Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Food and Special Occasions

There was a time in my life when special occasions meant eating much more and different foods than I normally would. When I lost weight several years ago, I knew I had to come up with new special occasion rules.

Initial Special Occasion Rules

For a while, I allowed myself two “treats” at special occasions, such as a small dessert and some wine. I soon realized however that the two treats rule didn’t work so well for vacations. Vacations are more than a day or two and even if you bring a lot of your own food (which we normally do), you have a lot less control over what you are eating.

If I followed my two treats a day rule, I was bound to gain some weight, which I then had to lose after I got back home. And that’s not fun, especially as it’s getting harder to lose weight the older I get.

Do I Really Need the Extra Food?
 
So I took a good look at my reasons for “treats” at special occasions and realized that treats are not really necessary. I’m not saying that I should never enjoy a treat. However, I realized that I had somehow associated “special occasions” with “food treats.” I had convinced myself that because I am on vacation or at a “special event” I should be “allowed” to eat foods I normally wouldn’t. And there is just no reason for that. Food is not what makes my vacation or any occasion special. Experiences and people make special occasions special.

During our recent Lake Tahoe vacation, I ate pretty much the way I eat at home, and it was one of the best vacations I have ever had. Yet, I had far fewer treats than in the past when I was on vacation. The only exception was the day we went to the buffet. But while I enjoyed some “treats” there, the day was overall balanced. Breakfast was fruit, oatmeal, and two turkey sausage patties. For lunch I had some fruit and a few nuts. Dinner was a plate of salad, sushi, a chocolate covered strawberry, a mini tiramisu cup, and a glass of sparkling wine.

We had decided to go to the buffet the day before we went, and I made the decision to indulge a bit but also planned ahead. I have a glass of wine or champagne maybe once a month, and I consciously planned to have one that evening. I also knew that there would be delicious small desserts. I didn’t just eat the food because I “deserved” it because I was on vacation. Rather, it had been a while since I had sweets, and I was going to enjoy some that evening. Other than the sparkling wine and the sweets, I ate what I normally eat, which is lots of fruits and veggies. Those foods make me feel best, and that’s why I felt great on our vacation and afterwards.



Planning

Over the weekend we met some of hubby’s college friends, and I was reminded that special occasions usually require planning. We were invited for lunch and they served pizza, which I couldn’t eat. There was also a green salad and some fruit, which I ate, but it didn’t keep me full. By the time we got home, I was really hungry. Luckily, I had some leftover Greek salad and some chicken in the fridge. It would have been much better if I had planned ahead and brought some food I could eat, especially since we had a 1.5 hour drive each way. I’m normally good about planning ahead, but there is clearly room for improvement!

What Makes an Occasion Special?
 
Lastly, I thought about the fact that you can describe pretty much anything as a “special occasion” and use it as an excuse to eat. Years ago, when I had associated special occasions with food, I had to make a conscious decision to make the occasion about people and experiences and not food. While I would automatically associate a special event with food in the past, that association is now gone. It took some time and training, but I feel much better now.

When I did the Conscious Cleanse in January and again in June, I had a chance to look at my relationship with food in detail once again. One of the points Jo and Jules make is that you need “soul food.” Only if you have meaning in all aspects of your life (relationships, work, spirituality) can you permanently make peace with food and take the focus off of food. Soul food is a principle I find very useful and think about often. The next Conscious Cleanse with email support, live teleseminars, and an online support group starts on September 7.

Questions: What’s your attitude when it comes to “special occasions” and food? Do you follow any specific “rules” when you are at a special occasion? Do you eat differently on vacation? If so, how? What do you think of the concept of “soul food?”

Be well,
Andrea

18 comments:

  1. I really don't treat special occasion for food anymore... I keep eating what I eat normally and enjoy the special moment instead. I feel better that way and less stress afterwards.

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    1. I agree, enjoying the moment instead of extra food makes you feel a lot better.

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  2. "Experiences and people make special occasions special." --> Love this! It's so true. I used to think of special occasions as a time to indulge, too, until I realized I feel so much better when I eat regularly, even on vacation. At special occasions, like weddings, I will consciously choose a dessert - it wouldn't do to skip the wedding cake! ;)

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    1. I can't eat most cakes anymore, but I totally understand not skipping the wedding cake! :)

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  3. Yep, I know exactly what you mean and I was the Queen of "well it's a special occasion" to just mean "it whatever!" I saw on a girls Instagram video that she said "why treat yourself with food, you are not a dog."

    It's stuck with me - while I do have my wine on the weekends, it's nowhere near what it was in the past (daily!) and I really can't treat the weekend like anything other than a regular planned meal work day.

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    1. "Why treat yourself with food, you are not a dog." - Great quote!

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  4. Hi Andrea! Very good examples of how to handle these events. And from you recent posts this summer, you really practice what you preach.

    I have been going to parties very dressed up with a special outfit that would not fit me if I weighed more pounds, great shoes, hair curled, and a fabulous necklace. So the outfit is sort of a dessert. And the necklace is code for: don't overeat at this event. :D

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  5. I wish I'd read this before the summer started. Normally I can be pretty good on vacations and at BBQs, but this year I cut back on the exercise and pretty much ate what I wanted. Not a good thing as I've gained 5 pounds. I like your thinking, and will keep your advice as a good reminder.

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    1. Yes, cutting back on exercise and eating more can happen easily in the summer if you are not careful. But we can always make different choices moving forward.

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  6. Great tips. I usually let myself indulge a little on special occasions but you are right, it's harder to lose weight the older I get.

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  7. I can so relate to this post Andrea. I went through kind of the same transition in my thinking. It seems like every time we turn around there is a special occasion happening and being celebrated with food. I usually eat the way I normally do and only indulge if its something I really want and I feel like I can fit it into my food plan for the day.

    Like you I gain weight easily now and its become much more difficult to lose it.

    I pre-eat before attending a lot of food related functions and I do try to take healthy food with me to share and also so I know there will be something good for me to eat. Every once in a while I fail at the pre planning and then regret it.

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    1. Pre-eating is a great strategy and so is taking food to share! I was certainly reminded of that when I didn't do it last weekend...

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  8. OH I have written about this plenty - as far back as the beginning of my blog! :) I once shared another post showing how many "special occasions" people celebrate in a years & how that adds up in calories & weight...

    We could celebrate a special occasion every day if we let ourselves! ;) I stick to my own bdays & stuff - I don't eat for everyone elses :)

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    1. So true, Jody, we could easily justify every day to be a "special occasion." You are a great example of someone who eats what's right for you.

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  9. Great tips, Andrea!! I hope you're enjoying your weekend so far =)

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    1. Thanks!

      Hope you are having a great weekend, too!

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