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Solve Problems: Beck Day 34

Saturday, March 05, 2011

I'm wondering how many Beck devotees skip or blip over this lesson? Because: as a cognitive psychology technique, this "solve problems" lesson is rigorous, daunting and intellectually demanding -- if a person were to carry it out conscientiously each and every time the issue arises.

In telling us how to solve problems, Beck actually synthesizes three of her earlier approaches. She shows us how to tackle the issue of emotional eating head on. And here the text is far more detailed than the workbook in explaining how it's done.

You've got problems? So do we all. All the time. Big ones and little ones. So don't soothe emotion with eating, she told us yesterday (Day 33). Today, Day 34, she expands upon that instruction by telling us how to deal with emotions that erupt because of problems.

First strategy: identify the problem that's triggering the emotion. Don't just stuff it down with food. Don't smother it. Pull it out and look at it.

What's really bothering me? I should specify the negative thought. And then I should respond to the negative thought.

Responding to the negative thought is, of course, Day 27 revisited -- using the Seven Question Technique.

And the first of the seven questions (what kind of error in thinking am I making?) is Day 26 revisited.

Here's a condensed refresher of the Day 26 "errors in thinking": All or nothing thinking? Jumping to conclusions? Negative fortune telling? Positive fortune telling? Discounting the positive? Emotional reasoning? Labeling? Mind reading? Self-deluding thinking? Dysfunctional rules? Irrelevance? Exaggeration?

OK, pretty vague in the abstract. Let's apply this to a typical problem I have over and over again. Suppose I come home from work stressed and exhausted, and jerk open the cupboard door to stuff my face with four generous tablespoonfuls of peanut butter, standing up. (Not an unfamiliar pattern, pre-Beck!! And logged too -- except logged as 1 tablespoon. Or maybe two, if I were feeling particularly "honest" that day!!).

But that was pre-Beck. And this is post-Beck. So I've gotta stop!! No peanut butter. (It's hidden behind the bag of large flake oatmeal so I no longer see it right away.)

I am now to ask myself. What's really bothering me?

Typical answer: x case involving vulnerable young children and a custody battle.

I generally have quite a number of these situations percolating at any given time, each one of which is highly fact-specific, emotionally gruelling, and matters intensely to my client (one of the parents). But presumably matters even more to the children, who are generally non-represented in the court proceeding, and therefore are persons whom I never meet. On purpose, of course: it would be entirely inappropriate to involve the children with one "side" through mum's or dad's counsel. So I know the children only through my client's description of the children, which is inevitably coloured by bias and bitterness. But kids do matter so much to me.

What's the thinking error? Let's say it was a bad day in court, an apparently hostile response from the judge at a preliminary proceeding. And I find myself thinking that I'm never going to resolve this case satisfactorily. It's hopeless.

Thinking error? Take your pick. Exaggeration. Jumping to conclusions. Negative fortune telling too . . . and dysfunctional rules (gotta win, no matter what).

Next step in problem solving is the second of the seven questions : what evidence is there that this thought is true or untrue? There's substantial evidence based upon past experience that it is untrue: most cases feel desperate at some point but do achieve some measure of resolution. And nobody "wins" a custody battle: the only sure result is that the children will lose if it's not managed carefully.

Is there another way to view this situation? Yes: confidence in the justice system and the residual good will of the parties (both of whom presumably care about their children) and opposing counsel.

What is the most realistic outcome of this situation? Generally speaking the justice system works, parents become less adversarial over time, and the best interests of children do prevail.

What is the effect of my believing this is a hopeless situation? I'll give up. And stress eat probably as well. Which will not help anyone (especially the children) and which will make myself feel much much worse.

What is the effect of my changing my thinking? I'll increase my own sense of self-confidence and self-discipline. Which will help me focus on all of the alternative strategies I've learned through training and experience. Including helping my client learn how to side step the conflict right now and for the next 15 years or so of inevitable co-parenting going forward. Which is likely to achieve a better result for everyone (although maybe not a perfect result).

