For the Love of Foods

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Dessert? Yes please!

Oh yeah! A date night this week.

I’m very psyched about that.  Our friend Kiernan hangs out with our son for a few hours every 2-3 weeks so my husband and I can have an official date night. Unlike most people in the US, who eat outside the home an average of 4-5x /week, we really only go out for dinner on these planned nights, unless we are on vacation or out of town, or on an occasional lunch with a friend, but not often in between.

There are a few reasons for this. One being there aren’t too many places to go. We live in a small community, and most of the restaurants worth going to are either super-expensive, so you don’t go very often, or the food is mediocre or at least equal to what we can make ourselves, so we might as well opt for home. Also, when you don’t feel like cooking, the urge to call for delivery is non-existent because no restaurants offer that here. And of course, with my son’s nut allergy, it’s tough to go anywhere spontaneous, we have to preview menus and make calls to restaurants prior to going to ensure his safety. And take out? Again, too much work learning all the ingredients. This gets a little tiring.

So yes, date nights are special. And in preparation, I get super-excited, start thinking about where we are going to go, what I might have, and then think about my diet for the next few days so I can plan accordingly.

My friend Chris, who is also my most loyal blog reader and commenter (thank you Chris, you are the best!), posted a funny observation on her newsfeed the other day. She was at a conference dinner with a group of cardiologists, and she noted most ordered steak dinners with a beurre blanc sauce, with wine and dessert. She was a little surprised they didn’t go for more heart-healthy options considering their profession, and when she asked them about it, they mentioned it was a splurge meal.

Funny. But I can definitely relate.

One of the things I love about date night, or going out at all, because I don’t do this often and I plan carefully, is that I can and will eat whatever I want.

When the server comes over to us and asks if we would like the wine list, of course! Appetizer? Absolutely, how about the Duck ravioli with Potstickers, or at one particular place…Parmesan truffle frites (!!).  Bread. Oh yeah. Salad too? Yup. Entree? The fish special sounds pretty good over a decadent Wild Mushroom Risotto, with fresh vegetables of course. And for dessert.. that Molten Chocolate Cake sounds amazing. And no, we will not share…

I get a lot of stares. I think mostly because people wonder how the heck anyone my size can eat so much. Maybe they think I’m one of those annoying people who can stay slim and eat like a lumberjack, and giving them that impression is kind of fun. It drives me crazy watching someone hold back from ordering what they really want at a wonderful restaurant.  No butter for bread, or even worse, no bread at all. A salad or boring chicken dish for dinner. And, oh no…no dessert, that would be bad! My biggest pet peeve is skim milk in a cappuccino or latte ?? I mean really, that can’t be all that good? And then the person looks miserable during their meal, and stares longingly at everyone else’s, sad about their need to be “good” , but also feeling virtuous they were able to avoid temptation, while others were not.

How is denial good? I just want to say to them, be careful about what you eat the rest of the time, but when it’s worth it, enjoy!

A few weeks ago I did a search, wondering if I could pin down a statistic estimating the percentage of people who lose weight who eventually gain it back. There really wasn’t a specific number aside from “most”. But the one concrete number I saw more frequently than others was “over 80%”.

It’s no wonder so many people do gain that weight back. Because when on weight loss programs,we are told we need to deny ourselves of everything we love.  No alcohol! No sugar! No bread! And then when we lose the weight on this quick fix denial diet, we are so scared to eat anything ever again because we are afraid of gaining the weight back. The problem is though, we all love food! We love the smells, the tastes. We love to be with friends and family, and wonderful foods are always around. Denial is not sustainable for the long-haul. If you love and appreciate different foods and cooking, continuing to say “no, thank you” forever just sucks the life of you.

So “most” of us fail. Because we can’t live up to the ideal of eating perfectly clean 100% of the time. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

According to the Center for Disease Control and other sources, including my own experiences,  keeping eating patterns consistent as much as possible day-to-day, and planning for special occasions, is one of the best ways to keep your weight in-check over time.  Many people, I know, cringe at the idea of keeping a food journal, but it’s really helpful in learning how much you eat throughout the day, and weaning yourself off the foods that can put you over the edge. A journal can also tell you the reverse: when I have eaten well, often I can see there’s some room on the menu for a little decadence. I have been keeping a relatively loose journal for about four years.

My basic diet, during the day typically includes: Breakfast: coffee with cream, melted cheese (either swiss or cheddar) on mixed grain bread (homemade), 4-5 oz of homemade whole milk Greek yogurt. fruit, a little maple syrup. For lunch: local eggs, one or two depending on what style. Sometimes with veggies. Perhaps another piece of bread or more yogurt. Snacks: Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds. Fruit. Sometimes cheese and crackers. Often frozen blueberries with whipped cream. For dinner, we rotate meals with lots of fresh veggies, local beef or lamb or chicken or fish, a few times per week, quinoa or pasta. And wine, a little most nights.

