Skinny Daily Post


This weekend I had a couple of overeating episodes directly related to some angst in my personal life. I’ve written about this in the past — its nothing knew. Its simply an unfortunate coping mechanism that I’ve used; eating to ‘cure’ my upset. The cause can be almost anything: an argument with my spouse, a run-in with a surly store clerk, someone cutting me off in traffic, etc.

Last night, as I was preparing for bed, I had eaten so much that I felt (as my friend Trina would say) ‘like a pufferfish on crack.’ It might have been veggies and fruits, but too much was too much and I was feeling it! And ironically enough, although my underlying intention in overeating was to make myself ‘feel better’, the actual result was that I was crabby, irritable, and uncomfortable.

When I got up this morning and took a reading on the information machine, it was clear to me that I needed to break with this state of affairs. But how?

The thought came to my mind … ‘how do I feel physically and mentally when I’ve been eating JUST the right amount?’ What’s my state of mind? How to my clothes feel? What does it feel like to walk around or take the stairs?

So for today, my goal has been to eat peacefully, and specifically in a way that leaves me feeling mentally and physically improved. I’m still suffering a few effects of the weekend, but having a lighter breakfast, a lighter lunch and a lighter afternoon snack have all helped me get through the day on a more pleasant note.

In fact, it occurs to me that when I ‘eat lean’ I tend to be more at ease, more alert, and more fun to be around. That is, to get the results that I really and truly want, the answer is not to stuff myself sick (as I have so often done in the past) but rather to lay off the sugary and/or high-volume foods altogether.

Let’s see how this works! Its never a simple matter for me to step off of the feeding-frenzy treadmill, but I’m gonna give it my best shot. No matter what, I’ll keep you posted.

9 thoughts on “Lean (Not Mean!) Eating Machine

  1. Greta says:

    I think it’s admirable of you to try to change your automatic response to eat in the face of emotional upheaval. What you already did this weekend (to eat only fruit and vegetables) was admirable. How many of the rest of us might have slipped into unhealthy foods? If I can have an eating jag that’s restricted to fruit and veggies I feel as though I did well. In fact you already did well, Jonathan. If you are able to NOT eat in response to stress then you will truly be a thin person inside and out.

  2. Jane says:

    Good luck Jonathan! I think that is an interesting and promising hypothesis, and will be checking back to see how it worked out for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and progress with us!

  3. Josie says:

    Jonathan- I have been dealing with this same issue. I tend to overeat ‘healthy’ foods when I get depressed/lonely, and I always feel so badly afterwards I swear I won’t do it again. If only dropping a bad habit were as easy as swearing it off!

    Like you, I’ve learned that if I’m going to overeat, I can help myself by at least doing the following:

    1. Make sure I at least eat healthy foods (because I feel a lot better when I overeat fruit and cottage cheese than chips and cookies); and

    2. Follow it up with a ‘lean eating’ day the next day and a good workout.

    So while I still feel powerless to my need to eat sometimes, I at least hold myself accountable for my actions in the interim. I’m still hoping to conquer the urge to eat, but I know it will take time.

  4. london slimmer says:

    I take a slightly different approach to overeating/bingeing urges, which might not work so well for you, Jonathan, but maybe for some of those who visit the site (I’d be curious to know). Once a month, I have a ‘day off’ my (maintenance) regime. On that day, I eat whatever I want, in whatever quantity (I even have full permission to binge, if I really want to). When, for whatever emotional or physical reasons, I get a strong craving for a treat I don’t normally eat because it’s too high calorie (and I’m not very good at moderating portion sizes), I tell myself that I can have it on my next day off. I tend not to have all-out binges on my day off, but I do eat lots of things I wouldn’t normally – ice cream, cheese platters, marinated olives, pizza, tempura – anything high fat and yummy. I’ve been maintaining at a healthy weight for several years now, so it works for me. What about you guys?

  5. Jonathan says:

    London: I really love the concept of the ‘day off.’ I’d also like to hear if anyone else has experience (successful or otherwise) with this approach. In my case what’s problematic is my sense of being able to stop once that ‘day’ is ended. Also, I’d have to think about whether it was a ‘taste-testing’ kind of thing or a simple ‘free for all.’

    What’s the amount of food that is just right for getting it out of one’s system, without being so much that it triggers an avalanche of overeating?

  6. Lindy says:

    Words typed into cyberspace cannot adequately convey how deeply grateful I am that you continue to share through tough times. EVERY PERSON goes through tough times. For an addict, the process of thoughts and choices one makes to get out of the ditch and back on the curb, off the curb and back on the road, then gradually back up to full speed… these are the real morsels of truth that are transforming. I am learning from your transparency and vulnerability with us. Thank you.

  7. stretchy says:

    I give myself days away from calorie counting and I still know I can stay within a healthy range of calories.
    I know sometimes I eat too few calories when I am traveling or running around, too busy. But overall I know my limits.
    I eat pizza for dinner whenever I want for example, because I only want one or two slices at this point, and usually eat a salad instead of the second slice.

    Once every few months I will eat kugel, a knish, or a latke..all super fattening treats … I’ll even have an egg cream (a big childhood treat) — yes all in the same day, The last time I had a knish was December 26, and I’ll have anotherin April… they wouldn’t be big treats if I ate them every day like apples or grapes.

    To binge or not to binge…if that is a tough area, I suggest sharing the knish (or whatever your treat is ) with someone or just eating half of it. Our bagels are more than double the size they were when I was a kid…you have to share one now.

  8. london slimmer says:

    More on the ‘day off’ concept: you’ve identified the most difficult part, which is getting back on track immediately afterwards (absolutely vital). Quite honestly, my husband is the best aid for this, but it also helps, I find, to plan my food and calorie intake for the following day in advance. I don’t try to compensate by eating less than usual, even though I’m on a generous 1,950 calories a day on my maintenance regime (I’m VERY active). I do treat the day off itself as a free for all – anything goes. Usually, though, my pattern is to have a normal breakfast (I don’t feel like going crazy at breakfast), then a quite self-indulgent lunch (often a cheese platter and a glass of wine at my favourite deli-cafe). I don’t usually snack in the afternoon, in order to get my appetite back (!) and then I either go out to a posh restaurant with my husband in the evening (if you’re ever in London, I recommend Moro in Clerkenwell) or sometimes I take the ‘day off’ on a day when we’re having friends over for a dinner party or are invited over to theirs. The rule is that I eat whatever I feel like, in whatever quantities I want with no guilt whatsoever. Often, I do feel more like taste-testing than binging. I love eating out at a nice dim sum place, for example, and having a little of everything. This works for me on a once a month basis, without causing weight gain – but it doesn’t work for me when I need to LOSE weight (my weight loss just stalls). If I really overeat, I do regret it, because I get a tummy ache and don’t sleep well, but it doesn’t seem to impact the scales. You musn’t weigh yourself the next day, but wait a couple of days and your weight should be back to normal – at least, this works for me, but your metabolism may be different.

    One other suggestion about the overeating, which I can’t resist. Have you tried dancing? I’m serious – it’s a brilliant anti-depressive, anti-anxiety treatment and appetite suppressant. You do live in San Francisco…

  9. Laurie says:

    I do the “half” thing sometimes when I’m cravings something like say a Snickers. I’ll buy it and one or two bites does the trick. Of course sometimes when I try that trick with ice cream I end up eating far too much and feel guilty afterwards. I don’t do an official “day off” but if I go out to dinner (once a week or so) I tell myself I *can* have anything I like. I usually end up eating far less than I think I will. I have a little bit of everything and usually share a dessert. This has worked well so far.

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