was HUGE. I wanted to beat myself up. As I was whining to a co-worker how full I was, she looked at me funny, and said, “but you ate so healthy” (She had a loaded baked potato and some chicken nuggets). And I realized how STUPID I sounded. I felt so guilty for eating CALORIES, instead of healthy and whole for eating real food. I am trying to work on this and I am glad you are as well.

    • oh girl, special k chips, fiber one cereal, all that stuff, still in my pantry. I thought i was doing “so well” when i picked up Great Harvest low carb bread because it had 60 calories a slice rather than 35!!! but i am the same way you are…even when im not picking the super light, diet food products, i dont eat totally unhealthily! and there isnt anything wrong with having a baked potato, chicken nugget lunch by any means if that is someone’s personal taste preference, but you hit the nail on the head when you said, you are still eating one hundred percent healthy foods, they just dont have a package or label telling you they are ok! I am glad you can understand me because i felt so silly writing this earlier! but i wish you luck and hopefully if i figure anything out ill let you know 🙂 enjoy the weekend and enjoy some delicious whole foods!

  2. I have been reading along for awhile and absolutely love how honest your blog is. I never had an eating disorder, but I had some pretty serious digestive problems for a long time that allowed me to only eat a very limited variety of food. So now that I am (mostly) better healthwise, I definitely find that I have developed some disordered eating tendencies because of the food choices I made for so many years.

    One of the best ways I found to overcome this is to buy things without labels and make things myself. Fruits and veggies obviously have no label but you can also buy bulk grains, nuts, and beans (or buy them with a label and then put them in your own container once you get home). And if you make your own breads, muffins, desserts, etc you don’t have a label at the end for each piece. Really, these foods are what are best for our bodies anyways so there are lots of advantages.

    I still won’t drink sugary drinks though. I really think all that sugar is so bad for our bodies so I usually stick with water or tea although occasionally I will have a Vitamin Water Zero.

    • I am so glad you read and can relate to what I have to say! it always means a lot to hear from my readers because it makes me feel as if I am not alone!
      I love your idea about bulk bins! I have been trying to buy bread and stuff from a bakery rather than from a big company because 1. it tastes way better and 2. that way I shouldnt agonize over the label! if you have any good recipes, please send them my way because i would love to experiment with this idea further in the kitchen!
      im with you on the sugary drinks…i dont think i will ever drink caloric beverages other than milks. i do like a good vitamin water zero though…theres one thats like strawberry kiwi something thats really good!
      thanks for reading!!!

  3. It is really hard to give up those “diet” foods. I still use Splenda like ti’s going out of style. . After reading all about “healthy” foods and “clean eating,” I started feeling guilty for eating anything at all! If it was a “diet” food, I’d feel guilty because it wasn’t “clean” and if it’s a “clean” food, I’d feel guilty because it didn’t come wrapped in a neat little package with a label on it to let me know “EXACTLY” how much was in it. It’s maddening, really.

    What I’ve come to realize is that both types of food have a place in my meal plan and that I’m still stuck on the fact that I want RULES about what i eat so that I can label myself as “good” or “bad,” Because, you know, it’s not OK to just be me. 😦 At least not in my head. I still struggle with a lot of the thoughts, but the truth is that I always feel guilty, not matter what I do, and it’s starting to tick me off – why? Because I haven’t done anything wrong!

    I still don’t know what the answer is or how to make peace with food, but I do know that I resist taking responsibility for my health. I have to start learning that food provides me with a lot more than just calories – vitamins, minerals, etc, and that I need to be responsible enough to give my body a VARIETY of these things while also reminding myself that there is a very real part of eating that involves PLEASURE. I tend to just ignore that and shove it in, so it’s really awesome to hear that you allowed yourself to enjoy your breakfast!

    Keep it up!
    Also, I’m so jealous that you get to do Zumba! I took classes about a year ago and loved it, but since I’ve lost weight/relapsed, I am too embarrassed to go because let’s face it – these other women have hips, round shoulders, and boobs. I don’t, and I think it looks silly for me to be shaking my lack of hips. *sigh* I wish that were more motivating for me to eat more.

    I’m sorry for the long reply. My head is all over the place and your posts always make me think about how I can move forward in my recovery.

