Help my overcome my oatmeal addiction
August 30, 2008 11:37 PM   Subscribe

A little background: 5'2" female, quite fit/sporty. Over the past year I've been working towards eating better, more ethically and cleaning up my diet...The recent exception to this is oatmeal (rolled oats). Lovely, lovely oatmeal.

As a result I've stopped eating foods with added sugar and no longer crave them at all, which is awesome. The bulk of my diet is comprised of salads, various vegetables, hummus, fish (no other meat), fruit, potatoes, low-fat yogurt and milk, some legumes and nuts. I rarely eat grains because bread and pasta make me feel bloated and cous cous or quinoa don't really do it for me. I might eat some rice at a restaurant now and again but I don't keep or eat grains at home. The recent exception to this is oatmeal (rolled oats). Lovely, lovely oatmeal. I normally have it plain, made with water and a little splash of skim milk. Sometimes I add a banana or raisins but this makes it too sweet and I mostly just prefer it plain. I'm on about 2 cups (dry measure) a day now, morning and evening, which is a lot of oatmeal and I could easily eat more. When I get hungry all I want is oatmeal. I only limit myself for fear of bathroom explosions. The problem is, I'm trying to reduce my body fat % and consuming all these oats is really hindering my progress. Has anyone else experienced this or am I a freak? I don't drink or smoke, so oatmeal is now my only vice!
posted by battle_angel to Health & Fitness (49 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What is your average daily caloric intake? I ask, because it sounds as though you may be hungry. Cravings of this type are often a body's way of asking for more food.
posted by decathecting at 11:46 PM on August 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

Reading this, my first reaction is to think that the writer has an eating disorder. Oatmeal is a vice? You mostly eat vegetables and fish! Your body needs energy. You're craving oatmeal because its the only relatively simple carbohydrate you're allowing yourself to eat and despite the low-carb trend of the last few years - grains and pastas are in fact what human beings around the world have been eating for eons to meet the majority of their caloric needs. And there's nothing unhealthy about that.

My advice is to find a way to feel OK about eating oatmeal, and hopefully a few other grains for variety (whole grain bread? Brown rice? Quinoa??) so that you can feel satisfied and full and so you can free up your energy to think about other important parts of life instead of so much guilt about your diet.
posted by serazin at 11:50 PM on August 30, 2008 [8 favorites]

No snark intended, but what is your question? Are you asking if other people who eat oatmeal begin to crave it? Are you asking if oatmeal has a known effect on body-fat reduction schemes?

If you think you're eating too much of a certain food, you should eat less or go cold-turkey, and eat something or some quantity you think is more beneficial instead. You obviously already know this, as you describe the steps you've taken to modify your diet.

I'm really confused.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:00 AM on August 31, 2008

Because you're a new account-holder here, I want to share a tip. When you a posting a new question, you'll see two sections you can type into: "your question" and "extended explanation". In the "your question" field you should boil down your question into a single sentence, like "How can I enjoy oatmeal without side-tracking my fat-loss progress?" and then you can put any amount of detail you like in the "extended explanation" section.

Background information is almost always handy to include, but for the sake of your time and everyone else's only include information & specifics if you truly believe they will help the people responding to you.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:05 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would advise seeking treatment for a potential eating disorder. This question sets off a ton of alarm bells for me.
posted by craichead at 12:05 AM on August 31, 2008 [7 favorites]

My question: what do you mean when you say it's hindering your weight loss? How much weight are you losing each week? 1-2 lbs is normal and healthy, any more is unhealthy.

If anything, I'd guess that any slowness in weight loss is caused by not getting enough calories, especially if you exercise a lot. Also, if you are within a healthy BMI, weightloss will probably be very slow. But really, I'd add some fat and some other whole grains.

How much do you weigh now/how much are you trying to lose? What';s a typical meal plan for you?
posted by lunasol at 12:10 AM on August 31, 2008

battle_angel, how much protein do you get in a day? I often find when I've been eating clean and I start craving carbs, especially a very specific kind, it's often the body craving protein. Sounds weird, but it works. The fact that your only source of protein seems to be fish and dairy is another red flag pointing to that problem. I'd track your food intake for a couple of days and make sure you're getting at least 0.75g protein per pound of body mass. Try to add in on through the fish.

