Dieting: how to stop notions of comfort food, and food as reward?
March 29, 2005 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Need to lose weight: How can I stop thinking of food as comfort, as a reward, or as the main event of any celebration?

My partner and I need to lose a whole lot of weight (~60lbs each). We know that one of our biggest problems is that we were both raised with the idea of "comfort food" and that eating out, or even cooking a nice meal in was a "reward" or the main event in any celebration.

How can we change our mindset so that other things (suggestions appreciated) are associated with comfort/reward/pleasure?
posted by CaptApollo to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Start out with something very simple, like giving up one type of food as a control. I went to the extreme and gave up meat and started eating raw fruits and veggies. I quickly lost 20 lbs however like I said, that's an extreme.

Maybe start by just giving up sodas and only, maybe having one once a month if needed.

Also I've found that education is a good resource. There is the book "Fast Food Nation" that totally rethought the way I eat food. Also there are many other websites that focus on healthy eating as well.

When I walk through a supermarket now I think "god are they trying to kill us!?" as I look at all the foods chocked full of additives and preservatives.

Once you have given up a few things and educated yourself, perhaps just a light walk around the park or something simple. Just enough to get the heart pounding a bit.

Lastly, remember to eat only when you are hungry...not when you want a snack. When I cut out snacks and sodas, the weight started coming off quickly (around 6 weeks is when I noticed my first change).

If you can go in this direction, within 4-5 months you will see a weight change...but don't expect anything like in 1-2 weeks...even being bulemic or aneorexic won't drop weight off that fast!
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:55 AM on March 29, 2005

Reward yourself with other things. But really, when I started working out, getting on the scale became my reward. Each week I would weigh myself, and feel the satisfaction as it came off, little by little. I went from ~310 to 185.

Food isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is the kind of food, and the frequency. One of the things I discovered was that while you work out, you can actually eat more, and I was still able to eat many of the things that I enjoyed. By eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, I was able to do something I enjoyed more frequently, and it kept my metabolism going.

Now, I took an assumption that you will be coupling your food changes with exercise, and they may not be true. But I would highly recommend it. It is the best way to achieve your goals.
posted by benjh at 10:57 AM on March 29, 2005

Partial hijack: "Reward yourself with other things" is good advice, but I can never think of anything else. Particularly anything else low-cost. What other sorts of rewards or celebebrations can you use?
posted by duck at 11:10 AM on March 29, 2005

Count calories. Don't sort of count them. Really count them. Keep a food diary and write down everything you eat and total the calories for each day. There are many books, websites, etc. that will help you get calorie counts for whatever you eat.

Figure out how many calories you're allowed each day (in order to lose or maintain your ideal weight). Any good weight-loss book will help you do this.

Now don't worry so much about particular foods. You're allowed to eat whatever you want as-long-as it's generally healthy (you can't just eat ice-cream every day) and you stay within your daily calorie quota.

If you want to bing on a big meal friday night, it's fine. But you have to cut back on other days to get an extra allowance for friday. Make sure you eat foods that you like. Chocolate or whatever is fine, as long as you eat just a little of it -- to keep within your count.

I can't stress how important the REALLY COUNTING is. I failed when I first tried it, because I would cheat in half a cookie here, a glass of wine there. I would say, "it's JUST half a cookie." Half a cookie can pack a lot of calories!
posted by grumblebee at 11:12 AM on March 29, 2005

for what it's worth, it's only a question of degree. i'm 65kg (140lb?) and also think of food in the terms you describe. so you don't have to completely change, just alter the emphasis a bit. i think?

on preview - well, using mefi could be one reward.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2005

Followup to grumblebee: FitDay has a free online calorie, exercise and weight tracker.
posted by knave at 11:19 AM on March 29, 2005

If you are heavily overweight, it's a good idea to start with very gentle exercise like walking. Your joints will thank you. Also, as an obese person you will use up far more calories from gentle exercise than a fit person.

I think the key for me was combining exercise + diet control. Specifically, taking up a weight lifting regimen along with aerobic exercise. When I am focused on gaining that extra pound of muscle or moving up to the next dumb bell on my bench press, eating healthily becomes much easier, as good nutrition is essential for strength gains. If you've never worked out before, remember to take it very easy on yourself at the beginning and to enlist the help of a professional.