What advice would I give a friend in this situation? Call in the appropriate resources. We can attempt to invoke the expertise of a mental health expert to assist in resolving the dispute . . . mediator, social worker . . . maybe try collaborative approaches. . . the key is helping both parties and counsel "save face" so no one is labelled "the bad guy".

What should I do now? Close the cupboard, put down the spoon, start heating a bowl of my soup (as per my planned meal tracked yesterday in the Nutrition Tracker), leave the kitchen while that's happening, remind myself that hunger is not an emergency, email myself at work a short memo of what steps I plan to initiate tomorrow, and forget about the problem for now.

I can distract myself by running up the stairs (a little spontaneous exercise . . . back down and up again a couple more times??), patting Charlie and playing with him, getting out of my business suit into my jeans (maybe try that size 6 pair on, see how they're feeling today???) and check my Spark page for comments!! Yeah!!! And then return to the kitchen, eat my soup sitting down slowly and mindfully enjoying every bite. And make myself a bowlful of fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and Greek fat free yogourt, also in my Nutrition Tracker . . . filling, satisfying, delicious, all for way fewer calories than those four tablespoonfuls of peanut butter.

OK, Beck is absolutely right. She helps me understand just why weight loss and weight maintenance is about way way more than food. Like SP also tells us. And like my life tells me too. When I pay attention.

It may be true that Beck's problem solving approach is quite idealistic.

It's a lot of work. More work than just stuffing myself with peanut butter. But the peanut butter approach doesn't actually help. In fact, it makes me feel worse right away. Even before I've got the peanut butter taste out of my mouth.

And it's not more work than worrying myself silly, non-productively.

Are all problems capable of resolution using Beck's strategy? No, they are not. Some parents can never learn to put their children's interests first. Some opposing counsel can never resist the desire to "win" at any cost.

Some things (lots of things!! and not just work problems) are beyond my control. There are no guarantees. Beck acknowledges that.

But even if I can't resolve the problem, maybe I can make it a little better. I should try it. And if it doesn't work, at least I can believe that I did my best. That I didn't contribute to making it worse.

Oh, well. Oh, well. Oh, well. Oh, well.

One thing for sure, I can solve one problem. And that would be the peanut butter problem.

So long as I come back to Day 34 and problem solve over and over again, as needed -- and it will be needed -- for the indefinite future.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 3/7/2011 8:56AM

    This is a very helpful blog! I often get caught up in forgetting other people have tons of problems and challenges that truly weigh their shoulders down heavily. Eating does soothe and so does Peanutbutter! Esp crunchy skippy for me!...wow does wonders for that moment. Then......BLAH! I even get heart burn from peanut butter....yet eat it when I don't *think* first. I also use that mental excuse of..."I think I need some peanut butter coz I'm probably low on protein".....
If like you're learning, we learn to step back, look at the stress and find other ways to distract - for me this is one of the most crucial parts - to cope, deal and manage all aspects whether good or stressful or joyous in my LIFE!

Glad to be catching up reading your blogs :)

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FRACTALMYTH 3/6/2011 1:35PM

    Thanks for including the potted list of thinking mistakes :D and for reminding me why I must keep looking for a new job... I would SO not survive for long in family law... even the affidavits I have written so far leave a hard knot in my stomach - and I do not have responsibility for the case. Just sent off another application for subjective document review with an e-lw discovery team (managing the disxcovery process - relevance, privilege, cofidential info - for large corporations)... fingers and toes crossed that something comes of it... and I have research work to do for my barristers... and bar exam registration is coming up this month (though I don't think I have the time or money to commit to it right now...) must go run before I get on with my research. HUGS!!!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 3/6/2011 1:32AM

    Enlightening blog, Ellen! The cognitive analysis is incredibly useful and I appreciate the ways in which you are applying it. It is noble to bring the gift of resolution to an adversarial arena. I see how challenging your work situation is -- and also how amazingly you rise to it. Glad you are finding healthy ways to decompress!
Pats to Charlie,