For people who get all up in arms about her considering oatmeal a "vice", it looks like she's on a semi-Paleo-type diet, where you cut out grains, sugars, and legumes. battle_angel, if this is the case the potatoes aren't doing you any favors. If I'm not mistaken they're more high-glycemic than oats.
posted by Anonymous at 12:11 AM on August 31, 2008

craichead: What alarm bells, please? Sort of reckless and inflammatory to make a comment like that without even sharing a opinion to back it up. Battle_angel is a new member here, and we don't have anywhere near enough information about/from her to make assumptions as to her health, so perhaps we should avoid frightening or alienating her.

Not to patronize you, battle_angel; I'm sure you can take care of yourself.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:13 AM on August 31, 2008

Response by poster: hey, I'm sorry about the formatting - is there a way to edit? I previewed the post and it looked ok but I guess I screwed up there.

I don't have an eating disorder, I just find I put on weight when I eat grains. The fact is they just aren't that nutritious to be worth it for me. I get plenty of carbs through vegetables. I weigh probably 120-125 lbs. i'm not sure because I don't have scales.

schroedinger your point about protein makes a lot of sense. I've actually been thinking about some sort of fish soup. I just guess part of it is laziness.

Thanks craichead. I thought mefi was a more welcoming place than this.
posted by battle_angel at 12:57 AM on August 31, 2008

No way to edit, I'm afraid - but no worries. I hope you won't let any impressions from this thread keep you from participating here at MeFi. We're mostly-good people, even craichead.
posted by chudmonkey at 1:15 AM on August 31, 2008

"I'm not sure because I don't have scales."

There's really no way to manage a weight loss program without a scale.

You can get a nice one at Home Depot for about 40 bucks.
posted by Jahaza at 3:49 AM on August 31, 2008

I usually find oatmeal a great way to lose weight.

Firstly, it fills you up. Secondly, I eat it for breakfast in place of something less than good for me. Thirdly, fiber, fiber, fiber.

Just make sure you aren't adding too much milk, sugar, etc ... and that is why you are not getting the results you expect rather than because of the oatmeal.

Also, get yourself a nice macrobiotic cookbook. Lots of recipies on how to make brown rice and other grains interesting.
posted by monkeydluffy at 3:54 AM on August 31, 2008

I think the reason that you're getting some flak is that you're describing oatmeal as a vice. Oatmeal is porridge, the food of orphans. Your tummy is Oliver Twist, begging, "Please sir, I want some more". How can you say no to that?

Oatmeal is a healthy whole grain. If you have a moderate breakfast of grains at the start of your day, it should provide enough energy to carry you late into the day without hunger. That's a good eating habit. Simple oatmeal for breakfast, without added sugar, is probably not by itself causing you to put on weight.

I can't understand why you would want to deny yourself something you enjoy, that's not bad for you, instead of incorporating it as part of a healthy diet. It seems a bit funny to me too. I don't think it's an eating disorder (that notion is crazy), but it does sound like you are inventing a problem for yourself. But if you really want to investigate further, I would say, have oatmeal when you want it, and see when you get hungry later in the day and how much you have. Then compare that to when you abstain from oatmeal. I would be surprised if a healthy breakfast didn't have a net positive effect on your diet.
posted by cotterpin at 4:10 AM on August 31, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconding schroedinger. You're getting 22g of protein from 2 cups of oats, but you're also getting nearly 100g of carbs. Regardless of your personal view on carbs, that's nearly 400 calories a day you probably don't need.

I eat paleo, and I find it works best if I think of hunger as a sign that my body wants me to go out, kill something, and eat it. Or, you know, pop open a can of tuna.
posted by backupjesus at 4:19 AM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: My sister has (or had at least) a similar love affair with oats. She started eating them to cut calories, then ate them because she liked the taste, then finally was eating them dry as part of some daily compulsion. As far as I could tell, there never appeared to be any ill effects, although I imagine she was laying some major deuces with all that fiber.

For what it's worth, she eventually got tired of eating so many oats and quick cold-turkey.
posted by El_Marto at 4:39 AM on August 31, 2008

In order to do reduce your fat percentage you will need to introduce:

a) more protein to your diet vial meats
b) more fat to your diet.