Another good thing is learning to cook well. It's possible to make delicious, healthy meals that have a low fat content. It's often a matter of switching to whole grain carb products and healthier protein sources. Use spices to add flavour rather than relying on fat and salt. You can eat well and lose weight without being hungry all the time.

I think you can still reward yourself with food, as long as you adjust your notion of what good food is.

Also, if possible, eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of three. You will be less hungry and your metabolism won't slow down to a crawl.

Oh, stop drinking soda and juice. Limit yourself to water and whole fruits.

Here are some links:
Women's Weight Training - one of the best weight lifting/nutrition pages out there. Not just for women.
A guide to nutrition for weight loss - contains instructions on how to calculate your base caloric consumption per day.
Nutrition data - has caloric information for a bewildering array of foods.
posted by sid at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2005

What kinds of things do you consider to be "comfort food" or "reward food"? When I made a change in my diet in order to lose weight (only 20 pounds, but still, this should still hold true), one of the changes I made was to switch to eating food that was generally more expensive. For example, free-range beef tastes better to me than the regular stuff, and because it costs more, I end up eating less of it (and I enjoy the meal a lot more). Expensive food tends to be healthier for you on average, too (barring some things like super-rich chocolate cake served in restaurants, e.g.)

This wasn't the only thing I did to lose weight (be sure to check out the Hacker's Diet), but becoming a bit of a food snob did help a lot. I eat out at restaurants at least twice a week on average and my weight's held steady for a year now, because a dinner out for me is something like lamb biryani with a basket of naan bread and a couple of glasses of wine, rather than a chicken parmesan sandwich the size of my forearm from the local deli.

When I walk through a supermarket now I think "god are they trying to kill us!?" as I look at all the foods chocked full of additives and preservatives.

posted by Prospero at 11:22 AM on March 29, 2005

You could start rewarding yourself with smokes (stifles the appetite) and booze (make that the focal point of the celebration). But, you'll probably have to quit those later too.
posted by trbrts at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2005

Remember the movie "What About Bob?" - what was Dr Leo Marvin's advice to Bob?

Baby steps, Bob. Baby steps.

Losing weight is all about consuming less calories, period.
Going gung-ho is only going to depress you and lose any momentum you may have.
I second the advice that said to start with sodas.
Then perhaps other forms of junk food: fries, chips, candy, etc. They are nothing but empty calories that add to your waistline but contribute nothing to your health.
Perhaps taking your lunch to work would be your next step. This allows you both control over the healthiness of the food and more importantly, portion control.
You don't need a pasta bowl the size of a hubcap, nor do you need a coffee mug that would make a Big Gulp cup blush.
Speaking of coffee, have you thought about weaning yourself off caffeine? I recently quit, and not only do I sleep like a log at night, I'm actually losing inches off my waist due to decreased levels of cortisol.
I wish you the best of luck!
posted by willmize at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2005

A thought on rewarding yourself with food: I do the same thing, but my reward foods tend to be strong-flavored rather than rich — olives, pickled vegetables, spicy things, smelly cheese. It only takes a few bites of really hot salsa, say, to get that jolt of satisfaction.

Of course, this works for me because I like those foods. Still, you might look for foods that you still find rewarding in very small portions. This will go hand-in-hand with Prospero's suggestion, I imagine — it's easier to enjoy one or two mouthfuls of food if it's really top-notch food.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:34 AM on March 29, 2005

I'm a big fan of portion control as opposed to straight-up dieting. Denying myself makes me miserable. As others have noted, eating expensive food can help with this. For instance, I like chocolate & baked sweets, but I eat expensive chocolate and sweets from a good bakery. The expensive chocolate is intense and so I only want a square; the bakery is out of the way. Also, small portions mean lots of different foods, which helps me eat less because I am distracted by the variety.

Full disclosure: I'm still a bit of a pudge, but I stopped gaining weight this way and am slowly losing via exercise because I decided yummy cake was better than being totally thin.
posted by dame at 11:47 AM on March 29, 2005

Remind yourself that your cravings for fatty foods and sugar isn't the higher-cortex you speaking. It's your lower-brain, more primitive, left over from evolution. Fat and sugar taste good because they used to be rare, and they're high in calories.
posted by gramcracker at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2005

willmize wrote:I'm actually losing inches off my waist due to decreased levels of cortisol.

