Food is everywhere. We need it for nourishment, but we also use it for entertainment, to create community, and because it just plain tastes good. If you’re a good host, you share your food with your guests and even make special dishes, because they’re coming. We (especially those of use who like to cook) build whole parties around food. Like it or not (and liking it a little TOO much is what go me in this boat!), food is a major part of our celebrations.
In my head, it’s not the celebrations or even appearance of food that needs to change as much as how I deal with it. The truth is that the food is not going to go away. There will always be parties with cake and wine and hors d’0euvres. One of the best things I have learned over the many diets I’ve tried is that having an amnesty day here and there can actually help. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head (and heart) around “You cannot have a piece of pie today, but if you are diligent all week, you can have a treat on Saturday” than it is to get on board with “You will NEVER EAT PIE AGAIN. NEVER!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!” If you take the denial away, then pie becomes just a thing that you can have, but not now instead of this overwhelming magnet that draws you to bingerather than just enjoy a piece and move on.
Sunday was my birthday, and I was a little nervous about the food part after spending a few weeks mostly sticking to mydiet, especially since I had a couple days worth of fun planned. It’s not like I could offer guests a protein shake and I certainly wasn’t going to have fun cooking a dinner I couldn’t eat, then gnawing on a piece of celery while everyone else enjoyed a good dinner and cake. Since I already decided weeks ago that there would be no cake or cooking, I gave myself a couple of Birthday Weekend amnesty meals. The first was a Muu-Muu Burger and a mojito to loosen me up for Sing-a-long Grease. At first I was just going to have a salad, but sometimes you have to just enjoy yourself without worrying so much. After all, you only turn plenty-nine once or maybe ten times max and the whole point of my diet is to make my existence better and not rob it of its joys!
Muu-Muu’s has the BEST burgers with cheese, mashed french friends and harissa mayonnaise ever. I keep hearing that I shouldn’t reward myelf with food, but I eat there maybe once a year and it was a special occasion, so a free day or an amnesty meal seemed reasonable. Besides, I am a firm believer that it’s better to do what works for you than what “they” say. There might be things that are generally good ideas, but we are all unique. We’re like people that way. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a great kickoff to a totally fun evening. It is a scientfically proven fact that sing-a-long anything is fun. Enjoying a good, guilt-free meal and some laughs with friends before made it even moreso.
My second (and final) amnesty meal was birthday dinner for eleven at a Chinese buffet down the street with my mom and adopted family members. As it turns out, I have a diverse family, only a few of whom are actually blood relatives. Between the group of us, we are German, Mexican, Liberian and American and represent a tapestry of colors from glow-in-the-dark-anemically white (that would be me) to dark brown at the other end of the spectrum with a little of everything else in between. I like it that way. While we might be diverse, we are all brought together by our love Chinese food.
I know a buffet seems counterintuitive if you’re trying to watch what you’re consuming, but in this case, it worked out really well. They had a huge selection of food for the ten non-dieters in the crowd and it was super easy for me to find something that felt like a treat but was mainly protein and veggies that fit into the “allowed” list on my diet. I did allow myself a couple of special things (helloooo eggroll! why do I love eggrolls so much?), but went in with a strategy that said “eat the things that are okay FIRST and if I am still hungry enough for a treat, then I can haved my eggroll”. I’ll admit that I overate a little, but at least it wasn’t starch and sugar and there were no leftovers at home to tempt me afterwards.
Now that birthday weekend is over, I’m trying to go back to following my program a little more strictly, but I think I learned some good things:
- If you’re going to have a special meal, do it in a restaurant. If you can do it late at night, so there’ll be no witnesses, it’ll be like it never happened. Ok, maybe not that last part so much, but restaurants are great, because there are no leftovers to tempt you (as long as you skip the doggie bag).
- Try to pick a restaurant with a variety of choices that do fit into your program
- If you’re going to order french fries (or some other supergood, but superbad treat), share them with the rest of your table and only eat a few
- Know that it’s okay, once it a while, to just enjoy yourself and be a human instead of a dieter
- When the party’s over, get back to work
- Enjoy time with the people who are important to you, because life (even a skinny one) is worthless if you can’t spend the important days with the people you love most!