Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Conquering the fast food nation

Like many of you, I read a lot of blogs.  One common issue I come across is the problem with eating out.  My job requires that I spend a lot time in restaurants.  Some of them are fast food, and some are sit down establishments.  I also frequent buffets.  I work with troubled youth and the key to their trust is through food.  It's nurturing to feed someone, and sharing a meal helps build relationships.  I can't help youth that don't want to spend time with me.

That being said, I have managed to lose 66 pounds so far and I eat out an average of four times per week.  Many people ask me how I do it.  How do I frequent restaurants with so much tempting food and still manage to lose weight?  The answer to that is simple, I really want to get healthy and I make the right choices.  I was honest and upfront with my clients, co-workers, family and friends when I began this journey.  I told them I was on a special medical diet and could only eat certain foods.  They have been nothing but supportive.  No one has tried to sabotage me.

Do I get cravings?  Of course.  Do I act on them?  No.  Not only do I have to be accountable to myself, but now I have to be accountable to my clients too.  What kind of a role model would I be if I broke a promise I made to myself?  I'm trying to encourage self-love and worth.  If I can't model love and respect for myself, I'm not doing my job right.

I haven't been to a restaurant yet where I haven't been accommodated.  If my meal comes with a starch, I tell them to leave it off my plate.  If my meal shows up at the table with the starch on it, I send it back.  I tell the wait staff to leave all garnishes, gravies, dressings off my plate, and only bring what I specifically order.  I've been doing this since September 2011, and it's worked like a charm.

I've even inspired clients to make healthier choices.  They see me eating healthy and some will follow my lead.  Some not so much, but even if it's just a couple of youth making better choices, like getting salad with a burger instead of fries, it's worth it.  I still go to fast food restaurants with clients.  I frequent Wendy's and McDonald's regularly, but I usually opt not to eat, and order coffee instead.  There are healthier choices everywhere so I never have an excuse for not ordering something that isn't conducive to my eating plan.

I recently tried the new Juicy Fruit Desserts gum.  Yummmmmm.  For 10 minutes I get the flavour of my favorite dessert, apple pie.  The flavour's gone after about ten minutes, but that would be longer than it would have taken me to eat a piece of pie.  I'm not gonna lie, the former me would inhale a couple of pieces of pie in under ten minutes. So I get all the flavour and none of the calories.  What a great trade off!

Eating out is only as difficult as we make it for ourselves.  Maybe some of us will never be strong enough to visit restaurants while "dieting".  Others will go to restaurants with good intentions, and give into temptation.  When you are faced with this situation you should ask yourself how much you really want it.  Is it worth it to sabotage your health for something you will only enjoy in the moment and then feel horrible about in the aftermath?  I would hope not because you are worth more than that.  I will have to make healthier choices for the rest of my life.  I've finally begun to look at food for what it really is, fuel for my body.  It is no longer a source of entertainment for me.