I'm curious as to what the connection between coffee, cortisol and weight loss is. I stop drinking soft drinks (high calorie) and substituted coffee (no cream/sugar=negligible calories) in an effort to lose weight, and you are saying that is not going to work?
posted by achmorrison at 12:39 PM on March 29, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas, folks. I have had great success in the past with FitDay, as mentioned by Knave above. But, alas, yo-yo.

Having quit smoking three years ago, I think I'll pass on that as a substitute for eating, but thanks for the out-of-the box thinking.

I'm actually a very good cook as well, but I learned to cook in the manner of the French (just add butter & wine) and the Italians (just put it on top of some pasta!).

Other ideas for substitutes for food in those low-willpower moments? You know, "Phew, long day at work! I'd really like to just order pizza/have a bucketful of cocktails, etc..." Walking sometimes works, but the weather has been so cruddy lately on the east coast!
posted by CaptApollo at 1:00 PM on March 29, 2005

When something is genetically built in to your thought-processing, fooling yourself might not be the best solution. I think that truly understanding and respecting the reasons that make you want to change your beliefs will help. When it comes down to it, your body will do exactly what it thinks is best.
posted by foraneagle2 at 1:07 PM on March 29, 2005

Join Weight Watchers (in person is best, online if you have to). It teaches healthy eating, portion control, how to think about food differently. Promotes exercise. Shares healthier recipes that don't taste like sawdust. I've lost 45lbs since May 2004 and found it easy overall. Minimal exercising was done to achieve this, though I am now trying to get fit as well as slim. I have enjoyed WW immensely; it has taught me how to be a healthy eater and only eat what I need, not what I want (thought it's OK to eat what you want once in awhile, and in moderation). Instead of just telling you, "implement portion control," WW teaches you how to do it. It is a change you make for life...I can see myself following this for the rest of mine.
posted by suchatreat at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2005

Capt, I feel silly giving such frequently stated advice, but drink water all day. It's really good (vital!) for you, and you'll be less hungry.

Eat a much smaller portion of the comfort food (and a light-healthy meal) and tell yourself you can have some more of the comfort food -- if you're honestly still hungry -- in half an hour.

Then set a timer.

It takes your body about 20 minutes to realize it's not hungry.

The tough thing about this sort of advice, is that you can do all sorts of tricks, diets and techniques, but ultimately you just need to eat less. And the only way to do it is to do it. And you'll be ready to do this when you're ready.

I started thinking seriously about diet and exercise in my late 20s. It took me until 39 to get serious about it.
posted by grumblebee at 1:17 PM on March 29, 2005

Other ideas for substitutes for food in those low-willpower moments? You know, "Phew, long day at work! I'd really like to just order pizza/have a bucketful of cocktails, etc..."

Not that I'm an expert on overcoming the food-as-reward issue, as my scale will tell you, but what if you set up a savings account to put all the money you save by resisting those urges? You know, toss ten bucks in there every time you cook when you were really tempted to order out, and then take yourself on vacation or buy some fabulous new clothes for your slimmer self when the money adds up. I know people who've used this technique as an incentive to quit smoking, so maybe it'll help with eating as well?
posted by hilatron at 1:24 PM on March 29, 2005

Other ideas for substitutes for food in those low-willpower moments? You know, "Phew, long day at work! I'd really like to just order pizza/have a bucketful of cocktails, etc..."

I've been using some of the quicker-cooking whole grains in various combinations to make myself a bowl of something to eat when I get home from work so that I can think clearly enough to determine whether I really want/need more food. (Well said, grumblebee, on the honestly hungry in a half-hour point.)

I use a bit of good-quality veggie stock and perhaps a teaspoon of butter at most: Quinoa with sauteed-in-olive-oil shallots/onions, lots of lemon juice and flat-leaf parsley. Couscous with currants/raisins (plump them up by soaking in water) and cardamom/nutmeg/cumin. Cornmeal (the good stuff) with salt and pepper and a spoonful of locatelli.
posted by desuetude at 1:29 PM on March 29, 2005

achmorrison asked I'm curious as to what the connection between coffee, cortisol and weight loss is. I stop drinking soft drinks (high calorie) and substituted coffee (no cream/sugar=negligible calories) in an effort to lose weight, and you are saying that is not going to work?

