Friday, April 27, 2012

Social eating: big bear's birthday party

Last weekend we hosted big bear's 4th birthday party at our house. This meant lots of food, drinks and a whole lot of stress. From my last post, I had a plan to keep a handle on the social eating. My plan was simple, write down what I was going to eat before eating and stick to it.

So how did it all shake out? Did I make a plan? Did I follow it? Did I need a plan?

Actually, the party itself was fine. Typically, I overeat on appetizers, but I barely touched them. The appetizers were in another room. Plus, I picked fairly friendly choices to serve: hummus, tzatiki with crackers, shrimp and a vegetable plate. For dinner, hubby made pulled pork sandwiches, bean salad and coleslaw. For dessert, I had one cupcake from big bear's puzzle birthday cake.

Did I plan beforehand? No. In this case, I didn't really need one for the party. Probably because I had a lot of control over the food choices and it was busy and stressful. However, even though I managed fairly well with the food at the party, leading up to the party was another story. Mainly because of the birthday boys cake (below).

I snacked my way through the baking and decorating process. I also made two trips to the Bulk Barn and helped myself to the smarties and gummy dinasours that I picked up. Plus I made 3 cups of buttercream icing. And I'll admit to partaking in a bit of leftover icing.

What are the lessons learned from big bear's birthday party? Next time, I will make an eating plan for the cake making and decorating. Lucky for me, more practice is coming: little bear's birthday party is in two weeks!

Ok, it's off to bed, I'm nodding off while typing.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Social eating - the final frontier of overeating

I need to call my therapist. I need to discuss with her the bane of my weight loss journey - social eating.

After three months of small but consistent weight losses, I registered a gain of 3.6 pounds on Wednesday. To be honest, I'm not too concerned about this gain, as I've expelled (you know what I mean) 1.8 pounds and another pound can be attributed to switching to a new scale.

The primary factor in the weight gain was the Easter weekend that included a big family dinner (including appetizers and desserts), hot cross buns for breakfast on Easter Sunday, immediately followed by candy and chocolate during the Easter egg hunt. In addition, the night before the Wednesday weigh-in a tragic train accident  occurred on the train tracks west of my stop, leaving me and thousands of commuters stranded in Toronto.

My friend Tania and I went to a nearby sports pub for dinner waiting for the train to resume service. We ordered a quesadilla and split an order of French fries. Frankly, the quesadilla was terrible, way too spicy. The following day, we both commented that we should have sent it back to the kitchen. The fries were OK, a bit of an emotional choice, as it is stressful not knowing when you are going to get home.

Of course, eating at a restaurant meant more food sitting behind the Easter dinner, chocolate and hot cross buns and no quinoa to help push it all through. Therefore, the 3.6 pound gain the following morning.

After a relatively quiet winter, the social calendar is quickly filling up with family dinners, birthday parties and holidays that start with spring and goes right through the summer. This is great socially, but challenging when it comes to losing weight. 

Cognitive behaviour therapy has changed how I think about food. I'm not tempted by food in the normal course of a day. Two years ago it was a rare day when I could make it through a day without spending money on a snack. Now, I rarely spend money on snacks. But social eating is a different matter entirely.

At social functions I have to walk a thin line between eating and abstaining. I need to eat the right amount of food so that I don't feel like I'm on a diet, but not too much food that I derail weight loss. Thinking back on Easter weekend, I could have abstained a little more and sat with the anxiety of resisting temptation.

Since my weekly weight loss is typically small (on average ~0.8 pounds per week), it is safe to assume that the margin between weight loss and either gaining or staying the same is narrow. In other words, overeating at a social function can easily halt the already slow weight loss process.

My therapist is on mat leave, but I think she would suggest planning the food I'm going to eat before the event. My therapist instructed me to plan all my meals this way in our first session. If I am hosting, I will be specific, if not, I will be as specific as possible:

Sample social eating meal plan - menu particulars unknown
- Appetizers: two pieces of each type, to a maximum of six pieces. No limit on vegetables.
- Main meal: unlimited vegetables, reasonable serving size of bread/starchy and protein, if interested, one glass of wine.
- Dessert: one piece that is slightly smaller serving with respect to the other pieces being served.

For months I planned all the food I ate in this manner. Interestingly, the trick to eating less is to plan to eat more and in the end, I would choose to eat less. To be honest, the appetizer count above may be too restrictive, but I can give it a try and plan differently for the next party.

Changing behaviour doesn't happen overnight, it takes time and practice. Luckily (I think) I have frequent opportunities to practice coming up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Losing weight & eat whatever you want: the answer is simple

June 2011, I wrote a post titled How do I lose weight and eat whatever I want? In this post, I defined the terms of my no diet diet plan, which I still follow (although never meticulously) to this day. However, this post isn't really about following my personally-defined eating plan, but the simplicity of the answer to the original title of the post. 

How do you lose weight and eat whatever you want? 

The answer is simple. You change what you want to eat.

Everyday at lunch, I eat a leafy salad, fruit, a piece of gluten-free rye bread (toasted) topped with a protein choice (tuna/egg salad or hummus). For the work week, I prepare the various parts of my lunch on Sunday so it is simple to assemble it in the morning. However, last Tuesday night I forgot to prepare the head of green leaf lettuce for the next day (wash, tear into bite size pieces, spin, place in lettuce storage container). So I found myself washing lettuce on Wednesday morning, which is stressful (I hate the time-crunch) and time-consuming (I'm out the door at 6:30 with the two bears, so I have to be organized).

That's when I realized that I prefer to eat my lunch prepared at home rather than the food that I can buy at work. I would rather endure the stress of upsetting the morning routine and increasing the possibility of missing my train because I would prefer to eat my leafy lunch over a subway sub, fish and chips at the pub, sushi with tempura or perhaps a mini-pizza from Panago.

I'm one of those bring your lunch to work kind of gals. I just can't fathom the amount of money that people spend buying their lunch everyday. I've been brown-bagging my lunch for years, for a lifetime in fact. 

But in the past, from time-to-time, I looked forward to the day when there just wasn't the time to pull together a lunch or I forgot it on the kitchen counter so I could buy my lunch. And when I bought my lunch, I wanted something different; which usually translated into a meal with a side of french fries, bigger portions, more carbs and way more fat. But not now. The internal panic button goes off and I go into scramble mode. I spin a head of lettuce between pulling on my pants and putting on a new diaper on the baby bear. 

While I still enjoy the taste of pub/restaurant/fast food, I now prefer the taste of healthier foods. I chose to satisfy a need to eat nutritious foods as opposed to foods that only satisfy my taste buds. When I do buy my lunch, I seek out (and if part of a group suggest) healthier establishments. With one group of friends, we meet in the food court and eat our own lunch prepared at home, or we forgo the food and just chat.

Do you want to eat whatever you want and lose weight? The solution is simple, just change what you want to eat.