I keep wondering if this holiday food log is a frivolous waste of both my time and yours. This is a busy time, right? Yet learning how to eat during the holidays in a way that feels enjoyable without losing self control would be a HUGE advance in reducing dietary stress. If anyone else can glean any ideas from my struggles, all the better.
The last couple of days have been technical failures. But both yielded important lessons that will be a huge help for next year. One is the perfect game plan for surviving my single most challenging holiday party, while the other is a simple discipline-building and calorie-burning strategy for recovery days during the celebration schedule.
Because the party strategy is more complicated, I’ll lead with the simple diet/exercise plan I’ve borrowed from Bonny Damocles, who’s honed his method in 25 years of successfully managing type 2 diabetes without the use of drugs. He only carries around 137 pounds on his 5-7 frame, so you know it’s good for calorie burning as well as blood sugar control. (And at age 80, he can hardly be accused of having a teenager’s high metabolism.)
Bonny’s simple diet/exercise plan: Bonny eats two filling meals per day and typically exercises in four blocks of 15 minutes. His primary exercise is walking up the stairs in his home, (walking down backward to reduce knee stress). His meals are typically a modest amount of lean protein, up to half a cup of unsalted nuts, a few prunes for digestive purposes, a scoop of plain Greek yogurt, a cheese or peanut butter sandwich, and as much fruit and veggies as he wants.
Bonny’s plan seemed perfect for a week in which I need to give my plantar fasciitis time to heal, especially since I’m coming off a weekend of overeating. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good understanding of the nature of my injury. Turns out it’s not so much just avoiding putting weight on my painful heel; apparently I need to be stretching and icing the inflamed ligament that connects my heel to my toes. So even though I wasn’t even even stepping on my heel on the stairs, by the third session I was in serious pain. It wasn’t until then that I did some reading on the injury, but it was too late: In my discouragement I ate a couple of Christmas cookies. Sugar is a definite no-no in Bonny’s diet, and so is eating anything outside the two large but planned meals.
I am going to try this again soon because I found my two “Bonny meals” pretty satisfying and the stair walking seems doable if I’d realized what was going on with my sore foot.
For the record, here’s what I had for my two meals:
- Five prunes, half a cup of walnuts, canned salmon, two kiwi and two small apples, and peanut butter on a homemade whole wheat bun.
- Half a cup of cashews/walnuts, a 12-on pkg of thawed frozen berries topped with 1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats, a 100-calorie whipped Greek yogurt (didn’t have any plain on hand), cheese on a homemade whole wheat bun and a plain turkey burger.
See what I mean? Those are giant meals, and you get to eat nuts.
The Decker Christmas game plan: This family gathering scores off the charts in terms of calories per square inch. Yet I think I’ve almost got it figured out. The key is that Aunt Ellen, who hosts this bash in her old-fashioned farmhouse, always has lots of elegant fruit and veggie platters on her appetizer table. Both are “freebies” on the Weight Watchers Points Plus system, so that’s obviously what I should be counting the day of this party.
On Sunday I played this perfectly before making a bone-headed mistake toward the end of the game. That won’t happen next year.
Earlier in the day I had sufficiently fueled up on filling foods that used up only 12 of my allotted 29 points: two banana “hot dogs” (with 35-calorie slices of Healthy Goodness bread as “buns”), a 12-on pkg of frozen cauliflower (only 100 calories), a tuna sandwich with mustard (200 calories), and shortly before time to go, four boiled egg whites on two slices of bread (protein plus fiber for 139 calories).
During the grazing period, I consumed only fresh fruit, veggies and dainty cucumber slices topped with more veggies in just a dot of cream cheese.
During dinner, I ate only salad and a generous portion of Ellen’s old-fashioned bone-in ham that she cooks until it’s so tender it just falls off the bone.
That brings me to dessert. I had plenty of room left, points-wise. If only I’d remembered to use the infinite pie slice method, this would have been a stunning victory in terms of eating a lot of really filling and pretty food without going over.
Instead, I made the mistake of telling my dad (who for decades has served as my immediate family’s dietary referee, calling fouls much too liberally, in my opinion) I was only going to choose one thing. And then I picked a raspberry fudgy thing that was absolutely delicious but only about the size of half a domino.
If I’d went with the infinite pie slice, and filled the space a piece of pie would’ve taken up with an assortment of goodies, I would’ve been perfectly satisfied and probably come in on budget, or been close.
Instead, I kept grazing later in the evening, and wound up eating 2-3 cookies, some peanut butter bread and more of the raspberry fudgy things, which probably packed more calories per square inch than anything else on the dessert table. (Using the infinite pie slice method, I would’ve limited myself to only one of those and balanced it out with less calorie-dense options.)