Category Archives: TWO FISTED EATING: Portion Control and Enjoyment

Dear Jane Letter

dear Jane letter illustrationsIt’s not you, it’s me. I’m no good for you. They say size doesn’t matter, but I’m just too big. You need someone smaller.

I know, I know, we’ve been together since that sale in ’04, but it’s time you moved on, looked for someone new. You have a lot to offer: spacious cabinets, a working dishwasher. You’ll be okay, Kiddo. You’ll be better than okay.

I have a 12” diameter, for crying out loud! The box said “dinner plate” but I’ve always felt more like a serving platter. A 10 incher would be good for you. 34.5 fewer square inches—that’s the volume of four slices of bread. Truth be told, I could see you happy with a slim 8” model.

dear Jane letter illustrations_0001Salad, shmalad, if you put dinner on it, it’s a dinner plate, right? An 8” plate would hold less than half the volume that I do. Less than half!

You won’t miss me. You won’t notice the difference after a few days, but your body will.

Is there someone else? Not yet, no, but there’s the dream of someone else—like a sumo wrestler or a teenage boy.

 

Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord. Exodus 28:36 (NIV)

Gimme My Gummies

childrens-vitamins-gummyI have a sweet tooth with roots so deep they touch my tongue. After every meal, I crave something sweet. Eating fruit is a great idea, but if I’m not hungry, just craving, I don’t want more than a bite or two, and unless I have five other people to share an apple with me, it becomes work to not be wasteful. Chewing gum is great too until my kids eat it all and I forget to buy more and turn to option three: one bite of chocolate or ice cream.

Ha ha! One bite? For me, that’s an “I need a drop of water; go ahead and open the floodgates” type of bad idea. My dilemma is this: how do I satisfy my craving for a taste of sweetness without adding 100 calories or more to my meal?

What’s that you say? Why don’t I ignore my craving? That’s the best idea yet! And it works for me when I’m out and about, but I’m a stay at home mom which means that 98% of my waking hours are spent within twenty feet of my kitchen. I try to ignore my sweet tooth, but I often lose. I lack the will power of the Green Lantern.

2014 Aug transformers 045The solution that’s working for me is gummy vitamins. I’m talking about gummy vitamins for grownups, my kids’ Spiderman and gummy bears shaped vitamins, or Juice Plus which is a gummy version of fruit and vegetable juice.

I started taking gummy vitamins a few years ago during the first trimester of one of my pregnancies. Because of first trimester nausea, the prescribed vitamin horse-pills my doctor recommended were not going down without causing something to come back up. I started eating my sons’ gummy vitamins; better than nothing, right? And I never looked back.

Now when I crave sweets after a meal, I take my vitamins. They satisfy my craving without opening the floodgates of Sugar Dam, and each gummy is only about 7 calories. It’s a strange concept, gummy vitamins as dessert, but like I said, it works for me. Besides, I’ve never been so consistent about taking my vitamins in my life.

 

“A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul.” Proverbs 13:19a

 

Images courtesy of blog.scratchmenot.com (gummy bears), and me.

Mouth Shoveling

2014 blog 005I’ve been shoveling a lot lately. No, no, this is not another gardening post. I’ve been shoveling food into my mouth.

The change from savoring each bite to racing through my plate has been gradual, but at this point I feel like one of those guys in the bowels of a ship shoveling coal into the furnace as fast as I can go, but without the well earned bulging biceps.

Now that I’m aware of it, I’m returning to square one: slow down and savor my food. No more Eating AND: Eating AND watching TV, Eating AND cooking, Eating AND reading the Bible over breakfast. If I’m eating, that’s all I’m doing; it’s a form of entertainment. I love food that tastes good, so I need to pay attention and truly taste it…or eat plain lettuce, a shovel-approved food if there ever was one.

2014 blog 004Why is it so important for me to slow down and savor? Because I eat less when I eat slow and I enjoy my food more.

If you’ve gotten off track over the winter like I have, don’t despair. Get your wheels back on track and let your bicep boys – not your fork – shovel you to victory! Who are your bicep boys in this analogy? Um…I don’t know. How about we end this post before I lose you completely?

