Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, Monday through Friday: two whole wheat waffles with a tablespoon each of peanut butter and homemade jam, with a cup of coffee and sugar-free vanilla caramel creamer. I try to eat nearly the same thing every day for lunch. Lately, it's been one of those pre-washed, shrink-wrapped microwave sweet potatoes with a quarter cup of ricotta, yogurt (Greek or Dannon Light n' Fit), and a piece of fruit. As an afternoon snack, I have a banana and a Kashi granola bar. In the evening, I have certain go-to meals which don't take much time to prepare and made with ingredients I always have on hand. On the weekends, I put either lots more time or lots less time into thinking about what I'm eating. It might be a big, carefully thought-out production, or it might be catch-as-catch-can (I'm often busy with projects and events on weekends). Weekends are a trouble spot right now. I am striving to stick to my goals 90% of the time.
Basically, I try to take thinking out of meal prep as much as possible. I can pop the waffles in the toaster oven and assemble my lunch and snack in my lunch bag while they toast. I can come home late from the gym, work or choir practice and have dinner ready in not much more than the amount of time it takes to feed my cat. Is it the most exciting way to eat? No. But it works for me.
Here's what happens when I don't stick to my plan:
- If I'm out of waffles (God forbid!), I might end up with a fast food breakfast that's easy to eat while I'm driving. At the low end, that's 680 calories for an Egg McMuffin, hashbrowns and a medium nonfat caramel latte. And that's if I'm good and don't opt for the sausage mcmuffin. At the high end, it's a visit to Tim Horton's. I'm not even going to try parsing that one, because I can never seem to stop myself from ordering a ten pack of Timbits, and that's at least 500 calories just for that part, so I'll skip calculating hashbrowns, a ham and egg muffin sandwich and a large mocha latte. (Note to self- you're NEVER going to Tim Horton's again!!!)
- For lunch, I might get soup and a salad from the cafe downstairs. I might go to Target to shop at lunch and end up with a personal pepperoni pizza and breadsticks. I might lose track of time and end up foraging from the snack machine in the break room (a 3.5 serving bag of Kar's Sweet and Salty Mix always seems to appeal to me there). Whatever the result, it ain't pretty. Even the soup and salad aren't as good an option as that "boring" lunch.
- And dinner? If I don't have a plan in place, I might give in to the siren song of Taco Bell and their seductive Mexican pizza, which you can bet I always order as a value meal. Or maybe it will be Arby's Beef and Cheddar, and I'll just have to get an order of mozzarella sticks. Because the cat loves them, of course.
I'm not good at menu planning. I get the best of intentions and will make a two week menu. I might even stick to it for the full two weeks. But I can't keep it up. The way I figure, my "same old, same old" way of eating is also menu planning, just menu planning where you really only have to plan one or two days. For some people it might be like a culinary version of the movie "Groundhog Day." I prefer to think of it as an efficient re-use of resources. It also makes it really easy to enter in the SP nutrition tracker! I use "copy meal to another day" constantly.
I'm rarely feeding anyone else, so I never have to worry about "stir fry again?" type griping. And let me tell you, I've been eating a baked sweet potato for lunch nearly every day for the past two weeks, and every single time I open the microwave door I say, "That smells so good!" I never used to like eating leftovers when I was a kid. Now that I decide what's for dinner, I am perfectly happy eating the same favorite dishes every day. I once had hoppin' John for dinner every day for a week and had to fight with myself not to make another batch that Sunday!
I started doing this two years ago and lost over 50 pounds. I let myself go off the rails last year and I gained 33 pounds of it back. So I'm back on my dietary Chessie System, chugging along and I plan to drop off all of my excess "freight" along the way. No more derailments for me!