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JHADZHIA 3/5/2011 9:08PM

    I hadn't realized what your job was and I sure can see where you would be tempted to emotionally eat :(( You have made some great plans to avoid getting into that peanut butter and giving us the hope that a highly stressful job doesn't have to mean wrecking your healthy lifestyle choices after a particularly horrible day..
I am so glad this Beck program you are embracing is working so well for you! Thanks for showing us the way!
Keep up the fabulous work and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/5/2011 8:54PM

    Brilliant blog! Great analysis and aplication of Beck's techniques.

I can relate. I worked in child welfare for more than 20 years. I did know the kids. My overeating never helped one of then, although I tried it over and over and over again.

Love your distraction techniques - especially running up and down the stairs.

One other important part of dealing with after work hunger is good planning so that I have a healthy breakfast, lunch, and perhaps a snack. I find that usually I can deal with emotions. Often I can deal with hunger. But I have a terrible time dealing with emotions when I am hungry.

Again, thanks for your helpful comments on my blog today. You are just doing great!!

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FREELADY 3/5/2011 7:33PM

    What a helpful blog. So much meaningful reflection here. You are showing me how to work the program and how to plug in the specifics. Thank you!

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/5/2011 6:52PM

    Compartmentalizing work and home might help if you can do that. So hard for women when children are involved. Knowing you, would it be enough to recognize that you are doing everything within YOUR power to make sure the best possible solution win, and then to also recognize the limitations of what you can achieve? It's a very stressful area you work in but just you being there is a blessing for everyone involved.
In the area of disassociating stress and food you are doing a great job.

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NANCY- 3/5/2011 10:18AM

I do not mean to sound...
Being compassionate can be a problem... but it is all about choices. How do we address the situation and deal with our feelings?
While Dr. Beck's problem solving approach may be idealistic, it is a tool to get us started and making changes if necessary.
This is a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Soothing Emotions Without Food: Beck Day 33

Friday, March 04, 2011

If Beck's musings on drinking and travel were perhaps not so immediately useful to me, this chapter has huge resonance.

Like most people who've been around as long as I have (!) there have been many emotional challenges in my life and for many many years I believe that I did soothe emotion with food.

Stress? Eat.

Anger? Eat.

Fear? Eat.

Boredom? Eat.

But (and Beck doesn't entirely capture this, especially in the context of social get-togethers, travel and so on) food was the treatment of choice for dealing with positive emotion too. So:

Celebrating? Eat.

Happy? Eat.

Content? Eat.

And so on.

Beck has persuaded me that hunger is not an emergency requiring immediate treatment with food. (When I'm "hungry" now, I sometimes imagine the sound of an ambulance siren: "BEE-BOP BEE-BOP BEE-BOP" speeding towards me with emergency life-saving supplies of potato chips, yeah right).

And emotion in general is not an emergency which I need to soothe with eating. Eating doesn't work. When the emotion is negative, the excess eating makes me feel worse. Even a little excess eating -- 100 excess calories a day -- packs on 10 extra pounds a year. But worse than that -- since SP is about more than weight loss/maintenance -- eating actually distracts me from dealing with the underlying problem (if it's possible to deal with it). Or in the alternative, it prevents me from achieving that "oh well" equilibrium which matter-of-factly accepts that disappointments and failures are part of human existence.

Beck doesn't write about this, but I think it's equally important: when the emotion is positive, the excess eating takes the edge off it, dulls the happy times. I want to feel the euphoria, not the cheesecake. I want to experience joy, not indigestion. Yeah.

OK, I'm getting it. If emotion is the problem, eating isn't the answer.

