The Boxed Lunch, Or You Can’t Have It All

June 25, 2014

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The turning point in my weight loss happened Christmas of 2005. I was at Matt’s family’s house and had just returned from a big Caribbean cruise. You can imagine how many vacation pounds I was carrying around on top of the usual holiday overeating I used to do. But the thing is – I didn’t see it as overeating. I saw it all as normal eating. When everyone around you is also having 10 cheese and cracker sandwiches before dinner followed by 3 glasses of wine and too many bourbon balls to count, it just seems like the normal thing to do.

The Summer Before in Cambridge

I was standing in the kitchen feeling rather blah in my outfit and chatting with Matt’s aunts and Karen. Somehow the conversation turned to holiday eating. Someone listed all of the temptations that time of year: appetizers, dinner rolls, alcohol, rich entrees, dessert, egg nog. Matt’s aunt (who happens to be very trim and athletic!) threw her hands up and said with a sigh and a laugh: “You just can’t have it all!”

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This was a HUGE light bulb moment for me. It hadn’t occurred to me that one should choose which of those foods and drinks to have on a special occasion. As an adult, I figured everyone just had a little of everything.

This was my healthy tipping point and the start of the path to reaching a normal, healthy weight over a year later. It was the start of more mindful eating.

What my aunt said is true: if you do have appetizers, the bread basket, a few cocktails, a rich entrée and dessert, you’re absolutely going to eat more than your body needs in one evening. And while making an effort to have the crudités for appetizers, half a roll with no butter, skinny cocktails, a vegetable heavy entrée and one bite of dessert might help a LOT, it’s still a lot to juggle in one meal. {And frankly would leave me feeling rather deprived at the same time.}

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Another example I often use when discussing this topic with people is The Boxed Lunch.

Imagine a catered picnic lunch where everyone gets a box. Inside you might find:

A sandwich (which may or may not be on whole wheat bread and may or may not include a vegetable inside) that is likely piled high with deli meat, cheese and mayo.

A bag of chips

An apple

A soda

A brownie or cookie

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Sound familiar? When you open the box and reveal the contents, it feels like you’re supposed to eat them. “Part of this well-balanced breakfast” the cereal commercials say. It’s boring to only eat half of the sandwich, a few chips, the whole apple and none of the dessert, right? Aren’t you weird for giving away your brownie?

No, you’re smart. And paying attention. And educated on portion size, your hunger cues and your individual needs.

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Sure there are times when you might eat the whole boxed lunch. Maybe you’re working at Habitat all day and need the fuel. Or maybe there’s a picnic at the finish line to your half marathon. Or maybe you’re a big guy who just needs that many calories in your day. Or maybe it’s a really delicious looking lunch and you’re just really hungry that day. I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t eat everything inside.

My point is that if you don’t pay attention, it’s easy to overeat simply because it’s the default. Everyone else is doing it so you should too. Remember Margo’s post on shared responsibility? I know from being on the event planning side that people give you the stink eye if you try to suggest going lighter on the catered lunch (unless you’re planning the Healthy Living Summit – then a plethora or healthy food receives compliments!) So it’s up to you to do the decision making about what in your boxed lunch is worth spending your hunger on.

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Pay attention. Eat mindfully. And stop before you’re completely full. You can’t have it all, all of the time.

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jill June 25, 2014 at 6:26 am

Good post! I especially like the last few sentences. When I don’t pay attention, it’s impossible to stop before I’m full, because I’m eating way too fast. I consume too much before I realize that I’m wayyyy past full. When I eat mindfully and take my time, my stomach seems to give me plenty of notice when it’s time to cease and desist!

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2 Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties June 25, 2014 at 7:02 am

I love this! I’ve recently started paying more attention to how much I eat and when I actually feel full. I am getting better about pushing my dinner plate away once I feel like I’ve had enough. (and bonus: if I don’t eat all my dinner, I get it for lunch the next day- saving money! woohoo!)

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3 Julia June 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I love leftovers!

