This past weekend we had a local church putting on a Greek Food Festival. For those of you who do not know, I am Greek (and Italian). I grew up in the Greek Church for 13 years and we also put on a food festival every year. So I know and love this food…..
However, it’s not gluten free and it’s mostly high fat, high calorie dishes. So what did I do?
I planned for it! ALL week long, I ate and exercised with the idea that I was going to be eating more than I normally do on Friday and Saturday evenings (and taking more digestive enzymes to help my body break down the gluten and dairy). Each day I did about 45 minutes of cardio and kept my other meals small and clean. I was super excited about enjoying my Greek food-I knew exactly where I wanted to “spend” my calories.
When we got there Friday night, I focused on only the foods I knew I loved. Surprisingly, I was not very impressed with the way these foods were prepared. My mother is a great cook and I eat some of these foods every year anyway but the Greek Food Festivals of my past were legendary so you can imagine my disappointment when my taste buds were not singing after a few bits of each of my favorite dishes.
This was Friday night, the first day of the festival. In my mind, I had planned to go Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The good news here is that because I was not impressed, we could skip Sunday and I would be eating WAY less than planned on Saturday.
The one item they did very well were the Loukoumades- honey dipped fried dough balls. Yes, I said fried dough. I don’t eat many fried things but this food is part of my childhood and I remember helping the ladies put the dough into the oil when I was young and then soaking them in honey and sugar solution when they came out. The last time I had one of these, I was in Greece in 2005. Before that, it’s probably been at least ten years since I had one of these desserts. Saturday morning, I made sure I got my butt on my spin bike for at least 45 minutes and I even jumped in the pool for a bit before we met our friends at the festival on Saturday to enjoy the second half of the day and early evening.
I want to outline a few key points about this past weekend, how I handled it and the lessons I hope to pass on to you.
- I love and appreciate food. When it’s really important to me, I say yes to whatever it is and I plan for it (digestive enzymes)
- I don’t want to gain any weight so I planned my meals and activity to balance out the indulgence I was planning to have. (45 minutes of cardio everyday and super clean, protein and veggie based meals before that with no starchy carbs)
- Once I tasted the food I was so excited about and didn’t love it, I stopped eating it. It wasn’t “worth it”
- When I found something I could really enjoy, I ate only that and savored it. I decided to enjoy the time with my friends, listen to the music and make the food festival NOT about food.
How you can use these points to make a difference in how you celebrate or occasionally indulge with your favorite foods. (think holidays)
- In Fit 2 Love, I talk about a having a Food Love Affair. A healthy relationship with food means you can appreciate it, enjoy it and have power over it- not the other way around. In most cases where someone does not have a healthy relationship with food, my food festival weekend would have still continued and you may have continued to eat all the food even after realizing it was not as good as it “should” be or that you planned for.
- Planning and thinking ahead- it takes less than 3 minutes to look ahead for the day or week to see where there may be outing, parties, or gaps of time where you will need to eat. I often here people tell me they do not have time to think about their food but YOU DO ANYWAY! We all eat…. So take an extra 3 minutes to plan it out in your head. If you need help with this, ask!
- “Is it worth it” is a phrase I teach all my clients. If nothing else, ask yourself before you eat something that you think maybe you “shouldn’t”, IS IT WORTH IT? If it’s not worth gaining weight over or not losing weight, then put it down. In one respect, it’s only food. You can replace it with different food. If it IS worth it (in the case of the fried honey balls for me), then accept it and its consequences and PLAN. I took my enzymes, I did my exercise. So there is no guilt or problem. I loved them and it’s OK.
- Just because it’s there does not mean you are hungry or that you need it. Someone people are so hypnotized by having food in front of them, they must think the food is yelling “EAT ME!” Thanksgiving dinners are the prime example of overeating JUST BECAUSE it’s there. I use to do it too but in the last 7 or 8 years, I have had a completely different relationship with holidays because I could hear my mind chatter and I changed it. A habit is just a habit because you keep doing it and haven’t changed your internal conversation. You CAN change that internal conversation but first you have to be aware of what you are ALREADY saying to yourself. ☺