Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nuts, Squirrels, and moderation strategies during weight maintenance

* if talk about nuts is a trigger for you, skip this post.

Nuts!  Both in weight loss and weight maintenance I had to navigate and decide what part nuts played in my diet. Do they help me? Do they keep my bio-markers and inflammation low? Does choosing them trigger me? Will I over eat them?

The answer is YES- they help and hurt at the same time. Oh NUTS! It took a lot of work to figure this one out. It's well worth it.

Here's how I navigated the one of my only foods I can eat in moderation* (see below for disclaimer). I gave up almost all moderation strategies for weight maintenance except this one.

What's out completely: peanuts. They are legumes, trigger foods, and have no place in my life. Dismissed, eliminated, and kicked to the curb. I do not miss them one bit. This leaves almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans.

How I to got to this point: 

Weight loss mode:
 During my last weight loss attempt, peanut butter was on the Medifast plan. I realized I was on a slippery slope when I "Just HAD to have" a tablespoon every night. If I just "Have to HAVE any food" that = trigger food. Really. I know myself that way.

I ditched peanut butter right then and there. Never looked back. I did experiment with PB2, a low fat peaunt butter substitute.   Once I read the Refuse to Regain book (Barbara Berkeley) and The Paleo Soultion (Robb Wolf) and realized peanuts were legumes and not recommended from an inflammatory standpoint or for weight maintenance, I ditched the PB2 also. 

Weight Maintenance Mode: I tried almond butter, almond butter with flaxseeds. It was most yummy. And I just "had to have it".  So I stopped. I feel better without trigger foods- Paleo or not. I want clarity, recovery, and peace more than anything. 

 *Disclaimer- I will kick nuts to the curb- all of them if I start to be triggered. I will take responsibility. 100%

Choosing not to have nut butters is a huge relief and puts me solidly into my new normal.  Contrary to popular strategies one might choose during weight maintenance,  restricting myself does not lead me to binging, it leads me away from it and keeps me happy, healthy and pain (emotional and physical) free. I accept this and I own this. Fully. I know myself this way.

What does work:  I stet up "NUT RULES". Macadamia nuts in general have those great medium chain fatty acids and are a portable and sustainable snack. The other nuts also have a lot of omega-6 so, that's important for me to balance out with Omega-3's.

  • Unsalted nuts only!
  • Weigh them out into portions or half portions
  • One portion a day!
  • If I overeat them, I stop nuts cold turkey for a week or two.
  • I like macadamia nuts but I do not "Have to have them".
  • Only eat pecans, walnuts, cashews in very tiny amounts as part of recipes. Think Dukkah seasoning, pecan crusted chicken.
  • Other than macadamias and almonds- all other nuts out of bags = trigger.
  • If I am in a business situation and I cannot eat at a regular meal time, I have either almonds or macadamia nuts. This has probably saved me personally and professionally many times. I can go 2-3 hours on a half serving of macadamias or a pre-packaged serving of almonds from Trader Joe's. I feel like I put on a superwoman cape and I can jump any hurdle or do any task. A powerful tool and the reason why I developed the NUT RULES.
 What did not work in the past:

  • Moderation of peanuts or  any salted nuts
  • Absence of "NUT Rules"
  • Thinking I just "Had to have" any type of nut or nut butter.
  • Nut butters- hello triggers.
Okay, that post was long. If you are still reading, do you have any restrictions around nuts that you placed during weight loss or maintenance or as part of a non-triggering plan? Discuss!


  1. Very good post. I agree with all you said.

    Things I would add:
    in addition to unsalted,
    I also look for raw or dry roasted.

    Oil from processing can have a siren's call just like salt. (is it possible that was your problem with peanuts?)

    I am okay with one serving of PB2 per day as a means of adding protein to my daily apple. (I always pair carb with protein.) PB2 is very much an acquired taste (I caution anyone reading this). yes, peanuts are really a bean.

    Walnuts are my emergency go to as I can find plain ones in any grocery bake aisle very quickly.

    1. Hi Vickie - dry roasted and raw are usually what I go for- definitely unsalted. I saw big cans of Maua Loa Macadamias- salted at Costco last night. A good money $$ deal, but not part of my food template because of the chance of overeating. I saw but did not buy. I usually get my nuts from Trader Joe's or Fresh and easy. In a pinch I can find them out, when traveling.

