Leanne Nalani

{January 5, 2014}   Finding a Balance, Part 1 – Identifying the Problem

The Goal

My most important goal of 2014 (and maintaining a healthy weight the rest of my life) is finding a balance when it comes to food.


I started by looking for the words “balance” and “food” and “health” but everything was about balance between food and exercise. Exercise is not an issue for me. After regularly exercising at least 5 days a week since 2011 I went from completely sedentary and hating any form of movement to fully active all week long and liking it. Now it doesn’t feel right when I miss a workout, but I digress…

Am I asking the wrong question? For me it’s about balancing food without getting into that nasty cycle of super healthy/super unhealthy.

The Problem


The cycle goes like this – Healthy and fit most of the time with the occasional 2 weeks of eating nothing but junk and not exercising at all. The latter part probably happened 3 times last year and it felt disgusting but I couldn’t get my brain to go back to the way things are supposed to be. It’s like being stuck in some kind of mental hell.

I guess you can include the word “binge” as a part of the cycle I mentioned above. Upon searching more, that word kept bringing up Binge Eating Disorder, but thankfully I don’t fit that profile. Still, I looked up forums to see what people were discussing. Why binge? Some say it may be when someone restricts too much. That could be the case but for me or it could be too much structure. I don’t usually restrict myself from foods altogether but I do plan pretty much everything and always track it on MyFitnessPal.

Illogical Thinking Patterns

logic1Oh I know where I’ve gone wrong, Mr. Spock.

There are unhealthy foods I want and my brain likes to tell me that these are foods I’ll never get to have ever again. I go through times when I crave these foods so much that I have to have them.

Once I have them I think, “Well there’s no point in exercising. This pint of ice cream was over 1,000 calories and no amount of exercise is going to fix that.”

So then what happens? “I guess I blew it for today so I think I’ll just keep going!”

Anyone else do this?

Then I think to myself, “That food was really good. Maybe I can take a little break from being so good all the time.”

Cue another week or two of junk food and lack of exercise… Eventually I get back on track and lose all weight that was gained, but the whole cycle of behavior is unacceptable. It’s not healthy and it’s not balanced at all.

Need to Break the Cycle


What needs to happen is to keep exercising and continue eating well, not depriving myself of any food. If I want that ice cream I can have it, just maybe in a smaller quantity and try a once-a-week indulgence. I just don’t know how to break the cycle when the big cravings happen and my brain starts going off-kilter. I’m open to ideas and suggestions. In the mean time I will continue looking up info and next time I will report some ideas and strategies.

*Do you ever go through some of these thought processes?

*Any suggestions for breaking the cycle and/or fixing those patterns of irrational thinking?

Sometimes I think I have reverse ‘allergies’. When I eat certain foods I can’t stop at one serving or slice, i.e. bread and pasta so I feel the need to not eat them at all. After awhile I think that I should be able to indulge a little bit in these foods but it always starts me on a downward spiral. So I don’t know what the answer is. I’m getting back to a little more balance now that the holiday season is over. That’s the other thing about eating that I find hard to control….the social aspect. It’s been a life long battle. If you ever figure out the answer let me know. Carol

Reverse allergies – I love it! I’m like that with chips even though I don’t really like or appreciate them all that much. Social eating is something I wonder about, too. When there are people mixed with food it’s really hard to not eat for some reason.

Story of my life! I think tracking is super important. That way you know exactly what you ate. Yesterday I tracked my nighttime snack (unplanned) and was pleaded to see it only put me up to 1700. But same goes when I track big meals and end up 2000+. I haven’t posted any goals yet. But consistency is huge and I’m going to use tracking a lot! Good luck!

I’m discovering something about my tracking. I think tracking is a really important way I’m going to stay healthy, but I realized that tracking tomorrow’s food the day before might be a bad thing for me. I’m going to try a new method of, when I’m hungry, thinking about what sounds good to eat and then tracking it so that I don’t limit myself to something I’m not in the mood for just because I said I’d eat it the day before.

Dot2Trot says:

I think you hit on the right approach. Don’t deprive yourself of an indulgence every now and then. But make sure you are in control with your portions. Otherwise I have a few things I do to take the edge off of the cravings. 1. I keep hard boiled eggs on hand. Great snack but also kills cravings. 2. Have a cup of chamomile tea – it really helps to kill cravings, especially if you drink it after dinner. 3. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, lowering the level of sugar in the blood and thus lowers cravings. 4. My cravings tend to come in the evening, after dinner. I’ve taken to either going for a walk or knitting (something to keep my blasted hands busy). If it’s really bad, I brush my teeth. Nothing taste good after toothpaste.

Thank you, love the tips! I’m not a hard boiled egg fan but there are similar things out there that would be craving killers, right? I love pistachios which also have some protein. 🙂 Tea is always good, it’s kind of like comfort food in a way, especially during the winter.I LOVE cinnamon so that’s not going to be difficult!

I absolutely go through this thought process. Sometimes I wonder if sweets really do make me hungry for the rest of the day (which is why I avoid them now – ugh it makes for a miserable “must eat all the things” kind of day) or if it is that I don’t eat sweets often so I’m over-reacting to the deprivation.

I have such a sweet tooth. I might try something new to see if it helps – If I really want to have something sweet then let myself have it just to keep from feeling deprived. But instead of eating the whole pint of my favorite ice cream, maybe just take a couple scoops and see how it feels.

Yep, that’s me too! It’s so hard, and I keep looking for the right answer too. In the end, I think different things work for each of us, which is why this is so hard. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

That is true and it’s a difficult thing because it’s so complicated. It’s not all physical, but it’s very emotional too.

That is the story of my life..I always do the it is okay if I have one treat I will be good tomorrow thing..all the time! It is why I fluctuate and struggle to keep to a diet!

I think that is such a common experience for so many of us!

[…] to blogger Leanne Nalani who posted a piece about striking a balance between healthy foods and cravings. I suggested a few tricks I use in the comments and then realized it would make a good expanded […]

This is SO familiar to me.

The strategy I’m currently trying is to consciously think about the nutritional content and value of what I’m craving and to ask myself whether I really want to put that in my body.

For example, I went to the cinema on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed 2 scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream (well, one was actually FroYo to make it a bit lighter). Myself and my husband had also bought a medium bag of popcorn to share. However, when I tasted it, it wasn’t very nice. I did have a few handfuls but I kept asking myself “Do you really want to eat this when it won’t do your weight loss any favours and it doesn’t even taste good?”. It didn’t take long before I decided it wasn’t worth it and passed the bag to my husband to finish. I felt really good for doing that too 🙂

I love that you can relate! I am the same way with food that are there just sitting in front of me like with your popcorn experience. Even if it doesn’t taste that good it’s still tempting either because it’s there or because eating popcorn at the movies is tradition or maybe even expected? The Ben & Jerry’s sounds like it was the most satisfying food for you so it’s good you passed on the popcorn.

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