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indulging on special occasions: is it okay?


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article from the Seattle Times

We all have those special occasions — birthdays, family dinners, parties, weddings, retirement dinners and even just weekends — that we use as excuses to overeat.    According to Amy Gorin, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and human behavior, one of the primary predictors of weight gain or maintenance is dietary consistency. "Those who maintain the same diet regimen across the week and year are more likely to maintain their weight loss over the following year than those who diet more strictly on weekdays and/or during nonholiday periods."

If you're wondering whether overeating "just this once" really has any effect on your weight, numbers don't lie. I made up my own roster of "special days," and the total came to about 50 per year.

Since Dr. Gorin seems to think even "special occasion eating" is something one ought to be concerned about, how about your opinion?

Do you ever say "just this once"? and do you ever think that the "once" can add up to more and more indulging? I am surprised that she came up with the number 50 ... :shock:

Or is this normal human behavior? :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I think the key is moderation in all things....and that doesn't necessarily mean a person must eat moderately at all times, but that overall they eat in moderation. For instance, if I know I will be going to eat something very rich and decadent for dinner, I will balance that with lighter fare for breakfast and lunch. Maintaining "the same diet regimen across the week and year" would leave me wanting to indulge even more.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I read that this morning, while eating my scrambled egg whites and whole wheat toast... I'm not at all sure how she came up with 50 holidays, but perhaps she celebrates at the drop of a hat.

Let's see, these are the big holidays that warrant special eating for me:

New Year's Eve

My Birthday

Friends' birthdays

Fourth of July (waffle-fest at my house!)

Thanksgiving

Christmas

The odd wedding

Funerals (although that's more for drinking)

That's not to say that I don't celebrate more, but I do try to watch it when I do, and compensate for eating dessert by having a salad for lunch.

Guess I'm not making those special, calorie laden dishes for President's day or Groundhog day. And I'm not pigging out to the max on my listed days, either. Well, except for the stuffing on Christmas. And Pumpkin pie. :wink:

As with many things in my life, I'm sure that what I do isn't the norm (birkenstock wearing, subaru driving, farmer's market going kind of chick) for America. And I wouldn't be surprised if she's right. Diets usually fail, and this could be one reason why.

Edited by lala (log)

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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article from the Seattle Times
"Those who maintain the same diet regimen across the week and year are more likely to maintain their weight loss over the following year than those who diet more strictly on weekdays and/or during nonholiday periods." 

Statistics will also show that these people are also more likely to be no fun to be around and have a generally unpleasant life. :hmmm:

Bill Russell

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article from the Seattle Times
"Those who maintain the same diet regimen across the week and year are more likely to maintain their weight loss over the following year than those who diet more strictly on weekdays and/or during nonholiday periods." 

Statistics will also show that these people are also more likely to be no fun to be around and have a generally unpleasant life. :hmmm:

I'm not sure that eating/drinking everything in sight automatically makes a person more fun to be around. Unless of course, one celebrates with eating contests. :wink:

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I spent most of my 41 years overweight. I got scared of dying young and not seeing my children(now 4 and 7) grow up so I lost 100 pounds. I frequent the weight watchers forums and I see the special occasion struggle constantly. People WANT to lose weight but they dont want to give up anything to do it. Weekends are so hard, this function or that function etc. There is always something that is going to come up. I'm not saying you should never just go out and eat whatever you want. You just can't do that all the time. If you read the forums there, half the posts are from people who are saying stop me from eating this donut or how many points is this food because I couldn't resist it. Imagine their suprise when whatever they ate used up most of their points for the day.

On my birthday last year we went to an Italian restaurant. I indulged in pasta-not something I usually have since I have given up most "white" foods. I ate a lighter lunch knowing I would be having a heavier supper. Sadly, the sauce on the pasta was tasteless and not worth the points I spent on it.

Holidays at my MIL's are not a struggle for me since she is not a very good cook-picture if you can a salad made of chopped up lettuce(iceburg), mayo and a can of peas. I hope it's not too stressful to even try to picture this. Dried out turkey, boiled potatoes and overcooked broccoli usually round out the meal. Oh, almost forgot the coleslaw with the pickled eggs sliced on top.

