Saturday, October 17, 2009

Am I man or cow? My lifestyle of grazing...

I truly think that if I were ever stuck outside for an extended period of time, I would eventually start grazing on grass. I cannot rule out the possibility of a genetic mutation that would lead the formation of three additional stomachs. I get cows, and I understand why they graze. Cows never seem particularly bored, and they usually seem pretty content (assuming they aren't tipped). I attribute their utopian existence to the fact that they get to eat all the time.

I am a boredom eater. Always have been, and may always be. Give me a jam-packed busy day, and I stick to my three square meals -- I'm happy as if I had good sense. Give me a slow Saturday around the house, and you can always find me prowling around the kitchen. Even worse if I'm slightly sleep deprived. I'm not hungry, yet I am deriving curious pleasure from small handfuls of food. It's not a good habit, but it's also one that has been embedded over many decades. In other words, it's not an easy habit for me to kick.

I was thinking over the past couple of days about all the fancy new healthy habits I have acquired over the past 10 years with Weight Watchers. They include POINTS-friendly breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I am a mealtime warrior when it comes to staying on plan. As I was self-admiring, it occurred to me that to conquer these new meals, I was simply making better food choices. I was swapping out bad foods with good ones. In retrospect, it wasn't that hard once I got the hang of it. I did not have to fundamentally change any eating occasion behavior in the sense that I always ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is not as though I had to drop a meal.

Grazing is a tough habit for me to beat because it requires potentially eliminating an eating occasion. What to do? As I see it, I have two choices:
  1. Find some other activity to replace it. We tell members this all the time. "When you are feeling bored, why not do XXXX." My problem is that I cannot for the life of me figure out what XXXX is. Summersaults? Tiddlywinks? Long form algebra? Meditation, possibly combined with rudimentary levitation?
  2. Replace the questionable grazing provisions (e.g., nuts) with lower POINTS ones (e.g., carrot sticks, fruit). I was in a staff meeting this week, and I noticed a box of Jolly Time popcorn (endorsed by Weight Watchers -- 1 POINTS value). I like popcorn, so this could be a nice add.
Both of the above are probably applicable. As I think about it, the X factor that could help me get a grip would be making it a point to more actively track my POINTS, particularly after dinner and on weekends. As they say, what gets measured gets done. In this case, they is mostly accountants and efficiency experts, but they do have a point.

I have a special form of boredom eating that I will be facing on Sunday night: flying to Australia. 22 hours each way combined with ample sleep deprivation. It will not be pretty. I worked out like a convict today, and will probably do the same tomorrow to get prepared for the eating onslaught.

If anyone would like to share their outstanding success tips on any of the above perplexing challenges, I'm all ears (and stomachs).


  1. Can I first say that I think you are an awesome blogger and a great writer. I enjoy your posts so much.

    I think you've really hit it when you realize there are 3 solutions: you can find something else to do so you won't be bored, you can substitute the food you munch on for lower-point snacks, AND you can track everything. (I think that may be key, but it's the one that's the hardest to do, isn't it?) WHAT IF you set aside 5 pts/day just for "boredom snacking." You know, just realize that you do this, and plan for it. If you did that, I bet you might feel motivated to find alternatives to your bored-feeling moments, just so you don't have to "give up" those 5 points from your regular meals OR your 35 extra pts.

    Here are some ideas for XXX: read a good book! (go to for suggestions you might like) Play a computer game (I love computer Scrabble, can you tell I'm a nerd?). Take up knitting! (OK, I don't do this but I know a lot of WW members do, to keep their hands busy) Write a letter to a friend (not an email, a LETTER).

    I love the line "curious pleasure from small handfuls of food." HA!

    Can I trade your boredom eating for my emotional eating? I never get bored (too busy!! I wish!!) but the emotional stuff gets ME almost every time.

  2. I love the grazing topic, as it hits home with me! I too am a boredom grazer, and have been for a long time. I too struggle with giving it up because it is a part of who I am. I realize I need to give it up, but have yet to figure out how and what I would replace the grazing with.
    I am a WW leader and think the whole 'grazing' topic would be a great one to incorporate into the meeting topics. I learn a lot from my members. I always tell them I am a work in progress just as they are. I would love to hear what they have to say about boredom grazing.

  3. Tea. Lots and lots of tea. My boredom grazing (or "Busy Mouth Syndrome" as I call it) is mostly cured when I keep my mouth busy with a nice tall hot 0 Points mug of raspberry tea. I am a Points Nazi so I really makes me mad to 'waste' a non-meal point on anything over 1 point. Hence, the tea.

  4. I just have to say I really did LOL at the "worked out like a convict"' line! Thanks you are funny!

    Seriously, though, the 1 point popcorn with some raisins thrown in or these great new special K crackers that are 2 points for 24! (u can tell that excites me)by themselves or with a wedge of laughing cow cheese, or a mug of chicken broth with some fresh spinach stirred in are all some suggestions. Oh yeah grapes!

