101 in 1001 #9 & #10: Eating well

As part of becoming aware of what I’m eating, I started keeping a food diary again. Keeping a food diary for me is sort of like keeping a budget. It’s something very picky and obsessive that I do okay with for about a month or two at a time, which is all I really need to do in order to give myself a baseline. I did one over a year ago when I was having trouble eating enough to stay satisfied, to figure out why. Turned out I wasn’t eating enough breakfast then.

So I decided to try it again, mainly to monitor how much I really am eating, when, and why. When I found out about the B12 stuff, it was easy to add keeping track of B12 to the goals of the food diary. (I don’t keep calorie counts but I do record the type and rough amount of food, so it’s pretty detailed.) Another goal it dovetails well with is my goal #9 for the 101: go a whole month without eating random crap as a substitute for any meal.

This goal, I realized, is one of those that I put in there without really thinking about what that actually means, and how I could accomplish it, besides willpower and record-keeping. It turns out that willpower doesn’t really work for me so well in this area. What I think will work is reasonably alert planning. The whole thing is much more complicated physiologically and psychologically than just saying to myself “Ok, I’m going to just eat three good meals a day now.”

What made me finally realize this was what happened when I volunteered at the Amgen Tour of California Prologue yesterday, parking bikes so that people could walk around safely without worrying about their bikes. It was fun, but hard work, and it messed around with my eating schedule because we were volunteering over lunch. I’d been doing reasonably well since starting the diary, but it kind of broke down yesterday.

Here’s what I ate yesterday (in case you all think I’m kidding when I say I don’t always eat very well):

Pineapple cupcake
1/2 blueberry vegan waffle with tofutti cream cheese spread
Coffee with 1/2&1/2 (1/2 cup total)
1/8 bagel with cream cheese
1 pc cranberry bread
Cranberry Almond Cherry Clif Bar
1 lemon sugar cookie
1 fry
1 potato chip
Veggie burger from stall at PA Amgen Tour (at 3:00 pm)
Butternut squash soup (2 smallish bowls, at 9pm)
2 cupcakes (one dessert and one late snack)
3 pcs TJs English toffee (finished the box)

I ate a lot of random stuff, and I didn’t really need to, and I didn’t really need to eat anything after I had dessert at all, except that for some reason I felt like it. My stomach was upset between lunch and dinner, too.

What I think is going te really help me improve my eating is planning and sticking to the plan more. I did plan for the weird eating: I brought the Clif bar and an apple with me, so I knew that I wouldn’t get too hungry before I could get off to eat something. And I probably should have chosen not to eat the veggie burger at all, because fair food is both expensive and not necessarily well-chosen or -prepared. I wasn’t really that hungry, I just wanted a real meal, and I could have said “I’m going home soon, I’ll have real food when I go home.”

The important part of planning for me is going to be not mainly the logistics, which are not that hard, but the confidence that with planning I’m doing the right thing for myself. One thing I’ve learned with the food diary is that I absolutely need to eat a reasonably-sized nutritious breakfast, and that it’s going to be better if I just stick to a routine most of the time because then I won’t get caught up in other things and forget, or run out, or want to eat something else but not get around to it. Now that I know that, I’m more confident about doing it and about believing that I can make it between breakfast and lunch without eating if I do it.

I’ve also discovered that if I have to go more than four hours between meals I will really want a snack, and if one is easily available I will want to eat it even if I don’t really need it because food will be here in an hour. I also won’t really go more than six hours without food, even if a real meal is only 20-30 minutes away, if there’s something that’s available quickly. So if I don’t eat a snack, and I get home at 7, I’ll eat something random before I eat dinner if dinner isn’t already ready, which will leave me weirdly full and then weirdly hungry later and I’ll eat snacks, and then I won’t sleep as well or be properly hungry for breakfast and the whole cycle repeats. It’s amazing how realizing what I really need in the food department, rather than what society dictates, and planning for it, makes everything run better.

A lot of this also ties in to eating too much too quickly, and that sort of thing. There are steps I can take to work on that, as well, once I understand why I’m gulping (often because I’m very hungry; I can eat a snack occasionally to maintain reasonable hunger levels). So I think I’m well on my way to solving this problem in the long term, not just in the “well, for a month I tortured myself to reach my goal” sense.

Relatedly, #10 I knocked off! At Mudai on Friday, we ordered one veggie combo, and I ate less than half. I was quite full, but I was prudent in how full and ordered and ate wisely, so I consider that one done.

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