When you body doesnt get any fat from food it works even harder to hold onto to the fat it currently has. When you dont receive any loose muscle making it even harder to reduce your body percentage you just looose weight....
posted by The1andonly at 5:24 AM on August 31, 2008

No way to edit. It's still 1990 in here.

My advice is experiment with your diet to see if your craving remains.
posted by A189Nut at 6:07 AM on August 31, 2008

Your body needs grains. That is why you are craving them. I can think of worse things to be eating than oatmeal, certainly.

If you want to reduce body fat, make sure you are exercising. You will train your body to use fat for fuel, for one thing. And you may want to see a nutritionist .
posted by konolia at 6:19 AM on August 31, 2008

Welcome to ask mefi, battle_angel.

I interpret your description of your diet as a question inviting comment generally, and some response to the question of the place of grains in the diet.

So I'm going to respond by referring to my own experiments with diet. I was heavily influenced by macrobiotics at one point (which embrace grains). For large periods of time brown rice was a major part of my diet. I would sometimes eat it raw (lots of chewing until it became quite sweet). I have also been vegan at times. I have had significant periods of time (2 years+) without any refined sugar in my diet.

While I have moved on from all of these stages I felt that the experimentation significantly contributed to my knowledge of diet and my awareness of how food affects me. Going without sugar for a significant period of time is a very good practice to make you realise just how much of a drug it is (like heroin or cocaine it is a highly refined plant extract with addictive properties).

My advice when you are doing this sort of experimenting is to listen closely to your body and your appetites and not keep everything in head and theory land. This 'direct experience' is, I feel, your best guide.

And while your thing about fat % did make me raise my eyebrows, I don't agree with ppl labeling what you described as an 'eating disorder'. It's your body and your diet. Fasting and ascetic practices are part of human (spiritual) culture. As long as you try to maintain awareness while doing them then I think they can give strong benefits.

The only things I would say specifically is that if you are going to eat dairy, do it in as close to its natural form as possibly, meaning full fat and if possible, unpasteurised. And oats are a lovely food. There is evidence that hunter gatherers gathered the grains of wild grasses and ate them before agriculture, so I wouldn't stress too much about them not being part of a 'paleo' diet.
posted by Sitegeist at 6:24 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd second the notion expressed above that your body isn't craving oatmeal in particular as much as it is carbohydrates in general. In short, this is because the digestive system is lazy, and when you're hungry, it wants the chemically easiest source of metabolic energy available, i.e. carbs. Still, if you're not going to cut carbs from your diet completely--which is probably a bad idea for any kind of semi-permanent diet--oatmeal is not a bad way to go. You're not getting much if any refined sugar there, which is good, and it's all whole-grain (or should be anyways, otherwise switch brands) which is better.

I've trying to lose some weight myself, but I'm doing so by restricting how much I eat not what I eat, i.e. anything I please so long as I stay under about 1700 Calories/day. That, combined with semi-regular exercise, has produced a weight loss of about fifteen pounds over the past few months. Nothing dramatic, but it works, and I've adjusted pretty well to simply eating less.

Eat your oatmeal. It's good for you, and you think it's tasty (can't say I share your opinion, but to each his own). Remember that eating isn't just something we do to stay alive; it's one of life's most basic pleasures and shouldn't be transformed into either a chore or an evil. But if you do feel the need to cut back, a smaller portion is probably a better choice than simply ditching a particular otherwise-healthy food altogether.
posted by valkyryn at 6:43 AM on August 31, 2008

Have you thought about the whole of fat in your diet? Low-fat yogurt and milk are just are processed as many foods you've probably cut out of your diet. They've been artificially modified based on the idea that fat is somehow bad. It's not! I personally refuse to drink any milk with a modified fat content. I also wonder why you have excluded all other non-fish meat. Do you think that is bad too?

I eat a diet full of fat and it keeps me from craving things in general and also, paradoxically, has led to reduced body fat. I hover around 17% lately.

There are tons of books and resources about fat being good. is one of my favorite sites and I'd also check out Gary Taubes' book Good Calories, Bad Calories.

grains and pastas are in fact what human beings around the world have been eating for eons to meet the majority of their caloric needs.

Actually, the amount of time humans have been eating grains is really just a recent blip in human history. Humans have been eating buffalo fat for far far longer. A buffalo steak is far more compatible with how humans evolved to eat than oatmeal or low-fat milk.

