Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Health-Wise Wednesdays

Topic: Eating Out

I have exciting news today: I reached my goal!!!! That's right, this morning I could hardly believe my eyes. The scale read 135.4 and I was woopin' and hollerin' like a teenager! Praise the Lord, I'm at the weight that's right for me, my clothes fit again (actually, some are a bit big on me now!) and most important, I'm eating right and feeling great. Thank You Jesus!

One of my biggest issues is eating out. Now, when I say "eating out" I'm not talking restaurant foods. We don't eat out that way very often. It gets expensive with a family of 5, and my hubby is very finicky. He likes home-cooked meals, plain and simple. That's not a problem for me, 'cause I love to cook, so most of the time that's what we have, nice homemade meals. The eating out I'm referring to is eating anywhere that's not at home, which in our case is usually family parties.

The advantage of eating at a restaurant or fast food place is that they typically provide nutrition facts, either at the restaurant itself or on their website. This can also be a deterrent - after seeing the amount of calories, fat and sodium the foods contain in most of these places, the appetite quickly dwindles. But when the food is being prepared by a family member that enjoys eating fatty fried foods, or they purchase food that we wouldn't look at twice because of how unhealthy it is, it becomes a tough decision. In a Latin household, you're expected to eat. To say, "I'm not hungry," or, "I've already eaten," is considered rude and offensive, even if it's true. Trust me, I know. I don't like to eat after 7:00pm because it's just not a healthy choice. At that late of an hour there's no way those calories are getting burned, and it isn't good for the digestive system to go to bed with food still in the stomach. So when it's 8:30pm and dinner is being served, I make it a point to say, "I don't eat this late at night." That doesn't sit well at all. There will always be an excessive amount of food in a hispanic household, and everyone is expected to eat. No exceptions.

Then of course, there's dessert. My husband has an extensive family. He's one of 6 brothers and sisters, and all but one have children of their own. He also has aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, all living in the area, all having birthdays for themselves or their children, and all expecting us to attend and have birthday cake. I love birthday cake, don't get me wrong. I love cake, period. But sugar-rich cake laden with puffy, sugar-rich icing is not the ideal when healthy eating is the objective.

That has been my downfall this past month. I've been to about 6 different parties, birthday parties, Awana party, Cub Scout graduation, and all have had greasy fried foods, pastries of all kinds, and cake galore. None of which states, Here's my nutritional value: Zero. Yet it's pretty clear that's what it is. It's a dilemma I'm learning to deal with, one I don't believe I've conquered yet but I'm determined to continue fighting.

What I've found that works for me so far is that popular motto, "Less is more." To deprive myself completely of the foods being offered is not an option; one must go to these events, and one must eat. But how much I eat is entirely up to me.

I make it a point to eat before I go to these parties. It doesn't have to be a meal, per se. It can be a sandwich, on whole wheat bread so it's filling. It can be a granola bar, or yogurt, or some fruit. Something in my tummy so I don't arrive hungry and succumb to the aroma of food. Then I look carefully at what is being served, and try my best to choose foods that I would eat if I were at home. For instance, there will be chips and dips on the table. Mmm. I love chips and dips, especially dips that have cheese in them. But I know myself well enough. If I have one, I'll have two, then three, then I'll lose count. So I tell myself, "Step away from the Fritos and the Cheetos and all the other highly crunchy stuff, and move on." Same goes for the pastries, no matter how yummy and flaky they look, oozing with guava and cheese. If there's something healthy to munch on, like fruit, I'll indulge, otherwise I get a nice, tall glass of water. That's another thing I've learned. One glass of soda is gonna pile on the sugar and calories real fast. I hate the taste of diet soda, and most people aren't serving Crystal Light at their parties. Water has no calories, is filling, and it's free. I might still get some funny looks for not having any other type of drink, but I'm willing to suffer.

Dessert is totally unavoidable. After all, who goes to a birthday party and doesn't have at least a small piece of cake? But again, the amount I eat is up to me. I can ask for a piece of cake from the middle; that way there's less icing than the cake that's around the edges. It also means I can eat the cake and leave the icing, and it won't look like I played with my food but didn't eat anything. I can have my cake, and eat it too. And I can still lose weight.

I tried this experiment this past Monday. Our niece was turning 16, and her dad wanted to have a little get-together. He brought Chinese rice with all the fixin's, lots of soda, and cake. My mother-in-law made chicken in some sort of sweet and sour sauce. I'd eaten at home (a piece of tilapia and steamed broccoli), so all I had was about a cup of fried rice. I didn't have any of the chicken because that sauce was too heavy for me. We had cake at 9:00pm, but I had a small piece and no icing. I was able to enjoy the food without going overboard, and this morning the scale showed that my efforts had paid off.

This will still be something I have to prepare for. There's always a birthday or some other festivity going on. So long as I'm aware and careful, though, I'm sure I'll be able to stay healthy without denying myself the best part of the celebration.

1 comment:

Kristi Lea said...

Hooray for you! It sounds like it's been a fantastic week for both of us!

You are so right on this...we can't change our "life" so to speak, but we can change how we deal with it, and how we prepare for it. It sounds like you have done a great job of figuring out how to make your health fit in with your "life!"

I've noticed that if I don't make a big deal about the food and just put a few small things on my plate, and eat, talk and laugh...most people don't even realize how little I ate or even what I ate. And of course, I compliment them on the meal afterward! I try so hard not to eat after 8:00pm, but it's a reality for us sometimes. So again, I just watch my portions.

I'm so happy for your Arlene!