Why are we ashamed to eat?


Today I went out for brunch with two of my Canadian friends who’ve been working/travelling around Australia (Ana and Christina) and Christina’s mother, who’s been in town visiting her. It was a bit of a farewell brunch for Christina since she’s off travelling and then back home to Canada.

Four ladies and I was the only one to order and eat a full meal.

Now, I realise this may be one of the reasons that I’m feeling fat and unfit and I am focusing on making better choices but dammit, when I’m hungry, I eat. When I order a meal, I eat it and I enjoy it. Every. Single. Bite. I try to choose something off the menu that I know I’ll enjoy because I like to eat. I enjoy good food and good flavours. Love.Them

One ordered an orange juice and a coffee, claiming to have already eaten breakfast. Another ordered a fruit salad and while she finished it and it looked yummy, it was a small fruit salad. Another ordered the same meal I did and left at least half of everything on the plate.

I cleaned the plate. The veggie hash brown? Yum. The spinach and mushrooms were perfect and the poached eggs were, again, PERFECT. I enjoyed every single bite and could have eaten more, but I didn’t.

Honestly, brunch made me sad. Why is it, as women, we’re almost ashamed to have an appetite? Ashamed to enjoy a meal and take pleasure in it. We’re taught that this is a sign of gluttony, that it’s not something to be proud of. People who enjoy their meals that much are stereotypically NOT thin and fit and healthy. And I hate this.

Last week, I caught up with an old school friend who I haven’t seen in over 15 years and she’s painfully thin. I’m sure she’s suffering from anorexia but we didn’t mention the word itself. She’s aware that she’s not healthy and she’s working on changing that but I look at her and I feel sad. She doesn’t see food as pleasure. It’s a way to get herself healthy again but it’s not something to be enjoyed.

I want to be healthy and fit and feel pretty but I also want to savour every bite of food I eat. I want to enjoy the flavours mixing in my mouth. Maybe I’ll always be a little curvaceous because of that but I’d rather that then leaving food on my plate in order to look like I have no appetite.

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Brain Body disconnect


Last night The Boy, one of his work colleagues, and I went out for dinner to my favourite place nearby. It’s a little Italian spot that is delicious in every sense of the word (including the fact that it’s called Delicious!) and I love it to death.

I had a gorgeous pasta and lamb dish followed by half of a chocolate panacotta, accompanied by a perfect glass of wine. I was stuffed but happy.

Well, my brain was. My stomach, not so much on the happy side and more on the stuffed and I hate you side. Nothing wrong with the food, but something didn’t sit right and I was bloated and gassy and I-think-I’m-going-to-be-sick all last night. I never was actually sick, but I was curled up in a ball moaning and groaning all night. And all into the morning – I did not sleep well. My body was not happy with me at all.

Which is really disappointing because my brain was still savouring the favours of every bite. I loved the meal. My stomach did not.

I woke up very groggy and annoyed and slightly scared of eating. I had two small slices of toast for brekkie and resolved not to snack all day today. Today is going to be 3 square meals and that’s it. Tons of water. Tons of green tea. No snacking.

And of course, the minute I said no snacking? I want a snack. Typical. Stupid brain-body disconnect!

Portion distortion


Last night we went to friends of The Boy’s for dinner. Lovely couple – they’re getting married in April so we talked wedding (the girls) and work stuff (the guys). It was casual and laid-back and the food was delicious.

Except.

The portions.

They were massive. The starter was lovely and small – bruschetta (spelling?) with pesto and tomatoes. There were 5 pieces for four of us, so there was one left over. Then dinner itself – a piece of bread, fries, salad, a massive piece of chicken breast and ladles and ladles of creamy mushroom sauce. It was delicious but hardly healthy and was too much for me to eat. I saw the portion that The Boy got and it was even bigger than mine.

Here is where The Boy and I differ.

He finished the meal and then, when they took the plates away, leaned over and remarked how full he was and how it was too much food. But he ate it because he didn’t want to offend them.

I left half of everything on my plate (except the salad) and remarked, as they were clearing the table, that it was delicious but since they had apple pie for dessert, I wanted to leave space. That way, they knew I enjoyed the meal and why I wasn’t finishing it.