That said, I do eat grains. I just don't make them the base of my meals and they are more of a treat than anything.
posted by melissam at 6:48 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

What alarm bells, please?
As everyone has pointed out, the reference to a perfectly ordinary food as a "vice." But there are a lot of other ones.

(I'm going to assume that battle_angel is a woman, because of the 120-125 pounds and because of the "angel" in battle-angel's user name. Apologies if I'm wrong about that. But the answer doesn't change if battle-angel is a guy, because guys can definitely get eating disorders, too. Unfortunately, they are significantly less likely to be diagnosed and treated than women are.)

She's made two different recent radical dietary changes recently, for totally different supposed reasons: the first was supposedly to "clean up" her diet and be ethical, and the second was to lose body fat. She's cut entire categories of food out of her diet, which is a very common thing for people with eating disorders to do. She *just happens* to prefer her vast quantities of oatmeal plain, with none of the calorie-adding additions that everyone else in the world includes to make oatmeal more palatable. She has bizarre food cravings, and she refuses to acknowledge the possibility that they're a sign that there's something fundamentally wrong with her diet or that fixing it would be more important than her "progress" on the goal that she's set up for herself.

I could be totally wrong, and the OP will have to figure that out. But I lost a lot of years of my life to anorexia and bulimia and something sub-clinical but still soul-sucking, and I think I've got a pretty good radar for when someone's talking about their diet in a way that sounds obsessive or like it's taking over their life. This just sounds off to me, and if I'm right, that's a horrible way to live your life. I don't think I quite realized how horrible it was until later, when I realized how enormously liberating it was not to have food and guilt and struggle around food as the central issue in my existence. It's hard to see what you're doing to yourself until you stop doing it, in my experience.

But it's also just a straight-up answer to the OP's question. I stopped having bizarre food cravings when I stopped seeing food as something with which to play control games and started seeing it as fuel for my body, as a source of guilt-free pleasure, and sometimes as an occasion for sociability.

And finally, eating disorders are defined by the obsessive quality, not by how much you weigh. I'm actually significantly thinner now than I was for part of my multi-year eating disorder run. It's entirely possible to have an eating disorder and not be unusually thin at all.
posted by craichead at 7:00 AM on August 31, 2008 [18 favorites]

Aargh. Just re-read the question, and the OP said she was female. Sorry.
posted by craichead at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2008

Looking at the nutritional data gives 2 cups of oatmeal as 600 calories. You probably need about 2000 calories a day if you're reasonably active, so the oatmeal is currently making up about 30% of your daily intake of calories. This is assuming you actually consume that many calories in day, which may be difficult if you've cut a lot of fats and carbs out of your diet. So it might make up an even greater percent of your calorific intake.

Plugging your weight and height into a BMI calculator puts you in your ideal weight range. Now these figures aren't exact and the BMI is far from perfect, but just as a rough guide they suggest you probably don't need to be cutting out another 600 calories from your diet and probably don't need to lose any body fat.

So you appear to be asking for a way to lose weight beyond a level that would usually be thought of as healthy. I'm not suggesting that you have an eating disorder (you're a stranger on the internet who's shared a tiny amount of information about yourself), but you might want to look at your motivations for losing weight and consider if it's going to be a healthy thing for you to do. And it might be - like I said, the figures I've looked up are rough - but just for yourself, you should have some good reasons why one way or the other.
posted by xchmp at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oatmeal is an extremely healthy food. Oats and oat products contain a great deal of soluble fiber, and they have proven to help people regulate their cholesterol levels and improve heart health - doctors think it's the soluble fiber that does this.

Your two questions are "has anyone else experienced this" and "help me overcome my oatmeal addiction." I am not a nutritionist, but I am having a hard time getting my head around the idea that a person who describes herself as fit and who is 5'2/120# should need to cut 2 cups of oatmeal a day out of her diet. It seems to me that among the various spectra of health concerns that people might have, this one is not particularly common, nor is it something I'd advise worrying about very much.

Oatmeal is not bad for you. Food is not bad for you. Weight and diet issues are more complicated than just calories per day or body fat percentage. It might be worth examining your goals and the substance of your concerns in a bit more detail.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:01 AM on August 31, 2008 [4 favorites]

Oatmeal is in fact quite good for you. Honestly, it's crazy to call it a vice; you are eating neither bad nor unethically if you eat it on a regular basis.

