It’s been a while! I’ve missed you! I’ll tell you a bit about what’s been going on and then we will get down to business. Among about a zillion things happening at any given moment, I finished up a couple classes (I’m currently in grad school) then started another class immediately after that. Then, I went on vacation to TX with the fam for a week (while still in the class – you can imagine how awesome it is to do homework on vacation…not). And, most recently, I just found out that I passed the Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) exam and I am now board certified (yay!) in nutrition support. So, needless to say, it’s been NUTS; but I’m glad to be back with you!
Today’s focus is vacation eating. I made a lot of suboptimal meal choices in the recent past. I blame In-N-Out Burger for everything. Just kidding (or am I?). The thing is, most of us have said “why not, you’re on vacation!” in the midst of our coveted R&R. The problem is, we say it over and over to justify our poor decisions.
I’m going to admit that I had a burger at In-N-Out with fries, AND a shake. *Gasp* “Doesn’t she know that’s not a healthy choice? The thing is, had I shared the shake (my original plan) and bypassed the fries, it wouldn’t have been such a huge deal. Only that’s not what happened. AND…it happened twice. I know, I know. Stop your judgy thoughts; I’m still a little disappointed in my choices. I will say though, that life is short; and the food was tasty. But life will be shorter if we eat that way frequently!
The real point of my confession is multifaceted. So I’ll break it down like this:
- Go ahead and indulge once in a while, but be smarter about it. I didn’t even love the fries, but I ate a ton of them. I could’ve been quite satisfied with a burger and half a shake in this indulgent adventure. THINK before you order, seriously.
- My problem on vacation wasn’t the two burger escapades; rather it was seven days’ worth of a poor decision snowball. Granted I didn’t actually gain any weight (yippee!) that doesn’t mean I didn’t negatively impact my blood sugar, cholesterol, mental clarity, mood, etc. One or even two meals where you go crazy DOES NOT make you fat. Even two days’ worth of poor decisions will not make you fat. It is the compounded effect of continuous poor decisions over a length of time that will cause true weight gain.
- Think hard (even if only a few seconds) about how you will feel if you eat all that. Seriously folks. If I had followed my own advice and thought about how miserable and bloated I would be after some of the way-too-huge meals I ate, I truly wouldn’t have done it. As weird as it sounds, forecasting that yucky feeling can be a step in the direction of making better choices.
- If you know where you’re going to be dining, go online ahead of time and check out the menu options. Typically when I find I make the worst decisions with food is when I feel rushed and I just go with what I know (which often isn’t a very healthy choice). Take some time and peruse the options and you just might find you can piece together a meal that follows some of the basic principles of healthy eating: 1/2 non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 starch (preferably 100% whole grain or whole starchy vegetables), and 1/4 protein-rich food.
- Research has shown that we get the most satisfaction from the first 1-3 bites of an indulgent food. It’s during those 1-3 bites where our senses are heightened and all those awesome feel-good hormones light up our brain and make us so happy. But after the first 3 bites, the pleasure peaks. In other words, the food will continue to taste good but we won’t continue to get that surge of amazingness. Consider talking amongst your group and sharing those decadent foods you all love so that you only have a few bites.
- Contrary to vacation bylaws, you do not need to have ice cream every day. If we want to keep things novel, having them infrequently is the key; otherwise they simply become routine, and then our health is in big trouble. If you do want ice cream, try the kiddie size. Often the kiddie size is nutritionally still too much for an adult (isn’t that sad to think), but it is the smallest size available. You might just find that if you eat it slowly, you get a tremendous amount of satisfaction on a much, much smaller dosage of frozen love without the guilt.
- Pick your indulgence. In other words, don’t have the free bread AND the appetizer AND the entrée AND dessert AND a soda. Pick the thing that lights your fire at that particular restaurant and go light on all the rest. Here’s an example: if this place has the absolute best chocolate cake in the land, perhaps you forgo the bread and appetizer, have a smaller veggie-rich entrée (maybe a dinner salad or use an appetizer as your meal), and order water to drink. Nothing is off-limits if you rearrange your eating strategy a bit. Just remember – never completely sacrifice nutrients to accommodate treats.
- This is a little unrelated, but you can tell a lot about the standards of sanitation in a restaurant by how clean their bathrooms are. If their bathroom is nasty, odds are so is their kitchen! If you plan on driving through Eden, TX, make sure you pack snacks. I do not recommend you eat at their DQ unless you want room-temperature chicken and hepatitis A.
- Don’t forget to keep moving. You cannot outrun a crappy diet, but you can mitigate the harm you’ve done on your food-bender if you at least make an effort to do some sweat-inducing exercise. It won’t feel very good with a belly full of French fries, but you’ll be so thankful afterwards!
- After I got home and had several super-vegetable-explosion salads, I felt rejuvenated. It was a friendly reminder of the fact that I don’t eat healthy just to maintain a healthy weight, I truly want to FEEL GOOD. And if you’ve never truly felt good, now is a good time to start. Once you know what feeling good really means, you won’t want to blow it with eating as much. Your body will remind you from time to time when you stray. Nothing tastes as good as being in great health feels. Nothing.
Anyway, this post was a little off-the-cuff, but I hope there are some practical takeaways for you. Figure out how to make healthy eating tasty for you. Google the hell out of recipes loaded with vegetables. Add vegetables to your “regular” recipes even if they don’t call for vegetables. Ask for extra vegetables at the restaurants. If your major focus is constantly “how do I eat more vegetables,” often the calories, fat, salt, and all those other dreaded numbers typically fall right into place.
Cheers until next time…
XOXO – Casey