And emotion shouldn't be a problem anyhow -- I wanna take a closer look at that!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 3/7/2011 8:38AM

    Emotions lead to so many decisions in our lives it's amazing. Food intake is definitely one of them and exercise is right there too. I find it extremely difficult to make good sound food decisions when I'm overwhelmed with stress. My appetite will disappear completely or sore to new levels of hey lets order pizza for 3 days straight! (did this recently) Coping with food choices and remembering that it's not an emergency cure our stress is a huge challenge. Nor should it ever be an emergency just to eat something....unless of course it's nutritional! I agree totally! Great blog.

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JHADZHIA 3/5/2011 9:13PM

    So true about emotional eating comforting us with the negative, but I never thought it of dulling the happy celebrations too. Food for thought! Thanks for bringing this to our much needed attention!
I for one, would love to get away from food driven celebrations!

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CRYSTALJEM 3/5/2011 7:15PM

    I really had not thought about the "positive emotion" side of eating. You are so right! Thank you again for giving my mind a workout! Have an awesome day!


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CELLISTA1 3/5/2011 12:45PM

    I think you are right on target. We all love food or we wouldn't be here, but JOY is even better!

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ERIKO1908 3/5/2011 11:56AM

    Great blog! You have such a wonderful way with words & you delve in deep giving us all something to think about. Thank you!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/4/2011 8:26PM

    Great blog, Ellen! You totally understand Beck and have added valuable insight on the positive emotions. I had thought about that. But I had not thought about fooding numbing the positive emotions. You are right. I want to feel the joy, not the cheesecake. I just might have to needlepoint that on a pillow. It's profound!! Thanks, Marsha

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/4/2011 6:03PM

    I wonder if anything will ever take the place of food (and alcohol) when people want to celebrate. Maybe we will all just have to get on the ether and celebrate that way with no calorific side effects, but perhaps that will spawn a whole new set of problems. This being human is so.o.o complicated.

At the moment I am studying the art of mindfulness and find that I am just a thought-butterfly, flitting from one thought to the next, unless I have to concentrate on something specifically important. No matter how old we are, there is always something challenging to be achieved. Sigh!

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    Makes a lot of sense...thanks for sharing your words of wisdom. I agree...I want to pay more attention to my eating "reasons".

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ELLE1955 3/4/2011 8:14AM

    I can sure relate -- I know this is my underlying problem - food as a comfort response to almost anything. I just started reading Shring Yourself and hoping to find some guidance there.

I hope we both find other ways to cope during stressful times and other ways to celebrate in happy times.

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Travels with Aunt Judith: Beck Day 32

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Beck asks us to anticipate how we'll deal with the Beck program while on the road.

I've kept off an 80 pound weight loss for almost a decade (with a few small blips here and there) so I've travelled quite a bit during that period of time.

And I know what I do: stick with the program. Track my calories. Probably exercise more than usual because we tend to be active while we're away: more walking, golf, swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, shelling, galleries, museums. And we typically stay at condos/small houses/apartments for rent by owner (there is a great selection on the internet) and continue to prepare our own meals because we prefer it. So I have often come home down a pound or even two after a week away. Last summer when I took a course in Toronto, I rented a small apartment close to campus, prepared my own meals, walked everywhere, and easily maintained my weight. I just don't like restaurant food enough to "spend the calories" on it: would rather buy local produce and fish in the market, experiment with a bottle of local wine, see what local spices/seasonings are available -- it's part of the holiday experience. Makes me feel like a "native" of wherever we are. I even buy local flowers for the table!

Beck suggests some people may like to add 300 planned calories every day; or a minor splurge of 500 calories on several days; or a major splurge of 1000 calories on one day: and expect to gain a pound or two as the "price" of the holiday. Good strategy for lots of folks, better than unrestrained eating on a 12 day cruise -- but not my style. The thought of an all-inclusive with free bar etc. where many people are eating and drinking with abandon to "get their money's worth": arrgh.

I sympathize that people want full value, but I don't wanna be there.

Don't wanna do it myself, don't wanna see it either.

