Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eating Right When Eating Out

I eat out a lot. It’s not something that I’m particularly proud of, but it’s a fact within my life right now. When my friends and I make plans it almost always involves having brunch, lunch, dinner or some sort of snack in between. It’s not for want of trying to find other things we could do, it’s simply how things tend to work within the confines of all our busy schedules.

And I love eating out. It’s fun to try new foods or old favourites, I like interacting with the wait staff and I love to be out with people I enjoy. So now that I’m trying to eat clean how do I go out to eat and not go completely off the rails?

So far it’s been tough. Many restaurants have minimal healthy options and even if something looks healthy on the menu it might not be when it arrives. Luckily, I work close to Fresh, an amazing vegan restaurant in Toronto , so I can always steer co-workers there if we need to go out for lunch. Dinners are tough, though. At a pub with my lovely friend Donna recently (it was her turn to choose) I ordered a grilled chicken salad with raspberry balsamic dressing, only I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side and it was pretty much drenched in the stuff. It’s a healthier choice of dressing, but actually pretty gross in excess. And there were nuts on the salad, which I’m fine with, but they actually seemed almost candied. Um, really? In a salad?

I try to be flexible, so I ate the salad and tried to leave as much of the dressing in the bowl as possible. No sense ruining the meal for my friend by freaking out about the food. I figure all in all it was still better than the vegetable curry I used to order at that restaurant.

Another night Shawn and I went out and I ordered a pasta dish. It was a splurge night for me, as it wasn’t whole wheat pasta, but I only ate ½ and I chose one with lean protein (grilled chicken) and no added cheese. Better than what I would have ordered two months ago, but still not great. There weren’t many other options on the menu that could have been better anyway.

So what’s a girl to do? I’ve been consulting Hungry Girl’s site for tips (I love Hungry Girl), but she doesn’t do much that’s low-sugar or artificial sweetener free… Anyone have any tips (other than remembering to ask for dressing on the side – I won’t be making that mistake again).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spooky Sweets

It’s been a busy few weeks and the blog has suffered for it. I have been keeping up my clean eating habits, though, and feel better and stronger than I ever have.

Halloween was a tough one, but not as bad as I had anticipated. Growing up, Halloween was a huge incentive for me to gorge on candy. It’s a habit that I took with me into adulthood, as I was always the first to dip into the candy jar at the office (and then go back for seconds and thirds and twenty-thirds…) and I happily stocked up on discount mini-chocolate bars on November 1st. It was a problem. But this year I found that, despite an office full of tiny chocolate bars and goodies, I had no desire to indulge.

One thing I did want, or thought I wanted, was a peanut butter cup. Just one. A small treat of what had always been a favourite indulgence. So I decided to go for it. I sat and slowly savoured each tiny bite – nibbling off the ridged edge, then slowly letting each small creamy bite melt in my mouth. And it was… not so great.. The chocolate tasted sort of fake and plastic, the peanut butter seemed overly salty and the whole experience was less than stellar. I finished my treat and felt no desire to have another one. In past years I would have eaten all three in the package, but not anymore. This newfound self-control is still pretty exciting for me.

And even more exciting was slipping into a pair of size 4, (yes, 4!) jeans the other day. I have been losing inches steadily since I dropped sugar and picked up a thrice weekly gym habit instead, so new pants were in order. I have already gone through a set of size 6 work pants that are rapidly growing looser, so I decided to try a 4 and… they fit! I even asked the salesgirl if they were too tight, as I found it hard to believe, but she assured me that they were just perfect. And they are!

Losing weight was never a big motivation for me on this journey and it still blows my mind how quickly my body has transformed. I’m actually eating more food, but now it’s fresh fruit, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains instead of processed junk. And working out has given me more energy then I could have imagined. The other day one of the machines I needed at the gym was in use, so I decided to do a few push-ups while I waited – something I have always struggled with – and I did it! Ten perfect push-ups (not the girl ones either). I wasn’t even tired! I could have done more! When did that happen? I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of my work-out and I’m smiling now as I write this. Being healthy definitely rocks.