Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Perfect Eating:” There is No Such Thing

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I have not always had the best relationship with food. In fact, during a particular difficult period of my life I used food to “deal” with stressful situations, and it got me in a whole lot of trouble as I gained quite a bit of weight.

Back then, I ate too much food (not necessarily unhealthy food) every single day and also used “special occasions” to justify eating extra food. There were way too many special occasions that I came up with…

To lose the weight, I managed to let go of “stress eating” (through some real soul searching and finding true stress relievers such as long walks and yoga), and I also no longer justified eating extra food because it was a special occasion. I made special occasions all about people instead of food.

For a while, everything was “perfect.” I ate very healthy foods in the right amounts for the right reasons (to nourish my body and because I was hungry.)

However, at one point “real life” happened, and I overate. Not a lot. But still. I overate. At first, I panicked. I was terrified of going back to my unhealthy relationship with food. One bad meal could be the beginning of the end in my mind. And, honestly, it could if I let it get out of hand.

But eating too much on one occasion can be easily dealt with. It happens once in a while. It’s normal. And it surely doesn’t have to lead to weight gain.

On Thanksgiving I ate too much for dinner. Not an outrageous amount of extra food, but I definitely felt too full. However, I had also planned for a bigger dinner, walked a lot, and made good choices the next day.

I started Thanksgiving like I start most days (ever since I did the Conscious Cleanse in January) with 32 ounces of warm lemon water and a big green smoothie. A little later I had some Greek yogurt. Lunch was on the go and consisted of carrot and cucumber sticks with cashew “cheese” (soaked cashews ground in my mini food processor with lemon juice, garlic, spices, and water). A couple hours later I had some grapes.

Dinner started with a creamy mushroom soup (delicious but certainly not low calorie and quite substantial), which was followed by a salad. Honestly, I probably could have stopped eating right then and there and would have been perfectly satisfied. Instead, I ate some turkey, mashed potatoes, yams with maple syrup and pecans, and green beans. I had seconds of the yams and green beans. At that point, I was definitely more than full. But there was dessert, and I had the inside of a slice of pumpkin pie as well as a small piece of marzipan. Plus, I had 1.5 glasses of sparkling wine.

We decided to go for an after dinner walk, bringing my step total to over 16,000 for the day. I definitely felt a lot better after the walk. The rest of the evening I made sure to drink a lot of water.

Since we were out of town, I couldn’t start Friday with my usual lemon water and green smoothie ritual. Well, maybe I could have, but I didn’t plan for it. Instead, I drank a lot of water. Then I ate a banana and a bit later some leftover turkey slices.

I also did a strength/core/yoga workout, consisting of pushups, squats, kicks, planks, and a yoga flow. Then we walked some more.

Lunch was at a restaurant, and I got a salad with thin steak slices and a portobello mushroom. I made sure to hydrate with lots of water.

In the afternoon, the older kid asked for some “iced coffee,” and I decided to make some blended mocha with ice, milk, instant decaf coffee, unsweetened cacao, and stevia. Naturally, I had a glass, too…

For an early dinner, I had cucumber slices with cashew “cheese.” The rest of the evening I had lots of warm water with ginger slices, a new favorite.

I wouldn’t call either of the two days “perfect,” but the overall food intake over the two days was okay I think. I definitely didn’t eat enough greens, and I’ll make sure to fill up on them in the next few days. I also didn’t gain any weight, despite some indulging.

I think the lesson I learned many years ago is that you don’t have to eat “perfectly” every single meal, but in the end things have to balance themselves out. In other words, you’ll have to compensate for splurges. But beating yourself up over splurges certainly doesn’t work. Instead, I try to plan for extra food and usually eat a bit “cleaner” for a couple days following the splurge to compensate for calories as well as nutrients the splurge may have lacked. Overall, I try to do nothing drastic but get back to pretty much my normal eating with doable modifications. I also make sure to truly listen to my body and look at my soul food, a concept I learned by doing the Conscious Cleanse.

Finally, here are some photos from our Thanksgiving weekend. If you follow my on Instagram, you may have already seen some of them. I’m very thankful that I got to spend Thanksgiving with all my boys.


