Saturday, July 7, 2012

Avoiding "S" foods - weight maintenance tool

Apple Pear, sliced and dusted with cinnamon

I'm picking a rule, with a sub-rule from Refuse to Regain (by Barbara Berkeley, MD) to write about. My opinions are my own, your experience may vary.  I would highly recommend the book.

Rule 1, Step four:

Accept the drug-like nature of S foods and avoid them.

Avoiding sugary & starchy foods is hands down the BEST strategy I've found in my weight maintenance practice. Think: bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, flour and sweet baked goods. I choose not to eat them and that = freedom.  I know for some people, restriction sets them up for overeating. But for me, restricting S foods is a release from the up-and-down weight gain in the past.

If you can totally relate :I just want you to know, you are not alone.
If you don't know if you can relate: keep an open mind, think about trying it.
If you cannot relate: Skip the rest of this post. Celebrate that you can eat "S"foods and stay at goal weight.

 What works for me:
  1. Avoiding sugar, flour, cereal, potatoes, and most processed foods all together
  2. Eating fruit and occasionally dried fruit like golden raisins or dates if I want a sweet food.
  3. Keeping a Lara bar around for a safe food, for occasional use only.
  4. Using a Medifast brownie, gluten free maintenance bar for birthday celebrations, or just a good cup of regular or decaf coffee.
  5. Using 85-90 % chocolate squares (1-2) , for occasional use only.
  6. Not making an exception or an excuse to grab an S food. EVER.
What has not worked in the past

  1. Eating "S" foods and telling myself, it's within my calorie/point range
  2. Buying "S" foods and thinking I could bag them into little portions.
  3. Going back to eating the "S" foods that contributed to my weight gain in the first place.
  4. Eating an "S" food because I had hiked or exercised a lot. "I've earned this!"
  5. Eating an "S" food because I was stressed, had a bad day, or did well and I wanted to "treat myself".
  6. Buying "S" foods "because the buy one, get one free M&M's could be placed on half a cup of light ice cream and wouldn't that be a great treat?" and other  slippery slope thinking.
How I transitioned/transformed: The  scoop.
I was reading Refuse to Regain about 4 months away from my goal weight. At the time I thought I was 2 months away from goal, but goal took me a little longer. Once I accepted the thought that I might not be successful if I re-introduced S foods in my diet, I needed to think back at the past, the present, and the future. And, I needed to plan ahead by thinking about what I could eat in transition and maintenance. I also wanted to know what worked for me and what caused regain.

In the past- (at the time I was at Weight Watchers goal twice) Think : pizza crust, biscotti dipped in coffee, or a Skinny Cow Ice cream. Yes, they all tasted great and in my points range, but lead me to want to keep eating. No Bueno

In the current (at the time I was on Take Shape for Life/Medifast): Gee, all the gluten free meals are the ones that taste the best to me. And, I can eat the Cauliflower Pizza from Sandy's Kitchen, but that pizza did not make me want to overeat. What was different. Sauce- check, mozzarella- check,  pizza crust.... OH, there is no flour/wheat in the cauliflower pizza crust. Eureka! That's it. Right there.... This is bueno! A root cause exposed. Fabulous, but now what?

In the future: How am I going to work this? Does this mean no birthday cake or brownies? What will I do if I want to have something sweet? While transitioning from Medifast onto regular food, I stopped at the point where wheat was brought in and started seeing what sweet, natural foods I could tolerate. I also did a 90 Opt out (see the Refuse to Regain book on this) where I ate a Primarian diet and tinkered with a small amount of sweet food to see what would work (see steps 1-6 above).

I continue to fine tune my diet and what does or doesn't work for occasional sweet. I eat 2 fruits a day in my diet (think blueberries and a peach), but sometimes, I'll choose one of the fruits to be an extra sweet fruit.  I have to say that  golden raisins or fresh pineapple are my most favorite occasional snack. Once a week or so.  Sweet, but no urges to want to overeat. And, I don't miss the "S" foods the longer I go without.  That is Bueno!

That's it. Thanks for reading.  Hopping off the soap box now... get the Refuse to Regain book and work those steps. So worth it!

Anybody else avoiding "S" foods and having success?


  1. Oh yes, I don't think I ever knew what success might feel like UNTIL I eliminated the "S" foods. When I read your posts like this one, I find myself just sitting here nodding and saying, "preach on, sister!" Please, for the benefit of people like me, stay on your soapbox!! I am so thankful I found your blog (or you found mine, can't remember which it was) right at I was reaching maintenance. I particularly enjoy your what works for me/what doesn't work for me lists. BTW, I'm finding no desire whatsoever to try and add back "s" foods, but I did try a bit of cheese (fresh mozzarella in caprese salad and have found that isn't going to work either. It just made me crave more.