Don't want to travel to a compound surrounded by barbed wire patrolled by people on golf carts with guns keeping the locals out. Would rather meet the locals on their own turf, buying fresh mangoes or snapper from them or whatever -- not in a situation where they are waiting on me or cleaning my room.

What I will add to my usual travel routine from Beck will be: Sitting down every time; Eating slowly and mindfully; Reminding myself that hunger is not an emergency. These strategies are new additions to my repertoire and will stick.

Today's weight: 148.5. Probably a temporary blip down, but nice to see that middle number 4. Hip measurement 38. Waist measurement at 28. I've got a challenging skirt for this occasion which is pleated and full but quite snug through the middle . . .

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 3/7/2011 8:42AM

    CONGRATS...a little late - you dipped into the 140's!! Yay :) I know somewhere this had to make your feel powerful and in control of all of this! Measurements help me a lot too...when those numbers begin to change, your heart will soar! It's exciting to track measurements too. I'm very proud and happy for you!

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FREELADY 3/4/2011 12:00AM

    Reading this was a real treat.

You make the healthy lifestyle so vivid and concrete. I still have so much to learn. It really helps me to hear all about how you handle these things.

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FRACTALMYTH 3/3/2011 4:35PM

    Brilliant! You are going to rock that skirt!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/3/2011 2:28PM

    CONGRATS on another impressive weight loss!! Yes, you could write a better chapter than Beck. Although her way may work for many, I think your way is far better and many people would choose it. You are an expert at eating healthy and maintaining (or even losing) during trips and holidays!! That is great! -Marsha

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PHEBESS 3/3/2011 11:17AM

    You and I would make great travel companions!!!!!!

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JHADZHIA 3/3/2011 10:22AM

    You are doing fabulous!! Well done!! You have the right idea renting your own place and eating your own food. And it would be way more fun interacting with the locals. I didn't injoy my Hawaii trip as much as one would expect. Stayed in a dingy hotel room, stuck eating nothing but fast food (that is all the restaurants that were within walking distance of my hotel, and all my brother and his family were interested in eating in). They went to a McDonalds the first meal they had.
I ended up gaining 11 lbs, and of course, other than pineapple and some local kind of banana, fruits and veggies were non -existent in these meals. Was able to do some hiking trips and I made it to a Curves in the morning, but it wasn't enough. As I don't drive, I am pretty much stuck to places in popular areas where I can walk to everything (or get a bus that runs reguarly) It was an hour and a half bus trip one way to get to the Hawaii Curves.. Most exercise places tend to be on the outer edges of a city..
Keep up the great work!!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/3/2011 10:12AM

    Girl, you have blogged about a subject close to my heart, hence my sparkname!

I SO agree with you on your style of travel! When we went to Malaysia we stayed with my brother in Kuala Lumpur, but he had to work each day. So every morning we set out on our own. We walked everywhere, took the subway, taxis, went to the grocery stores & open-air markets, etc. It was a blast. We ate from food stalls on the streets and never had a bad experience. We never once set foot in an expensive hotel or restaurant. We traveled outside KL by bus to various tourist spots (their tourist spots, where we were the only Caucasians). We met a ton of interesting people and were humbled by how much they knew about America when Americans don't even know where Malaysia is.

At any rate, this is definitely the way we want to travel when we go to Europe. We'd like to rent a flat outside each major city and then take public transportation in to see the sites. We're kicking around the idea of renting/buying a "caravan" (trailer) and going that way.

Traveling this way is not only better for the diet as you've proven, but also easier on the wallet! A big reason we enjoy our travel trailer is so we can prepare our own food. This year's trip will be mostly about the populated east coast and south because we are visiting family, but we are looking forward to traveling west where we can spend a lot of time in national parks. We'd love to take a trip to Canadian Rockies, which I hear are unparalleled in their beauty.

So do you find all your rentals on the internet? We plan to go to Europe in 2012 and we've not really figured out how to begin to make our plans!