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4 Kat June 25, 2014 at 7:03 am

I love this post, one of my favorites (along with the squiggly line obviously) since I’ve been reading in 2008. I’ve moved to a gluten & dairy “free” (limited) diet after doing the whole30 (which is an elimination diet) and finding out these foods in anything but tiny quantities cause problems for me. This post is awesome and reassuring, especially the part about making all of the choices to lighten the meal and still feeling deprived. That was a lightbulb moment for me. Thank you! I love the posts on how you balance your diet!

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5 Jodi June 25, 2014 at 7:17 am

Loved this post Kath. I used to be able to keep it all under control, but since I turned 45 and the metabolism slowed, something went all screwy with my thinking. Now I seem to eat whatever I’m craving, which is leading to weight gain. I need to remember that I can’t have it all!

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6 Melanie June 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

You are so right – and definitely about that compulsion to eat everything in the boxed lunch! I know I’ve felt that exact urge before. I think your approach is what helps people feel in control of their eating. When you feel like you can’t have any of it, that feels like you’re being controlled. When you eat all of it, you’re out of control. When you choose based on what’s most important to you, it puts the control back in your hands.

One motto I always follow that’s helped me a lot is “make it count” – I care absolutely NOTHING about lunch. I eat it to fuel my body, but it’s just a meal I’ve never liked. Therefore, I almost always avoid a high, calorie indulgent lunch because that’s just not where I want to spend my calories. When I worked in an office, I was a real bore – never went out with friends for lunch. Maybe I could’ve eaten a salad and half the accompanying roll, but I wouldn’t have – I know myself! Instead of lunch, I would rather have a cocktail after work with friends and spend those calories that way. Those are calories that “count” for me – it’s fun, it’s festive, it’s worth it!

This approach helps me so much – when I began counting calories a few years ago and realized the amount of calories in seemingly benign things like ketchup, orange juice – I had to apply the make-it-count credo. Sometimes that means having fries without ketchup to save 150 calories because hey, they’re still fries! It almost always means skipping juice. Those are just add-ons that I really don’t count that much with me anyway.

It’s all about the choices you make!

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7 Becky@TheSavedRunner June 25, 2014 at 7:35 am

Great points! It is so easy to eat everything on a plate just because it is there. But we need to pay attention to our bodies and remember that we eat to fuel ourselves, not just to make sure a plate is clean.

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8 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner June 25, 2014 at 7:42 am

Great post, Kath! I think one of the biggest things is not feeling awkward when everyone around you is eating the cookie out of their boxed lunch and questioning why you’re not eating yours. I’ve since decided since it’s my body, I get to decide what I put in it and shouldn’t feel awkward about it. The cookies that come in boxed lunches generally aren’t worth it, anyway.

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9 Julia June 25, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Those cookies are usually really gross. If I’m going to eat dessert I want it to be really really good!!!

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10 Spice Chicken June 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

So true about those boxed lunch cookies. I loved this post as well. Overeating is indeed the default, as is unhealthy eating. People seem to eat what’s in front of them, often just because it’s there. I recently spent a week at a conference for work eating cafeteria food that was often not so great, and it was crazy to see colleagues inhaling the entrees while griping about it when the salad bar offered other options.

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11 Cashmiere June 25, 2014 at 7:44 am

Excellent and insightful post kath! Curious what your thoughts on deli meat are?

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12 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 9:07 am

I think the organic varieties are fine, but I am not a huge fan of it in general for the taste but I think it’s a fine food

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13 Lori June 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

What in the world would make organic lunch meat much better than conventional lunch meat? The animal being fed no pesticides doesn’t seem like it makes much of a difference when deciding if lunch meat is a healthy food. Just want to point out that some of our readers probably think you’re saying that organic=healthy, which is a huge misconception.

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14 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

We had a discussion about this in this post. See Madison’s comment – there are slightly higher standards for animal welfare with organic. If you could find grass-fed deli meat, then that’s what you’d want! I agree that grass-fed, local meat that has been cooked and using the leftovers in a sandwich or salad would be a better choice than store-bought deli meat. I try to limit my consumption of conventional deli meats to conferences and events a few times a year only.

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15 Kate June 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

Questionable welfare standards aside, how would organic deli meat be any healthier from a nutritional standpoint? It is my understanding that the macros are equivalent.

