onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “eating out”

There’s no cutesy “Oh, I’ll just have a salad” to my salads…

Now that we have been in Texas for over a week, I have been getting used to the changes. Of course, a lot of the changes have to do with food. One of the biggest changes is that I have been eating big salads. And really enjoying them.

I will tell you that while I always eat a lot of vegetables every day, and have for years, I don’t always eat a lot of salads. But there are three things that have come together that have made salads an exciting prospect, rather than a “healthy choice” I make reluctantly. The first two are hot weather and great produce.

It’s one thing to eat a bag of lettuce and call it a salad. That’s not for me. I don’t like lettuce, and I never have. Perhaps it is because in my head it is “diet food” from a time when I was fat and I was supposed to eat lettuce to not be fat anymore. But it is something entirely different to take arugula, radishes, mushrooms, onions, cucumbers, and maybe a little steamed broccoli or green beans, chop them up and toss them together with some olive oil and vinegar for a cool, refreshing meal on a hot day. I love the way the different flavors come together, the tang of the onions and radishes with the umami of the mushrooms and the tartness of the vinegar.

The third thing is that my new apartment is small, doesn’t have windows or screen doors, and quite frankly, smells when I cook pungent vegetables, which is pretty much any vegetables. The deal is that this alone would not have stopped me from cooking vegetables. That’s what candles and air fresheners are for, after all. But having great produce and wanting something lighter in the heat made it easy to put aside my favorite go-to veggie choices for something different.

When I left New York to be with my husband, the first place I lived with him was also Texas, though a different town. And then I ate a lot of salads too. And I probably would have continued except that the next few places we lived fell short in the fresh veg department. And I also happen to be a person of habit. If I am eating a lot of, say, riced cauliflower cooked in sesame oil with scallions, garlic and ginger, then I am probably going to make it again and again. I know that many people get bored with eating the same things, but I love it. I like predictability. I can sometimes eat the same things for months or even years. But when the time comes to eat something new, for whatever reason, I generally enjoy that too. Or at least, if I don’t, then I won’t make that mistake again.

For me, knowing that I am only going to eat three meals a day means I am careful to have them all be delicious, because I love eating, and more than that, I am still not, and never expect to be, neutral around food. I might even still be obsessed, except it does not haunt me, or make me hate myself. When I was eating compulsively, I was obsessed but miserable. And I would eat anything. (Well, anything except a vegetable.) It mattered less that it tasted good, and more that I could shove it into my face and it would get me high. I lived as if I might never eat again. But since I put boundaries around my eating, I have come to a point where I know I will eat again. In fact, my next meal will be lunch, in about an hour.

I like that I want salads. They are making me feel good, and it has occurred to me that I may lose a little weight. But they may not affect my weight, and that is not why I am eating them anyway. And I don’t want to make them about my body. I want to enjoy them because they are delicious. And if I stop finding them delicious, I want to be able to go right back to eating riced cauliflower in sesame oil and not think twice about my body.

Better than the alternative.

Today I called a restaurant to ask about their menu. I wasn’t going to. I looked it up on line. They had vegetables. They had protein. It would have been fine.

And then my boyfriend said, “But aren’t you going to call them?” And I said “Yeah. OK.”

Here is the truth. I would have been able to eat there without calling ahead. It would have been fine. But only just fine. By calling, I gave myself the opportunity to eat better. I was able to make a special request and have them prep something for me specially. This restaurant normally braises their cabbage with a seasoning blend that has starch in it. But one of the cooks told me that he could set aside some for me that did not have that seasoning. He then answered all ten thousand of my questions. Told me what was made pre-prepped and could not be changed, and what I could get on the side. He even told me portion sizes.

I would have had to take up plenty of my server’s time if I had asked all of my questions at the table. And in the end I would have ended up with a salad of lettuce and onion and 4 orders of steamed broccoli. Dry. It would not have been my favorite meal. I would have made it work. Because I always make it work so that I keep my food boundaries. But I would probably have been kind of disappointed.

