Friday, April 6, 2018

Reader question: Secret unchic eating!



Lovely reader Amy wrote to me:

Hi Fiona,

I love your "30 Slim Days" book - so much of it resonated with me - but I've run across a hurdle and it occurred to me that you might provide a different way of looking at this since you've deeply thought about the psychology behind weight loss.

I can be going along, eating right and exercising, but when my husband goes on a business trip (usually it's 1 week away perhaps 3 times per year) I tend to view it as a "vacation for myself" in which I throw all common sense out the window and seem to view it as a time to relax my standards and eat whatever "bad" binge food I want to - fast food, Chinese food, bakery items - it's fascinating how we sometimes view food as a way of treating ourselves even if it's unhealthy choices.

Anyway, he has a business trip coming up next month and I know it's going to be a stumbling block for me (I'm already gleefully contemplating the Kung Pao Shrimp and strawberry glazed donuts) so I thought I'd be prepared this time and write to you to see if you had any thoughts on this matter :)

~~ 


Oh my goodness, such a great question.  It’s something I’ve done many times myself.  Many, many times and still can do sometimes!  Less than before thankfully.  I wrote about one of the times I was successful here (and I love the comments on this post as well):


My first thought was to reframe what a 'vacation for yourself' would look like.  Imagine if you went to a health spa for a week and had pampering treatments, time to relax, restorative walks around the grounds and delicious, nutritious meals served up to you.

I know for me that the unhealthy foods beckon when I'm thinking how to treat myself, but when I have something crazy healthy like a smoothie packed with fresh ingredients I am almost zinging out of my skin afterwards because I feel so good! Remember how you feel after the donuts and perhaps that will help you redesign your week by yourself.

Perhaps rename your week to a chic name too?  I would choose Spa Week or A Week in Paris etc.  Ooh, and what about PrivĂ© for a name (it's French for Private and brings up thoughts of a wealthy woman or celebrity being elegant behind closed doors).

As you will know from Thirty Slim Days (available here from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GYEyZU) I like to make the better thing to do fun and enticing, otherwise I won't want to do it.  Having a week at home by myself trying to be healthy and avoid all my favourite treat foods sounds so dire I'm afraid I wouldn't have a chance of achieving it.

But A Week in Paris though?  Where I can watch French movies and design a menu for all my meals as if I was choosing from the blackboard at a Paris bistro?  Where I have petite projects planned such as going through my closet and putting together a chic French-style capsule wardrobe for the coming season and practicing Gallic eyeliner techniques thanks to YouTube?  Yes please!

Your treat foods might be a simple and delicious meal of fresh fish cooked in butter and lemon juice with brightly coloured vegetables and a gourmet French sauce that you purchase.  For afters, a macaron or two.

A Week in Paris is just one suggestion; you might prefer to spend the week in another country :)

It might still be a pull for you to go the other way, glazed donuts and all, but that's only because you've done it so many times in the past.  When I want to change my habits, I tell myself that that was what the old me did, and I'm different now.  I tell myself I am the type of person who does X.

It feels good to identify with an elegant role model too.  I might have a week of Aerin, because I love her restrained and feminine way of being.  Aerin would not eat popcorn for a meal, I'm sure of it.

Think of all the fun things you love to do, and do them when you have your week by yourself.  I'm thinking for me of things that don't involve my husband such as browsing my style files, playing around with my knitting yarns and sewing fabrics, doing spa treatments such as face masks, writing my own inspiration in my journal and watching French movies as above.

I hope this post has sparked off some ideas for your week, Amy, and I'd love to hear what you plan to do with your week now.  Instead of being scared of it, be excited!

Dear readers, as always I'd love to hear your thoughts.  What would you say to Amy?  And, what would your dream week to yourself look like (even if you still had to go to work!)  I want all the juicy details :)

~~Fiona~~


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28 comments:

  1. Such great advice, as always, Fiona.
    I also think one way to handle it is that Aerin (or whomever) would maybe make one special day to indulge. For instance buy the Kung Pao and on the special treat day , set a beautiful place setting, light some candles, turn on some music and plate it and then portion out half of the dish. Savor eating that half and decide if you REALLY want the rest. For dessert, buy just 1 strawberry donut and savor that ... Cutting off small bites and chewing them thoroughly, enjoying the flavor and deciding if another bite was needed ... That way you aren't denying yourself these special treats and pleasures, but you are having them in extreme moderation. Then eat normally the other six days ... just an idea.

