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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Are you in "once in a while" denial?

But I eat right! I live a healthy lifestyle! It doesn’t make any sense that my clothes are feeling tighter. I only eat junk food once in a while. The dryer must be shrinking my jeans.

If this sounds familiar, then first let me congratulate you on your move to a healthy lifestyle! You’ve successfully transitioned to choosing lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies instead of their fatty/sugary/starchy counterparts as your now normal “diet.” So what’s the problem? Well, in my opinion, the only way to really, truly maintain a healthy lifestyle is to let yourself indulge once in a while. After all, you can’t live your life never having a nice three course dinner out, ice cream on vacation, or a piece of cake on your birthday. Right? At least this is how I like to live my life. Where I get into trouble is when the “once in a whiles” start happening way more frequently than they should. I think I’m eating right, but the treats are slyly creeping back into my normal routine. Are you in “once in a while” denial?

You can also think of this as “special occasion inflation.” That sort of rhymes, right? And if this starts happening, you really need to reassess how special the occasion really is. Here are some examples from my life recently:

1. The weather is starting to feel like summer, so Keith and I took the boat out a few weekends ago (in February! I love Charleston!). We packed fried chicken for the cooler and some other yummy snacks. “But I only eat like this when we’re on the boat!” Right. But we’re on the boat every weekend.

2. One day this week Lori brought doughnuts into the office. What a special treat! Then one of the guys surprised us all with sausage biscuits a few days later. How nice! But really, there always seems to be some sort of treat around here.

3. Which brings me to my next point – the office candy jar(s). Really, this is total sabotage. I can get by unscathed most of the day (that is, if I’ve managed to avoid the doughnuts and sausage biscuits). But come 3:00, it takes every ounce of my being to avoid that jar of chocolate. “But they’re mini!” Read here if you’re buying that logic!

4. We were out running errands this weekend and ended up grabbing dinner out BOTH nights. Not only is this a giant drain on our bank account, but I can cook this same food at home MUCH healthier. We ran ourselves ragged, didn’t feel like cooking, and made poor choices when we were overly hungry.

5. I traveled to Chicago last week for work. And for some reason, using my “once in a while” logic, I managed to justify eating catered breakfast, mid-morning snack, catered lunch, afternoon snack, all day coffee and soda, and an appetizer/salad/entrĂ©e dinner with wine. “But I’m traveling! It’s so hard to eat right!” Seriously? Lest you wonder, I can promise you that sitting in a seminar for 8 hours does NOT require the energy from this many calories.

6. The kids are really embracing the baking that we do on the weekends. So now what used to be once in a while weekend waffles has become “Jenny, can we make waffles again?” every weekend. Courtney and Taylor have also taken to making these quick “PopTart/Toaster Strudel” things we came up with a few weekends ago (simply frozen puff pastry sheets spread with Nutella, sealed and baked in the oven). Wow, they are SO good. And they want to make them every time they’re with us! There are few things I love more than cooking with the girls, so I oblige. So once again, “once in a while” has become “once a week.” They are always sized a bit differently, but I’ve calculated them to be somewhere around 350-400 calories each. Not good for impending bathing suit season! (But they look divine, don’t they?) I think this weekend I’ll hang my bikini in the kitchen as a reminder NOT to eat these. Because I know they’ll want to make them!

(Meanwhile, check out our cooking adventures on the girls’ blogs, http://www.taystreats.blogspot.com/ and http://www.courtneycreatesblog.blogspot.com/. I’m so proud of them!)

When the pounds start to creep on, it’s time to take a closer look at the “once in a whiles.” It’s frightening, if you add it up. Looking at my examples, I’m in grave danger! These things are happening nearly every week! Just a quick calculation from these gives me about 2500 calories in JUST THE TREATS. That is NOT counting the two dinners out or my entire day in Chicago. Add those in and I’m sure I’ve tripled that number. And if 3500 calories make up one pound, then you don’t have to guess where those spare 5 pounds came from. Urg. There is no reason I can’t pack healthy food for the boat and avoid the doughnuts at work. As a compromise, I’ll indulge when there’s an office birthday and we’ll go out to a nice dinner once a month. If I can stick with those as my “special occasions” and follow The Svelte Gourmet tips the rest of the time, I should be fine.

It’s time to get my “once in a whiles” in check. How about you?

The Svelte Gourmet: A Month Of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Perfect for every day, not just "once in a while!"