There was no way I could have eaten more. We chilled out for a while and then had dessert and this time, I quickly asked for a small portion, without cream. I enjoyed it and it was enough.

I was always brought up with smaller portions and the idea that you ate what was there and if you wanted more, you could always ask for seconds. Most of the time, a normal portion was and still is enough. But I have tons of friends, like these, who have a different idea of a normal portion and whenever I eat with them, I feel stuffed to the brim.

Was I rude? Would you have finished the food you were given, even if it meant you were eating too much?

“The first duty of love is to listen.”


(quote by Paul Tillich)

I love my body. No, I’m learning to love my body. And part of this process is learning to listen to my body. It’s a process. I’m learning what works for me and what my body needs versus what I crave because of habit and expectation and boredom.

The last two days have been tough on my lil’ ole’ body. My stomach has not been happy with me and I’m been bloated and uncomfortable and unhappy. And I’ve been lax on listening to my body. Instead of treating it with love and paying attention to what it was trying to tell me, I ate more food. I heard my stomach aching and I ignored the fact that this was not normal and I ate more food. I convinced myself that I was uncomfortable because I was either hungry or because I’d eaten too much. Or I told myself it was all the crunches I’d been doing. Ignoring the fact that this is not how my body usually feels, I self-diagnosed and hoped it would go away.

But after two days of not being comfortable, I realised that I had to listen to the most important thing in my life: my body. For goodness’ sake, it was trying to tell me something important and here I was ignoring it!

I thought carefully about the food I’d been eating. I had bought some garlic chili dried peas two days ago as a treat for the Boy while he’s studying and writing a bunch of exams. I love spicy things so I had been munching on them mindlessly. What else was different? I’d been eating a bit more white rice than normal too. The only reason I’m eating the white rice over brown rice is because the Boy has stores and stores of white rice and I’m loathe to buy MORE rice (even it is brown rice) before we work our way through this rice.

But anyway. Those were two new things in my diet in the last few days. So today, I cut both out. I made myself a healthy Quinoa salad for breakfast (quinoa, portabello mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes) and then held off for lunch until 1:30 instead of simply eating at noon because it’s lunchtime.I’m snacking less today (or at least thinking about it) and drinking more water. Being more mindful.

I can’t say I’m feeling perfect but I’m feeling better. I’m not as bloated and my body feels a lot happier. I know that sounds weird but it does.

In the same vein, I gave myself some *me* time last night while the Boy was out at cricket. I slapped on a face mask and treated my face to some rejuvenation. Voila, this is what my *me* time looks like!

There is a cute face under there somewhere ...

It’s not pretty but trust me, my skin is now lovely and smooth. SO worth it!

How do you listen to your body and give yourself some *me* time?

Cooking up a storm


One of my Health Resolutions for this year is to cook at least one new dish every month. In reality, I’ll probably end up cooking more than that but I didn’t want to be unrealistic, especially with weddings and whatnot. I want to become more confident in the kitchen.

Growing up, my mother was always the Queen of the Kitchen. Every Friday night for Shabbat dinner, we would alternate between dinner at my aunts’, my gran and our house. Every week, they would try outdo the others, especially when it came to dessert. The tell-tale sign that the meal was a hit was when dessert was brought out to cries of “wow-wow-wow” from the crowd. And I mean the crowd – we were 17 people every week on average. Sometimes more, sometimes fewer, but the average cousins and partners added up to about 17 a week.

It was so delicious but the one thing about this was that the kitchen was my mother’s domain. She has this confidence with cooking where she’s comfortable enough to throw things into a pan and not worry too much. She puts so much effort into presentation and courses and as a result, I stayed away from the kitchen.

It took me a while to get some confidence. I started off by stocking the freezer with frozen meals and veggies. Very little fresh stuff. The frozen things were safer – less chance of screwing up. But then I grew up a bit more and got healthy and realised how bad some of the frozen meals were. Taking control of my health meant taking control of the kitchen.

I started slowly with grilled chicken and steamed veggies. My rice cooker was a godsend for rice and veggies. I ventured slowly into cooking fish and avoided red meat. I made easy soups but nothing complicated. I got bored often and ate a ton of sushi because there were about 5 sushi places round the corner from me.