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    1. Very wise advice, thank you Kristi. When I have takeaways (usually Thai or Indian), I half for dinner and the other half for a yummy lunch the next day.

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  2. Fiona, I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you. The suggestion of treating the week as week in Paris is inspiring. Kristi, I really like your suggestions about how to savor the meal ( and the donut). Making conscious decisions about eating takes extra effort but you can really make something special for yourself and treat yourself well without overindulging and then feeling bad. Thanks and good wishes from Chicago, USA!

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    1. Treating yourself without overindulging, that's the real thing to master, yes!

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  3. The idea of a spa week resonates with me...small but beautifully arranged colourful and healthy meals...served with a glass of fizzy water at the table with candles...and perhaps as a treat a small piece of good quality chocolate for dessert. Each day have a special thing planned....a manicure, pedicure, facial...meet a friend for a coffee, peruse a luxury shop, buy fresh flowers.
    Have fun!

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  4. I love the idea of a Private Week of Pampering so much! It can be a bit lonely when one's spouse is away on travel. Thank you for sharing this reader's question and your response is so helpful and the other comments are as well. Cheers!

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  5. I've been there, Fiona! For me it's a slippery slope, if I have one naughty item I'll have more until I'm feeling thoroughly guilty. It's not good. I think your advice and the advice given in the comments about elevating the experience of eating would work for me. I'm going to try it next time I have a junk food craving!

    D.

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    1. Good luck D :) I can identify with the slippery slope!

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  6. Hi ladies,

    I'm the Amy who posed the question :) Just a quick note - I didn't mean to give the impression that this is "secret" eating - that sounds like an eating disorder - shoot, I'll tell my husband if I'm having a donut :) No shame in my game :)

    I was thinking more about this this morning and was contemplating that it might be "normal" to relax one's standards on a vacation - isn't that what a vacation is for? You sleep in, perhaps eat a few out-of-the-ordinary "naughty" meals.

    I don't know - you've all given me lots to muse over! Thank you!

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    1. No no, I didn't mean it like that Amy. I suppose I could word it better. I more meant (for me anyway) that I would never think to guts myself on something unhealthy if I was dining with my husband, but when I have the occasion to have a meal by myself my inner two-year-old thinks 'Mmmmm, what can I have!!'

      I agree with the vacation feeling too, it's something I've tried to steer more towards non-food treats because when I overindulge in something it makes me feel sick and that's not fun on holiday. I am trying to change what constitutes a treat for me, I think that's what I mean.

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  7. I agree with Kristi. Pick a day and have those foods you want to enjoy, just watch your portion size and don't overdo.

    Personally, every now and then I want a hot dog. So, I pull a package out of the freezer along with a bun, cook it nicely on my little grill while toasting the bun properly, and have it with the appropriate condiments and a small bag of potato chips. I don't go crazy and eat the whole package, and the next day I'm back to healthy eating. I never feel deprived because the option is there, so I don't feel like I need to have one all that often.

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  8. I want to have a Paris week with you, Fiona! If you ever really do that, please write about it. Sounds very fun! XOXO

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  9. Instead of using food as a "treat", why not eat in your normal, healthy fashion and exercise as usual, and use other things as "treats"? I'm sure there are things that you like to do... movies that you would like to watch, but your husband wouldn't enjoy these things, so you don't do them. Why not use his week away to do these things? Watch the movies that he would deem "chick flicks" or the movies with subtitles that he finds irritating. Take in an exhibit, play, or music event that he would find boring. Take the time to really clean out your closet and organize it. Have a spa night, complete with face mask, conditioning treatment, and mani-pedi. Feel free to experiment with your look without having to hear "What the hell did you do to your hair?" or "Is that what you're wearing?" Why not make a list of things like this, things that you would consider treats that you usually don't do with him at home? Instead of reaching for the donut or the processed food, jsut look at the list and see what experience you can have instead.