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16 KathEats June 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

They are comparable

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17 Ttrockwood June 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Read the ingredients on generic deli meat vs an organic version. The number of preservatives and additives is impressive.

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18 Kate June 30, 2014 at 12:47 am

Apples to Apples, something like Boar’s Head all-natural roasted turkey has the same ingredients and nutrition as Applegate organic. I think Lori made an important point above that it is not the “organic” label which makes the deli meat any healthier, it’s choosing a high quality product with no additives, preservatives, or added sodium.

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19 Ali @ Peaches and Football June 25, 2014 at 7:47 am

Very true… you definitely can’t have it all and it DOES feel like you’re depriving yourself when you eat half or “skinny” something down to make it more calorie-friendly. I tend now to almost always order water when I go out. Now a beverage of any kind seems like a treat. I remember when a soda or lemonade with a meal was common and a regular thing, so that’s progress.

When there’s lots of unhealthy things I want, I tend to compromise with myself. I can have that dessert this time – but then I need to pick the healthier of the two entrees I was deciding on. Or I look at how I’ve been eating over the week – if it hasn’t been good, then I don’t reward myself with more indulgent food.

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20 Anna @ On Anna's Plate June 25, 2014 at 8:05 am

I really like this post. It takes WORK for me to eat reasonable-sized portions. Like so many of us (as you said), I feel like the default is to overeat. My husband and I eat pretty healthy (especially compared to the average American, I would say), but over the past year or so, I’ve felt our portion sizes at dinner grow increasingly out of control. It doesn’t translate to huge weight gain– I feel like I’m carrying about five pounds more than I’d like. Part of me thinks, “You need to reign it in and lose those last five pounds!!!” But, I’ll be honest– another part of me thinks, “Geez, it’s just five pounds. You’re healthy. You’re happy. Don’t worry about it.”

Anyway– this comment got long. Nice post!

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21 jillian June 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

amazing post! Thanks Kath!

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22 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh June 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

Very good point. As a kid, it was driven into our generation to be a member of the clean plate club whether you were hungry for it all or not. These days, if I’m going to clean my plate, it’s going to be foods that aren’t going to break the calorie bank 6 days a week. It’s the high cal day I need to get control over. :-|

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23 Susan June 25, 2014 at 8:30 am

What a brilliant post Kath! Such good advice and soooo true! People always give me dirty looks for not cleaning my plate when I know the portion size is so out of whack – above and beyond my daily needs! Food companies have massive budgets and plough money into advertising and subliminal prompts constantly in order to over time change social norms…it’s all about selling more food and unfortunately it’s been pretty successful in changing society. Thanks for sharing what works for you with your RD insight. I would love to see you do a review of the film ‘Fed Up” Thanks!

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24 Tragic Sandwich June 25, 2014 at 8:50 am

Great post! And it took me well into adulthood to figure out the same thing–that you can’t have it all (at least, not all of the time). I’m still working on implementing that realization, but at least now I know one of the things to work on!

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25 Florence June 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

I loved this post. It reminded me of a great quote by Bethenny Frankel, that you can have everything just not all at once. It’s so important to pay attention to what will make our bodies feel good and it’s definitely hard when it seems the expectation is excess.

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26 Maryz June 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

Awesome! Every time I get a boxed lunch, I feel obligated to eat it all and not waste it. This is a great reminder to listen to your body and do what is right for you!

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27 Caroline June 25, 2014 at 8:52 am

Were you very much overweight?

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28 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am

20 pounds or so. Check out my weight loss post on the Lifestyle Topics page above ^^

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29 Kristin June 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Thanks!

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30 Kellie June 25, 2014 at 9:27 am

Thanks so much for this post Kath. I think many of us know this in our heads, but it’s important to remind ourselves every once in a while. Lately I’ve been to a few events where they fed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and being a college student my default mentality is always to eat the free food. I know this mindset is soo wrong, but it seems to be prevalent among my peers. I’ve even had roommates who’d give me a hard time when I decided to put down the cookie so to speak. It’s something I have to actively remind myself of.