Now I’m cooking for someone else and again, I’m growing up. I know that I’m capable of more experimenting in the kitchen. I have a brand new slow cooker to break in. I have a fantastic electric wok. I have a ton of great recipes to try and I’m excited.

I’ll be working on a new blog for the cooking stuff but I will post some things here too if anyone’s interested. Put your hand up if you’d like to see food stuff here too and let me know!

Why math is not my friend


I spent the last two weeks counting calories. I’m not a calorie counter and really, even when I was seeing a nutritionist briefly, I purposely didn’t wan to know how many calories he’d planned for me. There was no real reason for my avoidance of calorie counting other than I had a feeling it wasn’t a way to live a life.

After my two week calorie counting experiment, we can either look at it and say I failed it OR I proved my intuition was 100% spot-on.

One thing studies show about tracking and calorie counting is that it makes people more mindful about what they’re eating. The reasoning goes along the lines of if you have to write down that you ate a Snickers bar for dinner, you’re less likely to actually eat it. That if you’re thinking about how many calories you have for the day, you’re less likely to spend your calories on high-calories drinks or snacks and more likely to spend them on nutritious food.

Well, that may have been true for me but I think I took it a little too far. I became slightly obsessed about my calories and even though I was aiming for 1500 a day, I started getting freaked out when I got close, feeling “better” when I was around 1200 calories. Which, as most of us SANE people know, is not sustainable. Heck, my BMR is higher than that! I was counting out almonds for snacks and getting really angry with myself for feeling hungry after “eating a  lot” in my mind. The kicker came this week when, after losing weight for the last two weeks, I got onto the scale and found I’d gained this week. Gaining after eating well and exercising? Now, I know it’s probably water bloat ( my period is due next week) and there’s no way I really gained fat, but the whole point of tracking initially was to lose weight in a healthy way. It’s always been about doing things in a healthy way and this didn’t feel healthy to me.

I learnt a great deal from my 2 weeks of tracking. I figured out what good snacks fill me up and what a 1500 calorie day looks like in my life. I also learnt that some days I’m just hungrier than others. I remembered that life happens and I’m not someone to turn down a dinner out or with family because I’m counting calories. I know what works for me and this is not it.

One good thing that has come from all this is that I’m eating less chocolate and snacking on healthier things instead. So that’s a win. Ultimately, for this to be a lifestyle, I need to be able to live with it. I’m back to just being aware of my food.

I never liked math anyway.

Intuitive eating vs. tracking


Mid-week through my let’s-use-technology-to-track-and-see-how-we-go phase, I’m learning a bit more about how I eat and remembering why I’m not entirely a fan of tracking every single calorie. When I started on Weight Watchers about 4 years ago, I tracked my points religiously. I ticked all the boxes for fruit and vegies and drank every glass of water I was supposed to. I also found it really really tough to eat every single one of my points and trust me, I was not on a lot of points. Toward the end, I had 18 points to eat a day and I would get to 15 and wonder what else I could eat when I was so full already.

See, what happens to me when I’m tracking is that I’m hyper-aware of every morsel I put into my mouth and not always in a good way. Yes, I stop myself eating the whole Snickers bar or choosing the salad greens over the pasta but I also tend to go slightly overboard. Until dinner tonight, I’d eaten a total of 900 calories and burnt 350 of those off through my workout and walking to and from said workout. That left me with a net total of 550 calories for the day. Hardly a lot of food. And even after dinner (salmon linguine) I’m still only at a net total of 1000 calories and when you consider that my BMR is about 2200 calories, I’m not eating enough. Even just to get to a net total of 1500 calories, I have some serious snacking to do now.

I end up becoming obsessed with calories and nutrients and how much of my diet seems to be carb based and how much fat there is out there. This is not the focus of my life. I’m going to continue tracking for a bit longer and see how I go. I may end up tracking for a week and then stopping, just giving myself a bit of time to get an idea of how 1500 net calories feels to my body. I got out of whack and stopped trusting my body to feel full and tell me what I needed.

How do you deal with tracking? Do you track? Do you not track?