At the beginning of December, I stopped tracking my daily eating habits and gave myself a bit of a break from the somewhat stringent self-imposed standard I’d set. Feeling guilty when I “messed up” and ate something outside of my plan was really getting to me, so I decided to reevaluate my habits.
Over the holiday, I ate white flour, had some cookies with real sugar in them, and even had a hamburger from a fast food joint (and found that it was less tasty than I remembered). I’d estimate I wavered between a 5lb. weight difference. Partially, I wanted to see how much of my practice with healthier eating has become intuitive, and at the same time I felt the need to give myself a little bit of breathing room during the holiday season.
After some evaluation, I was able to come to a few conclusions about my attitude towards eating and food in general. This helped me get a better idea of what I’m doing well and what I’m struggling with. Also, I have to admit that it was really fun to do my holiday baking without thinking about re-writing recipes.
A Cookie Is Not The End of the World
I admit it. I love peanut butter blossoms. I’m not sure who woke up one day and thought how awesome it would be to put a Hershey kiss in the middle of a peanut butter cookie, but this was a brilliant person. Sweet, savory, and rich all at once, I’m pretty sure that it’s my favorite cookie.
And I had several over the holiday. Did I balloon up to 200lbs.? No. Did my stomach feel a little queasy the evening that I ate three of them? It sure did! My point is that a cookie is simply not the end of the world or the end of a successful weight loss journey. By allowing myself some wiggle room, I took the guilt out of eating. With the guilt gone, there were no bad feelings to *gasp* drive me to want to eat more.
Many of the cookies I made over the holiday had a portion of the all-purpose flour replaced with whole wheat flour, ground almonds, ground oats, or whole wheat pastry flour. These grains and nuts added greater depth and texture to my baked goods while the all-purpose flour kept them from becoming too dense or crumbly.
White flour doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition though, so where it could be replaced without the risk of lowering the quality of the final product, I did so. More and more, I’m realizing that an “all or nothing” approach to ingredients is somewhat foolish.
Karo Syrup Has Other Uses Besides Stage Blood
My senior year of high school, we had a group project where we needed to act out (and videotape) a scene from King Lear. Ours happened to be the one wherein Edmund wounds himself with his sword to make it look like he has been attacked by his brother Edgar. Karo syrup mixed with red food coloring makes excellent on-camera blood.
It also keeps sugar from crystallizing and making grainy, cloudy candy. My nut brittle and toffee never would have been the same without it. Again, it’s not something I’d advocate using on a regular basis, but corn syrup has its place in the kitchen.
Make A Friend at the Dinner Table
My mom and I sat next to each other at Christmas dinner and shared a plate of food so that we could each try everything without getting stuffed. This was a brilliant idea.
It’s Okay To Change Your Mind
Before I began writing this blog entry, I worried that it might disappoint some of my readers to hear of my holiday revelations. And that’s when I had the most important realization of all. Dear friends, every day we continue to grow and change. Had you asked me this past summer if I would ever have consented to that “holiday leniency,” I would have stubbornly said “no.” At that time, what was best for me was a strict eating regimen that included careful planning and calorie counting. It helped me develop the habits that kept me from gaining weight when I relaxed things a bit.
When autumn came, I was not only working full-time but also starting graduate school. Admittedly, weight loss moved down on my list of priorities. I was more concerned with getting good marks in my core classes. Since I had less time to plan, I needed to recognize that my meals would not always be ideal, but that I would do my best (whatever “my best” was on any given day) to make good choices. I consider it a success that I am around the same weight I was when autumn began. Strangely enough, removing the pressure and guilt from the situation actually helped me lose a pound or two over the holiday.
Simply put, it comes down to something I mentioned in my last blog post: Do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, you have to be okay with yourself. Sometimes that means admitting that you need some help to finish that big job, and sometimes it means giving yourself a kick in the behind. Know that it’s okay for “what you need” to be different the next day. Be flexible. Be adaptable.