Saturday, May 12, 2007

300 Calorie meal

a 300 calorie meal
After looking at photos of 300 calorie meals I think that's about how much I naturally eat at breakfast and lunch at home. That's about what my mother served me. Other than pregnancy the only time I've gained weight was when I dated someone who was fat and we ate out a lot. Then I figured out I didn't need to eat the entire portion of a huge American restaurant meal.

Eating a restaurant meal portion makes me feel horribly full but it often sneaks up on you. So I didn't feel extremely full until after the restaurant. I heard a fat person on Oprah say that she loves that feeling when you feel the need to loosen your pants and if you eat any more you might be sick. I really hate it.

Now at a restaurant I just tell myself as the plate is being put down "I can eat only half" of however much seems like a reasonable amount.

We have started eating out more because restaurants do serve higher calorie items that Little T likes like "burger fries." I eat less because the food has higher calories and therefore makes me feel more full.

Like today we ate at a deli. The bread is the same I would eat but a lot more salami and cheese and little mayo and mustard than I would eat on a sandwich at home. I ate half of the sandwich plus one bite. I also ate about 7 fat fries. I still feel full 2 hours later though not nauseatingly full. My husband ate the rest of my sandwich and part of his meal and some fries. He is gaining weight on this "new diet."

I have read research that people have a "set weight point." I think that's actually a simplistic answer. I think rather people have differing

  • tolerance of fat - I just can't eat too much fat. It makes me feel full.
  • the way foods taste aka food preferences - I can taste red no 5 and other artificial ingredients. They taste a little weird. I can't stand the taste of diet coke. I naturally prefer fresh meat and vegetables cooked simply. I hate preserved things. I have a friend who is the opposite and would choose diet coke and cheezits over stirfry any day of the week. I think McDonalds food tastes gross.
  • amount of food needed to feel full - my husband clearly has a higher set point than I do
  • feelings about being over full - my husband and I both hate it
  • rate of conversion of excess calories to fat - I do not gain weight easily. I think this also varies by body part. Any weight I do gain goes to my belly first then my breasts and then my face. My arms and legs remain the same. To gain weight during pregnancy I had to force myself to eat several times a day. Not eating caused my nausea to be worse. In the first part of both pregnancies I actually dropped a few pounds.
  • rate of conversion of fat to muscle/energy - In most areas of my body I am pretty static. I still have a fat belly from pregnancy. Otherwise I have dropped back down to my prepregnancy weight. I think I could work really hard to get rid of this belly fat but it would be very difficult. It has slowly gone down over time but very slowly.
  • rate of metabolism - my metabolism is pretty high. It has slowed down since I was a teen and I think pregnancy slowed it down further.
  • amount metabolism is affected by exercise and amount and type of exercise needed - I find I need to walk everyday to be happy. Faster exercise also makes me happy but I get "the runner's high" or feelings of well being just from walking. I walk fairly fast on my own but often I walk with kids. However when I can't walk due to injury I gain a few pounds which I drop after I start walking again. Oprah says she needs to work out an hour a day to keep her current weight. I just don't have time to do that.
  • ability to do a task over time that has long-term benefits - My ability to do this is low if it's just for myself but I'll do anything for my family.
I think people who are fat most likely have the "gain fat" side of many if not all these factors. Both of my parents come from a long line of people who were well-fed their entire lives i.e they lived in prosperous farming communities. With a constant supply of food the body reacts differently and there are different selection pressures.

Few people except Jared Diamond talk about how a culture's access to food resources affects its ability to expand. I would say that coming from a heritage that includes low and inconsistent access to food promotes genes that all lead to being fat in a culture that has consistent access to very high calorie foods.

I guess what I'm saying is yes my observable weight point is set lower than many Americans and I exercise less than the recommended amount. I don't do a lot of hard exercise like going to the gm. In fact when I did the most time at the gym I was also gaining weight from restaurant food. My BP etc is all low. It's just from following my natural tendencies.

I think someone like Oprah who comes from a background of slaves and before that prolly hunter-gatherers has all the factors to make her fat. With a lot of hard work she overcame her natural tendencies to get to a lower weight. I think other fat people could do the same if they had the resources and time of Oprah. Some fat people do and some don't.

But I think saying "everyone has a set weight point" or "everyone can be an ideal body weight if they only followed my lifestyle changes" misses the point.

At this point in my life if I had to do what Oprah did to maintain my current weight I would be fat. I don't have the time to exercise an hour a day or rather I feel my family needs that hour more. I can often walk with my family. I just eat what I like when I like. I don't spend time craving foods that are bad for me. I don't deny myself much in the way of food. Yes I love chocolate but in moderation. But I also don't think I need to be worth a billion dollars to have Oprah's genes and not be fat. I just need the time and resources.

At my current socioeconomic level I guess I could force myself into weight loss lifestyle changes if both my children were functionally school-age. Not true for me now. I don't know if I would want to. I prolly might if I was convinced I would die too young. I dunno.


gconnor said...

Thanks for the pics, and the thoughtful post.
I believe that "fat" doesn't mean "unhealthy" unless weight causes other problems too. For example in my case I believe my weight is partly (maybe mostly) to blame for high blood pressure and snoring, and a minor contributing factor to occasional pain in my knees, ankles and lower back. I'm doing something about it, but certainly not for appearance reasons.

frumiousb said...

I'm lucky that my natural taste runs towards fruit and fresh stuff and not processed food.

Pregnancy seems, however, to have just slammed my metabolism. I gained very rapidly while pregnant, and I'm having a much harder time taking it off...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the preggers points. I naurally stay at a healthy weight and then while pregnant gain a lot. The last time I tried to eat small amounts like when nit pregnant- and ended up with instant anemia. I am having trouble mainly removing belly and arm weight post preg. These are the two places I gain. I get so frustrated because I eat very litle compared to my husband and even my older children. But, it's like the post preg weight is stuck this time (five pregs) around belly. I am wearing about four jean sizes bigger because of. I would like to eat like I used to- six small meals of what I crave (handfuls of nuts, berrries, tuna sandwiches, almond cereal, rice and bean burritos, etc.) but eat 3 a day now because too complicated to have what I want and then still cook three big meals for 7. I'm still beautiful everyone says but even though I got weight after my first three pregnancies, I think I'll just hang out fat for now.

Hannah said...


I am contacting you because I am working with the authors of a book about blogs. I have seen a photograph of yours that I find interesting and would like to request permission to include it in this book. If you think this is something you might be interested in please send me an email at and I will send along more details about the project. Hope to talk to you soon!



Note: In order to locate your image later it would be much appreciated if
you would include a link to this blog in your response. Thanks again!!