      Re: peanuts- yes, could have been the oil and salt combo from the processing on peanuts. Once I saw my CRP (C reactive protein) blood values plummet from eating low inflammatory- it was easy to go cold turkey on peanuts.

    2. My husband eats dry roasted, unsalted peanuts on a daily basis, so they are in the house, but I stay away from them, even measured, these days.

  2. I agree that any trigger food should not be in the house. I do have nuts, they are not a trigger food for me. If I have some, it is a tiny dish full - you know those little dipping sauce dishes? I have always found that using these instantly fixes the amount I eat. Now is we are talking trigger foods then I could not ever have cake in my house! The funny thing is I don't miss cake or even care about it but if it was in my house I'd end up having a bit.

    1. Yes, Lynda. I use those little pink pinch bowls for nuts and small containers for on the go. Frosting has been a trigger since I was about 5-6 years old. Cake, too, but it was mainly a delivery vehicle for frosting. :0 I feel much better with out that stuff.

  3. You already know how I do around nuts:( Can't have them in the house...

    1. I've almost done that myself, Leigh. In the future, I may have to do that. I think it's good way to start maintenance- by figuring out what is in the food template and what is out. :)

  4. That is GREAT information. I really like your strategy if a food/nut becomes a "have to have". Very smart. I didn't realize that peanuts are an inflammatory bean! I also like a little PB2 with a little cocoa mixed in as a dip my medifast bar for a treat sometimes. I like the idea of having some unsalted macadamia's for when you're in a pinch. Good stuff here!!

    And thanks for your comment on my last post Karen. I just have archived that post, but I appreciated your comments. :)

    Take Care,

  5. Right as I work through my elimination diet this year (I did it last year too and learned so much about how my body responded to different foods), I am at a point that I could add almonds and almond butter back in. I have made a choice not to do so yet. I will when I am closer to the end of the process but right now I think I would overdo them so it is better to not have them. I am fine with that.

    When I do add nuts and seeds back in, I will definitely be following some of your ideas!

    1. Great, Lynn. The more of a structured plan that you have- then you can experiment. I know right away if I'm wanting to circle back for more- big red flag. Smart to be aware.

  6. This was interesting to think about. For me, if the nuts aren't salted, I could not care less about them. They become just "food." And that is a good thing, even though at first it didn't feel like it! I will have 6 raw unsalted almonds to stave off hunger (when I am not Medifasting) but don't care about them otherwise. I was using peanut butter on Medifast too but had to cut it out this week. It was not triggering me, but was "bothering me" which is kind of the same, except it is just a mental nagging to eat more (which I ignore).

    1. I think it's good that you eliminated peaunt butter, Lyn. The more I can eat food that is just "fuel" the better I feel. Glad you stopped by. :)

  7. I love peanut butter and keep trying to be reasonable with it. I have gone long periods of time with no peanut butter in the house, but then I'll try again. :( I don't really like the taste of almond butter plus, I balk at the price.

    I bought PB2 but didn't like the sweet taste. I wish they would make one that had no sugar. I never keep nuts in the house. My husband doesn't eat them and I don't need them. Yesterday, I put about a tablespoon of sliced almonds on my frozen yogurt and enjoyed them.

    1. It's good to know you can have some now and then.

  8. Boy - an ounce of nuts is depressing, isn't it!? I go for unsalted, raw almonds. They aren't triggers for me, and it generally fills me up enough as a snack. I agree - peanuts are just out. Period. I still eat PB, but only a maximum of a tsp a day. And definitely not every day. Great post, Karen!

  9. I cannot believe I am admitting this in PUBLIC! I roast almonds for a family member who likes them but eats them slowly, in small quantities and they sit there for weeks on end. I could eat the whole container in one sitting, once I start. Luckily I have.. hmmm idiosyncrasies about certain food that is not washed/cleaned. This family member has no such issues. I roast his almonds, which makes them (in my book, "clean"). In order to keep from eating them, I throw in a handful of the raw almonds, which "contaminates" the entire batch. This keeps my interest down to zero. I know, I know, the topic was "nuts", right? ;)