getting calories in the calorie hole
from evy's notebook
Making sure I eat regularly has been one of the most challenging things I've done over the past year. It's incessant - I never get a day off. And every day, it challenges me again.
There are several connected factors that have made eating difficult:
- Anxiety is an appetite suppressant, and I've felt more anxious recently. There's an unfortunate feedback loop of anxiety → not wanting to eat → body feeling worse → anxiety
- When I force myself to eat something when I'm not hungry, I develop a negative association with that food, which makes it difficult to find the food appetizing later even if I am somewhat hungry.
- It's easier to eat food when I put zero thought and preparation into obtaining it, since figuring out what I want to eat can be stressful and suppress my appetite. Before the pandemic, buffet lunch was delivered to my office every workday. Over the past year, I've prepared (or bought) over 99% of my meals.
- I regularly procrastinate feeding myself until I'm quite hungry and getting lightheaded, partially because I no longer have scheduled meals with coworkers and friends, and also because I find it stressful to think about what food I might manage to eat each day. This not only makes it impossible to have time to cook for myself, but the lightheadedness reduces my cognitive ability to figure out what to eat.
- Once I start eating, I find myself quickly feeling too full to keep eating, but then I get hungry again only a few hours later. Forcing myself to eat more at a time feels bad, but needing to solve the eating problem more frequently is also not fun.
I've tried several strategies to help myself eat, with varying levels of success.
- List of "foods i gots": I kept a list of the food I had in the house that I could eat, sorted by how long it took to be ready to eat (1-2min vs 10-30min) and how filling it was. This helped me scan my options more easily than looking at individual items that happened to be visible in the fridge and pantry.
- Meal prep: I sometimes cook or order food in bulk to last me several meals. This is great for reducing future effort to get food, and sometimes backfires if I lose appetite for that food before it runs out.
- Eating at meal times: I decided I would eat lunch between 11:30am and 1pm and dinner between 5pm and 7pm, and put a whiteboard on my fridge to check off when I ate a meal on time. This incentivized me to eat before I got too hungry, but sometimes I would eat too little during "meal time" and then get too hungry before the next scheduled time.
- Eating designated meals: I made a schedule of what I would default to eating at each time, like a cafeteria that serves the same thing for lunch every Wednesday. I used this to default the answer to "what should I eat?" when I couldn't think of anything. This somewhat helped with decision making, but I resisted using it because the options often felt unappealing.
- I got a bunch of snacks to help myself eat more regularly and with less preparation. This helped sometimes, but often I'd only remember to eat once I was already quite hungry and snacks weren't filling enough.
- I've tried smoking weed more often to give me the munchies and improve my appetite. This works and is sometimes fun, but also sometimes makes it harder to do the focused activities I enjoy :p
- Yesterday I bought a case of Soylent as another food option. Maybe that will help!
All of these strategies have helped to some degree, but none have quite solved my problem, and I've dropped many of them that required willpower to continue. I'm curious if others relate to the experiences I've shared and have any other tips to share!
food i gots
tracking eating at meal times
default meal choices