Hey everyone! Time for another What I Ate Wednesday post. I haven’t done one of these in awhile and thought it would be interesting to go through a day of eating that is a lot different from my normal eating routine. This is not meant to be a post to say you should eat like me, but to show you the thought process that I go through with eating. My goal is to help you get to a place of normal eating where less time is spent stressing and thinking over what you will eat and more time spent doing the things you love. So let’s get started!
Let me give you a little back story to my most recent Thanksgivings. I have been married for 3 years now. With marriage that has meant double celebration for each holiday. Since Kevin and I grew up in the same town, all of our family is right in one place. This makes it convenient for seeing all of our family in one trip but also means we can end up eating A LOT of food all in one day since we celebrate with two families.
Last year Thanksgiving created a huge problem for me. I was right in the middle of a very hard place mentally. I was very focused on my weight and obsessed with weighing a certain amount. I was dieting hard for the first time in my life. So this meant I had been restricting what and how much I ate everyday for a month or more. When Thanksgiving day hit I decided it would be a “cheat day.” I could not eat enough food that day. At our first Thanksgiving meal which is always served at noon there were so many delicious foods on top of the dessert table was to die for. Dessert is my favorite so I ate a lot. I felt like I couldn’t get satisfied. I was trying to “be good” with the choices I was making, but just kept wanting more. Looking back it all makes sense now. I was in a really hard place of diet deprivation. I had be denying my cravings for weeks on end and now all of this was in front of me. There is no way to say no to that. I ended up pretty full by the end of this meal and few hours of hanging out. I was definitely pushing an 8 or 9 on the hunger/fullness scale. That would have been no problem except that it was time to go to our second Thanksgiving.
At the second Thanksgiving I was really hoping we would wait a few hours to eat because I was full, but I really wanted to eat the food that was being served. The second Thanksgiving was at my parents house which meant all the foods that I grew up with. I really couldn’t pass those up. So as we sat down at the table I started eating and within the first few bites I felt so sick! I was stuffed and my body was done. I was to the point I thought I needed to go lay down instead of eating. I felt so mad because I wanted the food and I was ashamed that I could ever gorge myself like I did. At the end of the meal, my parents were sweet and packed up some leftover for us to take home, but I was so stuck in my diet that I barely ate any of those leftovers because “they wouldn’t fit” into my diet plan. I didn’t know how they were made so I couldn’t track it accurately in myfitnesspal. I felt miserable. I was miserably full and miserably ashamed and completely alone in it. This is not something I wanted to share with people. To end all of this, when I finally got the courage to get back on the scale I was so frustrated and upset.
Thankfully, God pulled me out of the terrible place and Thanksgiving was a MUCH better experience this year! So I want to share with you what it looked like for me, and hopefully it can help you out too.
I have become an early morning person. I just love how I feel when I start my day early and get things done. On a regular Thursday morning, I start my day at the gym. I decided I would go to the gym like usual that day. This was not to justify the food I was going to eat, but because I like how I feel after my exercise. I didn’t do extra exercise to try to “burn more calories” for my later meals. I did my normal routine. For a Thursday that means I probably did 15-25 minutes on the stair stepper. The amount of time is never planned. I just do what feels good and stop when I’m bored or ready to move on. Then I did several of the leg machines and went home after about 50-55 minutes. Normally I get 45 minutes in, but since I didn’t have work I had more time to take my time.
After the gym I came home and fixed breakfast. My absolute favorite meal!! For some reason I was really craving a breakfast sandwich. At the same time I figured the rest of my day would probably be lacking in fiber so I figured a breakfast sandwich on whole wheat bread would be a good way to make sure I got some fiber in. My sandwich had bacon, eggs, and cheese. I also made a latte with a bunch of foamy whole milk! This is kind of my thing when I have time. During the week my coffee is pretty plain as a time saver and then I look forward to a “fancier” coffee on the weekend. Then I served my sandwich with a side of grapes. This was all probably around 6:30 am.
As the morning went on we got packed up and ready to make the hour and 20 minute drive to our noon Thanksgiving. Old Bre would have tried not to eat again to save calories but by 9 ish I was starting to feel a little hungry. I was about a 4 on the hunger/fullness scale. So I decided it would be best to eat a snack so that I wasn’t starving by time we ate lunch. I knew this would help me eat more mindfully at lunch and less likely to gorge myself. My choice was a mini loaf of pumpkin bread I had made. There was only one left, we were going to be gone for 3 days, and I was craving it. Definitely a good choice. I ate that and drank some water and felt like a 5 on the hunger scale. I knew this would hold me till we got to family. My other thought during this time was to make sure I drank my water. On days like this I get thrown off and forget to drink anything. I don’t feel thirsty very much. I know that not drinking enough makes me not feel so good later on so I carried my water with me as a reminder.
