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Growing up we had sugar cereals only on Sundays (like frosted flakes or honey nut cheerios, most of the sugar cereals out there were never allowed). Dessert was not a given; we had dessert maybe once a week and then it was frequently homemade and thus, possibly, less sugary. We very very infrequently had sodas - those were an unimaginable treat. I do not ever remember having a candy bar in our house unless it was near Halloween or, possibly, Easter. We picked strawberries and dewberries and ate them with no extra sweetening; sometimes we didn't wash them either :). Even after our small town got a McDonald's, it was extremely rare for us to go there. Eating out at a real restaurant was reserved for very special occasions maybe twice per year. Some of that was because my parents were living with 5 kids on one teacher's salary. Some may have been where we lived back then (Arkansas). But I think quite a bit of it is an attitude shift over the past few years. Not even that many years - I'm only 27.

Sorry for the very late reply, QASteph; I started lurking a couple months ago, but fell behind on my move to Austin.

I'm just two years older than you and also grew up poor out in the country (but OR instead of AR), and my experience was similar. One of the results is that I don't like sweets that much, since I rarely had them when I was young; I often refuse proffered pastries or candy bars just because they don't appeal, and I actually feel slightly ill at the thought of putting additional sugar on already-sweet things such as cereal or fruit. Another result is that I don't like to snack, again because it wasn't an option when I was kid; eating was only something I did at the dining table to stave off hunger. One consequence that may be unusual is that I eat very slowly, taking very small bites -- a habit originally developed to squeeze as much enjoyment as possible out of the very rare treat of a hot fudge sundae at Burger King or McDonald's -- so restaurant portions are often simply too big for me (the full feeling has plenty of time to kick in before I'm done), and I have no desire to finish them.

You may be wondering why I'm posting here, given all that. Well, I was pretty fit five years ago; but, lots of beer, a gradually declining metabolism, and enthusiastic sloth (I joyfully avoided unnecessary activity) -- plus the accelerant of quitting smoking a few months ago -- all played a part in adding a couple unwanted inches around the middle. The strategy that I've been using so far has been reducing alcohol -- if I can follow it, restricting myself to the equivalent of two pints of beer or less and not drinking on consecutive days will be close enough to quitting, and a lot more enjoyable ;) -- shrinking portions (such as two eggs instead of four, or a piece of fruit instead of lunch), and starting exercising (half an hour on the treadmill six days a week), and I'm already seeing good results.

With my...well, I guess I could call it an aversion for food...I had no excuse, deserve no sympathy, and will probably reach my goal soon without undue strain; so, to keep from irking those who have to really work at it, I'll mostly just lurk. But, I want you to know that everything I read here is very much appreciated! For example, I am taking to heart the tip that fat must be kept off after the first time it's lost (since it becomes much harder to lose the second time), so I am trying to think in terms of permanent lifestyle changes instead of one-time projects. Thank you for the advice! :)

Daniel Dauenhauer
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