Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekend Party Challenge

Parties can be a particular challenge when you're trying to be responsible about what and how much you eat. Go to a party out of town, requiring an overnight stay, and you're also dealing potentially with meals on the road, etc. It can mean eating food that someone else has prepared and you have no idea about calorie count. Thus was my test this weekend.
I was invited to a friend's surprise 50th birthday party Saturday night at a Mexican restaurant in East Texas. As I've said here before, Mexican is among my favorite foods, and of course, among the most calorie laden.

To give myself a choice during my stay, I packed a few nutrition bars so I wouldn't feel forced to eat out if I didn't want to. When making a long drive, I think it can be tempting to use the excuse that since it's a special trip, it's OK to splurge a bit: have that Hostess sugar-coated fried cherry pie at the convenience store where you stopped to stretch your legs. I can struggle with that kind of temptation. But, like a horse wearing blinders, I kept my focus on just getting there, promising myself I would have a snack at the hotel when I could really sit and relax.
Once I arrived and got settled into my room, it was around 3 o'clock. I got a cup of coffee, and instead of having one of my nutrition bars, got a pack of peanut butter crackers from the vending machine. The nutrition label on the side of the crackers let me know exactly how many calories I was having. I thought, "So far, so good." The only hurdle I really had to worry about clearing was the restaurant.

In the banquet room, round tables were filled with lovely decorations in my friend's honor. She would be so surprised to see us all! As we waited for her arrival, party-goers ate chips and salsa from the baskets scattered on all the tables. Knowing how quickly those calories can add up, I sipped water and tea and chatted with my tablemates. I didn't point out to anyone that I wasn't yet eating, I simply focused on them. In spite of it being past the typical dinner hour, I wasn't overly hungry.
Shortly after my friend arrived and was suitably surprised, it was time to go through the buffet serving line. I had no intention of eating like a bird, but neither did I want to go crazy with it. I got a scoop of Spanish rice, one cheese enchilada, one beef tamale, and a taco. I ate slowly, choosing to savor the good conversation with old friends more than the food in front of me. In the end, I left a bite of everything on my plate. It takes a lot of will power for me to do that, especially with foods I love so much. I was pleased, and shall I say even a bit relieved, when the waiter came around to clear the table.
Then it was time for the biggest challenge of all, the cake! Yes, I planned on having some. Nothing can ruin the tone of a celebration more than someone refusing to participate. But we were each served cake at our table, and the slices were enormous! It was, admittedly, wonderful tasting cake. Four layers, filled with icing, and covered in fondant and more icing. For a "sugarholic" like me, it was heaven with every bite. But in spite of that, I'm happy to say, I left quite a bit of it on the plate.
As people left the party, they were handed boxes of extra cake slices to take home. I politely refused and then a friend who had earlier complimented my weight, jokingly accused me of not eating cake in years! Ha. Of course I had, but her point was that I didn't look like it. It was a very nice compliment. Once back at the hotel, I was proud of myself for not overeating. I had no regrets and I could sleep comfortably.
This morning, instead of going downstairs for the hotel's free breakfast, which can include tempting sweet rolls and muffins, I had a nutrition bar in my room with a couple of cups of coffee, and yes, I do take cream. I left early enough to get home before lunch time, so I wouldn't be tempted to stop and get a burger or some other fast food on the way home. In the end, I had fun, saw old friends, and I didn't use the excuse of a special event to overindulge. All in all, it was a very successful weekend.
Bottom line? Your weight is your own private battle. Don't bore friends with talk of dieting, or saying you wish you could eat what they're having, etc., and don't deny yourself the pleasure of good friends and celebrations out of fear you'll go overboard. Even if I had lost myself in the moment, I wouldn't beat myself up today. I would simply start anew. Every day is a new one when it comes to gaining power over food. You can do it!

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