Today I wish you booooon aaaappeeetiiiiite! Slow motion. Get it? That was so corny, you can taste it.

May your every bite be satisfying and a blessing to your body!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;

    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”  Psalm34:8

10 Amazing Ways To Stop Overeating

This is a great video by Quirkology about ways to “trick” yourself into eating less.  It’s also a great excuse to go buy little red plates and decorative mirrors for your kitchen!  It’s science, Honey, I have to go shopping.

Just click on the link below.

10 Amazing Ways To Stop Overeating

Jurkey and Junesgiving

One time per year; that’s it.  Pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey are limited to one day out of three hundred and sixty five, but I say “NO MORE!”  (Or should that be “Please, sir, I want some more.”?)

June TurkeyI’m starting a new holiday: June Turkey.  (Jurkey, perhaps? Or Junesgiving?)  Thanksgiving dinner is so good, we need to eat it more often, and eating it in the summer might be even better than November.  Here are the benefits as I see it:

1. It never hurts to be thankful.  The USofA would be a better place if we gave thanks more and ate less.  Chew on this for a moment: If your family income is $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world.  We’re struggling to eat healthier in the face of an overabundance of junk food; much of the world is struggling to eat enough in the face of an under-abundance of any food.

Maybe Gratitudiet should be a new diet craze: write a thank you note to a farmer, grocer, or God before you eat…EVERY time before you eat.  The eventual hand cramps will limit our ability to use forks or spoons and slow down our caloric intake.

2. No more pressure to stuff yourself silly on Thanksgiving Day.  You only have to wait 182.5 days for the next turkey instead of 364; ie the world will not end if you don’t eat another mountain of mashed potatoes.

It’s actually a great idea to fill a second plate, just make sure you save it to eat later (hours later, people, not minutes!).  Sometimes knowing I get to repeat a great meal helps remove the temptation to go for seconds NOW.

P10103703. Better veggies.  Let’s face it, summer is the time of year when vegetables are growing, so it’s easier to find them fresh and cheap.  Instead of green bean casserole, you can have fresh green beans.  Peel and cook some turnips and mix them with the potatoes for some extra nutritious mashed tubers.  Take the recipe for sweet potatoes and cut the “good stuff” (butter, sugar, marshmallows) in half, or try roasting them with olive oil and cinnamon.  The more vegetables you add to your meal, and the closer to “naked” you eat them, the more you can fill your plate, fill your belly, and stay on track for a healthy lifestyle.

4. Practice, practice, practice.  Ladies of my generation, if your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law usually cooks the turkey, then you probably have no clue how that sucker gets from fridge to table.  But your day is coming!  Granted, by the time we’ve become the matriarchs, we’ll probably be able to click on a turkey on Amazon and it’ll be shipped directly to our oven fully cooked, but it’s still a good skill to have so you can brag to your grandchildren that you cooked your own bird back in the “good old days”.

I used to think it was really complicated, but one day I saw turkey on sale for 69 cents a pound and thought “It’s just a giant chicken!  At 69 cents per pound, I’m willing to take a risk and try it.”  I discovered it’s pretty easy.  The hardest part is manhandling the slippery carcass.  Rinsing the bird is like giving a one year old a bath in the sink, just less messy.

Turkey KitchenHere’s what you do: buy a turkey now while they’re on sale.  If you’re an awful cook, buy two: you need the practice.  Put it in the freezer.  (I once forgot about a turkey in the back of my freezer for a year and it cooked up just fine.  Make sure you grease the chain saw with olive oil before you slice it.  Just kidding :))  Check the weather in June and pick the hottest, most humid day you can for your Junesgiving; you’re not going outside anyway, so you may as well make the house smell good!

There are two traditional Thanksgiving dishes that I haven’t found a healthy “fix” for: stuffing and pecan pie.   I made a sweet potato-pecan pie last year that my husband loved because it wasn’t sickly sweet, but I can’t call it healthy.  And stuffing is stale bread baked in turkey grease; if you remove the grease part, you’re left with bad croutons instead of turkey-belly-ambrosia.  I think this calls for some experimentation!  What if it were zucchini cubes baked in turkey grease?

