Goal Weight: The Ongoing Struggle
I think I'm more or less to my goal weight. My ob/gyn told me just yesterday that he thinks I'm where I should be and would do fine to maintain my current weight. And he seems to be a stickler for weight; I get weighed for every appointment whether pregnant or not. Obviously weighing during pregnancy is a gauge for measuring potential complications, but is it really necessary to weigh a woman when the point of the visit is to do a routine test for cervical cancer? I'm not complaining, but I know a lot of people, such as those in the Health at Every Size movement, have criticized doctors who give lectures about weight when the patient went there for an ear infection, for example. My doctor is great, but he's the type who might do something like that. He recommends a twenty-pound gain during pregnancy rather than the 25-35 pound recommendation from the field of obstetrics.
Anyway, point is, my ob/gyn and I are OK with my weight. But I want to stay mindful of what I eat and how much. I was catching up with my old grad school friend Greg the other day via his blog, and I ran across this post which recommended, in the strongest terms, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I read some of the reviews about it, and I ordered it from interlibrary loan.
The book seems to address the science regarding the consumption of protein, fat, and carbohydrates (refined and complex). In reading the Amazon reviews and Greg's thoughts, I came to a greater understanding about food (can't wait to actually read the book).
OK, so everyone knows the conventional wisdom that if you eat something sweet, you'll have some energy, but shortly after that you'll have a "crash," and so it's better to eat something with protein and complex carbs. I had always understood the "crash" to mean that you get tired and want to go to sleep. This does not happen to me.
BUT, Taubes is demonstrating that eating a bowl of white rice, a doughnut, or the like will cause your blood sugar to spike (of course. I haven't been living under a rock.). So your body responds with a surge of insulin to metabolize the sugar. The insulin is still surging once the sugar has been dealt with, and then you have the "crash." Again, somewhat nebulous but still more or less common knowledge.
The breakthrough for me came when I was reading about how he shows that sugar and refined carbs are addictive. You're hungry, you eat those foods, and they MAKE you hungry for more (edited to add, I guess that's why alcoholic beverages are supposedly an appetite stimulant? I don't drink, but it makes sense). THAT made me reflect a bit, and then I realized what the "crash" means for me.
Sometimes when I haven't eaten for a while, I get very weak and shaky. I'm not tired, but I definitely feel like crap in those moments. I understand now that when I eat some cake, I'm much more likely to get "the weak trembles," as my dad used to call them, shortly after that than when I eat some oatmeal. Now I really get the crash/addiction cycle that is going on with the sugary foods.
Another small but significant realization I made was from watching Thintervention on Bravo. One of the participants in the weight loss reality show was not losing any weight from week to week. Toward the end of the season, she confessed that she'd starve herself for most of the day and then eat a ton of food. Jackie Warner and the therapist on the show explained to her that she'd wrecked her metabolism. Of course all the sensible diet books say NEVER to skip meals, but their explanation really resonated; I'd also heard that starvation diets make the body go into starvation mode and hang onto fat/calories. But I'd always thought that someone had to go days without eating for that to happen. Apparently not...the body can think it's starving pretty quickly.
So now I'm going from "five small meals with protein per day and I don't quite understand why but I'm going through the motions anyhow" to "five small meals with protein per day and I really GET how to recognize and interpret the feedback my body gives me."