I can have a lot of anxiety. Especially around keeping my food boundaries. Because as a sugar addict and compulsive eater, I am so clear that my happiness and sanity hang in the balance. But since I have started living with my boyfriend, I have been trying to be able to be more flexible about eating out. NOT like crossing my boundaries. Ever. But being more willing to trust that I will be able to keep my boundaries in the actual real world.

Other people do it. Calmly and peacefully and with the sure knowledge that it will go well and be great. I know so many people who regularly do what I do in restaurants and in public. I know people who have done what I do anywhere and everywhere. Morocco and India and the South American Jungle. Places where it’s actually hard. And yet they have managed. Even Japan (though I have been told that Japan was the hardest.)

I want to feel free to go out into the world and live my life. And trust that I will be able to keep my food boundaries as long as I am willing. Because that is really all it takes. Willingness.

But it was nice to remember that preparing can not only make the experience less stressful, it also gives me an opportunity to get something I would not have gotten if I had not called ahead. Not only did I get to let go of some of tomorrow’s dining anxiety by being prepared, I gave the restaurant an opportunity to be prepared to serve me better.

I am sure that I will have plenty of chances in life to prove that I am willing to keep my food boundaries in all manner of circumstances, while flying by the seat of my pants, because that is what life throws at me. But in the mean time, I am grateful to have a fantastic boyfriend who reminds me that when being prepared is an option, it’s worth the effort. And I’m sure he thought to remind me because, let’s face it, a better-fed Kate is a happier Kate. And a happier Kate is better than the alternative…

If you’re happy and you know it, eat all of your breakfast yourself

My boyfriend and I are in Chicago for the weekend. So as usual, it’s a short blog this week.

I have two things I want to mention this week. The first is eating out. And the second is not sharing food with a two-year-old I really love.

While we were in town, my dad wanted to take me out to eat for my birthday. So we went to a really nice sea food place.

I had called ahead, and talked to someone. I asked lots of questions about portion size, ingredients and preparation. I figured out how much I was going to need and what to order ahead of time. And when it came out, the steamed vegetables had butter on them. It’s funny to me, because I made such a point of making sure they’re just plain steamed vegetables and they come out with butter on them? So I sent them back. I made sure they came back without fat on them. Which they did.

Because my rules tell me that I can have a certain amount of fat. And I wanted drawn butter on my crab legs. So I had to send the vegetables back, or not have butter for my crab. (Yeah, that was not going to happen. Crab without butter is just wrong.)

There is a small part of me that wants to explain. But I didn’t. I don’t owe anybody an explanation. I have my rules. They are mine. And my responsibility.

And even with having to send food back, it was an easy dining experience. And so delicious! I don’t usually love steamed vegetables. But they were so fresh that they were lovely. And the crab with butter would have made even subpar steamed vegetables all worth it.

It’s nice to remember that things don’t need to go perfectly for them to be stress-free. It was a good reminder that being upset is a choice.

The other thing I want to talk about is not sharing my food. With my boyfriend’s granddaughter. Whom I love. And who is sweet and adorable.

See, it’s easy with grown ups and older kids. You can explain it to them. And if they don’t like it, oh well. Too bad. But with a toddler. They don’t understand. You can’t explain.

The truth is, I don’t want her to be sad. And I want to give her whatever. Because I like her. And I love her. And I want her to know that. But I also need to remember that not getting everything we want is just a part of life. For all of us. And it doesn’t mean anything to tell someone no. No just means no. It doesn’t mean “you aren’t worthy.” Or “I don’t love you.” Or “you should be ashamed for asking.” Just no.

And I would also do well to remember that taking care of myself is teaching a little girl to take care of herself.

Most women have been taught that being womanly and nurturing means being “selfless” and “a good girl” and taking care of others at their own expense. And I don’t want to be a part of perpetuating that.

If anyone learns anything from me, whether it’s my boyfriend’s granddaughter, or a grown up reading this blog, I would like it to be that you are allowed to take care of yourself. Not just allowed! You should! You should take care of your peace and your needs and your own happiness.

So the sweet thing did not get any of my cantaloupe this morning. And she lived. And we still love each other. In fact, at this very moment, she is singing “If you’re happy and you know it” and jumping and dancing around the house. So all is well. And I still have my integrity around my food.

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