    • i love your idea that both types of food have a place in your meal plan! thats exactly right and is totally the idea of moderation that I am trying so hard to find!
      i feel like an idiot sometimes in my zumba class because you are right…my hips look nothing like some of these other women’s and i dont have any breasts so when they are shimmying all over the dance floor im just trying to rock my shoulders back and forth enough to keep with the music!!! its still a lot more fun than any other form of exercise ive found and gets me AWAY from the treadmill!
      thanks for reading hun, and I really appreciate that you can relate to my posts!
      good luck with everything and if you need anything dont hesistate to e-mail me!

  4. I feel like I wrote this post too. The other day, my coworker and I were discussing ice cream and I mentioned that I buy the lowest fat, lowest calorie, one possible. Because with ED, I guess I don’t understand why someone would buy something full fat when there is a low fat or fat free option offered.

    A lot of the diet foods will really mess with your body, especially those with added fiber. They can actually HURT your digestion. It’s not pretty when you eat a Fiber One bar when you’re used to get natural fiber from fruits and veggies. Yeah, it’s probably better for you than a candy bar, but with all that added fiber, I mean your body can only digest so much of certain nutrients at one given time.

  5. One of the best transitions I made was from artificial sweeteners. I was a total splenda addict, but once I weaned myself of it, my body actually felt SO much better… less headaches and MUCH less GI distress. That being said, stevia, which I now use, is also extremely low calorie, but is actually natural for a change, and I don’t completely freak out if I don’t have it on hand anymore. At this point, I’d rather use natural cane sugar than the fake stuff.

    • i use stevia too! i used to totally be a sweet and low junkie…oh my goodness i would have terrible stomach pains and not know why until i stopped using 908904864809 packets of that a day!!! stevia is good and i try to even limit that, but its perfect for a little added sweetness to smoothies, etc. i love cane sugar for baking! I was happy costco started carrying it though because those products tend to be a bit more expensive! hope you are having a nice weekend!

  6. True story: I once bought an economy-size box of 700 splenda packets. Ha.

    When I was trying to symptom-manage in college, I was VERY obsessed with “diet” foods. “Dessert” would be ff/sf froyo with sf syrup; I’d use those disgusting “0-cal” WAlden Farms salad dressings, and I’d only eat ff/low-carb wraps and low-cal bread. And on and on and on.

    I still have an eating disorder, without a doubt. But one positive step I have made has been a transition toward more whole foods rather than anything that had volume and lacked calories! Raw almonds are a sometimes safe food now, and I can deal with cooking vegetables using a bit of olive oil instead of coating the pan with PAM or some other chemically “no calorie” spray. While I’m far from healthy, at least I know I’m getting optimal nutrition in the foods I DO eat.

    yay progress!

  7. I totally understand this. I’m close to my goal weight of 135, but I wouldn’t say I got here from changing my eating from diet food to non diet food, probably more from binging because I deprived myself of non diet food and once I saw it in the house, I had to eat ALL of it.
    I still have low calorie bread, Switzerland’s version of Splenda, low fat american-style cheese slices (seriously I live in switzerland I should have a huge hunk of Gruyère…but no, ED doesn’t like that), the lowest calorie granola bars I could find, Special K, skim milk, “extra light mayo”…the lest goes on and on. I don’t know if I’ll ever break this habit, I still think why have the full fat when there’s just as good low calorie version?

    • its such a difficulty to get over this mentality!!! and i totally understand the eating the entire thing if its in the house thing! i made pumpkin cookies and nearly ate all of them in 2 days. They were just so good and something i didnt use to allow myself so i felt like i was totally out of control! nuts and peanut butter were another one! I could literally eat nut butters on EVERYTHING! so you are not alone girlfriend!!!

  8. Take it slow. Have something you are uncomfortable with each day, but continue with your meal plan (dont restrict because you had something different). After you go a month or so incorporating these foods you will laugh at yourself for the way you thought of these foods previously (I did). Regular wheat bread or regular yogurt is something you should try and just stick with it. I know it sounds hard but once you keep doing it, it becomes easy. good luck and I pray you can get a hold of this.

    • thank you for the kind words and advice!! i have to grocery shop this week so I was thinking of trying to step out of my box a little bit and try something new! even if it is just regular english muffins!! thank you again. it means the world that everyone in this community it so supportive 🙂

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