Balance . . . it’s about balance. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself the last day or so. We spent the last weekend with family, attended a wedding and finished up at my mother-in-law’s house. She is the best mother-in-law ever, but when we visit it’s kind of like a continuous food feast. Add to that a wedding and travel time, and my quest for healthy eating seems to vanish. Do you have a place like that? A place where your determination to eat healthy just disappears? In its place is a ravenous appetite for the snacks and meals you normally don’t have at home. You know, like wedding cake or kettle corn – two of the temptations I faced this weekend.
As I thought about it, and talked it through with my husband since he’s trying to maintain a healthy diet too, the word ‘balance’ came to mind. Years ago, during my time as a wellness dietitian, I often encountered people who would totally avoid anything like, well, wedding cake or kettle corn . . . until they had a weekend like mine. Then they went overboard, eating everything in sight. It was all or nothing, up or down, with no room for anything in between. Sometimes they would come back from such a weekend and get back on track – but feeling guilty. Many times, however, they felt like they failed and went right back to their old eating habits. Two steps forward, three steps back – not a healthy way to eat.
So what can be done? Is it possible to have a healthy diet when faced with temptations? Let’s think this through. What options are there? For our family it was important that we attend the wedding and visit my mother-in-law. Those relationships are important, so not attending wasn’t an option. That meant we’d be faced with all kinds of not-so-healthy, but appealing, choices. Some we indulged in, like sharing a piece of wedding cake or having a small brownie. Others we didn’t, like going back for a second piece of cake. We brought watermelon, bananas, and water for snacks during the drive – a good choice. I also made use of the treadmill in the hotel’s workout room – another good choice. At my mother-in-law’s we both had some of the kettle corn she offered, but didn’t go overboard.
So back to balance. While we made some choices that others would deem unhealthy, we also made some good choices. And really, there’s much more to eating than the nutritional value of food. The food itself should be appealing to the eye and have good flavor. The eating experience is important too, should be enjoyable, and includes the people we dine with, the conversations that occur during a meal, and celebrations that call for feasting. And a wedding is a celebration. Should we throw caution to the wind and eat everything in sight? No. But we shouldn’t feel guilty either if we choose items we wouldn’t normally eat because of the sugar or fat or whatever. The weekend was only a couple of days, not enough to throw us off our healthy lifestyle, just a curve in the road that adds a little interest to the daily drive. If our everyday diet is a healthy one, then weekends like this won’t take us off-road. We can turn right back, without feeling guilty, and continue our healthy lifestyle.
Now if I or my husband had to follow some type of therapeutic diet things would be a little different. We would be more diligent in following the guidelines of the specific diet. But that’s a post for another day. For now, our goal is to take care of ourselves with a healthy, balanced, lifestyle. And that sometimes includes a curve in the road.