When we got to town we dropped off our bags at my family’s house because we were going to be staying with them. They had a bunch of goodies sitting out, plus my sister was munching on monkey bread. This is something we used to share on Thanksgiving morning always. I had a bite of it, mostly for nostalgia. I also ate a handful of homemade chex mix and a small bite of puppy chow. Most of that eating was just to have a taste and because I was getting a little hungry and knew lunch was about an hour away.
Then we got Kevin’s family’s house where lunch would be at. I was ready to eat but not starving. The whole time I just kept reminding myself “Bre, you don’t need to gorge yourself. Take your time and enjoy the food, but remember you can fix all of these foods again when you want.” This is something I talked about in my letting go of food rules series. It really helped me to stay calm around all the food and make choices off of what sounded good but also what I knew would keep me feeling good.
For this lunch I chose ham because I knew I would eat turkey that night and wanted to have the variety. Green bean casserole is one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods so I got a big serving of this. I also liked that it helped me get in another vegetable for the day. I also chose the sweet potato casserole and a delicious cheesy hash brown casserole. I forgot to take a picture of what I was eating till I had ate several bites of the sides. When I was eating I just kept asking myself “how hungry are you?” I wanted to try to stop when I got to a 6 almost 7 so that I could save room for dessert and still not be overly stuffed for our next Thanksgiving me. I usually eat really fast and I am trying to slow down so I listen to my body more. After I ate I was not ready for dessert, so I decided to wait and hang out with our family.
Over the span of the next 2-3 hours I ate two cookies that I had brought to the meal for dessert. These were not ate out of physical hunger but out of taste hunger. This just means I wanted a little sweet but didn’t to eat for physical needs really. They both hit the spot.
Once we got to my family’s house I was about 5 on the hunger scale. I snacked on a few more bites of the snacks, but stopped when I remembered that dinner would be ready soon and that I would enjoy that food more. This is where nutrition knowledge comes in to play. I was not restricting my eating from the snacks out of a diet, but because I knew if I ate much more I would not be hungry for dinner and less likely to enjoy it. While I liked the snacks I knew that the meal food was going to be much more satisfying. So this was not a place of restriction, but something I knew would help me feel my best. I also knew that the snacks would be there the next few days and I could always munch on them for snacks while we were there.
My parents always make a whole bunch of different sides. They also make things that I don’t always see at other Thanksgiving meals. I was pumped for my dad’s turkey because it is AWESOME. I also couldn’t wait for the broccoli rice and cheese casserole, and a dish called “green stuff.” The green stuff is a mixture of marshmellows, pudding, cool whip, and mandarin oranges. Really it could be a dessert, but there are no rules! We eat it as a side dish. 😉 Some unexpected foods that I was happy to have was this awesome cornbread salad, these tortilla pin wheels, and a grape salad. I also had a dinner roll, more green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and a bite of stuffing. I’m not the biggest fan of stuffing, but I guess for traditional reasons I wanted to have at least a bite. I ate it and decided that was enough and I didn’t want more. I also skipped out on a cranberry salad and mashed potatoes and gravy. I like them both okay, but none were things I was in the mood for. It’s OKAY to pass up a food. You have the choice. Other people my try to make you feel bad for your food choices but just shrug it off. It’s your plate and your body. You get to decide.
I ended up eating that and getting to about a 7 on the fullness scale. Definitely on a normal day I probably would have stopped there, but this is a day that the enjoyment of eating really comes out. It’s okay to get little overly full on times like this. So I ended up getting a little more turkey, and about 2 bites each of broccoli rice and cheese, corn bread salad, and green stuff. At this point I was definitely a 7 close to an 8.
Now it was time for my favorite, dessert! They had several desserts, plus I made a pumpkin brulee cheesecake bar that I couldn’t wait to try. So I got sampler sizes of the 3 desserts I wanted. I ate each of those and my husband had ate the cheesecake bar I made. He was full with about 1/3 of it left. Again, I just had a taste hunger for a little more of the cheesecake bar because it was the bomb. I ended up eating a few more bites of his. At the end of eating this I was definitely 8 almost a 9 on the fullness scale.
After awhile as the food had time to settle I could tell I was definitely a good 9 on the fullness scale. I could have let this bother me that I was so full or planned a really strict eating day for the next day with a lot of exercise, but instead I chose thankfulness. I was thankful for the food that I had and that there was so much abundance. I was thankful that my day was spent enjoying family with less worry about how I was going to have make up for all this eating. At the end of the day I was proud. Even though I was pretty full I was not sick full like I was the year before and more importantly I wasn’t ashamed of how I ate. I was able to spend more time focused on conversation with my family and less counting calories and measuring portions. I was able to enjoy my favorite foods without gorging on them, and able to add in extra nutrition because I know it makes me feel good.
Well, there you go! There was my Thanksgiving Day eats. Not a normal day of eating, but a fun day with so much more food freedom. 🙂