Deciding to Break My Fast Early

I enjoy breaking my fasts in the evenings after coming home from work. I’m able to maintain steady energy and mental clarity throughout my work day, then come home, eat dinner, and relax with my family. However, there are several reasons that I may decide to break my fast early.Continue reading “Deciding to Break My Fast Early”

Why My Cravings Have Nothing to Do with Food

This week is a particularly stressful one for me. It is my first week back at work and my kids’ first week back after a two-week long winter break, AND… I’m PMS-ing. 😑 When I’m in PMS mode, my moderately healthy eating habits go right out the window because I’m tired and grumpy, and I know I “need a break.” At least that’s how I justify things in my head.

Tonight I got home from work around 6pm and started cooking dinner for the kids. Tacos. It’s fast, easy, and a favorite! As I browned the ground beef and allowed all three boys to talk at me me about school, my mind wandered as I fantasized about what I was going to eat tonight. My husband wouldn’t be home until around 9pm, so I had the TV and our cozy bed all to myself. NICE!

Then I remembered that we had a tupperware full of leftover potatoes au gratin that I’d made for NYE. Perfect! Thinly sliced potatoes, heavy cream, garlic, butter, and cheese… it was my food fantasy come true!

So I finished serving the boys their dinners and dumped the entire quart of cheesy-potato goodness in a giant soup bowl. I was already picturing myself lying in bed with the bowl on my chest and scooping massive spoonfuls of cheesy-potatoes in my mouth, followed by passing out immediately afterwards. Yes, I know this sounds completely gluttonous, but it’s my dirty little ritual around this time of the month. 🤭🤫

As I made my way to the microwave though, my unwelcomed voice of reasoning chimed in and asked, “Why are you really eating this?” My id-brain shot back with, “Because I always crave salt when I’m PMS-ing… duh!” This is indeed true. It was normal for me to crave salty foods during this time of the month, and therefore justifiable in my mind. Plus, my cravings naturally stop on their own the week after, so no harm, no foul. Right?

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t limit the types of foods I eat or shy away from carbs by any means. In fact, I had just eaten these same potatoes au gratin less than a week ago on NYE. However, that time was much different from now. At that time, there was no craving or emotion attached to the potatoes. I wasn’t eating the potatoes in an attempt to make myself feel better or less stressed.

Plus, if I was really craving salt due to PMS, I had some celery and hummus in the fridge that I could lie in bed and munch on too. Somehow though, celery didn’t seem nearly as appealing as my creamy potatoes au gratin did. Celery and hummus didn’t offer same warm fuzzies as cheese and potatoes. *sigh*

I finally asked myself those useful “What IF?” questions that the id part of my brain had been avoiding since I got home from work:

What IF you didn’t use PMS-ing as a reason to overeat today?

What IF you’re not even craving salt?

What IF you’re really craving the brief escape that eating spoonfuls of greasy food gives you from the fatigue and moodiness you’re currently feeling?

Several months ago, I decided that I no longer wanted to depend on food or alcohol to numb my feelings or quell my anxiety. In fact, it was one of the major issues that I wanted to work through for the year 2020. Although I’ve come a long way, and have gotten better at calling myself out on BS justifications for emotional eating, it continues to be a work-in-progress. And I’m OK with that. In fact, I’m ready to take my beliefs and “What IF?” questions to the next level in 2021, and am excited to see what comes from it.

Side Note: In case you’re curious, I ended up eating a small bowl of caldo tlalpeño (chicken & veggie chipotle soup), 2 crunchy beef tacos, a bowl of guacamole with shrimp, and tortilla chips. Although these foods were also salty and delicious, I chose them over the potatoes au gratin simply because I didn’t feel an emotional pull towards them. I still plan on eating my cheesy potato goodness, just not when I’m depending on them to make me feel better.

Creating New Non-Food Related Family Memories

The weekend before Christmas, our family took a rare trip to the “big city” to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve been spending family time outdoors and it’s rare that we take our kids with us to enclosed public spaces or restaurants. Needless to say, our kiddos were excited to spend a day back in civilization, even if it meant wearing masks and endless hand-sanitizing. Fortunately, the mall was not nearly as packed as it usually was this time of year.

After getting our last-minute shopping out of the way, we ate a late lunch at our favorite brick-oven pizza restaurant. It was a gorgeous day, so we chose to eat outside in the patio area. The kids had fun playing with pizza dough, while my husband and I chatted about our plans for Christmas. Our pizzas came out perfectly crisp from the brick oven, and I enjoyed my personal Margherita pizza doused in olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. It was heavenly!

Afterwards, we decided it was time to head home. We did what we came to do and had a great family outing in the process. As we drove away from the restaurant my husband turned and looked at me with a wide goofy smile and whispered, “Ice cream?” I thought he was joking since we’d just talked about how stuffed we were, so I laughed and said “Yeah right!” He looked puzzled, as if to say “I wasn’t asking…” but I shot the same look back at him.

