Loosening the Food Chains

In the nearly five years I’ve been doing Weight Watchers, I’ve become pretty wedded to my food routine. Not that there’s anything wrong with a routine. It has and will continue to serve me well. But two things have come into play the last few months that have me loosening up the way I think about food: cooking for one and getting out more.

When I was buying food for two (or more), I bought a lot of fresh produce because it got eaten up quickly. Not so with just me. I don’t need a five-pound bag of potatoes or two-pound bag of onions anymore. A couple of bananas and apples now last more than a few days. When I first moved in to my apartment, I was buying produce like I was cooking for two and I ended up throwing things away the first few weeks because no one person could possibly eat all that I’d bought. Finally I understood what so many of you have discussed either in your blogs or in your comments, that frozen fruits and veggies are not only more economical, they have a much longer shelf life than fresh. They’re pretty darn tasty, too.

Living in Pittsburgh, I’m discovering places I didn’t know existed or haven’t been to in years. These activities often involve food, either directly or indirectly. For instance, last Saturday, a friend and I went to the Strip District. The Strip is lined with shops and restaurants, fish markets and produce stands, table after table of Steelers and Penguins items, jewelry vendors, and ethnic grocery stores. I hadn’t been there in ages, the last time being the day I locked my keys in the car and had to call AAA and the cutest boy ever managed to jimmy the lock…but I digress.

We grabbed a latte to go from Right By Nature then went to see the completed renovations inside St. Stanislaus Kostka Church where three very nice ladies were serving homemade Polish cookies. I ate a chrusciki (a fried cookie – yes, I ate a fried cookie – that looks like angel wings) and it was very yummy.

When we got to the Korean market, my friend ordered us a mung bean pancake and I ate my half with a touch of hot sauce. It was really good. At the Mediterranean market, I bought two dates and ate them while drinking a glass of wine in a bar that was hosting the iron workers union Christmas party. No one seemed to mind we’d crashed it and no one cared that I was eating dates. I can’t remember the last time I ate dates. Why? Because I always thought anything that sweet and tasty had to be “bad.” Yet two dates have 40 calories and virtually no fat. Yes, they’re higher in carbs and sugars, but like the chrusciki, they’re a once-in-awhile treat. Nothing “bad” about that at all.

At Public Market, we sampled some jams before ending our afternoon at an Irish pub where we ate cheese and bread and fruit. It was a very fun and tasty day, but after nearly eight hours, I was feeling run down. While I hadn’t eaten a lot of any one thing, my body was definitely telling me I needed real sustenance. Some veggies and protein. For dinner I had a spinach salad, steamed broccoli, and a baked potato. Within a few minutes, I felt a million percent better.

The next day, I went to a Buddhist temple for a luncheon. I sampled curried lentils and milk rice without scrutinizing their exact contents, something I used to do all the time. I even ate a small sliver of carrot cake because I wanted to. Later that night, dinner was light – just a salad – and I was satisfied and very happy I’d tried something new and let the food sphincter unpucker just a little.

Today I read what Anne at Smaller Fun Pants wrote in her blog “Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights”: “Eat the meal you want. Eat what you truly want. If that’s carrots and celery sticks, great! If it’s a rich food, that’s okay too…because if you’re really tuning in to what your body needs and wants you won’t always want the rich foods. You won’t always fill up on cookies.”

My body wanted the carrot cake and chrusciki and the pancake and the dates. It also wanted vegetables and protein and fruit. And the balance I struck without going into a food coma or having a mental breakdown was quite amazing. It’s taken me five years, but it seems I’m developing a trust between my body and mind. No doubt there will be times when I still have to get all Mom on myself and say “No!”, but it’s all part of the learning process, isn’t it?

13 thoughts on “Loosening the Food Chains

  1. Fabulous post although you scared me a bit there with your “Strip District!” You didn't seem the type to me.

    You are so right about eating the foods we really want. After all, that's exactly what babies do isn't it? You can't make a baby eat peaches if they don't want them… sometimes they go for days and eat nothing but green beans, then suddenly all they want is peaches. In the end, without any diet or other kind of help, babies balance their diet. Amazing.

  2. It sounds like your food journey is moving to the next level–and I mean that in a good way. I don't think we can stay in a very tightly restricted plan of eating for our entire lives–that may be risky for weight maintenance in itself. Moving out of that–in a responsible way–is another step toward becoming a balanced person. That's what I would want for myself–enjoying the foods I love without guilt and without overindulging. Good for you!

  3. I hope… I REALLY hope… someday my body stops telling me I want potato chips, cake, and hot dogs 90% of the time. Or maybe it's not my body after all, and I am just being tricked by some bratty part of my brain! Hmmm.

  4. It seems to me you have come to a fabulous point in your journey! Trust! I am just begining my journey, it's hard to imagine I will come to the place I will trust myself at all. Reading your experience is inspriational!

  5. I love that you had such a nice time at the Strip District! Try Kaya for lunch sometime–it's nice.

    It's great that you are that attuned to your body–I strive for that kind of balance!

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