I don't have an eating disorder, I just find I put on weight when I eat grains. The fact is they just aren't that nutritious to be worth it for me.

How do you know they "aren't that nutritious"? They are probably actually better for you in terms of fiber etc. than many vegetables.

Thanks craichead. I thought mefi was a more welcoming place than this.

The reason you are experiencing this is that you have asked a question about making a rather extreme diet even more extreme, and potentially unhealthy. It isn't a matter of not welcoming you; the majority of people in this thread are simply disagreeing with some of your question's fundamental premises.
posted by advil at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2008

(By "they" in "they are probably actually better for you..." I mean whole grains.)
posted by advil at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2008

Have you tried steel cut oatmeal? If you're worried about the processed grain characteristic of the rolled oats, then steel cut oats might be a good alternative. It's not as convenient, but it's a lot tastier and it's a lot less processed so it digests slower which won't spike your blood sugar/insulin as much.
posted by jefftang at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wild guess here.

Oats are high in tryptophan, and are a 'carb', both of which increase serotonin in the brain. My guess is that your very low-carb diet is driving your serotonin down too far, and your body is self-medicating. Any stress could be increasing your imbalance further. Make sure you have a good multivitamin with plenty of B vitamins.

Also, switch to steel-cut oatmeal. It's yummy, better for you, and digests slower than rolled oats (med. glycemic vs. high). Takes a little longer to make, but I find it way more dense and filling. (Two cups rolled oats, dry measure, would be about four cups cooked? Two cups steel cut oats is about eight cups cooked. ) So embrace the oatmeal love!!! :)
posted by for_serious at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about the levels of micronutrients in your diet? Oats are a good source of iron (for a grain), and unless you're eating lots of dark green veggies or dried apricots you may have a slight deficiency. I eat steel-cut oatmeal daily...but only 1/4 dry cup. 2 dry cups is really an astounding amount!
posted by shrabster at 9:09 AM on August 31, 2008

The fact is they just aren't that nutritious to be worth it for me.

In what universe? Grains are extremely nutritious. In fact that is why nutritionists constantly advocate that we should be eating more whole grains.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2008

I rarely eat grains because bread and pasta make me feel bloated and cous cous or quinoa don't really do it for me.

I can't tell from this whether you have the kind of reaction to wheat products that would indicate celiac disease, but it does seem at least to raise that possibility.

Oats apparently do not contain gliaden, the wheat protein which causes such problems for celiac sufferers, but they do contain a very similar protein, avenin, and the issue of the safety of oats for celiacs is controversial.

That consuming oats causes "bathroom explosions" is again a little ambiguous, but also could parallel the experience of celiacs with wheat.

Finally, it is a truism that food allergies and addictions are bound together, but I have never been able to winkle out the degree of truth in that truism, and in any case the celiac's reaction to wheat is not an allergy because it is not mediated by IgE (IgG and IgA antibodies are often found), but celiacs do have terrible cravings for wheat, and I can easily imagine one saying 'lovely, lovely wheat'.
posted by jamjam at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Eating disorder, that's a good one. I also like the notion that how the oats are cut somehow makes them digest slower in your body. Hilarious. Has anyone told her to see a doctor yet?

There's nothing wrong with eating oatmeal, just watch your overall calories if you're concerned about losing weight. It's calories, not what you eat, that determines if you lose weight or not. I think it's fine to eat several bowls a day, and it doesn't diminish the healthiness of your diet in the least.
posted by luckypozzo at 10:06 AM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: When i am eating clean to cut BF% [ Bodyfat % ]i consume a lot of oatmeal. I also crave it but have to cycle the oatmeal as if i stay on it to long i dont seem to continue the BF% loss. Like you i also eat it without sugar as i much prefer the taste. I can sit and eat a HUGE bowl of oatmeal with milk as its one of my fave foods.

A few other people seemed to have pointed out a few important things if you want to lower your BF% you need to up your healthy fat intake. Drop the semi skimmed milk and low fat products and start eating full fat. Use full fat milk instead of the semi skimmed stuff.

