Hello all, I'm new and thinking the best place to start out would be a journal.
A little bit of history...
I was always a little chubby as a child. My parents never restricted or guided me - so I grew up eating the same frozen dinner (tortellini) each day, every day for years. Had gallstones at age 16.
In my late teens I got into veganism and soon found Dr McDougall, finding the food plentiful and satisfying and I felt great. I lost weight, worked out a lot, and over time I found myself controlling more and more... over two years, I came to a point where I was eating about 600 calories a day while exercising a minimum of 2 hours (high-intensity aerobics and spinning) every day!
The inevitable came at my 22nd birthday, while I was still at college in Durham. Friends took me out for a celebratory dinner, and I figured Iâ€™d just eat whatever I wanted there and get back to my regular diet afterwards. I never did. The floodgates had opened â€“ I went on to gain over 50 lbs. in under 6 months.
A relentless cycle of bingeing and dieting had begun. I remember binges in college â€“ after that fateful birthday - when I went to the store, buying everything I wanted because it would of course be the last binge, the mother of all binges, the one that was finally so bad that it would make me stop. Never happened.
For years I was totally powerless when the urge to eat hit. At some point I had turned to low-carb dieting, but could never keep the diet up for more than 2 weeks. When a binge was coming, I would delay the inevitable but thatâ€™s what it was in the end â€“ inevitable. A thought would enter my mind, a certain food, maybe because I saw an advert or for no reason at all. It would consume my mind, my thoughts would circle around it for hours and days, drowning out everything else and making concentration impossible. Eventually I would break down and buy that food, along with many others, because this would now be the very last binge. It wasn't.
After years of this I finally came to understand that I was a slave to food. I had tried every diet out there, from McDougall (which I had restricted to an unhealthy level that I was, unsurprisingly, unable to get back to) to fat-fasting on Atkins and Zero-Carb dieting (which went against every ethical grain in my being, and was gross, but I was desperate enough to try it). It was not sane, and I knew it â€“ all hope was finally gone. I acknowledged I needed help.
I found a branch of Overeaters Anonymous in 2004 and got on their plan, and was on it for about five or six years, getting down to a healthy weight and staying there while on the program. But in the final 18 months of that time, I found myself steadily gaining weight even though I hadn't changed my diet. My response to that was, again, to restrict â€“ to limit my choices from the program (by eliminating high-carb choices). Again I restricted more and more, eventually getting to a point where only a fraction of the foods on the program were â€śOKâ€ť for me to eatâ€¦ and I held onâ€¦ but over time, I became more and more resentful at how limited my diet was (and I didnâ€™t enjoy it) and how it failed to yield results. I decided to try and find my own way.
At first things went mad again. Instead of the sanity I'd had on OA (a limited sanity, to be fair, towards the end because I was dieting severely and unsuccessfully) I walked straight back into madness. If I was restricted before, now things got even worse as I would fast completely twice a week, eat only meat for weeks (zero carb), I even did a liquid diet with doctorâ€™s supervision, and bought a full-on low-carb diet system with food delivery to the tune of ÂŁ1,000.
There was nothing I could stick to. But I was no longer wiling to live as restricted a life as OA demanded, with three phone calls a day, daily check-in with a sponsor, phoning a qualified sponsor if a food change was necessary, weighing and measuring my food... I was no longer willing to work this hard to live a normal life. I just wanted the normal life.
With hindsight, I see the one mistake I made throughout my dieting life, after initially getting it right with McDougall (although restriction proved my undoing then, and I won't make that mistake again): seeing carbohydrates as the enemy. I wasn't until I started getting into low-carb that my bingeing really started; and my response to weight gain was always to restrict carbohydrates. Ironically, eating animal pieces and secretions goes against all my ethical convictions, and it goes to show how desperate I was that I was willing to consume them. I only ever felt satisfied with my food, and was thin, with McDougall and later with OA (which stipulates large amounts of vegetables each day, both raw and cooked).
I've learned my lesson now. Just because something seems to make scientific sense - and low-carb does - and other people have success with it - and low-carbers do - that doesn't mean it's for me. I've had to find my own way, and go against prevailing advice in magazines and the media.
Today, I eat in a way that works for me. I no longer allow my choices to be based on dieting factors; I'm a vegan because I don't want to harm animals. Dr McDougall's plan has always made sense, and his are the guidelines I choose to follow.
I'm done with dieting, thanks very much. I'm after true sanity with food now.