    1. Glad I'm not alone. It's amazing what I learned about myself without "S" foods. Much easier experience. Still a lot of hard work, but a better learning opportunity. I've found better results without dairy, now, too. I occasionally have blue cheese on a cobb salad, but that's about it.

      I had been using a designer whey protein powder that I enjoyed, but I'm finding less allergies/sinus congestion with out it. So now I'm probably dairy free, too. Interesting journey.

  2. Karen, would you consider eliminating the word verification requirement in order to comment on your blog? You may not even know it's there. Blogger added it automatically to new blogs a few months ago and it makes it very difficult to comment easily. And it has no purpose. Doing so would likely increase the number of comments you receive. Thanks!!

    1. Done! You are correct, I had no idea that the word verification was there. Thanks for the heads up. I find it impossible to read those letters on other blogs. Crazy! Thanks again.

  3. Hi Karen, I'd be really interested in hearing a (food) day in the life for you in maintenance. I'm contemplating doing away with the S's (mainly sugar and flour-based foods).

    1. Here's a typical day:

      scrambled egg + 2 egg whites, with small amount of coconut oil
      Avocado (1/4 or 1/5 of whole)
      asparagus spears (3) sauteed with small amount of coconut oil

      Grilled turkey burger
      Cucumber slices
      Cherry tomatoes
      Romaine lettuce or baby spinach
      1-2 tsp olive oil
      1 TBS of Balsamic vinegar
      Orange, medium

      Some sort of protein (2-3 oz, chicken thigh, ground turkey with spices, rotisserie chicken)
      Avocado (1/4 or 1/5 of whole) OR half a serving of Macadamia nuts


      Protein (4-6 oz- chicken, turkey, tilapia filet, ground turkey, salmon, less often red meat or flank steak or shrimp)
      Kale or brussels sprouts (sauteed in a little coconut oil)
      red bell pepper strips
      Blueberries or raspberries or blackberries ( half cup or 2/3 cup)

      Evening snack:

      2 squares of 85-88% chocolate OR
      Handful of Almonds Or
      Half serving macadamia nuts OR
      Lara bar OR

      Less often I'll have one of the following
      Medifast soft bake cookie or brownie or a mint maintenance bar.
      So delicious, unsweetened vanilla coconut beverage
      Trader Joe's seaweed snacks (salty, crispy, and some canola oil, so I don't eat it often)
      Some sort of paleo dessert experiment (usually fails)

      I vary my calories with my activity levels and on some really active days, I may be more hungry the day after the work out if the work out is longer than 1 hour. I try to up protein and healthy fat, if needed.

      I drink coffee in the morning and mid day and lots of water, too.

    2. Thanks for sharing this, Karen! It sounds like a very balanced way to eat.

  4. P.S. I don't know if you read Vickie's maintenance blog, Baby Steps V, but she has been at it (successfully) for years and there are a lot of gems in her archives (they go back five years or so now). She set her blog to private in the spring, but you can access it by sending her an email. Let me know if you'd like her email address, and I could email it to you.

    1. Thanks, I'll have to check it out.

  5. I do sometimes wonder how I'll cope at goal weight, since it's 2-3 months away. Going sugarless sounds great, I wish I could do that but there are a few foods that I really enjoy and of course they have that dreaded sugar.

    1. I find that I can do tiny amounts of sugar, in certain forms and be okay. But I cannot absolutely do wheat. The cool thing was, once I did the 90 day opt out, I did not really want the sugar so much. Good luck.

  6. I've been maintaining, as you know, for 14 years. I watch those "s" foods but don't avoid them completely. I have a goal of reducing the refined sugars I eat - especially those in processed foods. I have found as I've gotten older that I do better limiting the white starchy foods like potatoes and rice. Makes me sad though - as I do love those things!

    1. I hear you on the getting older part and the potatoes and rice. Seems like I could tolerate some of those items when I maintained 10 years ago. But no more. Whahh! ;)

  7. Where have you been all my life? LOL Probably not writing a blog, since I'm 73 years old! I'm so pleased with what I've read here, and agree wholeheartedly with all your theories - thanx for a terrific, level-headed blog, Karen!

  8. Thanks for the book suggestion. I will give it a look. I agree with everything you've said here. I absolutely avoid the S foods...and have lost 94 pounds! It really does work:)

    1. Congrats on your success. I'm glad that there are others who are on the same path. Very helpful.

  9. Amen to all you wrote. I feel so sad when I read a post where someone has gotten (near but not actually to) goal and then considered their process "done" and gone right back to some version of their old habits. People do not seem to understand how little difference there is between weight loss and maintenance.