Snacking: The Catch-22 of Weight Loss

Over the past (almost) two years and 60 pounds of losses and gains, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I honestly feel like I’ve grown more in the past 18 months than I have in the 18 years prior. (“Grown” being used in the figurative way, of course, since I stopped growing literally when I was about 16. Well, stopped growing taller, at any rate. Heh.) I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with food, my relationship with my body, and my relationship with myself.

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Birthdays: 21 vs. 24, haha.

I’ve learned that I don’t do so well when I cut off certain food groups completely (see: Lent 2011), that eating fat doesn’t make you fat, that being well-hydrated is more important than I ever could have thought, that I can gain weight back REALLY easily… oh the list goes on. I’ve learned that my body (and my self-control) runs most efficiently when I’m eating smaller amounts throughout the day, rather than waiting for two or three huge square meals, where there is a huge likelihood of overeating.

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The latest lesson that I’m learning is closely related to that last point. See, I used to be a two-meal-a-day kind of person. You know, PWL (pre-weight-loss), I would wake up every day, skip breakfast (too time consuming! Must sleep!) and go until about noon or 1 PM without eating. Then, I would gorge myself at lunch, be full until late in the evening, and gorge myself at dinner, too. Of course, on days when I was feeling a little more emotionally-fragile than others, that mealplan might have been supplemented with a late-night binge too.

Since successfully revamping my toxic relationship with food (for the most part), a lot of that has changed. I come to work every morning with a bag packed to the brim with all manner of healthy (er, sometimes healthy-ish) snacks to keep me sated throughout the day. There’s instant oatmeal at my desk for the times I forget to eat something before I leave the house. I have savory and sweet things to satisfy whichever tooth is particularly aching at any given moment. Bringing these sorts of libations has become crucial for me, because on the days when I have either forgotten or been too lazy to pack snacks, my old habits have reared their ugly heads. I’m so ravenous by lunchtime that I generally end up hoovering all manner of unhealthy things. (And of course, those days usually coincide with the ones where I haven’t brought my lunch either, so the damage is even worse.) So, you see, I’ve learned. I bring snacks. I don’t let myself get too hungry. Even as I type this, I’m nomming on a package of dried apricots and a little bit of mango.

The only thing is, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m starting to lean a little bit too far in the other direction now. My entire day from breakfast until dinner (which still tends to be a stand-alone meal) is pretty much nothing but constant, continuous snacking. Even my lunch is usually made up of a variety of snacks: a tiny portion of whatever leftovers I might have, a BabyBel cheese, some fruit, some hummus and chips… all things that end up being eaten separately and throughout the course of a few hours rather than as an actual, cohesive “lunch”. I’m rarely ever truly HUNGRY throughout the day, even though I continue to snack, from fear of knowing what might happen to my self-control whenever I DO get hungry. I feel like I’m starting to realize that I’m probably eating a lot more than I really NEED to be, because I haven’t really been allowing my hunger cues to dictate when or what I’m eating. It’s more like, I eat because I think I should be, because I don’t want to let myself get too hungry, because I don’t want to falter.

Me Gusta

On the weekends, when my schedule is significantly different, a really different way of eating comes out. Because I will often be out doing things that don’t allow me to reach over and grab a handful of granola every 15 minutes, I get HANGRY. And as I’m sure my family, friends, and boyfriend will attest, I’m less tolerant of being hungry now than I used to be. My snack-food safety net is usually gone, and I have to — gasp! — wait to eat. By the time I actually get around to being able to eat, it’s usually from a restaurant and it’s usually not the best choice ever. My weekends tend to be much unhealthier than my weekdays because of this, and I often fall back into the 2-meals-a-day thing on Saturdays and Sundays. I wake up late, so breakfast is usually tiny (if it’s anything), and then I have a big lunch and dinner. On the other hand, however, I feel like I’m actually eating less overall, because I’m not just constantly shoveling things into my mouth.

It feels like a Catch-22 to me. I know that I need to have snacks so as to prevent myself from getting so hungry that I make really bad choices, but I also feel like it’s gotten to the point where I’m snacking too much. I need to find a middle ground, but I’m not really sure how to do it. I’m scared of falling back into habits that have the potential to cause my to backslide… but I also still need to lose some weight (and that hasn’t really been happening in quiiiiiite a while, haha). I think that the answer lies somewhere in forcing myself to experiment with my intake, allowing myself to be hungry, and having faith that doing so won’t automatically cause me to binge. Here’s hoping, eh?

What’s your snacking philosophy?

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips

Oh you guys. You really know how to lift a gal’s spirits. I’m doing my very best not to let yesterday’s weigh-in continue to get me down. So I’m taking a few steps backwards and reverting to the denial stage of my weight gain grieving. Must be water weight, right? 😉

Crisp

I figured that there was no better time to get back on the health horse than with a new recipe to satisfy an old craving. Snacking has always been my downfall. As you guys are probably well aware by now, bad day therapy for the Gretchen of Old included salt, oil, and carrrrbs. Chips, pretzels, fries, Triscuits, Cheez-its… if I had it around, I would eat it. I could demolish an entire canister of Pringles without a second thought (after all, once you pop, you just can’t stop!).

Kale

So I decided to once again try my hand at a tried-and-true bloggers’ favorite: kale chips!

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Roasted garlic kale chips, to be precise.

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Well, my fakey version of roasted garlic that is. It might not be oven-roasted, but you kill two birds with one stone this way: you’re not only left with the garlic, but the garlic-infused olive oil too!

Lettuce begin!