Thanks for sharing your experiences and reinforcing that we aren't the only ones who don't think a vacation has to include 5-star hotels and restaurants!

Now I've got to get my head back into the real world and get ready for work! But thanks for the reverie!!!

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NANCY- 3/3/2011 9:49AM

    Love your attitude.

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Deciding about Drinking: Beck Day 31

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Not a big deal for me: nice to know there is one aspect of weight maintenance which isn't troublesome!

Beck advises that we consider carefully whether the calories in alcoholic beverages are "worth the price" -- given that those calories will eliminate other foods with better nutrients --; and also to consider that drinking alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions which can result in unrestrained eating.

Got that.

I'm generally a "glass of wine once in a while" kind of person-- maybe once a week, or twice a month -- and i've been logging those glasses, keeping them to a moderate 3.5 ounces, almost never having more than one. I like the colour of wine (red, white, rose) almost as much as the taste. And yes, I do love wine, but not enough to "spend the calories" on it very often. Since I started Beck, I've been tracking my glass of wine in advance, just like everything else. Which does mean no more "spontaneous" glasses of wine added on to my meals! So I plan Thursday for Friday night's glass of wine, or plan Tuesday for the glass of wine I might be having at a professional social gathering . . . Other than that, might have a couple tall gins and tonics after golf at the club . . . over the entire summer. Not a big drinker. Not a problem.

Weight has stayed steady today at 150.5. Gonna try a "challenging" navy suit (very slim pants, no stretch) today: really enjoyed wearing a "challenging" black skirt suit yesterday!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRACTALMYTH 3/2/2011 6:31PM

    Yay for challenging outfits!

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TRAVELGRRL 3/2/2011 4:19PM

    Lucky you! I love the wine but can take or leave desserts. Go figure.

I love your analysis and need to do the same thing -- think: Is this worth the price?

Don't you feel like a million $$ in your challenging pantsuit? I JUST KNOW YOU DO -- AND YOU DESERVE IT!!

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SLENDERELLA61 3/2/2011 1:49PM

    Glad this one area that is not too challenging to you.

CONGRATS on the weight loss and wearing the skinny clothes!! That is just great. So proud of you!!! -Marsha

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CRYSTALJEM 3/2/2011 11:37AM

    Way to go! It is wonderful to find something that is actually a natural fit for you. Hope you feel great in that pant suit!

emoticon you can enjoy this wine, no calories or alcohol to worry about! emoticon Cheers!

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NANCY- 3/2/2011 10:12AM

    That's one thing that is sticking with me about my choices.... "worth the price".
I ask myself "Is it worth it ?" I use it for just about anything I consume.

For dinner I make myself a nice cup of rose hip tea... looks like a rose wine. I'm not too fond of drinking wine... but a vodka tonic some good to me, sometimes I just skip the vodka.

You are doing great!!! emoticon

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JHADZHIA 3/2/2011 8:13AM

    Good for you! Although they are touting a glass a wine a day as being good for you1 I never drink alcohol, doesn't appeal to me what so ever so this is an easy one for me, maybe the only one lol..
Would be nice to see a photo of these challenging outfits :) I am still uncomfortable in fitted clothing because I still have a 'pot' in spite of being at goal weight..
Keep up the great work!

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Staying in Control While Eating Out: Beck Day 30

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

In the workbook, Beck calls this chapter "eating out with ease" whereas the book uses the "staying in control" title. In both places she offers plenty of useful tips applicable to a certain type of "eating out" -- that is, eating in restaurants or at larger parties. You can check the restaurant menu on line in advance and preplan what you're going to eat. You can preplan what you will nibble on at a large party where you're basically wandering around with a drink (might be non alcoholic) in the left hand, keeping the right hand free for shaking. I do these things and most of us who have been fighting in the trenches for any period of time have adopted such strategies for a long time.

