Bicycling and Weight Loss Part II – Understanding
continued from: Bicycling and Weight Loss Part I – Overview
Last January my weight was up, my blood pressure was too high, and my hip hurt a lot. I later found out that the hip problem I’d been chasing for 2 years was really a back problem. I realized it was no coincidence I had all of these problems, I was too fat and my body was doing the best it could to compensate and tell me it was time to change.
I knew I was eating too much but dieting had never really worked for me. I tried the South Beach Diet several times, my wife’s favorite, but never really had much success. I’d lose 10 or 20 pounds but would have them back as soon as I stopped. There was always a stop because I got tired of feeling deprived.
I was dieting but not learning anything about why my weight out of control. All I knew was if I dieted I lost weight and when I stopped I got the weight back plus some. My Doctor suggested a Food Diary. That made sense and I started just writing down what I was eating.
One thing became immediately obvious, my portion sizes were way too large. Since I cook that was easy to fix. But cutting back on portion size left me unsatisfied. I was used to eating until I felt full.
Discovery 1: Eat more slowly and stop when you are no longer hungry. Don’t keep eating until you feel full.
When I ran across this thought it seemed so obvious. Why had I never realized that I didn’t have to eat everything and leave the table feeling stuffed? I know I can blame my poor Mother but really thoughtless behavior is all my fault but I can do better. A Dutch track coach I met cycling said it very well, “Don’t eat like a pig; eat like a person”. What he meant I am sure is stop eating when you stop feeling hungry.
Ok, I cut back portion sizes and stopped when I no longer felt hungry. But I didn’t feel satisfied with my food. I’d bicycled a bit in Europe and remembered how I felt after meals in France and Italy. The serving sizes had been small by American standards but they were so full of flavor that I left the table feeling satisfied. I’d been searching for quite a while on how to replicate that experience at home. But I found French techniques way to complicated for my schedule and the fresh ingredients hard to get.
Somewhere in my reading I ran across a theory that might explain why I felt so unsatisfied with my cooking and most restaurant food. The premise I kept finding is that American food flavoring is based around a powerful combination of fat, sugar and salt that is almost addictive. That food triad stimulates us in a way that makes us eat more while hiding the true flavor of food with a flavor that is powerful and seductive but not healthy in excess. I don’t know if the triad of sugar, fat, and salt really changes our brain chemistry as some claim but I do know I was addicted. I needed lots of salt, sugar, and fat in my food to enjoy it.
I knew I had to stop adding salt to my food, but did not want to start using sugar substitutes again. They just seemed to make me hungry.