I got a huge head (?) of kale at the farmer’s market this past weekend, and couldn’t wait to bust into it. The picture above is of less than half of what I got!

Laid out

This “recipe” (if you can really call it that, seeing as it has 3 ingredients, haha) churned out more kale chips than I knew what to do with. So instead of taking the time to actually figure out how to properly store (refrigerator? Tupperware on counter?) the extras, I just ate it. All of it. Duh.

Pre-baked

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips
Print this recipe!

So easy, and SO simple, these robustly flavored “chips” taste are salty and crisp, but have less than a tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 – 8 cloves garlic
4 cups torn kale leaves, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a small, shallow pan to medium-low heat.

1. Add garlic cloves to oil. Simmer cloves on low until they are soft and translucent, at least 15 minutes.

2. Remove garlic from oil and smash (with mortar & pestle if available, otherwise with the back of a wooden spoon like I did.) Then add 1 tablespoon of the garlic-infused oil and mix. Save the rest of the garlic-infused oil in a container for later use.

3. In a large bowl, coat the kale leaves with the garlic & oil mixture (use your hands!) Ensure that each leaf is lightly but thoroughly covered, adding more oil if necessary. Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet (it may take 2 – 3 baking sheets or batches), and bake for 5 – 8 minutes, checking frequently as they go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

4. Sprinkle a little salt, let cool, and enjoy!

Kale Chips

Bring it on, snack attacks!

These nutrition stats are if you ate the entire thing yourself (er, not that I know anyone who would do that, of course…) FOUR CUPS OF KALE, and less than 300 calories. Of course, this recipe doesn’t yield four full cups of kale CHIPS due to the whole dehydration-shrinkage thing (hehe… “shrinkage“) but still. I know the fat content is on the high side from the olive oil, but again, most normal people probably know how to share. Keke.

I know I ask variations of this question all the time, but what can I say? I only have so much originality in me. Do you have a particular go-to healthy snack substitution? Kale chips aren’t quite as convenient as my beloved Popchips, but I know every single thing that’s in ’em which is pretty neat. And they’re still crisp and, of course, delicious, so they definitely hit the spot!

PS: I’ve made a few changes to the sidebar! I’ve changed up the picture at the top, and created buttons for my Amazon store and T-shirt shop. Let me know what you think!

Ocean (City) Bound

Bags are packed.

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Beach gear is ready.

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Coolers are stuffed to the brim with healthy goodness.

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Some more creatively packed than others.

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(Those are eggs, btw.)

Some tragedies have already occurred.

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But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed with some repackaging!

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(I had to eat some to make it fit in the container, of course!)

Now let’s just hope the brother remembers to water my plants, and, y’know, feed the dogs…

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… and I’ll see YOU on Tuesday (much tanner, I hope!)

Thanks for all your awesome tips for staying healthy at the beach! You should be proud to know that I have packed not one, but two water containers (a reusable cup w/lid plus a standard ol’ bottle) and should hopefully come back to a successful weigh-in on Tuesday. Cross your fingers for me, and have a fantastic weekend!

Sorry, Donald

Donald, you would be ashamed of what I did last night.

Donald the Duck, Scared :(

I’m sorry, buddy, but it’s true.

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I had peking duck last night, and it was incredible. As it always is.

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As you may remember, the Powell clan attempted to go to the Peking Gourmet Inn on Sunday night to kick off our little mini-reunion week. Weeeell, that didn’t turn out so well, since the restaurant had lost power! Sad. But as you can see, thankfully we got to work it into our schedule after all! I wasn’t feeling well earlier in the day too, so I’m glad that by the time we went out to dinner things had settled and I could partake in the deliciousness.

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(In case you’re wondering, my Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon. So pretty much the best one. Boo-yah. ;))

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peking duck, it’s a style of cooking duck so that the meat is tender and moist, the skin is crispy, and it’s served with little pancakes, spring onions, hoisin sauce, and sometime cucumbers to make wraps with!

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The ducks are cooked whole, so they cut up and serve the meat right at the table!

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Dinner and a show!

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Deeeeelicious! I had three. Heeheehee. My mom ordered a few other dishes for dinner as well, but the duck was clearly the star, for both the Peking veterans…

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… and newbies alike!

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And to top off what was already an excellent evening, look what was waiting for me when I got home:

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My Fitbloggin’ Popchips arrived! You guys have seen me consume these 100-calorie-bags-of-deliciousness numerous times on the blog, and I am super excited to have received a GINORMOUS box of them (actually two, since Ben got one too!) from the very generous Popchips peeps that represented at the Fitbloggin’ conference.

I really believe they are a great way to satisfy those pesky chips cravings without going overboard with your calories (I used to be able to put away an entire bag (yep, full-sized) of Ruffles by myself! Yech.) And while yes, they are still a processed food, you have to admit that it’s nice to have a healthier (or at least, lighter!) substitute for when the craving hits. I think this pic that Ben took tonight pretty much sums it up:

Day 163 - Death by Pop Chips
Death by Popchips. At least Daxter looks sad to see me go! And as you can tell by my expression, I’m okay with it. 🙂

If you have tried Popchips, what’s your favorite flavor? Mine is a three-way tie between Salt & Vinegar, Barbeque, and Salt & Pepper. Do you have a favorite healthier/lighter substitute for your snackfood achilles heel? Have I asked this question before? Oh well, even if I have, I want to know again! Hahahaha. I hear a lot of talk about Arctic Zero as a low calorie substitute for ice cream, though I’ve never tried it. I do love my frozen desserts, so maybe I need to give it a go!