It seems my big struggles are 1) not trusting myself around food and 2) feeling like I'm hungry all the time (totally in my head, I know). How did you get past those things? I look in awe at your Cadbury drawer and anticipate the day when I might be able to have that much chocolate at my disposal and not eat it all in one sitting...
Dieters binge. Dieters are also hungry all the time. The years of restraint make them crazy. If you're always entering your food into software, using measuring cups, sticking to a food list, agonizing over meal decisions, and feeling deprived, when faced with a drawer of chocolate, you'll lose your mind. Someone who eats whatever they want at every meal, including chocolate, will see a drawer of Cadbury Eggs and go, "Meh... maybe later."
I was totally out of touch with my hunger when I did the six meals a day thing. I might eat a two or three hundred calorie "meal" and be hungry enough to eat office furniture an hour later. Or maybe after several of those "meals" I wouldn't feel anything. No hunger, no fullness, no connection at all to my real appetite. I was eating entirely by the clock and rules, which again is a recipe for being mentally ravenous around drawers of chocolate.
When I started listening to my hunger and food preferences instead of battling or denying them, the mental starvation thing went away. I lean toward three meals a day now. I eat what I like, which is mostly healthy and mostly plants but with a dash of cheeseburger or Ben & Jerry's. I don't feel good when I binge on junk food so I don't do that. I'm not happy when I deny myself treats so I don't do that either.
Now, as to how to eat what you want and LOSE weight, there is some portion control involved, some balancing. If I have a carb-heavy breakfast maybe I'll have a lighter mostly plants lunch, and maybe I'll have a steak and vegetable dinner (with dessert, of course). So, over the course of the day it kind of balances out and I'm not eating all bread, all dessert, or all chicken and protein shakes.
It helps to be a picky eater. If I don't love something, I don't finish it. If I find something crazy delicious, I save some for later. I try to make decisions like a naturally thin person instead of like a struggling dieter. Dieters binge, feel guilty, start over, binge, feel guilty, start over. They set up a bunch of rules and then rebel against them. I try to avoid doing anything a struggling dieter would do, like restricting carbs, counting calories, skipping dessert, or consuming anything light or low-fat.
I've received all kinds of book recommendations since the last post. Another one that looks interesting is Runaway Eating: The Eight Point Plan to Conquer Adult Food and Weight Obsessions by Cynthia Bulik and Nadine Taylor. I haven't read it and probably won't. I kind of quit looking for "solution" books because, ironically, just reading them tends to make problems spring up where there weren't any. Have you ever done that thing where reading a diet book makes you binge? Like, just thinking about starting makes you want some pie? Well, I'm kind of becoming that way with eating habits books. My eating habits are fine, but if I start thinking that I'm doing it wrong or that I need to change everything, that makes me want McDonald's. So, lately I just go with what's working and try not analyze it to death.
Couple of reads: I did a fun interview with Sheila at LiveWell 360. Then I read the most amazing cautionary tale on how NOT to lose two pounds. Check out Lisa's Story over at Prior Fat Girl. Wow! I felt for her. I've experienced similar madness. It's better to accept and appreciate your fit self than to step onto the crazy train.