When I decided to lose weight, I had to change my relationship with food. I no longer eat just because it's there. When we go out, I focus on the company and not the food.

There are ways to eat healthy when you go out. It's all about choices. Eat food that you love-not just food because it's there.

Sandra

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article from the Seattle Times
"Those who maintain the same diet regimen across the week and year are more likely to maintain their weight loss over the following year than those who diet more strictly on weekdays and/or during nonholiday periods." 

Statistics will also show that these people are also more likely to be no fun to be around and have a generally unpleasant life. :hmmm:

I'm not sure that eating/drinking everything in sight automatically makes a person more fun to be around. Unless of course, one celebrates with eating contests. :wink:

No but someone who never veers from the same regimen every single day of their life is just as crazy as the person who puts no limits on themselves.

Bill Russell

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I don't think the trouble is so much an overindulgence in one meal, so much as indulging in one meal -- without visible consequences -- tends to make a lot of dieters slack off in general. Plenty of people use the entire Christmas season as an excuse to eat a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of the other thing -- and yeah, that's going to add up. And for people who are restricting calories, or have lost weight, it is apparently very common to become more sugar/carb sensitive, which means that physical reactions occur which make one carby lapse that much more likely to drop you into a subsequent quicksand of junk-carb eating.

If, however, one really can relax enough to enjoy one treat/cheat meal and get back on track immediately thereafter, I don't believe it will bust your efforts.

And I certainly agree that people who never relax their regimens, even for a celebration, are a sad lot (and I have been one of them). It has been part of human nature since before we were human to celebrate with feasting -- occasionally. It's all very well to snort and say, "celebrate the people and the love, not the food," but you are arguing against millennia. The trouble is that every day is a feast day, these days; there is no corresponding fast.

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Sandra, my husband did a similar trick. It wasn't easy. Congratulations to you for making that change in your life. :smile:

I agree with the author in general, in order for many people to lose weight or even just maintain a healthy one, they have to figure out a way to break those old habits and celebration traditions are tough ones to break. In my world, that means more understanding of what exactly is in what I'm eating and making the best choices I can with that knowledge. That bakery birthday cake served at my daughter's friend's six year old birthday party has a bzillion calories. One small piece, that I can't really turn down without being rude, is a definite splurge. I've learned to scrape the frosting off (it's kind of icky anyways) eat two or three bites of the cake and then throw the rest away.

I can easily come up with 50 days this past year during which I splurged and celebrated something. Raises, baptisms, birthdays (my own and friends and families), the last day of school, the first day of school, weddings, visiting friends, funerals, dinner parties, volunteer appreciation breakfasts, award dinners, our anniversary, artist receptions... almost every week there is something celebratory going on in my life. I don't think it is realistic not to celebrate with food at all, for me, as I am a guest not a host at most of these celebrations and I sure don't want to stay home, but I can balance it out and be mindful.

Edited for clarity.

Edited by Cusina (log)

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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article from the Seattle Times
"Those who maintain the same diet regimen across the week and year are more likely to maintain their weight loss over the following year than those who diet more strictly on weekdays and/or during nonholiday periods." 

Statistics will also show that these people are also more likely to be no fun to be around and have a generally unpleasant life. :hmmm:

I'm not sure that eating/drinking everything in sight automatically makes a person more fun to be around. Unless of course, one celebrates with eating contests. :wink:

No but someone who never veers from the same regimen every single day of their life is just as crazy as the person who puts no limits on themselves.

Try losing 50 pounds. Then try to maintain it. It's harder than you think - most people don't succeed. While I personally adjust my eating to accomodate those splurges (which is what everyone posting so far is advocating, too), you just can't know how difficult it is to maintain weight loss until you try. Go to the WW thread on this board. You'll see that many of the people posting lost weight, gained it back, and are now trying to lose again.

