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.


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,