I would also up your protein and get a better balanced diet. If you are looking to strip BF% you want to be hitting a 40,30,30 split thats protein, Carbs, Fat.

A great diet to follow would be the Zone, i have been using it for 2 months and have dropped 8% BF.

As for peoples comments about eating disorders i follow the diet i do to perform well in my favorite hobbies, not because i am trying to be thin as i possibly can its just to perform the best all the time.

With the diet i follow i dont have to carb load to run long distance or load up to lift big weights, i can just do these activities normally without loading and that for me is important.
posted by moochoo at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2008

I'd suggest some heavy duty travel in various 3rd (and even 2nd and 1st) world countries. Eat the local diet with relish. There are billions who have little say in what they eat and it has been thus for millennia. You may find Michael Pollan's advice helpful: E'at food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Relax a bit, and enjoy nature's bounty with the juice dripping down your chin.
posted by dawson at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2008

Best answer: First, do you recognize that you're basically eating a South Beach, or moderate low-carb, diet? I'm not an SB follower, but I am a fan and follower of low carb eating for the same reason you mentioned: grains make me bloated, cranky, and also trigger some massive cravings for me.

If you're sensitive to such stuff, as you clearly are, then South Beach and other LC diets can put an end to cravings if you understand the science behind them. Reading through the foods you listed, most of them would be perfectly acceptable in whatever amounts to my way of eating, except these two: potatoes, and (certain, high-sugar) fruit (like raisins and, yes, bananas). If you're eating these, you basically haven't cut high-sugar items out of your diet, because, as far as I understand it, potatoes and high-sugar fruits break down so quickly in your body that (in terms of their effects on your blood sugar level) you might as well be eating white sugar from the spoon. (There's a reason a lot of diabetics must be careful with certain foods that are generally considered healthy!) Myself, I DO eat the occasional mango or potato, but when I do, I know it's going to cause a blood sugar spike that's going to make me feel really good, then quickly crash, and, yes, crave more sugar and starch, like oatmeal.

It's possible, then, that your oatmeal cravings are caused by other stuff you're eating as well as by the way you're eating your oatmeal (skim milk, and bananas or raisins, only exacerbate the sugar rush you'll get from it). My own suggestion? Keep these items in your diet, by all means -- it's important to eat food you enjoy. But be sure to always eat them with a considerable portion of fat and protein: this will slow the process of digestion, and therefore the rate at which the glucose is released. Eat your oatmeal with butter, or heavy cream instead of skim milk. Eat it with nuts, if you like. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to add high-calorie items if you're trying to lose weight, and it wouldn't work if your staple foods were carby. But they're not. Besides, a) you do need to get a good amount of calories to make your body happy and keep your metabolism revving, and b) feeling full is very conducive to eating less, whereas cravings are the kiss of death to any weight-loss plan.
posted by artemisia at 10:55 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Start running and you can have all the oatmeal you want. In fact, you'll need to, because you can't really run & be on a low-carb diet and still be healthy.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:59 AM on August 31, 2008

Oatmeal's good for you, as mentioned above - especially if your cholesterol is higher than it ought to be.

Ignore the world-class derail efforts about this somehow being an "extreme" diet - it's certainly not as radical as some of the Atkins-esque insulin-restricting things we're all hearing about daily.

And this tosh: that you're including "none of the calorie-adding additions that everyone else in the world includes to make oatmeal more palatable" is downright offensive (I flagged it - I'm sure I'm not the only one). I prefer it as it comes as well (almost; like lots of people with Scots parents, I like a bit of salt).

Potatoes, tasty though they are, may not be helping you.

Looking at your list of regular I-do-eat-thems it looks like, as someone mentioned above, you may be craving protein and some of the 'good' fats. What moochoo said, basically.
posted by genghis at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2008

artemisia is spot-on. Most of the additions to oatmeal that are thought of as healthy are really pretty high in sugar and low in important nutrients. I learned the hard way about fruit for breakfast. I find it's worse than nothing for breakfast because it messes up your blood sugar. I now know how to eat the combo of fruit + oatmeal without having a crash an hour later: cream and/or nuts. Fat helps you digest better and tempers the effect of the sugar.
posted by melissam at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2008

Oatmeal is not bad for you. Oatmeal is not keeping you from reducing your body fat percentage. Oatmeal is not a vice.

