So about a month ago, I decided to step on a scale. I hadn’t weighed myself for months, and I was curious to see what the result would be.
Well, let’s just say I was shocked. I had gained 7 pounds since the start of the school year, and I don’t gain weight very easily at all! Freshman year, while many students had their “Freshmen 15” due to the buffet-style meals in the dining hall, I remained the same weight throughout the year. I didn’t eat less then anyone else, I just didn’t gain weight very easily. And all this time I had been basking in the gift of a wicked fast metabolism…until recently when I realized that I could no longer take advantage of it.
Stepping on the scale for me was shocking, but it was also the motivation for me to change my eating habits. I called myself a “healthy” person, and even though I was eating mostly plant-based, nutritious meals, I was consuming unhealthy, out-of-control portions. For dinner, I would have 1 full plate of sautéed veggies, a bowl (sometimes two) of carbs and salad, and a bowl of yogurt or cereal. It was way too much food for my body to handle, and as a result, I did not feel so great after. Yet I would still eat more because it had become a sort of addiction. And I knew I was unhealthy and I was gaining weight, but every day, I refused to believe it. Until I stepped on that scale.
It was a wake up call. The shock of my weight gain made me realize that my stomach aches and bloated feeling at night, after eating a humongous dinner (and “midnight snack” afterwards), was not healthy at all. I had to make a change.
So, I started portion controlling-I would still eat mostly the same foods I used to eat, but I would regulate how much I ate.
For breakfast, my usual mason jar of oatmeal (equivalent to 3/4 cup oatmeal with 3/4 cup milk) was cut down to the actual recommended adult serving size-1/2 cup oatmeal with 1/2 cup milk. And I mindfully ate my breakfast-meaning I would take 1 minute breaks periodically to assess whether I was still hungry, or whether I was just eating because of the availability of food. A couple times, I found myself not even finishing the oatmeal because I was full already, but staying satisfied for the entire morning! So I realized that the 3/4 cup of oatmeal I used to eat was actually sometimes double the amount that I needed.
My usual lunch used to be a sandwich and salad on the side. But when there was “good” food in the hot bar, I would take that as well. This might include salmon, eggplant parm, roasted veggies, green beans, etc. And I would also take cereal or yogurt for dessert. So this time for lunch, I decided that I would either eat a sandwich and salad, or the hot food and a salad, without any dessert.
The snacks that I used to eat after school (trail mix, KIND bar) I still ate, but I portioned out the trail mix to recommended adult serving sizes of 1/4 cup and kept more fruit around.
Then for dinner, the 1 plate and 3 bowls of food that I used to eat turned into one bowl of salad and sautéed veggies/other hot food. Also, no more dessert, because I knew that I would snack at home anyway.
So after this experiment, in a month, I lost 6 of the 7 pounds that I had gained. But more importantly,
- I wasn’t feeling bloated and I didn’t get stomach aches
- I rekindled a healthy relationship with food through mindfully eating, not just shoving food down because it was available.
- I ate healthier and better quality meals, without all the excess and unnecessary dessert. Before having a buffet-style dining hall, I used to eat fruit for dessert, if anything at all. So, I’ve now attempted to go back to that healthy habit because dessert is truly unneeded. If I crave dessert, then I’ll have something sweet-like a banana with peanut butter, or a very small but full bowl of cereal (smaller full bowls give the illusion of eating more)
The bottom line of this month-long journey has been: eat in moderation! Don’t deprive yourself of the foods that you love-I think that’s my best advice for losing weight, ironically. I didn’t realize how much excess food I was eating until I ate a proper amount. And I hope you learned from this experience that I’ve shared.