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on television, but I did read a book called "Caffeine Blues". Here's my layman Reader's Digest version of how it works. Caffeine places your body in a false sense of flight or fight. You're not stressed out mentally but your body is producing the chemicals that reflect stress physically. Cortisol is one of the chemicals created when you drink caffeine and enter this stress mode. Weight loss is evidently way more difficult when you're in this mode - remember that it takes the caffeine in one 8 oz cup of coffee up to 24 hours to leave the body.
I've been drinking coffee since I was 8 or 9, and it was difficult (I followed the plan in the book) but I tell you, I feel a million times better. I originally quit caffeine because of anxiety related problems, but having a nice six pack of abs has been a nice unintended benefit!
posted by willmize at 1:30 PM on March 29, 2005

If you HAVE to eat as a time waster/comfort you can use what I do - popcorn. The regular stuff in the bag is a fat&calorie fest but airpopped or 99.4% fat free microwave... you can eat the entire bag and it's about the same as 4 milano cookies, a couple of oreos or a lunch-sized bag of fritos.

I opt for the air popped personally, using one of these which is all the 0 oil payoff with none of that horrible hairdryer noise the 'real' airpoppers make.
posted by phearlez at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2005

If you have a "sweet tooth" or carbohydrate cravings, I highly recommend taking a 5-HTP supplement, which is a serotonin precursor that basically eliminates such cravings for me.
posted by kindall at 1:43 PM on March 29, 2005

When I walk through a supermarket now I think "god are they trying to kill us!?" as I look at all the foods chocked full of additives and preservatives.

Maybe a trick is to make yourself only shop on the "perimeter" of the supermarket -- which is generally the produce section, meat section, and dairy case. (And yeah, the bakery too, but maybe bypass that as well!) There's still all that cream and butter to contend with in the dairy case, admittedly, but at least you'll be avoiding the high-additive prepared foods (snacks, cookies, etc.).

Also, I hesitate to mention this because I am a skinny person, but... I've realized in recent years that one of the things that's contributed to my low weight is that I've always tended to eat fairly slowly (my pokey eating practically tortured my poor parents when I was a kid!), and as I result I'm acutely aware of the precise moment I feel full. And then: I stop. I just can't eat beyond that. Doesn't matter if there's a bite left or half the plate -- if I'm full, I'm done. So possibly eating much more slowly would help -- and if there's two of you, perhaps you can both reinforce that at mealtime (maybe see which one of you can finish last?).
posted by scody at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2005

I have a large system of rewards, because I am lazy as hell and completely unmotivated to work out. I have both "action" rewards (for just working out) and then "results" rewards (in lb or inches lost).

One of the main things I am also trying to do is limit my time online, so I use half an hour online as a reward for an hours working out. 2 birds with one stone!

Then other rewards are:
movies (expensive so definitely not an everyday thing)
a new book (for 10 trips to the gym in 15 days)
getting my nails done

I justify these little expenses as "I would have been spending money on nice food, anyway."

when I reach my goal weight I've put aside a large lump of cash to go clothes shopping. Whatever works for you.
posted by gaspode at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2005

You could try subbing in high-protein, low-fat foods as your rewards. These will be naturally lower in calories, and still fulfill the sense of "I could eat a whole pizza now!" because protein is very satisfying.

As for other rewards, calling friends, writing a letter, taking a walk (especially taking a walk!), reading a great short story, or putting a few bucks into your "massage fund" are a few ideas for after a hard day of work.

I like the "massage fund" better than the vacation because 1) it's sensual, just like eating and 2) it's not another amorphous goal to add to the list after "losing weight." Instead, it's something very real and close, since you'll be getting a massage once a week. If money is a problem, then you and your partner can add up points till it's time for one or the other of you to have a massage from the other.

Another sensual idea is to join a gym and for every three times you go, the fourth time is a dip in the jacuzzi. Low-cost variation: for every three times you work out, take a bubble bath.

At parties, the main event is people. People focus on food because it's often very good, but also because it is an easy conversation-starter or sometimes just plain easier than real conversation. Find a person or two at the party you want to get to know better and talk with them for a while. Or, there are many mystery games that a group can play together and have fun with. Just remember: it's about the people and having fun through conversation, not food!

