Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Those sneaky "Special Occasion" Calories

I know you've been there.  You are trying to watch your weight, or lose weight, and so are either carefully counting every calorie or are just staying away from high calorie and/or trigger foods.

And then.  There they are.  The "pushers".

The pushers come in many forms.  Sometimes they are overweight friends who want company - they really don't want you to lose weight.  Sometimes they are skinny friends, who see you as the "fat friend" and are threatened by the idea of you trimming down.  Sometimes they are well-meaning, normal-weight friends who have never struggled with their weight.  They can eat a brownie or piece of cake, and it never goes to their hips.  Or they don't have food issues, so they can eat a single cookie or drink a glass of wine, and that's it.  They can leave it after that.

A favorite comment from a "pusher" if you turn down that cake is "But it's a special occasion!"

This, my friends, for most of us, is total bullshit.

At some point, long ago, it really made sense.  When I was a child in the 70's, we didn't eat out.  Meals were mostly cooked from scratch (with some canned soup and bologna sandwiches).  We rarely had chips or soda in the house.  Cookies were baked from scratch.  Special occasions were special - Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  New year's.  Birthdays for the kids (most of the time, 3 of us).  That's...5 special occasions a year.  Add in the occasional party or other event and it was certainly still less than 12.

But these days, how special are they?  I'll tell you how special.

Let's start with June 1.
1 year old birthday parties: 5.  I have attended 5 of these and declined to attend at least as many.
My own baby's birthday dinner: 1
My birthday (I was on a plane, there was no cake involved): 1
Our anniversary: 1
Company BBQ: 1
Retirement party: 1
Friends visiting/ French festival: 1
Days where there was cake or cheesecake at work: 2

So in 6 weeks, there were 13 "special occasions" with the opportunity to eat sweets, cake, drink wine or beer, or eat fried/ unhealthy food.  That's two per week.

That doesn't even factor in the school aged child.  He attends at least 5-7 birthday parties a year.  Cookies and chips are a regular thing at camp and school.  Sometimes he feels that  he should get dessert every night.  Every night??  We've set it at 2x a week, but still there are "special occasions" like tomorrow's concert in the park.  No, I'm not packing sweets, but if his friends are there and they have them, he will eat them.

This is why it's very important to define "special occasion" calories.  After I had my second baby, I met with a dietitian online (she happens to be a friend).  She defined various foods as "everyday", "once in awhile" and "special occasion".  And "special occasion" foods are once a MONTH.  How do you handle the "pushers" who don't get that?

I simply decline the cake and say "I don't like cake" (which is mostly true).  If it's a good friend, I simply state that at my age, I simply cannot spare the calories. 

Some people, however, will never get it.  So be strong, friends.  Understand "Special Occasion" calories and decide how often they will enter your life.  Accept that we are all different.  That 24-year old marathon runner will be able to eat a lot more than that 43-year old occasional exerciser.  Try not to compare yourself to other people's options.  It's just depressing.  (It has gotten to the point that I don't even read any blog post that is a dessert.  I will not make them.  I will not eat them.  I just press the delete button.)

And because I want to post a photo, here's a pic of my little sweet boy on his first birthday, eating his first piece of cake!  And so far, only. 


Melissa said...

This is is spot on. Everyone is different and everyone has different reasons for eating or not eating those extra sweets/treats/indulgences. It can be difficult to say no to the food pushers. Thank you for giving me more fuel!

nutrition coach edie said...

Great idea to actually count out the 'special occasions' in one month