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  10. Thank you for this post, Fiona! It has taken me some time to get away from 'treating' myself with food when I have a day or evening to myself, especially in stressful times. Now it's about pampering myself. A scented foot soak and then pretty polish on my toenails, watching a favorite show on Netflix (The Land Girls is a great choice!),reading or looking through my collection of Victoria magazines,or even doing online jigsaw puzzles of tropical beaches. Over time I've found these activities to be much more satisfying than eating junk food. There are still the small indulgences now and then,but those have become higher quality indulgences.

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    1. I love Victoria magazine too, Jane. It's so soothing and elegant, and helps me elevate my experience of daily life!

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  11. Firstly I would tidy the house and remove all traces of my (loving but messy) husband's bits and pieces that he leaves through the place :) My home-alone-treat-week would include a bubble bath most evenings with a moisturising face mask, book and cup of herbal tea. My 'best' towels, face washers and nice soap could safely reside in the bathroom for the week. Wearing lovely pyjamas to bed after I've applied good hand cream and night face cream, reading some fluffy 'chick lit' novel or writing in my journal then sleeping like a starfish, taking up the whole bed. Yoga each morning in the lounge room / bedroom / wherever. Hiring or downloading a couple of foreign films and some old faithfuls like 'Steel Magnolias', 'Terms of Endearment' or a 'bonnet drama' to enjoy. Eating all of my meals at the table with a lovely place setting and nice music - never in front of the tv. And have at least one sleepover with my mum or a friend for company, including a home pedicure, manicure or similar.

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    1. Sounds perfect Lara, and the tidy-up is a great start. Order always brings peace of mind for me too.

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  12. I would shop for my meals every day like the Parisian's do making sure I buy the best (as it just you it will not be too $$ ). I would buy some french skin care and a couple of makeup lines too.Make sure your snacks are healthy when you watch TV and the films you wish to see with the remote in Your Hand! LOL

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    1. Yes, Lady Jicky, when it's just a dainty lady portion you can buy more expensive items, so true!

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  13. This is such a great question and I love all the fun suggestions as to how to make it a special time for you. I always love to celebrate alone time with watching something that really appeals to me in movies...something feminine, maybe a period drama. And I love keeping the house ultra tidy during that time too. It feels like a treat sauntering around a clean home and having total domain over the remote control. Honestly, having a break from some of the "man in the wilderness" shows is such a treat!

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    1. A period drama sounds perfect, Stephanie. I enjoy watching The House of Eliott when I have the house to myself :)

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  14. Hi Everybody. I have this slippery slope in my life, also. I agree that tidying up the house, washing the dishes and generally creating a special "nest" is a really good start to staying chic. I like to think every day too, "what shall I eat today?" and often my first thought is kettle chips, Doritos or a big ol' cinnamon bun from the coffee shop. What has really helped me is the thought, "Karen..... do you want to feel better or worse. You're feeling pretty good now so how shall we keep it going?" Sometimes a "not the giant size" bag of Miss Vicky's balsamic vinegar kettle chips is actually a great treat. Knowing the difference between a treat/reward and a pig-out is quite significant. I'm in no way "there" but this strategy often supports my desire to stay chic. Everybody on this blog is awesome. I'm so glad I found y'all. XO

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    1. So true, Karen: when I think about how I feel afterwards it can help me make a better choice. I like the small kettle chip bag idea :) It helps me remember there is a middle way to be instead of All or Nothing.

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  15. If I'm having a spa time, I pre-prepare the meals in proper portion sized containers so that I don't have to cook during that week - just reheat. I saw where Amy said in her second comment, "...it might be "normal" to relax one's standards on a vacation - isn't that what a vacation is for? You sleep in, perhaps eat a few out-of-the-ordinary "naughty" meals." I used to think that way which is how I gained so much weight. I also discovered those naughty meals create triggers that mean I actually eat MORE and for far longer than the vacation meals because the cravings are back and I end up indulging far more than I wanted to. Alpha Hubby and I are on a Keto-type diet and decided after 5 weeks we wanted to eat out, no barriers. Three days later I'm finally getting over the carb indulges I had and can honestly say NOT WORTH IT. Felt horrid. So my choice from now on might be ONE part of the meal may be carb (like a few bites of a shared dessert) but not the entire meal (we ate at a fried food place - catfish, shrimp, scallops, etc). It tasted good at first but afterwards? NO!

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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