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31 Chelsea@TableForOne June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am

I just love this post Kath! Healthy living is all about making conscious choices that honor our body and fuel it with exactly what it needs. It is easy to forget this, so thanks for the reminder!

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32 Stephanie @ My Freckled Life June 25, 2014 at 9:38 am

Great post! This is all so true, and definitely something I struggle with! It’s so easy for that excessive eating to become normal eating!

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33 Livi June 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

This is so true! You can’t just go through life judging your eating based on those around you! You have to take some responsibility and listen to your body!

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34 Leah June 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

Interesting post, and totally true! It’s funny though, because my experiences eating with other people, as someone who’s struggled (and still working on) my weight, have been completely different. Rather than being the one who stood out by not eating both the cookies and the chips, I was usually the only one who did. Maybe there’s the occasional holiday where people indulge more, but for the most part everyone isn’t bothering with the cookie. It’s an advantage though, because I have great eating role models around me.

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35 Julia June 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

I try to eat really well during the week and enjoy myself a little more on the weekend, but ALWAYS stop when I feel satisfied no matter what I am eating. Also, if I know I’m going to have a drink (beer or wine) I try to have a few less carbs throughout the day to balance it out. :)

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36 Marissa June 25, 2014 at 10:12 am

loved this post, as i just recently needed and had that “light bulb moment.” over the last 6 mos, i had increased my carb intake substantially with no extra activity – i was simply not paying close enough attention. it took a few days of thought and tracking my eats that made me realize why all of my clothes were getting tight. the numbers on the scale increased too, but i don’t love using the scale as a measure. in just 2 weeks of being more mindful, i am happy to report that my clothes are feeling much better and i’ve got quite a bit more energy!

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37 Alex @ Kenzie Life June 25, 2014 at 10:34 am

Part of the reason I love your blog so much is because I really love and admire your balanced views on health and eating. I read an article recently from a trainer who trains some of the world’s most successful models who, in the same breath, said that he sees the rampant anorexia and bulimia in the modeling industry and yet he doesn’t let his models eat over 1500 calories a day (while working out), or 1600 if they have extraordinary metabolisms. I think that comments like that help create this black and white thinking–that you either have it all, all the time, or you have none of it (not to mention I think it’s not very healthy advice to begin with). As someone in recovery from anorexia, I can’t tell you how helpful and encouraging it is to see those with actual nutrition and dietary training advocating for balance. Dessert isn’t the enemy and deprivation isn’t part of a healthy lifestyle, but when we let ourselves have treats it’s easier to not go for everything just because it’s there. Sorry for the really long comment, I’m just really grateful for posts like this. Thank you, Kath!

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38 Jennifer June 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

I love this post! It’s a nice reminder that we can’t have it all. I can’t/shouldn’t let what other people are eating dictate how I fuel my own body.

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39 Samantha June 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

Love love love this post! :)

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40 Jill Allison Bryan June 25, 2014 at 11:49 am

thank you so much for this post! A reminder that’s always good to hear. I’ve been reading your blog for several years now (and in the time struggling off and on with those darn “last ten pounds” ) You’re such an inspiration since you don’t advocate total denial of delicious food and drink and I love your squiggly line theory which I’m trying to keep in mind.

Did you follow a specific program during your year of weight loss – or were you able to get to the healthy balance you wanted by mindful eating alone?

Thanks again for the inspiration and your wonderful blog.

Jill

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41 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I just counted my calories to help with mindful eating and watch portions. Throughout my weight loss I got more into real food and nutrition which helped me learn to eat for quality as well.

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42 Jill Allison Bryan June 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Thanks, Kath. I really appreciate the feedback. I’m really seeing how focusing on the enjoyment of real food is the way to go!
You are certainly a shining example of that.

Thanks again,

Jill

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43 Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork June 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

Amen! I think this is a huge thing when it comes to mindful eating. We have boxed lunches all the time at my work for meetings and you’re right–people think you’re weird for giving away the chips and cookie sometimes. Like, “Oh, you’re one of those people who’s too good to indulge.” No, I just prefer a piece of dark chocolate at night and to get the majority of my daily calories from nourishing foods that make me feel good. (Can you tell I’ve had a few experiences with that?)