But Beck does not, in my opinion, adequately address the issue of going to people's houses for meals: formal sit down dinner where the hostess has planned a menu, shopped for food, prepared several courses (appetizer, soup, main, dessert plus plus plus) and expects you to eat. Her suggestion that you take along a platter of something -- (raw veggies??) -- and provide that for the "feast" is frankly not one that is going to go down well in most instances. Asking the hostess to cook in accordance with your requirements, saying nothing and shoving a portion off to one side, skipping several courses that the hostess places in front of you -- none of this is conventional social behaviour.

And if you accept formal social invitations, you must reciprocate by having people back to your own home for a similar type event. Offering them a huge green salad and a little chopped fruit, or a bowl of homemade soup and some fat free yogourt with berries, will seem just slightly weird. Really. And if I spend the time reciprocating with a comparable meal (I'm actually a pretty decent cook when I turn my mind to it) that means I'll have spent the better part of a weekend handling high calorie, high fat, high sugar foods -- planning, preparing, serving, cleaning up, eating at least some of it -- triggering a craving for these foods which can derail my eating plans for weeks.

So: if the sabotaging thought is "I should be able to enjoy myself on special occasions" and the helpful response is "I can enjoy other aspects of the special occasion, but not the food so much", then I think that's right. And this approach works perfectly well for restaurants, large professional type dinners and cocktail hours, buffets and so on. But I also think (from my own experience) it does not work well for the kind of formal sit down dinner party with 6 or 8 people which was a staple of my social life for many many years; accepting invitations, reciprocating invitations. I don't do that any more. I try to substitute other social events -- the golf games, the walks in the woods, the trip to the gym, the gallery, the concert, the play -- with more and less success. Some people simply will be offended if you do not want to make a formal sit down dinner the focus of social get togethers: that's what they're used to offering, that's what they're used to receiving.

Beck glosses over this very real difficulty, rather than meeting it head on. Social life will change when food cannot be the focus of every social occasion with friends. And some friends won't accept that.

Scales today: 150.5. Go figure!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIGHTSPARK7 3/1/2011 9:53PM

    Hello Ellen!
I have created 'theme' sit down dinners, low-fat vegetarian, for example -- sometimes potlucks (less preparation for me, woo-hoo!) and these seem to go down very well. Of course, it helps that I have friends who have similar tastes to mine. I'm grateful for that. Healthy eating when I visit them too.
I always enjoy reading your thoughtful blogs.

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SLENDERELLA61 3/1/2011 9:28PM

    Cooking at home I have found excellent choices that allow me to eat just the way I want. Rock Cornish Game Hens are one selection I like and tastes great with wild rice pilaf. I have a vegetable medley recipe, glazy with tapioca. I sometimes serve angel food cake, pass pretty fresh mixed fruit (pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, for example) to go on it, and a lemon sauce. I often have a low fat/low sugar version of the sauce I use and most people don't even realize mine is different -- unless I know someone else wants it, too. Sometimes I have leftover ingredients or leftover foods that really don't fit into my plan for the rest of the week. Sometimes I give them to my daughter or niece, freeze them for later, or even throw them out. At Thanksgiving and family dinners, I send lots of the food home with people who will appreciate it.

Eating at other people's homes can be trickier, although the once or twice a month I do it is really not a problem. When I have no choice about what I eat, I still have total control of the amount. I just don't have to overeat. I find I can take small servings, sip water, put my fork down between bites, push the food around on my plate a lot, talk a lot, be appreciative, and no one notices if I don't eat much. I just don't go too hungry so I'm not so tempted. It's rare that I go to a dinner party that someone else doesn't turn down dessert as well.

I have a friend who handles dinner parties differently. The high calorie stuff she'll say she is allergic to it, because she breaks out in fat!!

Could be the circles you run in expect far more and your challenges are just far greater than mine in this area. I strongly suspect, though, that you can have the social and professional life you want, eat in a manner that would be acceptable, and keep maintaining your weight in that tight range you want.

If Beck doesn't have the solution, it doesn't matter. You are smart. You can figure this one out.