That said, if you are eating more oatmeal than you would like to be eating at this point, try mixing it with some of the foods you'd rather be eating: fruits, nuts, seeds. You will be filling yourself up, but altering the percentages of what you're filling yourself up WITH.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2008

Response by poster: I love food and cooking so I'm pretty certain I don't have an eating disorder, except where is comes to oatmeal, that is. Oatarexia (joking!). I should have made my question more wry. It did seem like *somewhat* of an overreaction for people to respond with Eating Disorder!!!1 but I suppose you are all just concerned about me (thanks all). I like to eat healthy and want to drop a few pounds. I also happen to be female. That is all.

Moochoo I'm thinking along the same lines as you. I don't care about being stick thin, I just want to be good at my sports (which include running, lifting, yoga and boxing). I find I do best when I'm around 110-115lbs so I'd like to lose 5-10 lbs. Fat tends to gravitate towards my stomach and I understand that's the worst place to hold fat. I don't weigh myself because that way lies obsession. I just go with how loose my pants are and how easy it feels to jump around. I only recently got into fitness and diet and I've experimented with various dietary approaches. This seems to work for me. Every few months I input what I'm roughly eating into some nutrition software to make sure I'm hitting all my vitamins and minerals, though I'm usually low on iron and zinc (I suspect lots of women are), so I supplement those and eat tons of spinach and other greens. Grains add relatively nothing in terms of nutrients compared to fresh veg and meat. But I don't eat meat for ethical reasons. I can't afford and/or source grass-fed organic reared meats locally so instead I eat a ton of sustainable fish like sardines canned in olive oil (calcium, protein, fat, vitamin D). Re: fat I eat probably 4 avocados a week and a variety of nuts - so no worries. Nuts are highly calorific so I'm probably good there too.

Steel cut oats sound awesome! I'd still rather have them every once in a while instead of every day. Do any of you paleo types have an recommendations for a quick go-to meal that's also easily digestible I could substitute for oatmeal? I just can't imagine eating eggs or fish in the morning and I loathe protein shakes which all taste like aspartame to me.
posted by battle_angel at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2008

Are the rolled oats you're using the old-fashioned kind? They're way lower on the glycemic index than quick oats. There are other flaked grains you can try to mix it up with too. I eat whole rolled oats most mornings for breakfast, with a bit of milk and some fruit.
posted by glip at 1:41 PM on August 31, 2008

My standard at-home breakfast is a few handfuls of raw almonds and a cup or so of defrosted frozen berries. It doesn't seem like much, but the fat and fiber make it quite filling.
posted by backupjesus at 1:44 PM on August 31, 2008

Yogurt with nuts and berries, or nuts, berries, and cheese, or nuts and berries in a bowl with a splash of cream all make a good protein- and fiber-rich quick breakfast. (And if you can stand eating sour cream or creme fraiche, you can substitute either or both for the yogurt.)

Also cottage cheese with nuts and berries, if you can stand cottage cheese.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2008

Funny hearing the references to "oatmeal addiction": while I haven't myself experienced it to that degree, I once was a nanny for a 5-year-old whose finicky appetite was still developing. Practically the *only* thing he professed looking forward to was his 2-cup-serving of oatmeal each morning. I would watch in disbelief as he gobbled it down before school, never tiring of it.
I also once had a supervisor at work who somehow made continual reference to her daily oatmeal 'habit' each morning.

An article some years ago interested me in its proposed diet of increasing legume intake to satisfy protein needs without adding extra fat. It was targeting those dieters who ceased losing weight at that crucial point with just "ten pounds left to go" and nothing seemed to work. Several dieters who were interviewed vouched for substituting bean burritos, for example, often as possible into their diet for potato or rice -- due to sugar and carb which this enabled them to cut back on both. They laughed off the "flatulence" byproduct, saying it ceased being a problem after a while yet kept them "feeling full." Because I had spent time in Nepal -- which as someone upthread mentioned, reflects third-world typical diets like theirs,which altered my previous fat intake -- I noted the article's legume emphasis and opted to shop Asian markets here at home for different lentil varieties to cook dal baat based on recipes I'd picked up over there. So if lentils or beans you find appetizing enough -- and I notice your original post says you do -- work them more prominently into your menu as well.