And that’s it. Kind of boring but it works for me.

But then, on date night, or dinner at a friends house? Watch out!  Similar to Chris’s cardiologist friends (assuming they are being honest and not just embarrassed to be caught in the act of eating the opposite of heart-healthy…she did say they were all in good shape…), keeping to relatively similar meals most days, and keeping to the exercise schedule, I can splurge when it’s worth it.

I stagger the good with the not-so-good .

If unplanned decadent treats tempt me, I decide if it’s worth it and if it will balance in my plan, and make a decision.

If I’m indifferent, I don’t eat it.

Now obviously this strategy will be more complicated if on vacation, or on a business trip or during the holidays and for some reason huge amounts of tempting foods are placed in front of you at each meal. It’s much harder to plan that way and say no, so you need a slightly different strategy. But when at home and with a typical routine, this works really well.

If you are a good- food-loving person who struggles with finding this balance, try to find that menu consistency day-to-day.  Try eating in more often, or taking your lunch to work or when on-the-go. This strategy may help you to enjoy yourself a little more when it’s truly worth it. Because that one piece of Toblerone pecan pie, or a few glasses of Cabernet, or piping hot sourdough bread, or cream rather than skim, these will not make you gain weight by themselves, but being able to indulge in the sensory smells and tastes when the time is right is sometimes just what you need to find that strength to be disciplined and on track the next day.

Now, to decide where to go for date night tomorrow night…I think the Parmesan truffle frites may be calling my name!

Do you have a good strategy to balance your love for different foods with achieving a healthy lifestyle? Would love to hear your stories!

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CDC article on Maintaining Weight: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/keepingitoff.html

To check out my Exercise Strategy, because eating this way is dependent on staying active as well: https://afitandfocusedfuture.com/2013/03/19/strong-arming-the-future/

Myfitnesspal – a great website w/ mobile apps for keeping a food journal to help keep yourself in check: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

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7 thoughts on “For the Love of Foods

  1. Yes! Robin I agree with you 100%. I have maintained my weight loss for the past two years and I do exactly what you have described. I eat the same breakfast and lunch almost every day and dinners are the same just a little rotation of vegies, meat and starch.
    I’m lucky my husband is easy to please and doesn’t complain much except for the occasional fake gag sound he make when he finds out what is for dinner.
    When going out I treat myself as well and have been known not to buy dessert if it doesn’t rock my world. I say “I can live without it.”
    I went out with a friend shopping and we went to dinner at 9p.m. looking at the menu dinner didn’t sound good to me that late. What really sounded good was the apple blueberry cobbler topped with ice cream. I kept trying to talk myself into a meal and my eye kept going to the dessert. I ordered the dessert and was very satisfied. I guessed it to be 500 calories which is what a meal would be for me at home. It was 450 and I bet the entrees were a lot more than that at the restaurant!
    As far as people looking at what you ordered and wishing they could eat like you. I used to be that person ordering what I knew I should be eating not what I wanted to have and wishing I could eat like the skinny bitch in front of me. What I realize now is the skinny girl did without and ate like I eat know and didn’t give herself treats on most days like I did before my weight loss.
    Like Rod Stuart says, ” I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger!”

    • Renee, thanks for your great comment. I love the idea of skipping the meal and going for the dessert…why not? It is funny, when I do make dinner at home, the family does look unenthused sometimes, but hey, it keeps them in check too so they can accompany us on our splurges. Love the Rod reference 🙂

  2. I agree. When you go out to dinner once in awhile you should enjoy the local and fresh dishes on the menu, despite calories or whatever? It’s a treat. And guess what? Once in awhile won’t hurt you. Enjoy! Thanks robin!
    See you in July! Around the 10th

    • Susan, thanks for your comment. I’m so glad you subscribe to this theory as well because if I can model my future after yours, I will be in fantastic shape! xoxo

  3. Thanks for the reference Robin! I also do not deprive myself of delicious foods. For instance, if restaurant bread is homemade and piping hot I will treat myself to a piece or two. Same thing with dessert. Hubby and I will share. However, must say I did not enjoy that steak covered in beurre blanc sauce or the grouper amandine drowning in butter. Those things I still prefer simply prepared. And I also use the same strategy of eating the same things for breakfast and lunch, saving at least half of my daily calories for dinner. For some reason, I tend to be hungrier at night.

    • Thanks for your comment Chris. I love what you just said about dinner–so many folks think they need to keep it small later in the day, but that just doesn’t work for us. This is our “family” meal and it’s really the only time I have meat. I find by eating a solid meal in the evening, I’m not hungry after dinner–and that’s where many people get in trouble because they haven’t eaten enough and start looking for chocolate a few hours later 🙂

  4. Pingback: Tradeoffs « A Fit and Focused Future

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