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Social Eating

Friday, May 10, 2013

Even before I joined SparkPeople, I knew what my biggest food challenges were: Boredom eating, stress eating, and social eating. There are subcategories to each of these. A year and a half into the drill of recording everything, the stress and boredom eating are controlled. I still eat from stress and boredom, but it will be healthy food, it will be recorded, and I will make it fit into the daily ranges.

Social eating is another animal. I've mostly avoided it, and had mixed results with my self-control when I didn't avoid it. This week, there are two social eating events.

The first was Tuesday, at the annual party for the local VITA organization. There is always a wonderful spread of delicious hors d'oeuvres that are no doubt high in fat and calories, and there is always a great selection of baked sweets. This year, I left some room in my calorie count while filling my minimum protein before going. I filled one small plate of hors d'oeuvres and had two small cookies. I counted everything, but had to approximate the hors d'oeuvres because they didn't correspond to anything the SparkPeople app was finding on search. I probably over-counted protein and under-counted calories, and even by my count ended up high in my range for the day.

It's probably not a coincidence that my weight was up on Wednesday and Thursday. I thought about cutting back my range, but kept in constant. Today, my weight was back to where it had been Tuesday morning. Yes, I ate more calories on Tuesday. Yes, I probably ate more than I estimated. But it's likely that the weight blip was mostly due to excess salt in the prepared foods.

I can cope with this. One day does not break maintenance. But there's another day this week. Tomorrow I have committed to a social dinner as part of a church program. The idea is for 6 to 10 members to have dinner together and get to know each other better. I know about how people in this church fix food for social occasions, and it was a no-brainer that I just not sign on any of the sign-up sheets. But it's hard to say no when someone personally invites me, as happened last Sunday.

Attendees are supposed to bring part of the meal. First line of defense, ask what I'm supposed to bring. Oh, just bring dinner rolls. Yeah, right. That's what every single guy wants to hear, bring something that isn't any work. It also shows no thought. Or just bring yourself, we'll have plenty. While probably accurate, that doesn't feel right either. So I opened my mouth and volunteered to bring a pie. I can bake apple, pumpkin, or pecan. (I can also bake custard, but didn't think to volunteer that.) Another attendee became enthusiastic. "Oh, please do. You make the best pecan pies!"

For the record, my pecan pies are not anything special. The recipe comes straight out of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The only thing that distinguishes my pecan pies is that I actually take the time to prepare them. Okay, maybe I put in more pecans than the recipe calls for; but it's still a standard item. It's so standard, when I used the SP recipe calculator to do the nutrition I came within 10 calories per slice of what the SP nutrition tracker thinks a serving of generic pecan pie is worth.

Those of you who ave done the quizzes on SP may remember that pecan pie is the highest-calorie pie on the quiz and matching trivia question, at just over 500 calories per slice. I can't make one pecan pie; I have to make two at a time to get things to come out even.

So, there's a challenge. I know I can bake a pair of pecan pies and not eat them, because I do that to donate pies to the Old Fashioned Church Supper each year. I know I can haul the pies with me, and that they travel well. I know that I can recover from a day when I have a slice of pecan pie.

I don't know for sure how I'll deal with leftovers. With luck, I'll be able to send them home with other people. For sure I'll use disposable aluminum pie plates to facilitate this possibility. If leftover pie comes home with me, I'll have to either ration it out over several days, or consider just pitching it.

It's hard to pitch good pie.

Meanwhile, I need to be prepared mentally. First, it's only one meal. Even if it's a disaster of overeating, I can recover. Second, keep it in perspective. Control serving size and estimate everything, even if it can't be accurately measured. Third, bear in mind that food isn't the point. Social interaction is the point, so keep the culinary stuff in the background.