  5. I fly a lot for work too so I bring snack packs with me.. fig newtons, fiber one bars, popped pop corn and if I need a meal, I try to buy it at the airport to I can pick the right thing, not something from the plane stash..

  6. Wonderful to find the link on the main board today. And my solution to boredom eating, which I do regularly, is to lie. I set my allotted points at 3 less points than allowed. I am a fanatic about recording what I eat and almost, without fail, my grazing falls within the three "extra" points so my daily total - while generally 3 points over what the site tells me I'm allowed, is really within my guidelines.

    Plus I am becoming an exercise fanatic and try to earn at least 3 APs to also help offset the grazing deficit. However, now you have me worried that I may start to moo.

  7. I, too, am an all out boredom eater AND constant grazer. As a stay at home mom of 2 under 2, though, I rarely get bored. But, there are those moments when they are both the constant magnet that seems to pull me through the kitchen to grab a handful of this and that while on the way to change a diaper (one would think that the combination of a dirty diaper and food would be enough to cure my snacking....but oh no, I am a snacking pro....). :)

    I keep a list. Anytime I think of something that "could always be done on a day with more time," I write it down. When I get bored and find myself wanting to grab a bag of whatever and hit the couch....I go to my list. It could be anything from cleaning out a closet to giving myself a manicure. Organize my photo files on the computer....clean out my husbands t-shirt drawer....whatever! It just helps to keep my hands busy and keep my mind off it usually results in something getting done that really needed to be done anyway! :)

    Last tidbit of advice....I have not actually tried this, but heard it somewhere and plan to buy some and try it soon.... Teeth whitening strips. You obviously can't eat during the time that you are wearing them....then you aren't supposed to eat for about 30 minutes after.... that really kills some good snacking time and brightens your smile! :)

    Thanks for the great blog!

  8. When I graze - I munch on sugar snap pea pods - stringless. They are a filling food and taste like a fresh garden in springtime! They are so sweet and juicy. These are NOT the ones usually found in asian foods, but look for them next to those - in the packaged lettuce area. Be sure to get STRINGLESS and SUGAR SNAP PEA. At 1 point PER PKG - it's ok to graze!!!

  9. PREFACE: Do I weigh pasta to figure out how many ounces it is BEFORE I cook it (dry) or after I cook it? So when a serving size is 3 ounces of pasta, is that dry or cooked?

    I am reading this blog at work when I should be, well, working. But I just joined online WW and was opening up in order to put in the points for the cup of cottage cheese I just ate.

    I am a lifetime member of WW, having joined in 2003 and was a meeting person. I lost about 25 pounds but didn't master the maintenance program and gained most of it back. But I am still stridently pro-WW and believe it is the ONLY way to lose weight for good. I will get down to my new goal weight of 175 and get maintenance down pat and stay there the rest of my life!

    You know, I wanted to comment on a couple of specific things. When I signed up last night, I kinda resented automatically being put into WW for Men program. As a gay man, I don't usually feel like I fit into the neat categories of "being a man." I don't have kids, I don't have a wife and the unique dynamics that come from that (though I do have a partner).

    But seeing your blog this morning reminded me that I am a busy professional and the things you are writing about absolutely apply to me. We did not get one trick or treater on Saturday! And bought a 50 piece bag of candy. My new favorite candy bar is Almond Joy. Used to be Snickers. I wrote it in my journal - 1 2/3 serving of mini Kit Kat bars and 3 servings of mini Almond Joy bars (that's six bars!) Saturday I had 45.5 points when my budget is 30.

    But I told my partner to bring the candy to his office this morning. I could not even have them in the car with me for the ten-minute commute to my office, I have that little willpower.

    What is keeping me going lately, besides the fact that at my Saturday weigh-in I tipped the scale at 184 pounds (another five pounds in two weeks!) is that I went shopping for belts Saturday afternoon. I went from a 38" belt to a 36" belt, closed on the second hole. When I look in the mirror, I still see a gigantic, amorphous stomach. But the belt don't lie.

    My professional challenges are bringing lunches into physician offices I visit to sell the services of the medical practice I work for. Last week, I had two lunches. The first one, I did not take a lunch with me and went back to the office and ate the turkey sandwich I had brought from home.

    The second lunch, I made the mistake of waiting too long to eat and ate that lunch in my car, including the the HUGE sandwich and the chips and the cookie (from Paradise Bakery). Lesson learned: don't wait so long to eat and bring something to the lunch that I can snack on while others are eating. I also find it hard when I travel around the state to different offices not to graze in my car, usually on pretzels. Sometimes the Krispy Kreme donuts at gas stations. I think I will buy a cooler for my car and put in cottage cheese and yogurt cups.

    I will try to catch up on your past postings tonight at home. Meanwhile, keep posting, as I know you are inspiring a lot of people out there, at least me!

    Indianapolis, IN