" For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. " Song of Solomon

July 25, 2008

Vacation and Intuitive Eating

After eight days away from home with lots of eating out I’m one pound heavier than I was when I left. Not too shabby considering….

I mainly focused on the Intuitive Eating hunger scale, honoring my hunger and respecting my fullness ….though I did find it all too easy to be distracted.. It is difficult too, to maintain focus, when faced with lots of out of the ordinary treats and circumstances. It’s easy to slip into that old auto pilot routine of mindless eating. I managed to make some trade offs--going for the foods that I really wanted, craved or were not what I could get at home. Had I been able to keep up with my walking and weight lifting routine I may not have gained at all.

During the trip up and back, which is 10 hours by car I found it most difficult to make good choices because those choices are so limited. Not being one who wants to waste time stopping and eating, I mainly grab fast food--and order stuff I can eat while driving without making a mess of my clothes and the car. Hence no grilled chicken sandwiches---those are two fisted eats. I find that the chicken breast has a tendency to “squeeze” out like a slippery bathed baby or a greased pig. The regular cheeseburger or hamburger or even the chicken nuggets seem to be easiest and if I’m really hungry---and who isn’t when you’re riding in the car basically bored--I add some fries minus the catsup…all downed by a large caffeine laden drink so I won’t fall asleep at the wheel.

Breakfast is always a sausage biscuit plus coffee for the caffeine. I never eat those at home for several obvious reasons---so I look forward to them when I travel. To get some fruit in I usually grab an orange juice--easy to drink and drive--- despite the high calories and lack of fiber. Hey---we don’t live in a perfect world. In a perfect world all the fast food would be healthy, at least in my world it would be. Fruit and yogurt is out because eating anything that requires utensils is less than safe. Missing my mouth and having food end up in my lap could be so distracting that I might run off the road and end up in a ditch or worse….dead or maimed for life….none of which is what I consider “healthy”. So for “health’s” sake I go with the juice.

So I was riding along and thinking--you have lots of time to think when traveling alone by car for 10 hours--how could I minimize the damage with my fast food choices. That’s when Art Linkletter came to mind.

Mainly I remember him for his show “Kids Say the Darn'dest Things” back in the day. And, only God knows why, but also for his answer when asked how he lost some weight. His answer---I ate as I always do, I just cut everything in half.

Now that works if you basically eat the same thing everyday. But if you’re like me, it’s kind of hard to know how much half is…half of what you would eat? or should eat? Without any absolute eating patterns eating half won’t work for me.

Continuing to ponder I came up with my own take. Mind you also--for me to leave half of anything is a no go. Guess it’s all those years of being taught “waste not, want not” and “there are starving children in China”--- there’s no way I’m throwing out half of the food I order.

Here’s what I came up with. Lets use a burger as an example. Say it has 400 calories. One fourth of that burger is 100 calories. Now if I leave ¼ I’ve just saved 100 calories. Or I could leave 1/8 and save 50 calories. I could do the same with my fries. Those multiples of 50 or 100 add up to some pretty hefty calorie savings.

Leaving a fourth or eighth is doable for me. Leaving an 1/8 of my “small in size but high in calories” burger is like leaving a bite. That I can handle…but no way can I leave a half…unless that sucker is gigantic. And if I’m really hungry I’m not likely to be able to quit after eating 3/4s of a small burger….so leaving an 1/8 is ideal.

If I can “save” 100 calories at each of 3 meals and 2 snacks in a day, that adds up to 500 calories saved. And that computes to 3500 over a week which translates into one pound....either not gained, or possibly lost. At any rate, even saving 100 calories a day will result in preventing a gain of 10 pounds over a year or possibly an effortless loss of 10 pounds.

Bottom line: When I find myself in a calorie dense or food wise dangerous situation, if I only go for the foods I want, crave, can’t get routinely in the parameter of tasting good enough to continue eating and couple that with leaving 1/8 or ¼ of any or all of the choices, I should pretty much be able to eat what I want without feeling deprived and without having to count calories, which is often hard to do away from home. Those actions plus the element of eating just until full should allow me to eat, enjoy and minimize the damage.
Summary: Strategy for eating in dangerous food situations when it is tempting to eat mindlessly

+++Choose what you want

+++Choose what you crave

+++Choose what you can’t routinely get

+++Eat your choices only if the taste justifies it…if you take a couple of bites and it doesn’t taste good, stop eating that particular food…replace it with something else if desired

+++Leave 1/8 of one or more of your choices on your plate

+++Stop eating when you feel full in the stomach so you won’t be overfull and miserable
Here’s a salad I threw together today: Raw broccoli: about a cup; Red onion: diced, amount to taste; Red bell pepper: maybe a ¼ cup: 4-5 black olives

Toss this with one tablespoon of Annie’s Goddess Dressing mixed with a heaping teaspoon of honey.

This offers lots of chew, good nutrition and eye appeal. I ate this with a single serve pizza. The pizza had 420 calories. When I was halfway through the pizza I was feeling like I was reaching the full mark, so I decided to leave ¼…but it tasted good and I didn’t want to stop---there goes that eating because it tastes good “devil“--- so I left just an 1/8.

That behavior allowed me to save 52.5 calories and I never missed that last big bite. Since I was home I broke off the crust and ate the best parts. I weighed what was to be left behind so I’d be sure to leave 1/8. And best of all----- I didn’t feel deprived.

"....there have been many times when I have shed bitter tears, when if I had understood the situation better, I would have celebrated my good luck instead."


I am not a doctor and all information, suggestions, etc are my personal opinion only.