Changing my body and changing my life

Posts tagged ‘smaller servings’

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 ┬ácan’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.