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44 Katie @ Live Half Full June 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

This is SUCH a good way to think about things. As always, I love your perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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45 Karen June 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Totally agree! I think a lot of people get in that mindset of if they see food, they eat it, and they refuse to “deprive” themselves, etc. When I don’t eat certain things at a BBQ for example, people will make comments like “they don’t want to live like that”… News flash: just because I didn’t eat a cupcake at your house doesn’t mean I never eat cupcakes! I just pick and choose what “treats” I might have that day and I know there’s always another day tomorrow to eat something else. Mindful eating, I think it’s called.

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46 Shel@PeachyPalate June 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Oh my god you look so different in that photo! Totally agree…people do fall in to the peer pressure of eating…falling victim to it and abusing it when it suits and then it becomes a bad habit that’s hard to shake. Every person, each and every individual day, is different and we do need to just listen to our bodies, minds, and make informed decisions based on more than just the potential meal in front of us!

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47 Carolyn June 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm

This is a great post and really gives me a lot to think about! Thank you!! I do have one question though.

“And while making an effort to have the crudités for appetizers, half a roll with no butter, skinny cocktails, a vegetable heavy entrée and one bite of dessert might help a LOT, it’s still a lot to juggle in one meal. {And frankly would leave me feeling rather deprived at the same time.}”

I always thought that was a reasonable approach to take. What would you recommend? Simply eating the vegetable heavy entrée and skipping the rest of the courses? Who knew eating right would be so hard? lol

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48 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

It is a reasonable approach! I didn’t word that very well. I guess what I mean is that going out to dinner and following that path of “skinnying” everything would leave me feeling deprived, so I’d rather have some of the stuff 100% and skip others. OR just go all out in one meal and eat well the rest of the week (per the squiggly line effect). It all comes down to your personality – if going the “skinny” route would be most enjoyable for you, then by all means do it : )

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49 Leira June 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Great Post. Though, kind of hypocritical. The *huge* ad below this post is for McDonalds, which means while you’re keeping your waist line nice and tidy, you’re packing your purse with some pretty icky money and suggesting your readers eat more fries!

From Michael Pollen:
“To eliminate blemishes and aphids, farmers use a pesticide called Monitor on the potatoes —the same potatoes that will later become fries– that is so toxic, according to Pollan, “farmers won’t venture outside into their fields for five days after they spray”.

Pollan goes onto to describe that once the potatoes are harvested, the potatoes have to rest to “off-gas” in football stadium-sized, atmosphere-controlled sheds for six weeks because they aren’t edible”

Good job all around!

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50 KathEats June 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Didn’t realize – I’ll have that campaign stopped.

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51 elizabeth June 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I feel like I’ve seen that ad before on your site. Not sniping, just wondering if you asking for it to be removed will do a ton of good?

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52 KathEats June 26, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I requested it and put in a notice to exclude all fast food in the future. You shouldn’t be seeing it anymore. I don’t know which ads run until they run, so I have to rely on your guys to alert me! Thanks to those who do so politely : )

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53 Susan Mc July 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

Awesome post Kath, such a great reminder, and lovely response above as well!!! ;-)

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54 Julie June 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I couldn’t agree more that “you can’t have it all, all the time”, but I do think it’s ok to splurge on special occasions, vacation, etc. Oftentimes we get invited to a friend’s house on the wknd or to a potluck or party. I used to stress about these things because trying to stay on my “diet” was so difficult & restricting. Now I just enjoy the party & eat what is offered & know that the rest of the week I will make an effort to make healthy choices (& exercise!!).
When you commented that you had an “aha” moment w/ regard to a healthier lifestyle, that struck me because I had one, too, & I wonder how many other people can look back & pinpoint that moment in their lives. My cousin’s wife made a comment after losing a bunch of weight (in response to a willpower question, I think) that “nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, & it really resonated w/ me.

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55 Sarah June 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Amen! We are grown-ups after all, not children with impulse control problems. Although, I have been known to pout a bit when I don’t allow myself that second piece of cake ;)

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56 Marcia@Frugal Healthy Simple June 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I think one of the hardest things is to remember that you continuously have to make adjustments.

