Monday, August 16, 2010

Food is Food...or IS it?

Alternate title: Are All Foods Created Equal?

My answer to both questions is of course not. But an email exchange I had with Janell (POD) over something I wrote in Friday's Mishmash got me thinking.

Janell commented with "Why is this statement below considered "going off the deep end?"

"Oikos Chocolate yogurt AND a couple of Dove dark chocolate Promises every evening? It's less than 200 calories total,..."

The only "going off the deep end " I see is your judging what you are eating because it's chocolate (less than 200 calories?) What makes the pecans, chicken, & gorgonzola not a deep end?

I thought about that and emailed her back with "You make a good point about the chocolate vs. other food. I guess I have been a little lax in eating too many calories, total, for the day - I think I need to go back to being a little more careful about everything I put into my mouth."

And she responded with "I couldn't understand why you were so down on yourself for the yogurt and small chocolates when all that other food was going into your gullet too. Why do we beat up on ourselves for chocolate when that's such a pleasure? I would have loved to see you beating yourself up over eating the lettuce in the salad. (makes about as much sense)"

As I navigate this strange place I'm in - mostly maintenance, although every once in a while I manage to lose a pound or two, I'm still trying to figure out what is "normal" for me to be eating. I have most definitely let go on how regimented I was with my diet, and I think that was a necessary, good thing. I do believe that I can have tastes and treats every once in a while, but I don't want to start that five or ten pound swing that a lot of losers (and of course I say that with total affection, being one of them) get on. (Of course, to really know that I would need to weigh myself on a more regular basis, and I've let go of that as well, as I was getting a little *too* focused on the number on the scale, which is NOT a good thing for me).

So what's the deal? What do YOU, my wise readers, think? Is there a point where you let go on certain foods, or are you equally stringent when it comes to everything you eat?


  1. I'm definitely not equally stringent to everything I eat.

    I love chocolate and I eat a piece almost everyday since I started two weeks ago with counting calories. To me it's not a sin, it's a treat. I have the chocolate very dark so I have enough with a little piece.

    I'm paying more attention now that I eat low-fat products and enough fruits and vegetables but for the rest I really don't pay that much of attention to what I eat.

    I still want to live a happy life and good food is a part of that life for me.

  2. I was interviewed this weekend and asked what my food weakness was.

    even after all these years eating intuitively it was an AH HA moment for me

    the clicking and realization that since nothing is 'offlimits' I dont have a food weakness.

    food is sans power and merely one facet of my life that I do and enjoy.


  3. I am trying to move past the food as good or bad. That being said, I know myself well enough to know where my weaknesses are and I do have to exercise caution. I wish it were different, but I also wish I were taller. It is what it is. As I am in maintenance, I am being more free with my food choices, but I think that will ebb and flow on an almost daily basis. How I see this playing out for me is that I tend to be more regimented through the week and less so on the weekends. It is sort of working for me now. And all our journeys are different. What works for one person won't necessarily work for another. We all have to find our own way.

  4. I agree with what was said above and my own take on my journey is that there are certain foods once I start eating them (brownies) I have a hard time stoping. I am stopped for now:)I think it comes down to for me watching total calorie intake & % of fat. Once I get back to a maintence weight I will only allow a 2 pound up fluxuation. every body has to find there own way..

  5. Great question. I have been working on my relationship with food for the past year and TODAY, I start a stricter intake plan. I am trying to make this a lifestyle so I try to be more mindful and aware of what and why I am eating. What is the "feeling" I am looking for...One of my food weaknesses...Oreo cookies..feeling..comfort...when I feel alone or misunderstood. Just being more aware of that...helps

  6. I never beat myself up over eating too many fruits and veggies. If I eat more than a cup of grapes, it doesn't even register. If I eat more than one treat per day, I feel guilty. This does represent a change in one of my behaviors (making better food choices) but it also represents one of my food issues (portion control). But for now, I'm not going to worry about it as there are bigger fish to fry in this journey!

  7. When I'm serious about losing, I eliminate chocolate and other treats, I simply can't manage portion control of those items. But that's just me, I understand that other people have more self control. ;)

  8. Depends on where I'm at on the swing. Definitely allowing trigger goods back into my life starts the upward cycle. I know this truth about myself, but I never learn.

  9. Huh. Our POD is quite insightful isn't she?

    In today's post I sort of wrote about how I don't feel all food is equal. But I do so believe we need a balance of both fuel and fun foods.

    It's all about paying attention for me.

  10. My take is that it is not *what* you eat, but why you are eating it.

    Stress eating is still stress eating whether it be carrot sticks or chocolate. It's the act.

    It is then compounded when one views said food as good or bad and ignore the fact that a binge happened at all.

  11. Oikos chocolate yogurt? That sounds like an OK treat to me, but I have never come across that flavor where I live. About the chocolate...
    Because I have always deprived myself during previous weight loss programs, I never knew how to eat such foods as chocolate and occasional treats like a small piece of birthday cake when the diet was over. That's the point for me.."when it's over." It is really never over, is it. We have to know how to eat for the rest of our lives. I have come to view an occasional small piece of chocolate as part of the diet--and part of future maintenance.