Questions: What strategies do you use when you eat “extra food?” If you are in the U.S. or celebrated Thanksgiving elsewhere, what was your favorite part of Thanksgiving? What are your thankful for today?
 
Be well,
Andrea

22 comments:

  1. Hi Andrea, I have to admit that I've not done my best during these past two days. However, all Thanksgiving turkey making days (we had 2) are done, so it should get back to normal. Yay! I guess I just hurry up to normal eating again. :D

    You two sons look quite a bit alike! Nice family photos! I enjoyed them.

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    1. You know how to get back to your regular eating patterns. It was only two day! :)

      And, yes, the boys look quite a bit alike. Actually, we have pics from when they both were 3, and they resemblance is amazing. In fact, the kid always thinks he is his older brother! :)

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  2. YES to all of this... life is short so balance in life.. I am like you. .I plan for whatever I feel I might want to splurge on & just keep the rest the same... I am pretty consistent all year round & really don't go crazy - my stomach gets too upset f I do.. :) BUT I learned my lessons from younger when I was too strict or the other way - went too crazy on holidays - balance & just get back to it. :)

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    1. You are a great example of what a balanced lifestyle can do for you! Plus dedication to serious workouts and listening what works for you!

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  3. Great post Andrea and so glad you shared your experiences andwhat has worked for you! I definitely had my share of "food guilt", mostly when I was in college, but I feel very fortunate to have figured out that eating healthfully doe not need "all or nothing" approach. Because I allow myself to eat whatever I want everyday of the year {and, yes, that usually includes lot of veggies :-} I don't feel the need to overindulge. Did I eat more than usual on Thanksgiving? Yes, but only a little. And, the day after Thanksgiving was my birthday, so I have been enjoying the gluten-free German Chocolate cake my mother made me without any food guilt :-)

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    1. Not experiencing food guilt is so important! The German chocolate cake sounds delicious! :)

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  4. Thanks for this awesome post, Andrea! I liked reading about your thought process around the holidays and "special occasions" and the extra food that comes along with them. There is no such thing as perfect eating, and there shouldn't be! As you've found, believing there's such a thing makes it more likely that an indulgence will turn into guilt. Just like life doesn't need to be perfect, neither does eating need to be!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Andrea! Love the pics :)

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  5. I have a hard time not overeating when there is so many tasty foods around.

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    1. I used to often make many different dishes but found that it just makes me eat more as I feel I have to have some of everything. Now I usually make fewer different dishes and it helps me eat less.

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  6. When I overeat, I will try harder to listen to my body the following days and eat when hungry and drink a lot of liquid.
    My favorite part of thanksgiving is to celebrate with my loved ones and eat side dishes! :)

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    1. Yes, hydrating and really listening to your body is important.

      I also like the side dishes best! :)

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  7. I'll all or nothing. Let's just say the treadmill has my name on it this week. Go big or go home!

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    1. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! Have fun on the treadmill this week! :)

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  8. Nice post Andrea...everything in life should be in balance, moderation, this way we get to enjoy everything...although it is very hard to not overeat during this time of the year...
    I love the pictures of the boys...
    Have a beautiful week :D

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    1. Thanks, Juliana. And, yes, moderation can be hard.

      Have a great week, too!

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  9. I agree! Striving for "perfect" sets us up for failure. That's why I never eliminated foods from my diet entirely--like "I'll never eat chocolate again!" instead I eat a little bit of it instead of depriving myself or bingeing. It works most of the time!

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    1. Yes, "perfect" can easily lead to binges...

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  10. Great post Andrea. I used to have the all or nothing thinking - so if I was eating badly I really ate badly! Now if I over indulge I just try to move on and eat better at the next meal.

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    1. Thanks, Tami!

      Moving on and focusing on the next meal is so important.

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  11. Ugh,I just wrote a lonnnng comment and it got erased!
    Ok, the bottom line was I agree with what you said, especially that special ocassions should be more about people than food. Like you I ate too much over Thanksgiving, but was sure to workout to "make up for it", and help me feel great. There was an article in the New YOrk Times about working out and how it truly does help combat holiday over-eating. The WEll Blog, it was a good article.
    Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving!

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    1. Sorry about the commenting issue!

      I think I saw the Well blog article, but I didn't read it. I'll have to look for it!

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