I lost 57 lbs in 2002. I had gained weight gradually. 10 lbs after getting married, 10 lbs after getting out of the Navy, then more and more (it got faster).

What worked in college when I was walking everywhere and doing physical training with ROTC, did not work when I graduated into the Navy desk job. What worked in the Navy while I played volleyball 3x a week and went to the gym 2x a day, did not work when I moved to California and was just walking for exercise.

What worked when I was in my mid-20’s didn’t work in my late 20’s when I was eating lunch with the boys at work every day.

And related…what worked for me in losing weight in 2002, and losing the first baby weight in 2007/8 (it took 23 months to lose it all), is NOT working now in 2014 (my baby is 23.5 months old, and I have at least 15 lbs to go, maybe 20). Because, you know: injuries, age (today is my 44th birthday!), lack of time. Constant vigilance. That’s what is sometimes needed.

But way back when. When I first lost the weight – I had to tell myself this: stop eating like it’s your last meal. Because that’s what I was doing. We’d make pizza for dinner and I’d eat half of the pizza (4 slices). We’d make burritos (with small tortillas) and I’d eat three. I convinced myself that I ate healthy (and I did eat a lot of fruits and vegetables), but I never considered the amount. When I started counting, I was SHOCKED. And I learned that:

I can have it again tomorrow.

It was very freeing. I LOVE PIZZA. It’s okay. I can savor a slice for dinner tonight with salad. After all, it’s my birthday. And you know what? I can save a slice for lunch tomorrow. Heck, I can have it three or four days in a row if I want. (I mean, if I make a pizza with 8 slices…and I eat less, it will last longer, right?) Well, that was the case before kids, maybe not so much now. ;)

I don’t have to give up chocolate forever. Or wine. I just can’t have it every day.

The other thing I really learned is to not waste calories on stuff you don’t really like. Cupcakes, cake, pie, muffins for example. About those, I’m just “meh”. Why eat them? Now, a good piece of dark chocolate, or a brownie, or chocolate chip cookie – those are worth the calories. Same with avocado. So many diet sites tell you to eat 1/4 or 1/8 of an avocado. Um…that’s fine if I’m making a salad for my whole family, but if I’m making lunch at work, I’m eating the whole avocado. I’ll cut calories somewhere else.

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57 Ashley June 26, 2014 at 10:33 am

“Stop eating like it’s your last meal.” This is so me!

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58 Annie June 27, 2014 at 7:02 am

Great comment – everything is so true especially the “what worked before won’t necessarily work now” part. It took me a long time to accept it but it’s soooo true! What worked in high school when I was dancing and doing other sports plus walking miles every day didn’t work once I had a desk job and today what’s working while I have a desk job but walking to and from every work day may not have worked before! It sounds so obvious when written down

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59 Shari Ellis June 25, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I hired a personal trainer back in October and have since dropped 20 pounds. The exercise routine is easy. However, changing old habits and my mindset toward eating has been the most difficult part of the entire process.

I discovered your blog in search of recipes, tips, and tidbits about healthy living. In my opinion, you are one of the few out there that understands the word BALANCE! Thank you for sharing your story and insights that you have discovered on your journey to maintaining a healthy weight. You have certainly helped me :)

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60 Emily @ Life on Food June 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

This is such a good reminder. I always want everything. And it’s OK some of the time but not all of the time.

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61 Julia June 25, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I’ve been refusing food for years. What makes me mad is people who say, “your so skinny you can afford to eat (whatever it is I am refusing).” I want to tell them I’m thin because I don’t eat whatever it us I’m refusing. I do indulge but I choose foods that I love.

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62 Donna June 25, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Or another way to think of this is that every meal is not a special occasion! I know people who go out for brunch, lunch, and then have a special dinner. You can’t eat that much (well) in a day, regularly, and expect to not gain weight.
If you’re going out for a special dinner, then balance the day out by having a sensible but lighter fare for breakfast and lunch.
Every meal cannot be a special occasion!