Anyway, that's the plan. I have to chuckle at how much thought I put into this, compared to how much I would have put in pre-Spark. I don't know how people who have an active social eating life manage maintenance without knowing what they're going to eat for the last meal of the day; but I'm going to need to figure it out, at least for one day.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I *hate* to waste food as well, but I have had to force myself to throw out tempting leftovers because! My lizard brain takes over and shows no restraint when there are goodies hanging around the house. If I can't send them home with somebody else, I have to trash 'em :-(
    1860 days ago
    I agree, social eating is a huge challenge. I attend a potluck every other Tuesday and I have taken to searching on-line for healthy main dish recipes that come with nutritional info and then will only eat one serving of what I bring (at the risk of looking like a snob) and maybe have a green salad with it if it's available. Pecan pies would destroy me as I like them WAY too much and would not be able to stop at just one piece! Good luck!
    1861 days ago
  • NWFL59
    You'll do well as you're mentally prepared and have the resolve and tools to deal with conditions on the fly. emoticon
    1863 days ago
    Have fun at the dinner, and by all means, send the pie home with other people. Most will be glad to take it, and if they ask you if you want some for yourself, tell them that it is only you at home, and you can make another any time you want. (you don't have to tell them that you WON'T)

    Since you likely have to mow today, that will increase your activity level, which will help burn off some of the extra calories.

    Like Barb said, enjoy the non-food aspects of the social event.
    1863 days ago
    Pecan pie.... where's a Homer Simpson drool emoticon when you need it ?

    I don't really have problems with social eating because I really don't socialize as much as I should. ;) When I do eat out with friends, I try to be mindful of my portions and if I do over do it, I don't beat myself up because I don't eat like that every day. That's a big change in my life. It's taken a while, but I have become much more aware of my portion sizes.

    Anyway, let's talk pecan pie for a moment. I know that short of cheesecake, pecan pie is one of the most calorie packed of the pies. But, I know of a recipe that isn't as high in calorie AND is absolutely delicious. One Thanksgiving, the grandparents made a sweet potato pecan pie and was amazing.

    This is the recipe from epicurous.

    There are a bunch of different variations on the recipe posted on the web. This might be a good option for reducing calories and still retaining all that pecan pie yumminess.

    1863 days ago
    You seemed to have thought of everything and made the best preparation.
    The pecan pie solution is great.
    You bring something special that everybody appreciates and it shows you care about them.
    Eating one slice and giving the leftovers to others you let yourself enjoy, it but avoid eating more after the event.
    1863 days ago
    I know it is difficult, I do not eat socially very often, I have lunch with some lady friends once a month, so, I do try to count calories and plan on that being my big meal, my DH and I usually eat at home, so when we do go out, I usually go over my calories by quite bit, so try to add a bit of exercise for a few days, but, all in all, it is so hard
    1864 days ago
    Social eating can be a real challenge. We attended an
    FFA banquet tonight and I knew that standard broasted
    chicken and cheesy hashbrowns would be on the menu.
    After that, it is whatever salads and desserts the
    parents provide. Tonight was so easy. Lots of fresh
    pineapple, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach plus
    coleslaw with just a hint of poppyseed dressing.
    The dessert line was way too tempting but I did find
    one that I could splurge on with almost no guilt. When
    I tracked everything at home just now, I was still in my
    range, despite the Oreo Cookie dessert. Some things
    are just meant to be. Hope you have a good time.
    1864 days ago
    Good skill to practice. I've taken to carting bananas to food days at work if I take anything at all. Something I can leave there is a good deal!

    Enjoy the non-food aspects of your community dinner!
    1864 days ago
    Social eating is a problem for me too. It most often happens during the holiday season.
    If I bake a special dessert, I will always plan to have some for myself, because I know how good it tastes. Also, I don't bake that often, so I want to take advantage of it when I do.

    Leftovers from a party at my place are always a big temptation. Luckily, I can count on my husband to eat a lot of them. And lately, I force 'care packages' on my guests to take home with them. If good foods are left in the house, I will have a very hard time resisting them.

    When we are with friends out at a restaurant, it has become so much easier for me. I usually order a tasty fish dish to keep the calories lower, then will split a dessert with others at the table. I find that to be very satisfying, while cutting back on the calories.

    Congratulations on having such pie-baking skills.
    My favorite item to bring to a dinner is WINE! (No cooking at all.)

    1864 days ago
    Nothing wrong in planning ahead.Hope you have a great time, pie or no pie:) emoticon emoticon
    1864 days ago
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