Q: I struggle with going over the 1k marker even though I know for my activity level I should be at 2700 to maintain. Not only that…I don’t have very good eating habits. When I can, I’ll buy all the fruits and veggies in the world…And that’s all I’ll eat aside from an occasional meat. But these things aren’t exactly packin’ in calories. And when I’m totally broke, I’ll chow down on MREs. Yeah, these things are horrible to eat leisurely because they’re made for dire situations and all that…

Not to mention I’m trying to slim down…And, that’s not really happening >.> I mean, I feel my increase in strength but I don’t see the physical results.

I’m all sorts of f’ed up. So, what am I supposed to do?

Don’t worry – I understand.

In “What Happens When You Don’t Eat Enough,” I wrote the following:

Let me explain. Though the above passage relates specifically to emotional eating, it still explains how the body approaches the feeling of famine. The body slows down on its expenditure of energy. I didn’t – at first – acknowledge a tired feeling… but I absolutely felt a boost of energy when I added to my eating schedule.

And yes – I gave myself an eating schedule! I packed away an apple, a pear, an orange, grapefruit slices – something – so that I could have something to bite into whenever my alarm went off.

Yes. I set an alarm. Whenever it went off, it said “Dig in, baby!” and that’s exactly what I did. After that… that “hungry” feeling was completely foreign to me. My energy levels increased. My weight loss couldn’t stall. I had a regular energy supply coming in, so my body could feel more comfortable with burning off energy. From here, calorie counting could actually produce better results. (If I’m not burning energy, any calories I take in will be stored as fat, remember?)

There’s also the issue of nourishing my body throughout the day. I wouldn’t go 6 or 7 hours without feeding an infant, right? Why? Because they need nourishment for their bodies to grow and function properly.

How is the adult body any different? We need not only the constant energy source, but we need the nourishment! Our bodies cannot function as well as it should if its only working on limited resources. We absolutely must eat… and nothing’s wrong with eating a little more often!

No one’s talking about full meals – cucumber slices, carrot sticks, apples, pears, mangoes (I am notorious for slaughtering a whole mango), cashews, sunflower seeds… whatever. Just a little something to tide you over. If you’re not hungry, nothing should be compelling you to overeat. If you’re eating whole foods, nothing should be leaving you so starving that you overeat until the next meal. If you’re eating a little bit regularly (hungry or not), your body can function properly and it’ll start to believe that it can safely release the fat stored on your body…. since it believes that it will get a regular supply of energy (calories) again.

In short… this, again, goes back to what I believe is the primary principle of weight loss. Neglecting to nourish yourself is neglecting your health and well-being.
Excerpted from What Happens When You Don’t Eat Often Enough | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

First things first. Clean up your eating habits. This isn’t that hard for the average person, but as military personnel (2700 calories? MREs? Just a guess.) it depends upon how much you rely on that military food to get by. Here’s hoping you don’t, because that stuff is terrible. It might even be why you’re eating so little. Add adequate fruits and veggies to your diet, and start phasing out the things that you know are problematic or simply wrong. Military rations are notoriously processed, so you’ve simply got to do your best.

That being said, I’m always amazed by people who eat very very little and are extremely active. I tried it. I can’t do it. I’m angry, I’m worn down, I’m tired, I’m easily frustrated and I don’t want to bother thinking because thinking takes too much damn energy.

I’m also convinced that people who manage to live on a diet with so few calories are pretty serious refined carb cutters. I mean, once you get down to the brass tacks of what you need, there’s virtually nothing in the way of vitamins and minerals that’s available in a refined carb that isn’t available elsewhere (read: fruit, veggie or meat.) They’re not that essential… that is, until you get to a point where you need to add a little heft to your diet and eating another four cups of broccoli isn’t cost-effective… or time-efficient. Let’s just say that I’m assuming you’re pretty good at passing on the bread. I’m okay with that.

If the aim of the game is adding calories to your diet, why not make them calories that can be enjoyed? My first suggestion is always to add more quality protein to your diet, especially as an active (and possibly weight-lifting) individual. Beans and various rices have been staples in the diets of countless cultures around the world, not because they’re uniquely nutritious but because on top of adding a lil’ extra protein, they’re also pretty damned filling.

I’d also explore playing with different fruits. Pineapple slices? Winning. Watermelon? Winning. Dried cranberries? Why not? Give yourself some leeway. Keep tabs on how many calories you’re adding, so you can have a general understanding of your regular intake and how you’re altering it.

It’s also an opportunity to get creative. I have a watermelon, black olive and feta cheese salad that I eat and loooooove. The majority of the calories come from the feta cheese, and that’s okay with me… because I like my feta.

Adding calories to your diet is an opportunity to explore and discover new quality sources for what you need. And while it’s easy to say “eat moar brokly!!” it’s also important to tell you to get into quality sources of protein, and – if you are a pretty active lifestyler, presumably so because of the mention of MREs – nutritious sources of energy.

What suggestions do you have for adding additional calories to your diet? Those of you in the military, or relying on government food (grade school cafeterias, shoot… even collegiate cafeterias ’cause that’s sometimes “struggle food,” too), how do you clean up your diets and get adequate calories?