About nine or so years ago, I was really struggling to maintain my weight, and not gain weight. Even though I was eating about the same amount and types of foods [mostly raw, fresh fruits and veggies as I was eating about a 99% raw food diet] and doing the same activities as I had been for a while, I was gaining a bit of weight - more than I wanted to, anyway. It seemed that perhaps my metabolism had been shifting or changing, as I was growing older, and I could no longer eat the large salads I was used to eating [yes, I was struggling with eating ʻtoo muchʻ salad!].
I found this weight gain very frustrating and had a very hard time with figuring out how to deal with it. I guess I wanted to keep eating the same amounts, but apparently I couldnʻt and thatʻs where my frustration was [not to mention gaining weight]. I had made great progress, or so I thought, in mostly conquering my overeating - I worked on that issue for about a year or so and was finally able to not overeat most of the time Now, even though I wasnʻt eating until I was overfull, my body was still treating my intake as ʻtoo muchʻ.
The Japanese have a saying that is part of their cultural tradition, and one of the factors that makes them one of the healthiest group of people on the planet. Before eating, they say "Hari hachi bu" which is translated as ʻeat only until 80% fullʻ. I had also read Harvey and Marilyn Diamondʻs book "Fit for Life" many years earlier and I remember on one of their pages they had written "Do Not Overeat" a LOT of times. They certainly were stressing the importance of not stretching oneʻs stomach, as well as keeping portions smaller.
I donʻt consciously think "Hari hachi bu" before I eat, but I did finally learn two things from my struggle with weight gain:
1) sometimes it is biomedical. I went to a doctor who focuses mostly on anti-aging medicine, but who also is very knowledgeable about the issues with thyroid testing [that information could be explored in a lengthy article all in itself!]. She determined that I needed a mixture of T3 and T4 to get my thyroid hormones back into balance, and that this was one contributing factor to my weight gain.
2) I finally learned [I ʻgot itʻ] that I could no longer eat the same portions as just a short time before my weight gain started. I finally ʻgotʻ that I needed to start eating smaller portions. In particular, my salads had to be smaller. When I eat my smoothies, I need to eat/drink less amount of them at one time. This does relate to the concept of the 80% rule that many Japanese follow. I think it is an excellent one for just about anyone to follow, especially as the metabolism changes as we get older [as it does for just about everyone].
The psychological and attitude adjustments were harder for me to make than changing my portion size. For whatever reason, I ʻhadʻ to go through the struggle of finally ʻgettingʻ that I could no longer eat the same amounts. Perhaps if I had known then about the 80% rule, I might have elected to adopt that practice rather than struggle for such a long time [probably about a year] with my portion size. Maybe it would have helped me get to the ʻaha!ʻ moment faster; but then again, maybe not!
I encourage folks to give the 80% rule a try, especially if you are struggling with weight gain. Instead of eating until you feel full [it takes a little while for your body to recognize that you have had enough, and at that point, youʻve probably eaten ʻtoo muchʻ], eat until you feel 80% full. It also helps to make the portions on your plate, or in your bowl, smaller. America has become the land of ʻsupersizeʻ so this, too [smaller portions], may take some practice and mindfulness. But, if I can do it, you can too! For most of the last decade, I can say that probably 90% to 95% of the time, I do not overeat [potlucks are one of the hardest places to not overeat for me, so I tend to avoid them, although not all of the time]. I also prefer to eat my last meal as early in the evening as I can so that I do not go to bed full. Going to bed full now feels very uncomfortable to me, and makes it harder to fall asleep. My weight has also been pretty steady in the last eight or nine years. I usually get my thyroid hormones tested annually, to see if any adjustments are needed in the compounded prescription I take.
These practices take time, patience and perseverance to put into place and make them regular habits. Build in some rewards and motivators for yourself. I know that one practice that some use to remind them of their developing new habits is to wear a wristband, which serves as a reminder to continue working on their new habit or habits. I have been thinking about this wristband idea to develop more of an ʻattitude of gratitudeʻ as I think I could use more of that in my life. So, I plan to get one and test it out. Some people really like apps on their mobile phones. Use whatever works!
What about you? What methods do you employ to eat more healthily? Do you struggle with weight gain? Does it seem that your metabolism is changing? If so, perhaps some of the above will be helpful to you. And, sometimes seeing a doctor and having some blood tests done is also very beneficial. When I found out that part of my struggle included biochemistry that was out of my control [and therefore, I could stop feeling ʻbadʻ about it], that really helped me get to a new level with my portion size. Share your stories on this topic if youʻd like!