I used to think of food as the "main event" in my life. Every moment would be either me waiting to eat or eating, with the "living" in the background. Concentrate on your life, and eventually you may even see eating as an encumbrance, as some of my friends do (though this comes with its own problem of not eating enough!).
posted by lorrer at 2:03 PM on March 29, 2005

Oh and on Scodi's point of paying attention to when you feel hungry: I used to eat way too much, and I had two problems at first with losing weight:

1) hunger felt SO BAD, I couldn't stand it! I had to eat immediately or else I felt like my body was going to implode. Over time my body has adjusted and it doesn't feel so bad. Also, the first hunger pang is the worst.

2) I didn't know when I "felt full." For those of us who have adjusted to eating way too much, it's hard to regain this sense. Be patient with yourself, and please count calories! Eventually you'll get the hang of it.

Also, working out helps greatly: your metabolism goes up, you feel healthier, you eat more, and eventually you get a "machine" sense of your body and are way more attuned to when to eat, what, and how much. Somehow hunger feels different to me when I'm working out too, instead of a sickly feeling it becomes a "body is ordering more fuel, please restock" feeling. Perhaps mental, but it makes me feel very good and helps with keeping on track.
posted by lorrer at 2:15 PM on March 29, 2005

What other sorts of rewards or celebebrations can you use?

I use CDs. Clothing. Yarn. Things like that. Think about the things that you like, that'll reward you or comfort you that aren't food and go with them.

72.5 lbs lost since I started my diet last June, and I'm anxious for for 75, because at 75, I promised myself a really expensive haircut and dye job. Red! Yee! That's a reward for losing weight. But I reward myself for other things in similar ways.

When I need comfort, and don't want to eat, I knit, so I've allowed myself to buy some pretty damned expensive yarn, lately. Stuff I would never have let myself buy before, I now chalk up to health care costs.

It doesn't work all the time, with the robbery and car accident, things really broke down, and I ate crap for a week or two of constant stress. On Sunday, I ate a loaf of challah bread that my landlady gave me. The whole thing.

But the thing I try to remember is that I used to do that sort of thing once a week and weigh 337.5 pounds. Now I do them once a month, or less, and weigh 265 and dropping. So it's not always about being perfect. Sometimes, for something really huge, maybe food *is* the reward you want. Just find substitutes for the other 95% of the time and you'll be in way better shape.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2005

You know those hunger pangs? I convinced myself that that was my body burning fat. It probably is a bit true. Coming off my vegetarian diet (I now don't eat bread, pasta and potatoes), allied with eating lots of fish (smoked haddock, salmon, tuna mostly) and realising when I was full - I've lost 2 and a half stone (35 pounds) in 6 months. I was 15 stone and close to obese, according to the BMI for my height - 5' 11".

Might take up swimming to shift those last few pounds...
posted by dash_slot- at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2005

Pick up a copy of Cooking Light at the grocery store, and start learning some great new recipes with lower calories & fat content, so you can reward yourself with smaller portions of good meals. The enjoyment of learning new recipes is a reward, too.

I treat myself to great salads. I often have to throw away wilted lettuce or sprouts, but always keeping vegetables in the fridge is a big help.

Once a week, prepare a soup with lots of vegetables and good flavors. There's a diet based on foods with high volume/lower calorie ratio. If you can eat slimmer a couple of days a week, that's a good start. Google Weight Watchers 1 point soup for some good recipes.

Every bit of exercise you build into your day is a bonus - walk an extra block, take the stairs, park further away and walk a little extra. Music really helps me exercise; try putting on the ipod or discman and dance, walk, clean the house, ride the exercise bike, whatever.

Good Luck!
posted by theora55 at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2005

I agree with the "count calories" suggestions.

However, I would add that if you have an underlying problem such as anxiety or depression, getting that treated might do wonders for your overeating. Additionally, you could seek Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for compulsive overeating.
posted by callmejay at 2:53 PM on March 29, 2005

Once I got really depressed and didn't eat very much for a few weeks. Though not recommended I ended up not seeing food as anything much after I came out of it. I was partly comforting myself but also passing the time.

In terms of constructive criticism maybe g et a hobby? I eat way more when I'm stuck in my house, as opposed to the "only eat when hungry" mode I'm in when I'm away from home. Pack a lunch.

Remember, food is temporary comfort, do something that gives a greater sense of satisfaction.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:54 PM on March 29, 2005

I did several limited diets (I'll cut back on/eliminate soda, candy, snacks, eat smaller portions, etc.) and could never stick to them more than a week or two or three.

