I’D RATHER ADD THAN SUBTRACT
By: Lauren Anderson
I was always pretty good at math… until I hit calculus in 8th grade and everything went to hell. But in my younger years math made a lot of sense. Specifically addition. I think I really liked the notion of adding more. The more the merrier. With numbers, with friends, with everything.
And this idea of “more is more” has bled out into all areas of my life. If I host a party, and you want to bring a friend I’ve never met, my response will always be “Yes! Bring em!” I also like options. I like having lots to do. And if you give me a choice between one gorgeous marble, and a jar of them, I will always choose the jar. (Why you’re giving me marbles… I don’t know. We can explore that later.)
Basically, I would rather look at a lot of interesting things than just one interesting thing. On the minimalism scale between IKEA and Liberace’s Parlor– hand me that sequined kimono and the gold candelabra baby, and make some room on the piano bench.
Because I like Abundance. My personality is skewed to choose a handful over a piece, big over small, and bright over subtle. Love it or hate it, that’s just how I roll. And that’s just how I’ve always been. It took awhile to come to terms with this, but I can finally admit it to myself. And trust me, in the era of stark white walls, and capsule closets— it wasn’t easy to do.
Now before you tune in to find me on the next episode of “Hoarders”—don’t worry. It’s not like that. I can get rid of stuff. And I do often. I don’t just collect stuff for stuff’s sake. It has to be something I like. Something I want. Even though I have some vast collections, they are surprisingly curated and organized. I seek Abundance, not chaos.
And this is especially true with food.
I love the idea of a feast. A meal fit for a king– A king I say!!! Something hearty and substantial will always win out over innovative tapas and small plates. Unless of course we order TOO MANY small plates. Then I can do it. But two tiny cream puffs on a tiny plate only makes me sad. I don’t care how fancy the remoulade is.
I think this why I like soup so much. Soup always seems like more than it is. Especially soups like pho or ramen. That’s also why I liked visiting Japan so much too. Everything came in a big bowl, and when you went out for sushi, you were encouraged to get LOTS of little plates. They just kept coming round and round on a conveyor belt.
A lot of times when I eat, I have this fear that bubbles up. “Will this be enough? Will this amount of food fill me up?” I think to myself, “Better get the largest size. Better add a side. Better to have too much than too little.” And then of course there’s this added worry of, “What if I spend my last 14 dollars on a crab cake and it’s the size of a peppermint patty, and not a hamburger patty?”
You see where I’m going with this.
That’s why portion control is my nemesis, and counting calories feels like an exercise is self destruction. I have tried every diet in the world, and they are all some sort of combination of portion control and calorie counting. It’s all about subtracting and going without. In other words, for a personality like mine, it’s total bullsh*t. And I am set up to fail from the get-go.
For example: A few years ago, I spent WAY TOO MUCH money on one of those “we make your meals fresh and portion it out for you” pre-packaged dealies. The food was good, but it wasn’t enough. On the 1300 calorie plan they had me on, they would spend most of the allotted calories on the sauce. Sauce? C’mon man! I’m dying here! I would get two tiny cheese blitzes for breakfast, when I could’ve been eating 3 scrambled eggs and a potato for the same amount of calories.
Needless to say this didn’t last long.
I think that’s also why I’ve never understood the juicing and the smoothie craze either. I have what I call the “FOUR APPLE THEORY”. If given the option of drinking the juice of four apples or eating four apples, I would pick eating the apples EVERY TIME. And then I would feel great about it, because drinking juice would leave me hungry, but who in the world can eat four apples in one sitting?! (Other than a horse, or perhaps The Rock.) And that is how the mindset of abundance works. I don’t need to eat all four apples to feel abundant. But I love the fact that I could if I wanted to. The option is there.
And when I can feel abundance, the thoughts of “will this be enough” are sated. I can return to the regularly scheduled thoughts in my brain. Which lately have been oscillating between “How can I be a catalyst for good in my community?” and “Which musketeer on that BBC show would I wanna date the most? All for one… one for all.”
I don’t know why specifically I have these thoughts either. Growing up, I was fortunately never without food. But they’re there. And it’s taken a lot of hard work over the years (this last year more than anything) to come to grips with the fact that I have a disordered relationship with food.
Whew. Just writing that last sentence was tough. Even though I’ve talked about it before, it still feels very fresh and very tenuous. Like any minute I will be sucked back up into a dark, unknowing, sad cave, instead out here in the light of recognition.
