Sunday, February 6, 2011

I didn’t throw away the leftovers.

Managing social eating situations

Cheesecake, with a side of fresh fruit for breakfast. 25 years of marriage and my husband has internalized my eating philosophy. It was a happy sight.

The homemade Grand Marnier cheesecake joined the butter cookies, rugelach, chocolate cake, biscotti, brownie, chocolate chip cookies, cheese, pizza, pasta in peanut sauce and other leftovers. 

No, I did not purge the rich pastries and appetizers, (enough to serve the 40 people at my home last night plus another 40)—not through exercise, and not into the trash. I did share some—there were lots to go around—but admittedly I held onto my favorites to enjoy for many a snack in the future. 

There were indulgences a plenty, accompanied by a wine tasting, a fundraising event (self-serving, I might add, for MS) I planned and cooked for between writing posts.  

And as I reflected on the evening of food and festivities I realized there was a lot to share about eating in social situations.

Maybe I’ll restrict before the event!

Oh, you should know better by now, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile! But most people think that’s the best thing to do. They figure they should eat less in advance, knowing they will likely be tempted to eat more than usual. As a result, they arrive at the gathering or restaurant quite hungry, with little control over their eating. And so they overeat. Alternatively, they limit their choices to shoulds—you know, eating what looks appropriate or feels safe in the moment—then start overeating upon returning home. 
Or, the more anorexic among you may find you restrict in advance of the event, eat minimally, and then feel bad about something you’ve eaten, while not really excessive, and, eat minimally later on. As we both know, none of these strategies help you manage your eating and weight, regardless of your eating issue.

As for me? I started this weekend morning quite typically-with homemade French Toast (made from the leftover Challah shown on previous posts). I did my usual routine activity, had my usual meals and snacks. True, activity was slightly higher rushing around my kitchen, but that’s about it.
It’s hard to mindfully eat when you’re also the host. Hard, in fact to fully enjoy the event, even. But I chose what I really love (an amazing and easy to prepare walnut/pomegranate/roasted red pepper dip on bread, peanut noodles, and my husband’s homemade sushi.) 

I skipped the Root Vegetable Soup (I’ve been eating it for weeks). I loved my cheesecake, but skipped the other desserts (besides the fruit, which I hardly consider dessert).

There’s something about trusting that the food’s going to be there. No, I’m not going to make such a lavish spread any time soon. But I will, as always, give myself permission to eat the leftovers whenever I am hungry. Yes, even as I watched my husband doing, even at breakfast!

But won’t I double in size following your approach?

Apparently not. Here are some key points to help keep you on track:

   •  Choose what you really like eating. But eat only as much as you need.
   •  Allow yourself to eat more food later if you get hungry. Now is not your last chance!
   •  Eat normally before the social gathering! Don’t skip meals, fluid load or over exercise. Really!
   •  Ask for a goody bag! Bring some leftovers home for another meal or snack, allowing you to fully taste and enjoy them mindfully, and to prevent overeating.
   •  Eat your usual, adequate meals the next day. Even though you may be tempted, do not over exercise or under eat to compensate for the day before.
   •  Trust me. Take a leap of faith with this approach. And once you see how well it works, how much better you feel physically and mentally, you’ll start to trust yourself. 

And that’s the goal.


  1. I am loving your posts! (thanks Cate for sending me over!) I'm on my own journey to mindful eating and find them so supportive. Tireness is my biggest issues. I reach for food when I'm tired to comfort me. (And a mummy of three little people I've been tired alot over the past 6 years!!) Love to hear your thoughts on how to eat more mindfully when you're tired :O)

  2. As your husband, you should know that I will be getting back to normal with my breakfasts. From now on I'll skip the fruit with my cheesecake. ;)

  3. @ Caz:Regarding eating when tired- First thing is to be aware (which apparently you are). Then question if it's just a matter of eating when tired, or it there's an element of "finally, the kids are in bed and now I can do what I want!" playing a role.I'll try to more fully address this issue in a future post.
    So glad you're enjoying!
    Thanks for your comment!
    @Joel: Let's discuss this at home! : D

  4. Everything looks so delish! I hope your fundraiser was a big success :-)

  5. Raised over $1500--and got to keep the best of the leftovers!

  6. does this get easier?
    perhaps if you're stuck for a topic one day it would be great to hear your experience of how a patient's attitude evolves - I'm hoping that eventually the fight gives way to acceptance. Right now I'm all about the fight against the food.
    I'm want so much to get this right, but I'm so tired of arguing with myself...

  7. YES! It does get easier! I will consider a post addressing this in more detail and perhaps plug in more case studies of recovered patients.
    For starters, make a thoughtful, honest list of the pros and cons for and against the eating disorder. And keep it handy. More about this later.

  8. That's incredibly relieving to hear, thank you.
    No specialist appointments this week, so trying to stand on my own two feet without talking myself out of treatment (which is usually what I do when left to my own devices).

    Good plan. Will start with that - I'm good with nice ordered lists!
    Thanks again :)