Going Off the Rails on Your Eating Plan

While talking about summer eating strategies during the Weight Watchers meeting I attended last night, one person mentioned that sometimes it’s ok to basically go off the rails on occasion and eat whatever you want in whatever amount. Our leader sort of glossed over the comment and moved on with what was a constructive meeting suggesting that she’d come back to that comment with the member later after the meeting.

I’ve been thinking about that idea myself lately, because frankly I have gone off the rails on my eating plan a few times in the last couple months, and here’s my take on it.

First, I’ve earned a lot of success with the Weight Watchers program. I’m currently down about 98lbs from my first weigh-in a little more than two years agos. However, over the last couple of months, I’ve backslid about 10lbs from my maximum weight loss. The simple reason for this is that I stopped tracking what I’ve been eating and been less diligent about portion control. The chaos of life has been a bit accute lately, and I’ve reached a weight loss plateau that will take further change to get through.

I’ve let some frustration get me off track from making healthy eating choices and reaching my goals. Probably one or two times a week for the last couple months situations have come up where I made really poor food choices in excessive quantities. I’ve gone off the rails too many times lately and need to get back on track.

So what’s my take on the comment that it’s ok to eat whatever you feel like on occasion? I would say, “yes, but…be ready for the consequences”. Here’s what my experience has taught me the consequences are:

  1. About half of the time it can reset a week or two worth of progress. Early on, I averaged about 1.5lbs lost per week. If I had a weekend gathering with too much food and too much booze, I’d usually be up on the scale that week about 2 or 3 pounds. That can be frustrating, and when it happens every two or three weeks, you make no progress over time. All the effort and good choices you made during the preceding weeks gets unwound, and that’s super frustrating.
  2. It distorts your palate and what you train your body to expect in portions and content. Eating healthy choices over time trains my palet about what I think tastes good, and tracking helps train my appetite for healthy portion control. Eating an Awful Awful burger, a basket of french fries, and cheese poppers with a tall glass of dark beer errodes as the training I give myself to enjoy the taste of fresh vegetables and lean meats in sensible portions.

So… on occasion when I’ve eaten whatever I wanted, in whatever amount, my experience has been that the weight loss journey will be one of two steps forward and one or two steps back.  Also, it makes it more difficult to make good choices for the few days following the day of indulgence. Both of these consequences lead to frustration due to a lack of progress and dissatisfaction with eating options. For me, I can easily get past the frustration when it’s once or twice a year. Lately, when it’s been once or twice a month it’s brought me to the point to say enough is enough, and it’s time to get back with the program.

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