Changing my body and changing my life

Archive for the ‘Families and eating’ Category

Smaller pieces and Mom-guilt

Yesterday had it’s ups and downs. I was feeling very stressed, but to be honest, the bad eating I did (too many peanut butter squares) started before I was feeling stressed.

I made peanut butter squares a couple of days ago. My husband said his dad really liked them and suggested I made them. His dad has terminal cancer, was given a year to live two years ago. He’s hanging in there but not doing great. And whatever might add a little joy that man’s life, as far as I’m concerned, he gets, as long as it’s legal and moral.

The fact that I love peanut butter squares makes it a bonus and a temptation.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am struggling with including some treat-foods without overdoing it. I figure to maintain my weight in the long run it’s a skill I’ll have to learn, because I’m not eliminating dessert for the rest of my life. So far, it is not going well. I brought some to staff meeting to share with my co-workers (because I love them, and because even if I can’t lose the last 5 pounds, if I get everyone around me to gain 5, I look comparatively better). I don’t actually know how many of them I ate, although because I cut them small, it wasn’t as bad as it otherwise might have been.

Then later on I encountered STRESS and so I had yet more of them.

Today – I had a lunch with my extended family. I made some good decisions: majoring on vegetables, cutting that piece of lasagne in half. But my sister commented to me that I seem to be off-plan today (she knows the tools I’m using) and she was absolutely right. I have no idea how what I ate today fits on the Mayo Clinic Plan.

I am also up by 3 pounds. I seem to retain water around the same time each month, so this is no surprise. I certainly didn’t eat 3 pounds worth of peanut butter squares. Still don’t like to see that.

I already aluded to my helpful tool for today when I mentioned cutting the PB squares small: smaller pieces and serving sizes. I first realized the power of this tool when I was a youth-care worker in a group home where many girls were overweight and obese. Grilled cheese sandwiches were a common meal, and I got good at estimating how many we would need – it was always more than 1 sandwich per person. We would always cut the sandwiches in half and pile them on a big plate. One day I did one thing different. I cut the sandwiches into quarters instead of halves. There were leftovers that day – the group had eaten far fewer sandwiches.

There is something psychologically satisfying about having more pieces of something, or taking a second portion. If I have left 2 carb servings for supper and have rice, for example, it somehow feels better if I have one serving on my plate first, and then go back and take a second rather than putting the 2 servings on my plate at the same time. Same with small desserts. 2 small cookies feels more satisfying than one big one, even if they are the same amount in the end.

What I still find challenging fits in with my series on families and eating: Mom-guilt.

I find that Moms seem way more concerned about their children’s eating and lifestyles than dads. I think this is imposed on us by society at large. Who is giving the kids Wonderbread with extra fibre? A mom. Who is in the 3 Participaction ads deriding parents who think that occasional activity is enough for their kids? 3 moms, not a dad to be seen.

Men, meanwhile, are encouraged to do manly things like eat cheese-burger pizza.

I  can’t find much research on fathers, children and food. Just that fact that you can’t find much in a simple Google search would seem to indicate it is off the radar for most people.

My guess, though, is that for many mothers, myself included, we absorb these messages unconsciously and end up feeling responsible and guilty. I know I deal with guilt about nutrition and lifestyle practices for my kids on an almost daily basis. How do I find the time to increase their activity? How do I get them to eat nutritious food without damaging our relationship? How often should I let them have treats?

I wonder then, how the mom-guilt robs me of peace and joy and actually sabotages my own efforts. Because stress only seems to interact negatively with being able to make positive decisions in my own life. I don’t feel I have good answers here, yet. Sometimes I vary widely between extremes of trying to control how my kids eat and live and totally giving up because nothing I do seems to make much of a difference.


Family Matters

Yesterday was a new high for exercise. I jogged on the treadmill for 18/30 minutes, up 2 minutes from my last attempt. I warmed up to 6.5 km/hr over 2 minutes, and then for the duration jogged 8 km/hr for 2 minutes, walked 6.5 km/hr for 1, etc. My neck started to spasm after that but some hot water in the shower and a bit of self-massage and I was good.