In the past I would’ve given in and made a beeline for the nearest ice cream parlor, but since I started questioning my beliefs around food, I’ve come to realize that my thoughts about food are often more enjoyable than the food itself. I’ve always associated ice cream with having fun and feeling warm and fuzzy inside, so I ate it in an attempt to keep those good feelings coming. But when I really slowed down and made myself eat ice cream while deliberately savoring each bite, I realized that I was satisfied after about 2-3 spoonfuls… not an entire pint! At this point, I knew that if I got a giant scoop of my favorite ice cream, I would be rushing to eat it while making the hour-long drive home, then be upset afterwards because I didn’t get to enjoy it the way I wanted to.

Finally I told my husband, “Look, ice cream sounds good, but I’m really full right now and don’t want any. If you want some though, we can get some.” My husband huffed, “Well if you’re not going to get any, then I don’t want any.” Overhearing out conversation, the kids started chiming in too, “I want ice cream!” “Me too!” “Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream!” Oh geez! My husband stayed quiet but gave me an eager side glance, hoping that I would change my mind.

Oh boy, the mom-guilt hit me hard as negative mental chatter flooded my brain:

Oh come on! The kids never get to come out and you’re going to deny them ice cream?

One ice cream cone is not going to hurt them.

It’s been such a great day… don’t ruin it for them!

Is this how you want them to remember this day?

Finally, I did what I felt was best and told my kids, “Boys, I know ice cream sounds really good, but we all just ate a big meal and are not hungry right now. Let’s let our tummies digest the food that’s in there first, then maybe we can have ice cream later. OK?” As expected, I was met with several groans and awwws, then a final eye-rolling “Okaaay…” I glanced at my husband and whispered, “Sorry,” but he smiled nodded his head to let me know it was all good.

As we made our way out of town the mental chatter in my head continued, but I chose to ignore it and turned up some Christmas music to drown it out. Then I pulled into my favorite car wash to give our SUV a much needed bath. When I have the kids with me, I always make sure to add the rainbow-foam feature because I know my little ones enjoy it.

As we pulled in, my middle child exclaimed, “Yay, I love the car wash!” As if by design, the song “What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas started playing. As the car rolled through, rainbow-foam blasted us from all sides. Our middle child yelled, “I got pink foam!” The youngest shouted, “I got green! My favorite color!” and I chimed in, “Oooh, Momma’s got blue!” My two little ones squealed and laughed as Jack Skellington crooned through the speakers. Hearing my boys having fun brought back my own memories of going through the car wash as a kid, and how much I enjoyed it too. I turned to my husband, smiled wide and said, “This makes me so happy!”

It was at that point that those helpful “What IF?” questions flowed into my brain, which I was grateful for.

What IF you’re not a “bad mom” for denying your kids ice cream?

What IF ice cream is not what makes the boys happy? What IF it’s the memories surrounding it?

What IF memories of having fun in the car wash are just as good as memories of getting ice cream?

What IF we can create new family memories that don’t revolve around food?

Once we got home, my husband and I fell into a food coma and took a relaxing 2-hour nap. When we woke up, I wrapped a few presents and we made dinner. The boys had completely forgotten about the ice cream and never asked if we could get some. This further convinced me that the “What IF?” questions I asked myself earlier that day were good ones, and that the memories we create as a family are more important than the food associated with them.

SIDE NOTE: The morning I wrote this, my kids ate doughnuts for breakfast because I was too tired to cook. You win some, you lose some! 🍩🤷🏻‍♀️😅

Do Portion Sizes Really Matter?

I’ll be completely honest. One of the reasons that I was drawn to IF is because I’ve always been a big eater and loved that I could eat one giant meal a day and still keep my weight down. But after several months of practicing IF and eating massive dinner portions, my weight loss stalled.

I was 30 pounds down and felt pretty comfortable in my skin at that point. I was also healthy, energetic, and still getting compliments for my weight loss. The other cool thing was that my body composition was still changing. Although I wasn’t technically losing more weight, I continued to lose inches and slim down. Perhaps I’d reached my body’s natural set-point? If so, I was OK with that.

So I continued practicing IF the way I had been for the past year. At this point, I was breaking my fast around 3pm with a small pouch of tuna or carton of bone broth at work, then eating dinner with my family when I got home after 5pm. At dinner, I would pile food on my plate as if I was at an all-you-can-eat buffet, then go sit in front of the TV with my husband and dig in.

My dinner portions often consisted of half a baked chicken, a bag of cauliflower rice with butter, and a bowl of fruit for dessert. Or a giant ribeye steak with mashed potatoes, a pile of buttered green beans, and a glass of wine and dark chocolate for dessert. If we went out to eat, we’d often get 2-3 appetizers and 2-3 entrees to share with each other…and of course dessert afterwards.

It reminded me of my second round of IF’ing in error in my 20’s, when my husband and I were still dating. I’d go all day without eating, then enjoy a big meal with my loved ones in the evenings. Since I wasn’t nearly as active as I’d been in my younger days, it made sense that I wasn’t losing as much weight now as I had then. But I still felt good about myself and was not stressing over food. However, I soon noticed another issue that I was having with food and eating.

