Thursday, October 26, 2006

In the Mood for Food

I wrote this yesterday (Wednesday) but couldn't post it due to the "scheduled outage."

I realize more and more how my appetite and cravings are affected by external cues. At times I'm really good at recognizing these cues and can rationally work around them, and other times I don't figure it out until a day or two after the event. But it's rare anymore that one of them slips past my radar.

This first came blatantly apparent to me when I met my husband. He is addicted to the Food Network and when we'd hang out together at his place we invariably would watch a show or two. I admit I like several of the shows -- Paula Deen makes me laugh, and I adore Alton Brown's (Good Eats) sense of humor and quirkiness. But I did notice that if I watched too many of those shows in a row, I could really work of a bad case of the munchies and really bad cravings.

Last year when I knocked off the weight I had regained around the wedding, I skillfully veered my husband toward some non-food shows that we both could enjoy. Spike shows back-to-back reruns of CSI in the evenings, and it soon became our evening "down time" show. It's great, because you don't get a lot of food cravings when you watch crime scenes and dissected bodies on the autopsy table.

I find myself steering away from "foodie" shows more and more as I try to rein in my old out of control eating habits. I used to watch "Judging Amy" religiously, but two things happened: I finally saw every single episode at least four times, and it struck a nerve when Amy and her mom (the wonderful Tyne Daly) would destress at the end of their harrowing days with tubs of ice cream.

As I prepare for my friend's wedding in Washington DC, I'm thinking about the real-life cues that I can't switch off with the remote control. We're going to have the rehearsal dinner Friday night, followed by cocktails at a friend's house. On Saturday breakfast and lunch are free, but after the ceremony it'll be the dreaded hors d'oeuvres, then the buffet dinner, cake and drinks. Sunday will end the weekend with a group brunch before we head back home.

This events are always the hardest for me to fight off. I have to be in top mental shape and on a serious physical roll weight loss-wise for me to resist caving in to peer pressure and eating like "everyone else." The thing is, I can't seem to eat like everyone else. When I'm in those situations, once I start eating I can't stop until I'm bursting.

For a while I couldn't figure out why these social situations always did me in, but lately I've started to figure it out. I wrote a while back about being an introvert, and the description that an extrovert gains energy by being with people, while an introvert is depleted by it. I know I feel uncomfortable when I'm in public with a lot of people I don't know, and I really think the continual eating is my way of refueling.

The key here is "people I don't know." While there are some times that I'm with close friends and still eat too much, the worst times for me in the past year without a doubt have been the ones where the people I do know are occupied running the party, the person of honor, etc., and I'm in the crowd with a lot of aquaintances and friends of my friends that I don't know. The most specific incident of this was this past June -- the last time I was in DC, actually. I remember feeling out of place; not hip, smart, urban, cool or thin enough to mingle with the crowd I was in. And WOW did I eat! It was probably the biggest binge I've had in ages.

But I know I can prevent those disasters if I really try. About two weeks after this event I went to a high school graduation party for my daughter's babysitter. Again, I knew a few people, but most of the attendees were strangers to me. But I walked into the situation with a game plan. It was one of those all-day events, so I specifically went between meal times and had a healthy snack before I went. I already had supper plans, so I used that as my excuse when people offered me food. I carried one of my big seltzer water bottles with me and sipped on that. The biggest things I did, though, were the following: I sat down away from the food with people I knew; I pushed myself to start and continue conversations with these people; and best of all, I even got myself introduced to some new people and talked to them.

That was one of my proudest moments. Why? That weekend was the weekend of my birthday (my 35th, no less), and I was miraculously able to lose weight that weekend. My intial goal was to maintain, but on Monday morning I actually weighed a pound less.

If there are any AFGers reading this post today, here's a thought: we should have a sash like the Girl Scouts wear. Wouldn't it be great to iron on a patch recognizing "losing weight over your birthday," or "not gaining weight over Christmas?" We could have a bridging ceremony for each completed year of maintenance.

I could make a copy of my daughter's Brownie sash for and start my own badges of honor. Of course, seeing the word Brownie up there makes me think about warm, chocolate, fudgy... oops, there are those external cues again! Is CSI on yet?


Vickie said...

Love the badges idea - but post them on our BLOGS!!!

Lori said...

Andrea, I really admire how you planned that party and lost weight over the weekend.

I'm reading a book "Mindless Eating" and it's about the various cues that we see (or rather don't see) that cause us to eat and eat more. TV is a bad cause of overeating; if nothing else, there are a lot of food commercials and you don't move.

I like the idea of badges too and we'll have to figure out how to do that. Have fun in DC. I'm going to a reception on Saturday too.