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CAROLINE1000 3/1/2011 9:25PM

    I agree with you on this. I am a big cook and people expect it, I have set myself up for it. They give me lovely dinners and I always eat more than I should because I know that it took work and people are really sensitive to my reaction esp. because of the training I have had and stuff.

I don't know if this is a "healthy" suggestion but I usually fast except for maybe a piece of fruit the day of such an event - either one I am hosting or going to. It's too emotionally fraught for me any other way (plus,if I dare say anything I get food pushers who say I am thin enough and that zaps the fun out of any occasion for me).

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MTP717 3/1/2011 4:52PM

  Very valid points. I agree with TRYINGHARD60 in possibly pointing this out to Dr. Beck. I found this on the www.beckdietsolution.com:

We would love to hear your feedback about the program (or the website):

If you do contact her, keep us posted on the response.

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TRYINGHARD1948 3/1/2011 4:13PM

    Is there any way to get in touch with Beck and point out this omission?

Short of stopping all friends' social gatherings, is it possible to explain to host/hostess prior to the dinner what you are doing and why, so that you can surreptitiously choose what you eat from the choices offered beforehand. It might be an excellent way to spread the healthy living advice. You never know they might all be glad to hear it.

For your own dinners there are some great recipes that are not high calorie with good nutritional value. I've started putting a lot more vegetables, lean meats and salads out in a smorgasbord way so that friends can choose what they want and then bring their plates to the table where no-one comments on the choices that have been made, especially if the conversation starts with something that is interesting to all.

It's quite a dilemma.

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CRYSTALJEM 3/1/2011 11:59AM

    You've got really valid points here. People never think I eat a lot because I prefer a number of smaller meals over the day. I have struggled because people assume (especially if they don't know me well) that I don't like what they've cooked. I let the hostess know how good everything smells and looks. I also make no bones about the fact that I eat small meals more often in the day. I am sincere in my compliments about the meal etc, but at the same time I expect people to respect my choices as well. I take what I feel is best for me to eat given the meal in front of me. I also try very hard to find one thing at least that I can take a little of and then even have a small seconds of (say a veggie dish or salad, or a small piece of meat) and let the hostess know that I really did enjoy it. I also make it a point not to pick much at munchies (even healthy ones) later so that it doesn't look like I didn't enjoy the meal and am now making up for it. If a hostess takes offense, sorry, I've decided that's her problem, not mine.

Once people eat with me once or twice they know and are comfortable that it's just the way I am, it's nothing to do with them. I'm trying to eat to feel well, not eat to feel full after all. In a worst case, I eat more than I should, or higher calories and remind myself that it is truly only one meal. If it only happens once in awhile, I can deal with it in the big picture. The problem comes, like with restaurants, I think, when it becomes almost a daily occurrence.

When I cook for others, I put on a regular spread and eat like I always do. There's lots of selection for everyone, but I still eat my way.

I hope you find some really good ways to be able to enjoy the dinners out, after all they should be a cause of celebration and fun, not worry and stress. Happy eating.

Comment edited on: 3/1/2011 12:54:12 PM

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JHADZHIA 3/1/2011 10:49AM

    That certainly is a very big factor of formal social dinners and its disappointing Beck doesn't really address this..
I don't have a social life and don't go to dinner parties so I am lucky not to have this trial. I also don't eat out much either -its been months since Mom and I went out. Living at opposite ends of the city and neither of us driving makes get togethers difficult.
Looking things up online is fine if you are going to a chain restaurant (and when we got a Chili's in the city and Mom wanted to go to that with my sister, I was shocked by the high calorie meals, couldn't even get a salad that wasn't 1,000 calories!!), but Mom and I prefer small, one owner Asian restaurants. I don't like Mexican food as a rule, although I like Mom's home made chili.
You can actually make normal food using lighter ingredients and get the same flavors and textures using Spark recipes..They seem to have revamped all the old style meals into healthier versions..
Good luck with this difficult part of eating..

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