That’s what’s so great about Jurkey!  You can try new ways to eat great food without 17 relatives critiquing your stale bread and turkey grease!  I’ll let you know how the zucchini stuffing turns out.  I’m off to buy my June Turkey; it’s on sale today for sixty EIGHT cents a pound.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

Dessert Snobs

P1010682The one thing that has made the biggest difference in both my body and my lifestyle is savoring my food.  Paying attention while I eat leaves me satisfied after every meal, even with smaller portions on my plate.

Imagine a moist dark-as-night piece of chocolate cake is placed in front of you.  Most people take one bite, emit some sort of grunt of delight, and then shovel the rest of the cake down their gullet in less time than it takes for a toddler to discover how to unroll toilet paper.  When they finish the last two bites, slowing down at last because they see the end is nigh, they sigh and wish for more because “that was so good!” This is how I used to eat cake.  And lasagna, and fries, and ice cream, and cereal, and steak and everything.

Next time you have cake, try this instead: savor every bite.  That’s right, EVERY bite.  Take a bite, emit grunt, take a bite, make mm-mm-mmm! sound, take a bite, paint the inside of your mouth chocolate with your tongue, and so on.  Pay attention to the texture, the flavor, the contrast of cake and icing.  I guarantee that by the time you’ve finished your piece of cake, you will not want a second piece.  Why?  You’re bored!  Seriously.  Five or ten minutes of thinking only about cake is way more time than you need to cover all the bases.

The definition of savor is to “taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.” Food as entertainment; what an interesting thought!

P1010685When I savor my food, I find myself feeling grateful for my abundance and for my taste buds.  If you look at the anatomy of the human mouth, we were created to enjoy eating.  Carnivore teeth can bite and swallow, but not chew.  Herbivore teeth can chew, but really, how many taste buds would you want if you were chewing lunch for the fourth time?  Don’t get me started on jellyfish; their mouth is also their anus, so you know they thank God that they don’t have taste buds.  (And I thank God that I’m not a jellyfish!)  The point is, God created food to have flavor and our mouths to detect those flavors.  Just as I realize how blessed I am with my family when I pause and think about it, I am more thankful for my food when I pause and think about it.  (If I’m inaccurate with the biology lesson, forgive me; I’m still convinced that humans have the best deal meal-wise.)

Paying attention while you eat is harder than it sounds.  I never used to sit down to eat without something to do: talk with someone, read something, watch TV.  It still feels weird to sit at an empty table and focus on my food, but I enjoy what I eat so much more now.

P1010684About a year ago my mom said something that sounded crazy to me at first.  She said, “I’m not going to eat Hershey’s chocolate anymore.”  But Mom, that reduces your chocolate options by, like, 90%!  What kind of insanity is this?!

She loves Harry and David’s dark chocolate truffles and she has good reason to: they’re awesome.  They’re so awesome, in fact, that Mom decided not to waste her time, money, or calories on sub-par chocolate.  She became a chocolate snob.  And she should be applauded!

We need to learn not only to enjoy our food while we eat it so that we don’t wish for more when it’s gone, but we also need to learn to stop eating foods that are not worthy of our time, money, and calories.  At church potlucks and family dinners, I used to finish anything I put on my plate, whether it was fabulous, fairly good, or future compost.  Now I try many things, but only finish what tastes fabulous, especially when it comes to desserts.  If I’m only supposed to consume X number of calories per day, I’m not going to waste them on mediocre food.  Does that make me a snob?  Yes it does.  But I’d rather be a food snob than eat like a garbage disposal as I used to.

P1010688There’s one exception to savoring your food, of course: vegetables!  Feel free to shovel your veggies in like you’re stoking the engine of an express train.  Don’t get me wrong, vegetables can be fabulous (if yours aren’t, try adding garlic) and they should be savored.  But if you don’t particularly like veggies and you’re only eating them because they’re good for you, then don’t savor them.

