April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

There Are No Rules in CRON

When I'm out with friends or colleagues I am frequently asked, "Is that on your diet?" "Can you eat this, or that, or the other?"

It's hard to get across to people that CRON is not a "diet"... it's not about losing weight, and it's not about cutting out this food or that. One of the things I enjoy about the CR Society is that there are so many different ways to practice CR. A recent thread about fasting brought into focus again how many different ways people make CR work for them.

My particular brand of CRON has evolved a lot over a short period of time. In the beginning, back in March, I was just cutting out most junk foods, eating less of what I had eaten before, and substituting salad for pasta and bagels. As I became more serious and went through a period of CR Society Archives Addiction, I drastically changed the content of my diet and dropped my calorie levels, first too low, then up a bit to my current 1000 target.

Throughout the process, I've had occasions when I've eaten more calories than usual, or eaten foods I now only rarely eat. This isn't "cheating" because CRON is not a diet... it's about eating as few calories as you can while getting optimal nutrition. While some people find it difficult to go back to their CR patterns after they mix in a night of eating more or differently, I actually find it makes me feel more stable.

For example, on Tuesday night, I went out to a really good Italian restaurant. I had eaten right at 565 calories during the day (my usual salad, eggwhites, cottage cheese, you know the routine) but I was pretty hungry, coming off of an extended period of low appetite due to weather, etc. I had also been feeling a little bit of that toxic "I'm eating myself too fast" feeling that I've found preceeds the realization that I've lost too much weight too fast. So I decided to eat a larger meal and go over target. I ate the things I rarely now eat: a little homemade bread with sundried tomato spread, a little cream based seafood bisque (shared -- ate less than my half) and a little pasta with olive, caper and sundried tomato sauce (ate about half the serving.) Two glasses of red wine. It was delicious! I didn't feel bad or guilty or like I was "cheating" at all, because my body is now trained to go right back into its CR routine after one of these meals.

Throughout the evolution of my CR practice, I have tended to go under target for several days and then go above by several hundred calories (usually when I go out on the weekend), so the average hits right around the target. This seems to work for me, and it helps me fit CR into my social and professional life, which involves a lot of eating out with non-CR folks. I think it's possible that as I get closer and closer to my ideal diet that I can eat pretty much every day, I will drop out these occasions and hit target most days instead of going under and then making up for it by going above. But for now, this is working for me.

One thing I find interesting is the degree to which my appetite naturally follows this kind of cycle. When I go under target it's not because I'm trying to eat less, it's just because I don't happen to feel like eating and I don't force myself to eat when I'm not hungry. When I go over, it's because I'm hungry and I enjoy the food. Afterwards, I tend to not be hungry for a long long time. I have wondered in the past if I might share this eating pattern with snakes. I can eat a big mouse, be very satisfied, and wait to eat until another mouse happens along my path. Yesterday, I was very unhungry during the day, so I didn't eat as much as usual. (I was also running all over the place, making multiple trips to the hospital, driving to the National Labor Relations Board to file for an election, marveling at their much needed redecoration that is finally complete... the NLRB was just so seventies before.) My appetite naturally corrects for both going above and going below. Of course some would argue that I've still lost weight too fast (a Kieffer and a half in about six months) but as most of the weight has been fat, not muscle, and my nutrition has dramatically improved over my ad lib days, I hope that the gods of human experiments will smile upon me until the age of 110 or so.

Today will be fun... lunch meeting at the Mexican place. I don't think I'll have the salmon salad... it has a ton of protein, but I always feel a little sick a few hours after I eat it, and I am wary of the toxins in fish. It's also weird after all these years of being vegan, then lacto ovo, to eat a fish. I just keep thinking about the fish. I mean, they are so cute in the ocean! I know I tend to enjoy eating cute things, but it's different when it's a cute little kiwi.

This week has been crazy and I haven't paid as much attention as I need to to my nutrition. It's times like this when I think to myself: the people who eat the same thing every day have it right. If you have a busy life, that's the solution to fitting in CRON.

Thanks to all for your advice on supplements! I clearly have to get some iron and calcium supplement action going on. I suppose chewing on dog bones that I see in the grocery store wouldn't do it? Probably not vegetarian.


  • At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Kieffer is a cute name for a meow'er. My mom used to call my identical twin bro, Keith, by that name under our family's German influence (to the extent that makes any sense!?) He's not a meow'er, obviously, but, on the other hand, she called me Ke-Ke (our Dutch influence?) and people always mis-pronounced, allegedly unintentionally, "Kenton" as "kitten." Alrighty then, enough with the stream of consciousness..

    Thanks for the off-blog comments about my recently lowered calorie intake. Like you, I am maintaining a vigilant eye on all weight-loss-rate biomarkers to make absolutely sure my "Kenton: he's what's for dinner" buffet does not surreptitiously metamorphose into an all-you-can-eat feast! ‘Wouldn’t want to end up as a deceased (prematurely) lab rat ;-D ~ I'll take a "postmaturely” deceased diagnosis, thank you very much. Thus far, my weight & other indicators appear to be stable, so I'm steadying the course at the present energy intake level (if you want to know my cal/day number, you can't -- it's a secret! okay, here's a clue: < 1800/day).

    I totally concur about the snake’s appetite approach and eating out. Disclaimer: use of the term “snake” shall not be construed to connote, expressly or impliedly, any other connection(s) between my patent-attorney profession and said skaley species ;)

    Seriously, on the subject, I have to say that those Dean-meals are incredibly yummy, satisfying and convenient. I recently embarked on a 3 day quickie vacation with Keith and brought about ¾ of my food along as Dean meals -- it was amazing how much happier I was with my meals than he as he tried to CRON-it by “living off the land.” Eating out, though, on a regular (e.g., weekly) basis, especially at nice restaurants ;), is definitely a good call IMO for ensuring diversified nutrition, and for fun.

    Nice blog entry, today – I nominate it for a best-o-cr award!!
    Keep it up (~ no PRESSURE.. ;)
    Keep on skinnying.

  • At 1:10 AM, Blogger Bud Wiser said…

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