Friday, September 5, 2014

Food Holidays - Diet and Delight

A year and a half ago, my Doctor had a firm and straightforward conversation with me regarding my health. The fact was that my bad cholesterol was off the charts and my blood pressure was nothing to be proud of.  Clearly, I needed to make some changes.  Up until then, I had this mentality that I was going to eat what I want because someday I will die.  And I wanted to die happy.  Well I seemed to be moving up my death date with my poor eating decisions.

Now, I need to explain that I have never been a real processed food eater.  I don't own any appliance that deep fries things.  I am more olive oil than butter. And I rarely eat white bread.  Also, I am diet coke freak.  Sugary sodas make my teeth hurt.  My issues were portion control, consistent snacking (don't think little bird - think Big Bird), and emotional eating.  I had a very intense relationship with Haagen Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream, and I knew it had to change.  

This was the hardest part - giving up the things I live the most.  I adore eating delicious food.  And I enjoy cooking.  Which of course leads to me loving to eat what I cook.  If I was to succeed, I had to find a way to adjust what I was eating while still enjoying it. So I did what anyone would do.  I increased my veggie/fruit intake, switched to leaner proteins, relied more heavily on protein for energy, and increased the amount of water I drank.

However, there was still the matter of those yummy plates that I loved to eat - that now needed to be enjoyed in moderation.  Bob Harper has a set of "Skinny Rules."  I found them very helpful.  One rule is to plan one splurge meal a week.  That was my solution.  For me, my day was Sunday.  I would lay out the best Sunday dinner for my family and fill up my indulgence tank. For a year I did this religiously.

As my dieting progressed my desire for different foods changed. So, my Sunday dinners got leaner and not so overly indulgent.  However, there were still things I craved from time to time. Most of these things were seasonal.  In the Summer it was my mothers ice cream topping, peach pies, and boardwalk fries. Fall, tempts me with everything apple - pie, crisp, dumplings.  In the Winter it is stuffed cabbage, beef stew, chicken and dumplings, and Christmas goodies.  Spring brings the berry - strawberry and blueberry everything.  And I like a pancake from time to time.

So, I decided to start planning my indulgences by creating Food Holidays.  I would allow myself an indulgence every now and then.  For example, I would make a Blueberry Crumb pie for a family dinner. This way, I could enjoy it and not have them tempting leftovers because everyone would finish it. Scheduling these holidays, allowed me to carefully watch what I eat in the meals leading up to my food celebration - thus limiting the guilt.  Celebrating food while protecting our health is a good thing.

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