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63 werka June 26, 2014 at 2:12 am

Hello, just wanted to tell you this post was great! I really enjoyed reading it and even had a lightbulb moment myself :)
Thank you!
V.

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64 Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) June 26, 2014 at 5:09 am

I can totally relate to this post!! At work, we would occasionally have a free lunch which included a very large sandwich, a bag of chips and a VERY large (albeit delicious) cookie. I was eating the whole kit and kaboodle for a while and then finally realized that I was much too full with all that food (and yes, it did take me a while to figure this out!)

Now I’m happy with half a sandwich and half a cookie. I save the chips for later. It’s amazing how much more energy this gives me without every feeling deprived!

Great post! :D

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65 Annie June 27, 2014 at 6:58 am

I could never have half a cookie (if it’s a good one!) haha! Give me cupcakes, muffins, cake the lot and I’ll politely turn my nose up but cookies? No way!!

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66 JBFIT60 June 26, 2014 at 6:09 am

Great post!!! Remember everything in moderation, that is what I have been learning these past few months. I have been eating extremely strict, I was missing out on life and living in a food prison. I love eating healthy whole foods to fuel my body but I now understand it’s ok to enjoy a few of my favorite things, all in moderation. We must eat for our own personal goals and not let other people’s comments influence us.

Thank you for posting this!!!! I love your blog! :)

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67 Jo Williams June 26, 2014 at 9:23 am

After 57 years, I am FINALLY learning how to do this!! I can actually keep a bag of Hershey’s milk chocolate drops in my desk at work and count out 3 and eat them when I want chocolate. I have learned not to eat half a bag! And I went on a 2-week Baltic cruise in May, eatings lots of good things while out sightseeing in 6 countries and on a cruise ship and only gained 1 pound!! We did lots of walking every day, which helped. But I made a conscious effort while eating – I did splurge on their wonderful bread with real butter and I had some desserts, but if it wasn’t truly delicious, I only ate a few bites rather than devour the whole thing. It’s finally sinking in and it feels good to have control!!!

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68 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy June 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Amen! Love this simple way of stating what “healthy eating” is all about.

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69 Jenny E June 27, 2014 at 9:35 am

I adore this post. I just woke up to this same concept last night after trying to lose ten pounds I’d put on since Christmas. It hadn’t been making sense to me- I’ve been cutting back, I’m a triathloner, I train six days a week.

But I have it all. Last night’s dinner was pletny of steamed vegies, and an eggwhite-no cheese veggie omellette with a slice of whole grain toast. My body loved it and I didn’t have to starve. I get it. Now to commit…

As always, thanks Kath.

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70 Fancy June 27, 2014 at 10:04 am

Great post!! I remember you used to pack your lunch often…would love to see a post on some of your tips on packing meals to go! Xo!

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71 KathEats June 27, 2014 at 10:09 am

Already wrote that one here!

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72 Emily June 27, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Great post.I confess I’ve gotten by on a fast metabolism my whole life, and now that I’m 35 and about to stop breastfeeding my second child, I need to be much more mindful of portion size to lose these last 8 lbs or so that remain.

Do you think that it takes time to train your body to get used to eating less? Over time, can you truly feel more sated with less? Or is it a mind over matter situation?

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73 KathEats June 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Yes I do think the stomach stretches and shrinks based on habit. At least mine does!

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74 Shelly July 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

So well put! I did that just yesterday – my clients were eating all of their soup and sandwich, so I thought I should eat all of mine too. Then I realized how silly that is. Stop when I’m full, not when everyone else is stopping!

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75 AGS July 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm

So true. A number of years ago, when I reduced my exercise from 60 min/day, to 30/day, I realized I could either eat dessert every night, and cut somewhere else in my daily intake, or eat as I was, and only have dessert a couple times a week. I’m one of those people who views dessert as a commitment, and generally eats the whole thing (whatever that may be). I stopped eating sweets routinely, and was delighted that I could stay in my desired weight/clothing size range.

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76 Traci July 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

This is such a great, well-said and thoughtful post. Especially the end. I would be echoing what everyone else has already said, so I’ll keep it at that. :]

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