Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Grazer's Guide to Weight Loss

Barbara (I'm doing it for ME) posted a terrifc blog on grazing. I AM A GRAZER. I started it as a weight loss tool. Remember the small meals concept? Well, I don't think that's the "problem". I think the real issue is SNACKING. Carbs in particular. When I'm pms-ing or facing something I'd rather not deal with... I graze. Lots. I pay almost no attention to the food, it's a mechanical act of hand to mouth. To the point where I'm full and sick and I'm not even enjoying the taste and it's not even fun at all. There is hardly ever any relief by doing this, but I've done it to the point of 300 pounds.

Here is a shamelessly plagerized excerpt from Barbara's blog: Grazing and Loss of Control (LOC) Related to Eating that was published in Obesity Journal in 2007:

"Grazing was common before and after surgery. All but two (5.9%) preoperative grazers continued this eating pattern after LAGB. Although not statistically significant, grazing prevalence was 31% higher after surgery compared to baseline. Not only does gastric restriction permit the repeated intake of smaller amounts of food, it may facilitate this eating pattern. Furthermore, both preoperative and postoperative grazing independently predicted poorer postsurgical weight loss."

Translation? Many women are grazers. Having the band increases grazing behavior (small stomach = eating more times during the day). Grazers lose less weight. Barbara made the observation that this means we need BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION for our bands to be effective tools for weight loss. We have to DO something. Oh, shit. Breathe... slowly...

First off, if you are mindfully eating during the day, I don't think it should count as grazing. I think emotional eating is what is dangerous. So, dealing with my own emotional eating? What am I willing to DO to help this process? What WON'T I do? Well, I won't eat three meals. I eat about seven times during the day. Daytime food is planned out as posted almost every day in my blog, with an emphasis on protein. Nights and weekends are a rough approximation of calories. Remember my spontaneous goal for the year? I'm trying to go with my natural tendencies. I only eat when I'm hungry, but during the work week especially, that is usually at fairly predictable times. I also won't stop eating food for pleasure. Every night, I have some sort of real treat before bed. Candy, ice cream, frozen lime bar, swiss cake roll... just one thing... never more than 150 calories... and I enjoy the hell out of it.

What BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION am I willing to do?

1)Keep track of what I'm eating. Not to be obsessive, but to be informed. My food choices are now informed decisions. Not always "good" decisions, but they are always conscious choices.

2)I am willing to make myself eat protein when I know I am feeling snacky or want to eat for emotional reasons. Usually I go to tuna. It is difficult for me to get down, and it sits forever. That way, I can either not start the hand/mouth cycle, or at worst I will be limiting the amount of calorie damage that could possibly ensue.

3)I have stopped eating my kids leftovers. I am not a dog! And, we are extremely fortunate to live in a society where food is overly abundant... there is no need to eat what someone else does not even want... their GARBAGE!

4)I plan carefully so that I don't get too hungry, ever. That's a set up for failure. For example, I eat something before my ride home after work at night, because I think for most of us, pre-dinner grazing because you are famished, has been problematic. I do my part to prevent this from happening.

Depending on what discipline you approach this from, I think there is some "nature vs nurture" (environment) going on here. I propose that grazing may be as natural to our bodies as is food (carbohydrates in particular) being pleasurable to our brains- for survival! It's served us well for thousands of years. I can just imagine all the women before us eating their kids leftovers... because that's all they were going to get! Also in the vein of nature... I once had a (THIN) boss whom I really liked. One contention that she held was that losing weight was merely a matter of calorie control. Her argument was that there were no fat people in the concentration camps during WWII. Now, I don't know if that's a true statement. But, even if there weren't any overweight people at the end of that ordeal... some survived starvation when others died under the exact same circumstatnces! No wonder we have urges to graze and our brains are wired to release endorphins when we eat certain foods (carbs).

But, we are not just products of nature. We have the ability to override this to some extent, hence the idea of behavior modification. Like at work, there are certain things that the computer is programmed to do, but I can go in and override to completely reverse the outcome. Part of my "override" for weight loss success is my behavior modification list above. Having the band is another! It's more than possible for me to be FULL with 100-200 calories. Even with sliders- ie CARBOHYDRATES- I'm now limited in the damage I can do. Sure, I can eat around my band, but at least I have a physical reminder to stop or at least slow down.

My head hurts from this, so I'll stop here. I'm not sure if my ramblings here will make sense to anyone. However, I appreciate your indulgence as I try to figure this all out. I believe my conclusions are these: I am a grazer. I'm not going to fight it, but work with it. I don't think the band leads to negative grazing, ie emotional eating, although it does lend itself to needing to eat more frequently. I think that can actually help to lose weight as part of satiaty efforts- if you're not ravenously hungry, you are apt to make better food choices. And, despite the conclusion in this article that grazers lose less weight... there are plenty of other studies that show the efficacy of the band (and the grazers are included in these studies by default). There are even some five year studies that are showing that the long term weight loss of bandsters is equal to (and sometimes even better than) gastric bypass patients. The moral of the story? Studies suck. The end.


  1. To edit/delete posts go to the Dashboard and then Edit Posts. You'll find the ones you didn't publish or are able to edit or delete a post. Hope you find it ok.

    To comment on your post. I am finding it hard to just stick to three meals a day. I am not hungry but am so ingrained to think I have to have three meals and three snacks from all the diets I have been on, I need to stop and realize I don't really need the snacks right now. Lots of thinking still to do. Thanks for your helpful posts.

  2. No apologies. it's published information.

    Grazing has been my enemy.. I don't know when to stop and am afraid if I follow the six small meals it might turn into one big graze all day long with nibbles of this and bites of that (because that is how my mind will rationalize it)
    I am pretty sure that I will need to follow the eat when hungry rule. That is the behavior I need to develop.. If I am always trying to fill the void, I will never condition myself to eat when hungry.. I just need to have the discipline to pick the right foods when I am eating for hunger.. at least that is my current thinking.. but who knows I can be fickled at times.