You know how sometimes you just want to plant yourself in front of the TV and stuff your face?  You’re not hungry, particularly, but you want that repetitive plate-to-face action happening?  Choose a veggie.  It’s mindless eating, so do it with a food that won’t hamper your goal when consumed in large quantities.

 P1010356So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15

Two Fisted Eating

Grab a brownie with one hand and a slab of pecan pie with the other…now stuff them in your mouth!  That’s what you pictured in your head, right?   We’re going to keep the joy of eating that you’re imagining, but lose the mess.

Your stomach is the size of your fist…or maybe two fists; depends on who you ask.  Yes, it’s that small, and yes, it can stretch out a LOT! (Do you know how much food I’ve managed to squeeze in there?  I always thought my stomach was the size of a football!)

Your stomach can expand to hold 1.5 quarts (okay, so I wasn’t too far off with the football idea).  One quart = four cups and my fist is about the size of one cup, so I can cram 6 fists into my football, er, stomach.  (Still with me, math majors?)

So what do I do with this information?  Cut a football in half and use it as a plate?  (We can call it the “Foodball”!  What do you think, marketing people?  Weight loss gimmick for men?  Only $19.99 if you call now!)

So, Two Fisted Eating.  At each meal, your goal is to put 4 “fists” on your plate.  TWO fist sized portions of “real food” (as I like to call it) and TWO fists worth of vegetables (remember Veggie Rule #1?).

Let me give you an example; this is the Turkey Curry recipe.

P1010173P1010175The plate on the left is what my plate looked like a year ago.  Notice that the green section looks more like a decoration – an afterthought – than a part of the meal.  The picture on the right is what I ate for dinner this week.  TWO fists of “real” food (rice and Turkey Curry) and TWO fists of veggies.

Now, THIS IS IMPORTANT: RED ALERT! RED ALERT!  Ready?  When your plate is empty, you stop eating.  It’s that simple and it’s that hard.  Drink some water, drink some tea, start the dishes, lick the plate and cry… whatever works for you, just don’t get seconds (unless it’s vegetable soup, then you can go back for thirds for all I care).

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

The math majors have all noticed by now that I said our stomachs can fit 6 fists and we only put 4 on our plate.  We have room for two more!  Yes, yes we do.  But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. (For example, I can post a daily photo of my poodle….)

We’re re-training our brains, not our stomachs.  For years, my brain equated “full” with my stomach being stretched to capacity: 1.5 quarts or 6 fists.  That turned out well for me, didn’t it?  So, now I’m training my brain to say “full” when my stomach has 1 quart or 4 fists in it.  It takes a while for this to happen (like months), but it will happen.  (By the way, a better goal is to stop eating when you feel “not empty” rather than waiting for “full”; still working on that goal.)

Years ago I had my neighbor over for dinner and she said she felt “stuffed” after her second piece of pizza.  Stuffed?  I was doing my best to limit myself to three slices!  I could fit four or five before I felt “stuffed”.  Now I feel “good” full after two slices of pizza and bad “stuffed” if I take a third.  (I normally stop at two.)  Her brain and my brain were trained to say “full” at different stomach capacities.  (And yes, she’s a petite blond bombshell.)

When you look at the food on your plate, especially if it’s less than the amount you’re used to eating, what problem comes to mind?  I’m going to be hungry in two hours! (News flash! I feel hungry two hours later no matter how much or how little I eat!)  Don’t fear the hunger; you know it’s coming, so be ready.  Eat TWO fists of fruits or veggies as a snack.

By the way, I push vegetables rather than fruit simply because fruit has more sugar and therefore more calories.  Fruit is good.  Very very good.  Eat fruit when you crave something sweet, but vegetables are our new best friend.  Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?  My definition is this: if you wouldn’t bake it into a pie, it’s a veggie.

So, a meal is TWO fists of regular food and TWO fists of veggies.  A snack is ONE or TWO fists of produce.  Slow down as you eat and enjoy what’s on your plate.  (More on that later.)

Okay, math majors!  When does TWO plus TWO not equal four?

When they add up to negative numbers on the scale!