Yesterday I was a bit over in the carbs – on a home visit I was offered a roti, and haven’t having had one for years I decided to go for it. It only put me over by about 1/2 a carb, though, because I skipped carbs totally for supper and just went for a chicken taco salad minus the taco.

Today, I’m fairly on track. Focusing on a whole protein at breakfast seems to help me not feel so hungry over the morning. This morning it was an egg and scrambled veggies with toast (below, top) which I found much more satisfying in the long run than the previous day’s breakfast of brown rice, yogurt and apple sauce (below, bottom). Today’s lunch was a leftover turkey pasta dish, carrots and celery and applesauce. 

I had to drive out of town for a home visit and really felt like stopping for something first. Something delectable, like frozen yogurt or a pastry. This was very shortly after lunch, btw. When I really thought it through, I realized I wasn’t hungry. I was bored, a little despondent. I told myself I could wait until supper and then did. Hubby made a great chicken and vegetable curry over rice, so the wait was totally worth it.

I know I’ve written other posts about going my own way as opposed to what the rest of my family is eating. Sometimes I need to do this, and sometimes I don’t. I found myself thinking about families and food today, and I think I may do a few posts on the subject. It’s a touchy one for me. In part, I’m choosing a healthy lifestyle for my kids. I didn’t have anyone to model healthy eating for me, nor did anyone try to structure my eating in a healthy way. I would come home from school, pretty much depressed most of the time, and eat. I remember boxes of Old Dutch Chips gone quickly. I remember making entire meals of pizza buns and soups, before comsuming another supper meal. I remember being able to scarf down half a pizza by myself. Easily. Food was comfort and entertainment.

I want better for my kids. On the plus side, they ended up with parents probably a tad more emotionally healthy and aware than I had. On the negative, they are bombarded all the more with non-food masquerading as food and coming at them with marketing techniques perfected by millions of research dollars put forth by Big Food. We are in a culture saturated with unhealthy, and our soaring obesity rates show this. I don’t want my kids in those statistics.

So I eat healthy for me, and I try to also encourage (nag? enforce?) it for them, too. Generally, this is unappreciated. “Mom is trying to make us eat ‘healthy’ again,” is often said in the tone that would normally be used if someone was trying to get you to buy Amway. Once in awhile, I’ll get a breakthrough, like my middle one telling me the other day, “Mommy, you were right, the mini-Blizzard was  the right size for me,” or when they admit that too much candy feels yucky (Yes, I do allow my kids treats). At their deeper moments, they can say that they do want what is healthy, but peer and popular pressures are a lot for developing minds. It feel like it’s up to me to stand in the gap and say to McDonald’s “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” (That was a Lord of the Rings reference, btw)

So in general, I still find it challenging to guide my children’s eating. I think eating healthier as a family helps me, too.

However, I’ve come up with helpful tools that seem to move us in the right direction:

1. Put out the healthiest food when they are the hungriest. Right after school is a great time for fruit and veggie plates.

2. Don’t worry about variety. We all descend from people groups with very limited diets – whatever was local. I believe it was through Michael Pollan’s writing that I became aware that people can live successfully on all kinds of diets, as long as it’s not the modern processed North American diet. That’s one’s deadly. Youngest child will pretty much eat 2 vegetables: raw carrots and cooked peas. Middle child loves caesar salad. Both eldest and middle like cucumbers and carrots with dip. So those few things get a lot of play in our meals and snacks. It does not bother me at all to serve carrots and cucumbers every day for a week.

3. Puree away. There is a soup I make with sweet potato, a few other vegetables and peanut butter that I know my kids would never touch with chunks. I puree it with a hand blender, call it peanut butter soup and the middle and youngest love it. They also go for smoothies (fruit, yogurt and often carrot and zucchini, too) almost every day (see #2), and popsicles made only of pureed fruit are very popular.

4. Some things are easy. Whole wheat pasta is a simple switch to make. So is dropping to the next lowest milk fat amount (3% to 2%, 1% to skim). I used to only drink 2% and slowly moved down. I learned to like skim. So did hubby, who once swore it tasted like water.

5. Recipes with all purpose flour can be substituted out 1/4 whole wheat with little change to the end result.