Okay, that might be over-stating it, but you can hear me cluckin’ right? The recognition doesn’t fix anything, but it’s a step in the right direction to managing my relationship with food. Where I am in control, as opposed to it controlling me.
Which is why the Essential You Program at Solcana Wellness was so good for me. Instead of putting me on another diet of subtraction and feeling like I was missing out, I received an education about how the body processes sugar etc, and asked to commit to a one month challenge to “reset” my body.
It was life-changing. Was it difficult? Yes. (See blog Weeks 8, 9, and 11.) But I could eat as much as I wanted in the challenge-friendly foods. And I really took to it. Because it felt so abundant! So much so, that I kept doing it strictly for about 3 months after the official challenge ended. Then I just kept on eating this way. And before I knew it, it’s just how I eat now. I officially changed my mind to a #neverdietagain attitude. Because without trying, I lost 50 pounds, and my asthma improved and allergies all but cleared up.
But then everything plateaued. Which is natural. But it’s been months now, with no movement one way or the other. I guess it’s ultimately a good thing, because it means I’m at least using the fuel I am taking in. But I knew it was time to level up. And I also knew I was eating too much food. Even though it was whole, nutritious, and EY approved food.
My heart sank. There goes my feeling of abundance… or so I thought.
I decided to make a one-on-one appointment with Lucia, the Solcana Wellness Nutritional Therapist. The one-on-one experience is different from the EY classes, because it’s only about you. You get full range of her big brain, and equally big compassion, to help you navigate what you want to accomplish. Not just weight loss either. A Nutritional Therapist like Lucia can help you with everything from migraines to auto-immune stuff to hormone management. It’s mind-blowing!
Before the first meeting, she has you fill out some VERY detailed online assessments, and keep a three day food journal. When we met, the first half of the session was a long talk, with questions and answers from both sides. The second half of the session is a hands-on assessment (but I’ll cover that later… but I’ll just say FTR, it was amazing).
I told Lucia stuff I never thought I would tell anyone. And she was open, and loving, and totally cool. I have never felt more accepted “where I was” than in this meeting. What a gift! Especially if you are like me, and you have a difficult relationship with food.
I told her my fear of “going without” and failing. I told her about my abundance seeking, and all my unsuccessful attempts at calorie counting and portion control. She heard me, and then made some notes. And then she revealed the plan.
“For the first month, I want you to add some food to your meals.”
What? What fresh trickery is this?! I think my jaw literally dropped.
“I want you to add at least a cup of veggies to every meal. Especially breakfast. You can prepare them however you want, eat as much as you want, and choose whatever veggies you like best.” She said. “Keep doing what you’re doing with your proteins and sugars and fats. We’ll start there, and see how you feel in a month.”
“Um… okay. I think I can do that. But that’s it?” I said.
“Yup. That’s it.” She said.
My mind was reeling. I thought my session was going to result in a painful goodbye to my glorious bounty, but it wasn’t. She heard me, and gave me more. She let me add instead of subtract.
* * *
I am officially two weeks in now, and I have been diligently adding veggies to every meal. It has me chopping like a sous chef, but I am full and satisfied. And here is something strange that happened:
Because I’m getting fuller on veggies, I have been able to replace some of the carbs I’d been eating. Like instead of preparing two potatoes for a meal, I will eat one potato, and one bowl of veggies. Or a half cup of rice and veggies, instead of a full cup of rice. And it fills me up the same. Maybe even more, because the veggies have so much water and fiber in them.
Okay, but have I lost any weight yet? Well, I don’t know. I haven’t weighed myself. Also, Thanksgiving was last week. But I do feel better. I feel fuller, and more hydrated. Which is especially helpful in these dry winter months. I feel a little more energized, and my skin is looking a little brighter. And bonus! While the people around me are dropping like flies to colds and flus, I keep kickin’. I don’t even have a sniffle! (Knock on wood…)
But here’s the beautiful part. I don’t miss anything. I don’t feel without. I haven’t failed, like I was expecting to. In fact, some days I’m even looking forward to eating the veggies. I know! I know. But before you roll your eyes, trust me, I get how that sounded. And no one is more surprised than me.
But wait a minute Anderson! Isn’t replacing a lot like subtracting? Yes. Yes it is. But it doesn’t feel that way. Remember the Four Apple Theory? You don’t have to eat em all, but you can if you want.
And because I don’t want to eat everything cause I’m full on veggies, it doesn’t feel like a subtraction. It feels like a feast. It doesn’t feel like missing out, it feels like a choice.
A choice that adds up to one happy chomper.