Sunday, May 27, 2007

Surviving the Red Monster

The first time I ever took Mabel to Red Lobster, she was about three or four years old. We were taking a friend of mine out to dinner for her birthday, and as we drove into the parking lot Mabel asked, "Why are we going to a red monster?"

The name has forever stuck with me, and I have passed the usage of "Red Monster" on to my husband and several friends. This is where we went last night for my FIL's birthday dinner, and I must say it is now one of Mabel's favorite restaurants, as she has a particular addiction to crab legs.

It was an interesting discussion as we looked over the menu. Several people debated about ordering just an appetizer for their meal, and I was one of them. But on the way to Red Monster I knew what I was craving, so I went with it -- the shrimp and lobster linguine Alfredo. I saw that they had a half-portion available, so I went with that. My SIL also ordered the Alfredo with her meal.

After we all ordered a discussion went around the table about Alfredo sauce. My BIL normally doesn't like it, except when my husband makes it. Then my dear husband and his mother got into a big discussion about how bad it is for you, blah de blah. I just smiled to myself, feeling the diet mentality arrows coming at me, but they bounced right off as I told myself I was honoring my hunger and doing the right thing by not demonizing certain foods.

These "health-conscious" people ordered the cheesy seafood fondue bread bowl appetizer, and they passed it around for everyone to try. I took two small pieces and refused any more as the "pushers" at the table tried to force one of us to finish it off. Then our salads and rolls came, and I ate all of my salad and one roll.

By the time our entrees arrived I felt pretty satisfied. So when they put my plate down I didn't even touch it and went to work cracking and opening Mabel's crab legs for her. SIL commented half way through that I hadn't touched my meal yet, and I admitted that I wasn't that hungry and if need be I'd get it packed up to take home. When the crab leg cracking was done I finally addressed the pasta. I wound up eating less than a quarter of it and knew I had had enough. So I put my fork down and pushed the plate away from me, and when the waitress came I asked for a container to take it home.

Since it was FIL's birthday, he ordered dessert, and he passed it around for everyone to try. I took one bite, and it was to die for, but I quickly passed it on and took my time savoring the flavors as they lingered in my mouth. And I wasn't filled with envy or regret that I hadn't ordered my own. I do remember thinking, though, that the next time I return I may just order a salad and save room for the dessert!

When I got home later than evening I did wind up eating two pieces of fudge instead of one, but it was by no means a binge, and it didn't feel like one, either. I ended the night really pleased with myself that I ate what I wanted (both selection and quantity) and didn't feel remorseful or worried about it.

I will admit I'm a little bloated this morning (Red Monster's food is so salty!), but I know it could have been so much worse if I had ignored my body's fullness signals and gone overboard.

Now that I've survived the Red Monster, now I'm off to my family reunion. I'm going to employ a technique I used at a previous family dinner that worked well for me. I'll go around the food table once, getting my meal items, and eat until I'm satisfied. Then, when it's time to make the rounds for dessert, I may keep one item out to eat right then and pack the rest away for later. The last time I did this I ate my Thanksgiving meal with my family, then that evening I had my desserts for my evening meal. So instead of eating it all that afternoon and then eating even more that evening and feeling miserable that night, I spread the afternoon food out for the whole day and I felt so good, not only physically, but mentally, too.

That way I still get exactly what I want -- removing deprivation -- but eating it when I'm actually hungry -- following the IE principles.

Now if I can just master this two days in a row when my picnic comes around on Monday. It's always harder when you're the one stuck with a house full of picnic leftovers. But I have to say, knowing that I don't have to "get back on track" with restricting calories on Tuesday, the pressure to "eat it all now!" really isn't there. So if I have a bunch of brownies or chips or whatever it may be left over, I don't have to gobble them all up Monday night since they won't be Forbidden Food on Tuesday.

I just looked at the clock and it's definitely time for me to get ready for my day. I'll let you know how it goes.


Jake Silver said...

My wife and I just went to Red Lobster and they have a Lighthouse Menu... I had the Grilled Shrimp and seasoned veggies. It was really good, I thought.

Tree Lover said...

I love alfredo sauce! I love that I can order it anytime I want now that I'm not dieting anymore. I'm currently waiting to get hungry for lunch so that I can have some leftover pasta with alfredo sauce and veggies. Like you, I ordered it and barely touched it after being satisfied by salad and bread.

It's funny how the topic turned to how it is bad for you and then the "healthy" eaters proceeded to fill up on other high calorie/high fat stuff. I have been a part of so many conversations like that, and I have to say that I find them to be quite annoying now. I'm so sick of being surrounded by the diet mentality. I think I might go nuts having to hear it from people for the rest of my life!

Joc said...

Wow Andrea, you handled that dinner so well!

Your comment about the "pushers" who try to get you to finish things stuck a chord with me. Why dont they just finish it themselves if they are so damn worried about it remaining unfinished, why push someone else to do it. I am going to remember that next time someone tries to convince me to finish something.

Good luck with your picnic.

Jen said...

Great work honoring yourself all the way around, Andrea! I also must tell you...I laughed when I read how you call Red Lobster "Red Monster," because a friend of mine has his own name for it "Dead Blobster." Seems we all have our own thoughts about the restaurant and their food! ;-) Good luck with your weekend. I can't wait to hear how it goes!

LMM said...

Thank you for the post, I am going to incorporate some of those ideas for my camping weekends - they have been an IE struggle - though this past improvement I am able to focus more on the positives rather then dwelling on the not as positives...