It also doesn't help that everyone judges you at those special occasions (like you're doing). A person trying to maintain their weight loss can do all the 'tricks' (eating low cal foods ahead of time, drinking lots of water, etc), then be careful in how they choose to indulge (that small piece of cake may BE an indulgence for them), then they run into the judgemental folks who jeer at them and tell them that they're 'No Fun' because they're not slamming back brews and snarfing down that whole rack o' ribs.

It's a minefield out there, it really is. If a person can monitor their indulgences, allowing for splurges by eating less the day before, or whatever, that's great, and that's the way I choose to do it. However, there are those who know that they cannot handle it, that that bite of cake triggers binge eating, well, then, it's not for anyone else to judge.

Look at it this way - if those folks aren't eating their 'share', then there's more for you, right?

Edited by lala (log)

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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I think it comes down to what and how you define a "special occasion," and what you do to celebrate it. 50 is nearly one a week, probably more clustered, of course, around the holiday season. I know I don't have 50 "special occasions" a year in my life.

But if you use the term "special occasion" to include Jr's first steps as an excuse to indulge, then you probably have a more problematic relationship to food. Wouldn't that be the same as eating to try to self-medicate? "Oh, I'm feeling blue. I'll eat this pint of Ben & Jerry's." While the internal dialog may be different, and certainly "occasions" usually mean other/more people around to observe and judge you, I think that the end result is the same.

The only times I really don't hold myself back at all, occasion-wise, is Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. Not eat my homemade sticky buns? Are you kidding? Have only one (or no) slice of bacon? Fuhgeddaboudit.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I lost 100+ lbs over a 1 1/2 year span. Its been 2 years since and am still at the weight I was when I stopped losing...about 160 lbs.

For me, the corner stone was exercise and portion control. Sure I watched the "whites" and lowered the carbs and fat but I did it by eating less, not different.

The other thing that I did was to never eat after 7:30 PM. Even if I went out for dinner, I would politely request that we go so that I could be done with my meal by 7:30. This was important as it is not good to sleep on a full stomach.

But in the end, the exercise is/was the key...I can "indulge" once in a while without any weight gain at all (once in a while is defined as 1 meal per week).

I did/do not find it hard to maintain my weight. I tried to change my eating "lifestyle" instead of going on a crash/crave diet (aka Atkins, Zone, McDougal). I exercise daily for 1 hour (1st thing in AM, no excuses that way).

Was it a lot of work...YEP...was far easier to try the diet thing...short term, quick fix...but usually crashed and burned....I consulted a my doctor, a dietician, and my family. They went along with the food changes (less, what, when to eat). But it was all so worth it. I weigh less now at 50 then I did in high school and am in the best physical shape I've been in 30 years.

I have discovered that it being physically fit that was the big payoff....

Mark

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Luckily the things I most indulge on are way to expensive. However today I had 2 slices Heirloom tomato, sweet onion, fresh mozzarella, Basil and anchovies for lunch so I can pig out later this weekend. :laugh:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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This may cause dieticians and others to detest me, but I managed to lose 60 pounds by counting calories strictly 6 days a week, and having one day a week where I ate whatever I wanted to, plus a couple days each month of visiting my boyfriend in Seattle and eating whatever I wanted to there. I exercised a lot, too. Being able to indulge periodically kept me sane, so I don't really care whether some dietician thinks I shouldn't do it, or that I would have lost the weight faster without indulging.

I think the major issue for me is eating mindfully, and savoring my food. When I do that I don't stuff myself. When I get stressed out and eat reflexively is when the relapses occur.

As for special occasions, I may be the only person who doesn't count Thanksgiving as a special occasion to eat a lot. The food just isn't worth it, IMO. Turkey is a bland meat, the people who cook the vegetables at the meal don't cook them very well, the stuffing is from a mix, I think pumpkin pie, even when done well, is just barely edible; I'd rather indulge in food that gives me more enjoyment than that. Fortunately, the Thanksgiving I go to has a lot of people and no one will give me grief about eating small portions of the food.

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As for special occasions, I may be the only person who doesn't count Thanksgiving as a special occasion to eat a lot.  The food just isn't worth it, IMO.  Turkey is a bland meat, the people who cook the vegetables at the meal don't cook them very well, the stuffing is from a mix, I think pumpkin pie, even when done well, is just barely edible; I'd rather indulge in food that gives me more enjoyment than that. 