***and count me among fans of steel-cut oats! It was served in the predominantly European-patronized guest-houses of Katmandu as "porridge", so since I'd never been to Europe per se, this was the place I was first introduced to it. Only recently did I find it on the grocery shelf in my U.S. hometown, which was a thrill!***
posted by skyper at 7:41 PM on August 31, 2008

Steel cut oats sound awesome!

They are, and so damned easy to make. Before you go to bed, bring a pot of 3.5 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add a cup of steel cut oats, cover and go to sleep. In the morning, you'll have almost 4 cups of toothsome, chewy oatmeal that you can refrigerate and heat servings from for days (or day, if you don't overcome your oating disorder). Me, I fancy it with garam masala and cayenne. And raisins and brown sugar, I confess it.
posted by mumkin at 12:17 AM on September 1, 2008 [9 favorites]

Steel cut oats sound awesome!

Ah yes, the risotto of oats. They take longer to cook, but they have an incredible texture and taste.

Also, I didn't like quinoa or couscous until I started cooking them properly. I usually make them with some beans, but what you cook them in is the most important thing. Good quality chicken or vegetable stock is the secret.

If I knew where you lived I could give you some tips on meat. In the U.S. is a great place to start looking for sustainable sources of meat. If you are poor like I am (grad student in agronomy aren't exactly rolling in money, sadly), anchovies are great, but there is some "ethical" meat that is affordable. I often picked up cheap cuts at the farmer's market or the co-op when I lived in the U.S.: ground buffalo, whole chickens (much cheaper than cut-up chicken and you can use the bones for stock), and if you can stomach it, things like liver. But yeah, it is hard to find and cook that stuff. I too often eat canned fish, but I rotate my protein sources. Lately I've been enjoying tempeh.

Now that I live in Scandinavia, my breakfast is usually crisp bread. The good kinds have a high amount of fiber and other nutrients, at least compared to bread and oatmeal. They do sell it in th U.S. too. I just top it with whatever looks good -- usually almond butter or regular butter. I also make breakfast salads with greens + nuts + some homemade jam.
posted by melissam at 3:51 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

The fact that grains make you feel bloated is a damn good reason to avoid them. I'm not sure why people think you are a freak for that when you are getting carbs through vegetables. Hitting a weight loss plateau is a fairly normal thing, it's difficult to make continual progress, and you may be stuck for a while. What has helped me to lose weight when I get stuck is to eat smaller meals more often (5-6 times a day). Also, resistance training (weight lifting) ~4 hours a week is key, especially as you age. You might want to eat more beans and lentils, you might want to consider it, as they have a great glycemic index, and perhaps substituting other complex carbs will help control your oatmeal cravings. Maybe get some fat in with the oatmeal so you feel more satiated. A lot of people add butter or cream, but I prefer to add whole milk yogurt or almonds. My dad makes a god awful hot cereal that only he and I love out of oatmeal, protein powder, wheat bran, and cream of wheat. It's also good as mortar or plaster (I kid).

If you are avoiding high glycemic foods, I think there's nothing wrong with white, purple or red potatoes, but russet potatoes are almost like sugar. Fruit is fine, as fructose metabolizes differently than glucose. For example, bananas supposedly have a slightly better glycemic index than oatmeal. Personally, I avoid fruit juice, but eat lots of whole fruit over the course of a day.

I also like the notion that how the oats are cut somehow makes them digest slower in your body. Hilarious.

Just speaking anecdotally as a diabetic I can tell you that instant oatmeal spikes my blood sugar within 15 minutes if I don't add a sickening amount of fat. Steel cut oats I can eat plain with the sugar peak hitting much later, and with a little butter or nuts added I get a perfect match with my fast acting insulin. If you think about it, and look at steel cut vs. rolled vs instant oatmeal side by side, you can see the size of oats is different. Basically instant oatmeal is like getting oats that are thoroughly pre-chewed. Unless you are the type of person to chew each mouthful 100 times before swallowing, you are going to digest the steel cut oats more slowly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:09 AM on September 2, 2008

Oh, and I hope you are getting some protein from eggs, soy, cheese, and mushrooms. If you like mushrooms, they are a great protein source.

Do rice and corn make you feel bloated too? I hate white rice, but brown basmati is good stuff.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:18 AM on September 2, 2008

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