I finally reached my breaking point when I realized I take 7 pills a day to keep the heart attack away.

On Jan. 1, I started South Beach Diet. Within the next week or so, I will probably make it to 50 pounds lost (in 3 months). I've gone from a 40 inch to 34 inch waist. There are some hitches to it (a lot of self-prepared food, changing shopping and eating habits), but the diet gets easier to manage as you go on, and frankly, the food I'm eating now is much tastier than the junk food and microwaveable stuff I used to eat.

If you want to know more, send me an email and I'll answer any questions you have.
posted by Doohickie at 3:03 PM on March 29, 2005

Extreme solution - a guy on an Australian current affairs program this week explained how he lost 100kg (220lbs) by reprogramming his responses to food. Sugar is ground glass that will cut up his insides. Bread is full of insects. Chocolate is dirt. The thought of eating these foods revolts him, and he claims to feel uncomfortable just being around them. Now he craves fresh fruit, veges, nuts etc. He looks pretty amazing - no sagging skin, plenty of muscle mass. Contact info will probably show up on this page in a couple of weeks.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:20 PM on March 29, 2005

When you feel the urge for comfort food, do something else immediately. Go for a walk around the block, yank some weeds, go somewhere where food isn't available (kind of tough in the US, though.)

What's been helpful for me is to try to change my attitude toward food. The most important thing is to make the actual act of eating a sort of a ritual. Food is special, and it has its special place.

In more generic terms, whenever you want to eat something, put it in a dish and sit at the table. You don't have to use special dishes (unless you really want to). Don't eat right from the bag, don't eat while standing in the kitchen, sitting on the couch, etc. Never eat at your desk. Never eat while watching TV.

Pay attention to your food. Savor it. Put your fork/spoon down between each bite (this is a great way to make you eat more slowly).

I have a tendency to eat whatever has been put in front of me, regardless of quantity. I've accepted that I can't really break that habit, so I try to use smaller plates and bowls.

good luck!
posted by luneray at 4:06 PM on March 29, 2005

I also have the food=reward problem, and I've found Weight Watcher's really works for me. I can still reward myself...with a small amount of something really good (expensive dark chocolate) rather than a big amount of something heavy (a huge order of General Tso's chicken) that just makes me feel greasy and gross once the "high" has worn off.

When I hit 50 pounds lost (hopefully sometime this summer) I'm rewarding myself with a tattoo, although that may be a bit much for some people...
posted by JoanArkham at 5:10 PM on March 29, 2005

I've been working out 5 times a week for the past 2 months (for the first time ever), so far I've lost 25 punds. Lately, for working out, I've found that 10 minutes on several different cardio machines works for me better than 30 on one machine because I can do something for ten minutes without losing interest, anymore and it's z city.
posted by drezdn at 7:37 PM on March 29, 2005

I have to disagree with all the "count calories" suggestions. That's fantastic that it worked for you, but it most definitely does not work for everyone. When I count calories or keep a food log I obsess over food. I think about food every single minute and it controls my life. I find that making myself a menu (complete with breakfast/lunch AND snacks) frees me from obsessing over every single thing I eat.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:42 PM on March 29, 2005

I learned to cook in the manner of the French (just add butter & wine)

Don't forget that french food really involves a lot more than butter and wine - among other things, very tiny portions, by American standards (link via google, there may be better ones there).
posted by advil at 9:04 PM on March 29, 2005

For me, it really helped to redefine what "comfort food" is. It's certainly not as simple as flipping a switch, but over time I've been able to get my body to start craving different foods when I'm stressed/run down/PMSing/whatever. I spent a lot of time trying different fresh vegetables, for instance, until I really started to love some of them and now eating a big salad feels like I'm feeding myself and not depriving myself.

Experiment with making healthier versions of your favorite dishes, too. Substitute whole foods (like whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, fresh fruits/veggies) for processed foods, as they are not only healthier but also help you feel fuller due to their fiber content.
posted by rhiannon at 11:41 PM on March 29, 2005

Whole wheat is not always the "good stuff". There is a subtle difference between "whole wheat" (sometimes okay) and "whole grain" (always okay). The way to know for sure is to stay away from products marked "enriched" (i.e., they need to add back some good stuff cuz they took too much out), and wheat flour that is "bleached" (which removes fiber).
posted by Doohickie at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2005

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