Girl,

You need to experience some good Thanksgiving cooking! We're talking deep fried turkies or one smoked on a grill with a good Cajun rub. And how about stuffing/dressing with diced jalepenos to spice things up? If you don't like the ubiquitous green bean casserole, try making roasted cauliflower instead. Instead of pumpkin pie, make a nice bourbon pecan pie.

It sounds like you are hanging with the wrong crowd at Thanksgiving!

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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We're talking deep fried turkies or one smoked on a grill with a good Cajun rub. And how about stuffing/dressing with diced jalepenos to spice things up? If you don't like the ubiquitous green bean casserole, try making roasted cauliflower instead. Instead of pumpkin pie, make a nice bourbon pecan pie.

I am hearing the first notes of "Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go" ... and it is only August!! :rolleyes::laugh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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We're talking deep fried turkies or one smoked on a grill with a good Cajun rub.  And how about stuffing/dressing with diced jalepenos to spice things up?  If you don't like the ubiquitous green bean casserole, try making roasted cauliflower instead.  Instead of pumpkin pie, make a nice bourbon pecan pie.

I am hearing the first notes of "Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go" ... and it is only August!! :rolleyes::laugh:

Hmmm...That reminds me of my Thanksgiving haiku that I neglected to enter in last year's eG Smackdown competition. It was a real charmer. :hmmm:

In my post, I just wanted to encourage creepygirl to hang around eGullet long enough to expand her culinary experiences and expectations. Thanksgiving (and all other holidays) shouldn't be days filled with foods to dread if they're done right.

I'd better stop now or I'll be donning the Auntie Mame ballgown and start singing "Life is a Banquet..." :laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I've lost 40lbs by cutting back on carbs and concentrating on lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. When there is a special occaision, I eat some of the food, but I don't overeat. The 12th bite doesn't taste any better than the 3rd.

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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Girl,

You need to experience some good Thanksgiving cooking! We're talking deep fried turkies or one smoked on a grill with a good Cajun rub. And how about stuffing/dressing with diced jalepenos to spice things up? If you don't like the ubiquitous green bean casserole, try making roasted cauliflower instead. Instead of pumpkin pie, make a nice bourbon pecan pie.

It sounds like you are hanging with the wrong crowd at Thanksgiving!

That's undoubtedly true. Unfortunately, the crummy food is attached to a gathering involving family members and friends of family members who have repeatedly proved themselves incapable of responding rationally to a suggestion that a change in the menu be made, or to someone's absence from the grand event.

I'm rather fond of some of them, so I've pretty much decided that Thanksgiving is just another day for me, I will put up with mediocre food and some lousy company, since it clearly means a lot more to other people than it does to me. I can eat well any other day of the year without hurting someone's feelings.

Perhaps my moving 1600 miles away this year will be sufficient excuse from attending the event, and I'll be able to do things that please myself, instead. I'm gathering up ideas for the day. Jalapeno stuffing sounds great. :biggrin:

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I will put up with mediocre food...

If you have a kitchen, find some recipes here in the eGRecipe and take them pre-made or make them there. At least then you will know you will have something good to eat because you fixed it yourself. :laugh:

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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This 'special occassion eating'...I don't think that often, it is about having an excuse to overeat.

Special occassions generally have some sort of emotional overtones to them. The overtone could be one of stress due to general discomfort with the situation or the people, thereby pushing the buttons within oneself that say 'Eat a bit and forget it', or, it could be an overtone of being in a situation where someone (a MIL, a dear friend) has prepared a wonderful feast that shows every bit of her (or his...not to be exclusive) love for the people gathered.

Obviously, in the first situation one would hope that higher thoughts could restrain oneself...higher thoughts of being healthy and fit and thin and everything else...but often I admit to not having complete discipline in this area.

In the second situation, I would no more turn down a tiny second helping of the giver's provender than to cut off one of my fingers (though perhaps that would be a good way to lose weight, too...). I would eat the food given with love...and eat less and exercise more, the following week....

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