I continue to consistently and accurately log what I eat. I'm not doing great at logging how much I eat however. Whilst I am doing well at sticking to my One Habit, the real reason for the habit is to lose weight. I had been hoping that the One Habit would magically spurn more good habits but that hasn't been the case. I tried making a habit of "when I am hungry then I will eat mostly plants until satisfied." The "satisfied" portion of the habit has made me more aware of when I have had enough to eat and I have been putting down my fork when I have had enough which is good. I haven't been quite so good with the "most plants" bit however.
Well apparently writing doesn't burn enough calories to lose weight. This week I gained one pound and now weigh 168 pounds. Sustainable weight lose will always have its little hiccups but I don't feel I am making progress (IE losing any weight!) I need to change something.
If I am going to make some progress in losing weight I need a more definite plan. The idea of "when I am hungry then I will eat mostly plants until satisfied" doesn't seem to working. I know I can make specific habits like working out in the morning or meditating because I have been doing it for years. These habits are very definite though. I get up, I do a specific routine and I am done. Logging my food is also a definite action which is why I have been able to stick to it. If I am going to change my eating habits to help lose some weight then I need to come up with a specific plan.
In the past I have half heartedly tried Weight Watchers when my wife was doing it but whilst I think its a great program, the idea of counting points was "too complicated" for me. I've also tried controlling my daily calorific intake using apps like "MyFitnessPal" but that was too complicated for me. What has worked in the past is the Scandi Sense Diet. The idea is you eat 3 meals a day comprising two handfuls of veg, 1 handful of protein and 1 handful of carbs or fruit. There are a couple other simple rules but that is pretty much it. It worked for me because every time I was putting together something to eat I had a "checklist." Do I have my handful of each food type? Yes. It helped with portions and with eating the right foods - which is the basis of every good weight loss plan.
One of the rules of Scandi Sense is you should only eat 3 meals a day. I would describe myself as a bit of a Hobbit. I like to eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. That is to say I am a grazer. I prefer to eat little and often. I havent found any research that says its better for the body to spread out your food consumption versus eating a few larger meals. Based on observation I believe different people are different. My wife can come home in the evening and say "I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch today." If I get to lunchtime without having eaten anything I am a hangry nightmare. Intermittent fasting is another method that I firmly believe works for some people but if I were to try it I would end up biting someones hand. That being said when I was doing the Scandi Sense Diet before I started eating more protein my energy levels were sustained for longer. I also know from experience that if I am going to eat "bad" foods its while I am snacking.
One option would be to do Scandi Sense again. The researcher in me decided it would be fun to talk to my omnipotent friend Google before deciding. Scandi Sense is pretty simple but can I come up with something simpler? In my research I came across the University of Wisconsins Balanced Food Plan (Rule of Threes.)
The rules are:
1. Eat 3 meals and up to 3 snacks every day.
1. Eat 3 meals and up to 3 snacks every day.
2. Eat at least every 3 hours.
3. Eat at least 3 food groups per meal
There are a couple things I liked about this. First, its easy to remember things in threes. Second, its specific. Third, similar to Scandi Sense it gets you to pick food from each food group. The first and second rule of 3 meals\snacks and 3 hours seemed redundant but it seemed like a good starting point. I also didnt like that the rules themselves didnt give any guidance to control the amount of food\calories you are intaking. (Although the rest of the document did have some ideas.)
I did some research and learned that the average stomach can hold about one quart of food. One quart is four cups. The Japanese have a rule called "hara hachi bu" which says you should eat until you are 80% full. Based on this three cups would get you 75% full. That sounds like something I can use. So "3 cups" could be part of my rule.
The University of Wisconsins Balanced Food Plan lists the food groups as vegetables, fruit, proteins and grains. (Plus dairy and fats.) Scandi Sense groups foods as vegetables, proteins and carbs\fruit.
I can use "3 groups" as part of my rule too. In addition to fruits, veg, proteins and grains\carbs both the University of Wisconsin and Scandi Sense (as well as MyPlate.Gov) list dairy and fats. The 3 groups rule could cover those too.
The last burning question is do I go for "3 hours" or "3 meals." I decide on "3 meals" because a meal is definite but unless I set a timer, "3 hours" is vaguer. I also know from experience that it is the snacks inbetween meals that get me!
After much pondering I decide to make my 3 rules: 3 meals, 3 cups, 3 groups.
I will eat 3 meals a day. If I feel I need to eat inbetween I will first drink some water to make sure I am not just thirsty because your body can confuse thirst for hunger. If I still feel I need food I will ask myself "am I hungry enough" to eat an apple." If I am, I will snack on some fruit.
I will eat 3 cups worth of food at each meal. This will help me with portion control and I should be 75% full by the time I have finished. If I still feel hungry after that I can always eat more plants! One cup is 8 ounces or 250 milliliters. One cup is about the same size as an apple or a fist.
I will include food from at least 3 of these groups with every meal. (More groups is better, as long as the total food doesnt exceed 3 cups worth.)
- Proteins. (White meat, fish, nuts.)
- Grains. (Pasta, rice, bread, cereals)
- Dairy. (Milk, cheese, yoghurt.)
This will ensure I eat a balanced diet. I will consider the most important groups in order are plants, proteins and grains though.
What about treats and special occasions? It would be unreasonable to never eat cookies or birthday cake again. I will say if I have treats for one meal, I must resume the 3 rules at my next meal.
I will still continue my One Habit of logging my food. I will start following a new rule of 3 meals, 3 cups, 3 groups. Lets see how this goes!