Although I was free from my food fears, it seemed that the pendulum had completely swung in the opposite direction. I went from thinking about food all day to completely zoning out and eating with reckless abandon at dinner. I’d serve myself monster-sized portions, eat everything on my plate while watching TV, then have a small snack before bed-time. If I had a class or sports practice in the evenings, I would look forward to relaxing and eating afterwards. Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but I wasn’t even enjoying the food as much as I was the act of eating it.

After gaining this insight about myself, I decided that I wanted to be more mindful of my eating habits and portion sizes. I certainly didn’t want to go back to counting calories or weighing/measuring my food, but I did want to question some of the beliefs that I had on the matter. One night, I decided to scribble down all the “mind chatter” that I had about food, eating, and portion sizes, then questioned my beliefs with some helpful “What IF?” questions, such as:

What IF a 10oz ribeye steak was just as satisfying as a 20oz steak?

What IF I only served myself half of what I normally do?

What IF eating large portions is keeping me from actually enjoying my food?

What IF I stopped associating food with pleasure?

YIKES! I have to admit that I had a LOT of resistance towards these new “What IF?” questions.

My brain glaring at me for trying to move past my comfort zone 😠

After all, if I was healthy, feeling good, and not gaining weight, why change my way of eating? I’d only been practicing IF for about a year, maybe I just needed some time to adjust. But something inside of me knew that these were BS excuses I used to justify my unconscious eating. That same something felt that I was ready to dive deeper into my What IF Diet Plan. Practicing IF and asking myself good “What IF?” questions had changed my life so much already…but maybe I was ready for more?

What IF my beliefs around portion sizes mattered more than the actual portions?

What IF I was ready to uncover new beliefs that I had about food and eating?

What IF there was more to this diet (i.e. way of living) than just food?

What IF it was time to begin a new chapter in my life and discover new possibilities for myself?

Water: Is More Always Better?

I love water! The weightlessness of wading in the pool, the coolness it provides on a hot day, or the therapeutic warmth of a steamy bath. I even love the sound of water. Waterfalls, ocean waves, rainstorms…I love it all! In fact, the only thing I don’t like about water, is actually drinking it.Continue reading “Water: Is More Always Better?”

A Curious Craving for Celery

Last week I grabbed one of my favorite snacks of pita chips and hummus during my usual shopping trip. I love to snack on these while cooking dinner or relaxing in front of the TV, and my mouth was practically watering just thinking about munching on them when I got home. Plus, it’s one of the few snacks that my kids and husband don’t like, so I didn’t have to share!Continue reading “A Curious Craving for Celery”

Fudge Stripe Cookies Now Taste Like Plastic

November 14, 2018 was a surprising day for me. It was my friend/coworker’s birthday and I had decorated her office all things Chris Evans, AKA Captain America, and given her a package of her favorite fudge stripe cookies.

After gushing over shirtless pictures of Mr. Evans plastered all over her office, she tore open the package of fudge stripe cookies and generously offered me some. I eagerly took three, and started munching on one. It was only 2pm, which was a few hours before I normally broke my fast, but well worth it to celebrate a friend’s birthday and indulge in some of my favorite cookies!

As we gabbed about her plans for that weekend, I bit into my first cookie and immediately regretted it. For some reason, I did not experience the rich buttery, chocolatey flavor explosion that I was expecting. Instead, I tasted…plastic.

As much as I wanted to spit the darn thing out, I couldn’t do that in front of the person I’d bought these cookies for, so I kept chewing and swallowed it half-heartedly. Maybe I’d just gotten a bad cookie out of the pack?

When I got back to my office, I took a bite out of one of the other cookies in my hand, figuring it would be better after warming up a bit first. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This fudge stripe cookie had the same “fake” plastic flavor that the first one had. I was so sad, but tossed the rest of the cookies in the trash and quickly guzzled down some cold water to wash away the weird aftertaste.

As I sat at my desk and continued to work, I couldn’t help wondering if there was something wrong with the pack of cookies I’d bought for my friend, or if my taste buds had changed. At this point I had been intermittent fasting consistently for almost a year. Did that have something to do with it? What IF fasting was changing the way food tasted to me? What IF it had some how recalibrated my taste buds for the better?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that many other foods weren’t tasting as good to me either, such as candy bars, snack cakes, movie popcorn, etc., but never in a million years did I think these indulgent cookies would taste any different. I used to devour half a box in one sitting, letting each one melt and dissolve on my tongue oh so sweetly. Now, I literally had to force myself to chew and swallow it, rather than spitting it out.

So November 14, 2018 will always be an important marker in my What IF Diet journey. Yes, it was indeed my dear friend’s birthday, but it’s also the day that a certain brand of fudge stripe cookies were no longer desirable to my palette…and that was a pretty big deal to me.

Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of My Day

After several months of success on my What IF Diet Plan, I cringed at the phrase: “Breakfast is the most important meal the day.” Bull Crap! I’d lost more weight, gained more energy, and felt less hungry by skipping breakfast, (and eventually lunch,) so that statement had to be a bold-faced dirty lie. Surely cereal and orange juice companies made it up to boost sales.Continue reading “Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of My Day”