Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reader Advice Day: What To Do if You Want to Control Portions?

Greetings friends!

My blog post from a few months ago on guilt and shame around food choices set off quite a slew of questions. At the time I wrote that post, I was feeling a bit gun shy to go into full detail on where I was at with my plant based diet, for fear of the plant based mafia coming after me.

But there clearly is another part of me that wants open communication on the issues that so many of us are dealing with. At least this way, there is some hope of moving us toward a fuller perspective on the wide variety of experiences people have on a plant based diet.

And there is hope! Don't ever give up. The fact that you are here, still reading and still engaged in "the game," no matter how many trials and errors you have faced, is an absolute testament to the fact that YOU ARE A FIGHTER. A SURVIVOR. A NEVER-GIVE-UPPER. A SELF-CARE WARRIOR!

A few months ago, I received this e-mail from one such warrior.


I have been a loyal follower of your blog for years. I have been plant based for about 4.5 years and have not lost any weight. (I am about 30 pounds overweight and I hate it). I have tried everything. I was UWL for awhile (while you were there) and it was nice and all, but I would eat like it was going out of style. All day all night just eat eat eat. It’s potatoes so its ok! I will admit I used mustard and other condiments that had salt so I wasn’t 100% but still. So I quit UWL and am now a bit lost trying to find my way.

I am not as on board with the no sugar no flour train. I will eat bread here and there, not every day and I will use condiments that have sugar in them, in a recipe. I know that eating those things might fuel some dopamine responses but it is too difficult in my family to try to cut it out completely. And for me eating one ezekial English muffin a couple times a year doesn’t trigger anything for me.

I would love to know what you are doing to control portions, etc. Basically what you are doing now. I have also counted calories here and there trying to keep them 1400 or less but that is hard too. What I am struggling with now is how to eat less without feeling like I am restricting (and send myself into a binge) but yet eat less cause I need to lose weight. That is the big question.

I would love to hear more from you and also totally understand that you might be really busy at the moment. Any information you can share I would love


If you've been following my posts from the last few weeks, you know what's been going on. But in case you haven't, a little over three months ago I finally decided to give Bright Line Eating [BLE] a try.

When I first heard about BLE, I was really pissed off about it. I was like, "You mean even though I've omitted so many foods from my diet (all animal flesh, milk, eggs, cheese, oil, all sugars, all flours and then finally all nuts, seeds and avocado), I might still have to weigh and measure my food, eat only at mealtime and get myself through hungry periods throughout the day without food?"

I was still very bitter about my yo-yo dieting attempts with Weight Watchers. I wrote a story about myself that "I will NEVER weight or measure food again for as long as I live, so help me God!"

There are four basic components to the Bright Line Eating food plan:

No sugar.
No flour.
and Quantities.

You have already mentioned that you are not on board with the no sugar, no flour train. And that's fine for people who are not as susceptible to sugar and flour effects on in the brain.

If you don't know how susceptible you are to the effects of sugar and flour, I highly recommend taking the Susceptibility Quiz here.

I'm a 9 on the Susceptibility Scale, so I've got to take sugar and flour pretty darned seriously.

But let's say that's not you, and you just want to deal with your portions.

You said "I would eat like it was going out of style."

That doesn't sound like any fun. No fun at all. (For those of you reading this that don't know what the heck we are talking about here, just take it from me, this shizz is real and thank your lucky stars that you don't know what the heck we are talking about.)

And you probably are frustrated about how to deal with that, because my guess is you've been struggling with dieting for a very long time.

So here's my advice:

1. Find a food plan that you like with an amount of calories per day that allows you to eat less than you need to support your current weight but not so little that you feel like you are starving.

2. Learn everything you can about how you are going to overcome your personal challenges sticking to that plan.

3. Stick to that plan, forever, ie, weighing and measuring your food and eating that food and nothing more for the rest of your life.

Sounds easy, right? Ha Ha.

We all know that if it was easy, we'd all be thin.

I just don't know of any way to control your portions consistently other than being on a plan like Weight Watchers or Bright Line Eating, both of which you can do successfully while remaining plant based. It's like the perfect combination for plant based over eaters like us--healthy food eaten in portions that are already worked out to result in weight loss.

If anyone knows another way, please leave your suggestion in the comments section!

What I can assure you of is that if you decide to give Bright Line Eating a try, you will find that the program is so highly developed that they make sticking to it as easy as it can be, which is not to say that it's easy all the time, but the support, loving community and tried-and-true tools are there to work for you if you surrender to the program.

Susan Pierce Thompson is very clear about one thing: Your bright lines are your bright lines. Only you can figure out what your trigger foods are, so if you really don't have an issue with eating sugar and flour sometimes, once you get to your goal weight and you are maintaining it, you are free to experiment with adding anything to your diet that you want to experiment with. There's even a system for figuring out if something is in fact a trigger for you or not.

You mentioned that what you are struggling with now is how to eat less without feeling like you are restricting (and send yourself into a binge). I think you bring up the most important point of all right here.

My personal experience is that when my diet became more balanced, as in a combination of plant based proteins (tempeh, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds), fats (avocado, nuts, seeds and some very specific oils) and carbohydrates (loads of vegetables and a little bit of fruit), instead of so carbohydrate heavy (unlimited rices, oatmeal, potatoes, beans, and fruit), my hunger became normal and the urge to eat outside of mealtimes almost vanished. I was able to follow a relatively low calorie diet and begin to lose weight again without losing my mind.

But that's just me.

We really all are a sample size of 1. You have to study what works for you.

Bright Line Eating is not for everyone.  It's like a last resort. You've tried all the other plant based diets that don't limit your portions and none of them have worked for you? Maybe then you're a candidate for giving BLE a try. You might end up loving it or hating it.

And for for those who fall in love with it, like I have, it's pretty freakin' amazing. It's taken me three difficult months of actually surrendering to it, but now I feel great. I'm pretty darned confident that I will reach my right sized body in 2017.  All of the guesswork of what and how much to eat to reach my right sized body is gone.

I have no idea if BLE is going to work for me in the long, long run of life. I know that it has me feeling very optomistic today. And given my recent history with food, I'll take all the great days I can get!

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