I’ll be completely honest. One of the reasons that I was drawn to IF is because I’ve always been a big eater and loved that I could eat one giant meal a day and still keep my weight down. But after several months of practicing IF and eating massive dinner portions, my weight loss stalled.
I was 30 pounds down and felt pretty comfortable in my skin at that point. I was also healthy, energetic, and still getting compliments for my weight loss. The other cool thing was that my body composition was still changing. Although I wasn’t technically losing more weight, I continued to lose inches and slim down. Perhaps I’d reached my body’s natural set-point? If so, I was OK with that.
So I continued practicing IF the way I had been for the past year. At this point, I was breaking my fast around 3pm with a small pouch of tuna or carton of bone broth at work, then eating dinner with my family when I got home after 5pm. At dinner, I would pile food on my plate as if I was at an all-you-can-eat buffet, then go sit in front of the TV with my husband and dig in.
My dinner portions often consisted of half a baked chicken, a bag of cauliflower rice with butter, and a bowl of fruit for dessert. Or a giant ribeye steak with mashed potatoes, a pile of buttered green beans, and a glass of wine and dark chocolate for dessert. If we went out to eat, we’d often get 2-3 appetizers and 2-3 entrees to share with each other…and of course dessert afterwards.
It reminded me of my second round of IF’ing in error in my 20’s, when my husband and I were still dating. I’d go all day without eating, then enjoy a big meal with my loved ones in the evenings. Since I wasn’t nearly as active as I’d been in my younger days, it made sense that I wasn’t losing as much weight now as I had then. But I still felt good about myself and was not stressing over food. However, I soon noticed another issue that I was having with food and eating.
Although I was free from my food fears, it seemed that the pendulum had completely swung in the opposite direction. I went from thinking about food all day to completely zoning out and eating with reckless abandon at dinner. I’d serve myself monster-sized portions, eat everything on my plate while watching TV, then have a small snack before bed-time. If I had a class or sports practice in the evenings, I would look forward to relaxing and eating afterwards. Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but I wasn’t even enjoying the food as much as I was the act of eating it.
After gaining this insight about myself, I decided that I wanted to be more mindful of my eating habits and portion sizes. I certainly didn’t want to go back to counting calories or weighing/measuring my food, but I did want to question some of the beliefs that I had on the matter. One night, I decided to scribble down all the “mind chatter” that I had about food, eating, and portion sizes, then questioned my beliefs with some helpful “What IF?” questions, such as:
What IF a 10oz ribeye steak was just as satisfying as a 20oz steak?
What IF I only served myself half of what I normally do?
What IF eating large portions is keeping me from actually enjoying my food?
What IF I stopped associating food with pleasure?
YIKES! I have to admit that I had a LOT of resistance towards these new “What IF?” questions.
After all, if I was healthy, feeling good, and not gaining weight, why change my way of eating? I’d only been practicing IF for about a year, maybe I just needed some time to adjust. But something inside of me knew that these were BS excuses I used to justify my unconscious eating. That same something felt that I was ready to dive deeper into my What IF Diet Plan. Practicing IF and asking myself good “What IF?” questions had changed my life so much already…but maybe I was ready for more?
What IF my beliefs around portion sizes mattered more than the actual portions?
What IF I was ready to uncover new beliefs that I had about food and eating?
What IF there was more to this diet (i.e. way of living) than just food?
What IF it was time to begin a new chapter in my life and discover new possibilities for myself?