  12. I have found that I use food as a drug. So has with any good addict, too much of a good thing is still too much. I think your intention behind what you put in your mouth is more important then what really goes in your mouth. At least that's how it works for me.

    I lost all of my 80 lbs this time without counting anything. No food was off limits. Though portions were limited. I have kind of stalled, but MY program, when I work it, works.

    Very thoughtful post.

  13. I have a lot of food issues, but I love the taste of food. Not the cooked veggies or things like that, but the stuff that made me fat. I'm working on finding a way to eat healthy for a lifetime, and still getting some of that food that I do love. Like having a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips in my yogurt. Or with peanut butter.

    I'll admit. I'm a little nervous about this coming holiday season. I do so love pecan pie and stuffing!

    Vee at

  14. Did you know there is a National Weight Loss Registry?

    The web site is They have profiled hundreds of people who have lost weight and kept it off and what they did to get there, here are some of the statistics of their study:

    80% of persons in the registry are women and 20% are men.
    The "average" woman is 45 years of age and currently weighs 145 lbs, while the "average" man is 49 years of age and currently weighs 190 lbs.
    Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
    These averages, however, hide a lot of diversity:
    Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
    Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years!
    Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly--over as many as 14 years.

    We have also started to learn about how the weight loss was accomplished: 45% of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.
    98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
    94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
    There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.

    78% eat breakfast every day.
    75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
    62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

    The other thing I read is that they always have a 5 pound rule. If their weight creeps up 5 pounds, they get right back to the basics until they are at their goal weight again, helping them prevent gaining all back of what they lost.

    They have success stories on their too! Hope that helps some...

  15. I think of food as fuel first... what have I had... what do I need to have to get balanced today.... then oh look a chance for a treat... do I wanna take it or not? More often not lately but sometimes is okay. My weight comes off slowly.

  16. I recently wrote a blog post on this topic and for me it is more about the nutritional value of the foods I'm eating. Yes, treats are ok and part of life but I want the majority of my intake to be high in health benefits for me. Here's the link if you are interested.

  17. I also struggle with the what is and isnt okay to eat, and what will make me guilty vs not guilty. And here is what I have come up with: moderation. I used to hear that word and think "blah blah blah". But now that i am counting calories and exercising I realize that I can have some of the yummy things I moderation. And if I deprive myself totally of these things that is when I will fall back to my old ways. I cant let that happen. this whole journey is such a learning lesson, isnt it?!


  18. I go through phases of too stringent and not stringent enough. Key lime pie has been my weakness lately. Makes yours seem much better right?

  19. For me, there's no getting away from the fact that most of my food should be good stuff packed with nutrients. Corn chips are not good stuff. But if I want a few corn chips now and then, or a piece of pie, that's okay. I do feel guilty if I eat too much junk and I don't necessarily want to alter that, because my guilt over not exercising or eating junky stuff is more functional that not. Nothing's off my list forever, but there are some things that are supposed to be saved for "now and then" and not every day.

  20. its a tough call. i'd say it has less to do with what you eat or cheat on, and how strictly you want to hold yourself to your diet in general..

  21. I can't answer here because I haven't got it yet. I am so black and white: all "good" or all "bad" foods. Ok, there are days I find a nice balance, but overall, I continue to be on the quest. Someday I will find it....

  22. Let's agree that most of us didn't get fat eating broccoli. Speaking for myself, I've never binged on celery. I'm dieting but it shows up on the scale like maintenance.

    Great post!

  23. Oh late to the conversation. I had an interesting answer all ready yesterday and a baby started crying (I was at work.)

    Anyway, I don't know. I think each of us has to travel that road individually. Only you know if the oikos chocolate yogurt and the dove bars would actually lead to ...whatever it is for you--cold stone and a 64 ounce hershey's bar, for example. NOT THAT I'VE EVER DONE THAT.

    One thought I have about treats, esp. non-nutritional treats (which yogurt is not) is that I just can't 'afford' too many non-nutritional treats in a day or even in a week, because then I won't be able to get all the nutritional food in that my body needs (without gaining weight or being inordinately hungry.)

    That being said, I have loosened up quite a bit on what I will and won't eat, and have not gained much. (Working on that mindful eating thing.)

    Is this all as perfectly clear as mud?

  24. I could never give up chocolate and don't ban anything really. I think your overall eating is what is important. You can't just look at one meal or one item of food and consider you have gone off the deep end.

  25. I am one of those losers. I am a yo-yo dieter and I have struggled in the past to maintain, always regaining. I plan it to be different this time. For me, and I do think we are all different, food is not food. I have realized that I do best to just avoid eating certain things. Will I have to always avoid them? I don't know yet. But I think I would rather be in control and thin than eat certain foods.


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