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Party foods- to food journal or not to?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm having a bit of a connundrum I'm sure all of you have faced, so maybe you'll have some good ideas.

This year I have several holiday parties and gatherings I need to attend, and I want to attend as well. I want to enjoy the parties, and one of the best things is that I get to splurge and eat food I didn't have to make. Now last year, I was so focused on weight loss I stayed assiduously faithful to only foods I could correctly estimate and were on "my plan". But I've learned that I'm not going to be able to live that way, I cannot spend the rest of my life only eating crudite (the raw veggie platter) and the mixed greens salad at every party. That's nuts!

And I trust my body now, I do. I cannot eat huge platters of rich food like I used to, it just ain't happening. My body sends off the satiety signals and then will ramp up the "I'm STUFFED HERE! Stop SHOVELING IT IN!!!" signals pretty quickly, so I know I can let down my guard a bit, enjoy the conversation and not do this made mental dance trying to calculate the weight of everything and scribbling it onto napkins between dinner chat so I can journal it later. And I enjoy the veggies a lot, and find that a few bites of the rich foods is usually more than satisfying...hey, when you don't eat them often, it's amazing how little you need before you body happily says "whoa!"

But what still shocks me is when I get home and try to do a rough estimate from the food journal database of what I ate, and it adds up to over 1000 calories, sometimes more than 1500.

How do you find equivalents for anything complex in the food database? For instance, tonight at a party there was a wonderful buffet, and I skipped the rolls with butter and the pasta loaded with cheese, I skipped the deep fried appetizer for the stuffed mushroom caps and I shared my slice of cheesecake with a friend who I knew would gladly gulp 3/4 of it before I'd had my 3rd bite (yes, I'm tricky that way) so I was feeling pretty content with my choices.I'd eaten a normal, whole grain but light breakfast and saved most of my calories to enjoy at the party. Yes, I indulged in some wine, but I'd skipped the cheese platter for the fresh veggies and I'd gone almost dressing free on the baby greens salad so I really thought I was doing well. The one true indulgence that was out of the norm for me was the stuffing with the pork tenderloin.

Now I know a lean tenderloin is a good choice, but several of the staff kept encouraging me to try the stuffing they'd made special, because it was divine. And I must admit, I only took it to keep from offending the cute chef who'd made it and didn't intend to eat it, but it was pure heaven. Very little bread and all this wonderful rich apple, walnuts and other fruits I couldn't quite place in a cider demiglasse to die for. I ate the entire small portion I'd taken...but how do you food journal something like this???

How do you guesstimate prepared foods? Another toughie was the tiny little breast cutlets done in Chicken French style. I took no sauce and I checked, these were skinless, unbreaded, fresh breasts, which had been baked, not fried or sauteed. I can't imagine they were that high in fat sans the sauce, but adding them as a simple chicken breast just doesn't feel honest. Yet adding all this up and it's something like 1500 calories!!!???

If I'm at home, and I make a rich dish that I sit to eat without entering the recipe beforehand, I find it very difficult to go beyond about 600 calories. I mean, seriously, some part of my stomach just turns off, regardless of what I'm eating-- be it having a beer or bread and butter or adding a little dessert...I find it very hard, at home, even eating something I don't know the nutrition info for ahead, or if I've brought home take-out as a treat, to put more than about 600 calories into me in a single sitting. It's like a switch goes off and tells me I'm done, regardless what may or may not remain on the plate. Yet, consistently, when I eat at restaurants or at parties, when I select stuff that's close from the food database and enter in the estimates of the amounts, I'm well over 1000. And I go out of my way to make sure at least half of what I eat is the fresh fruits and vegetable options.

Do we really just lose our sense when we're chatting, out and enjoying ourselves? Can I really eat that much more in public than I can in home? Or is it that once you start eating premade food, it's all just a big guessing game unless you know the recipe?

So I wonder, is it worth it to food journal at all on these days? Now that my calorie count each day is so low, there's almost no way I can go eat anywhere unless I make that my only meal of the day, and that's not healthy. But I'm not going to be the person who never eats anywhere but her own kitchen, alone, with only foods I make cause that's just not reasonable. So, how do you deal with this? Do you journal those days or skip them? And if you journal, how do you make accurate guesses?

Thanks in advance.

Copyright ©2009. Cassandra Kelly. All Rights Reserved.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I know full well that my 'calorie' counts are way off sometimes. I don't sweat it. I log it- because the only time I have major probs with hunger is when I get off balance in re fats, proteins, carbs. It's the proportions that I'm trying to track.
    I get homemade soups and casseroles at least once a week. I don't have a clue as to how many calories there are, but it is information that I need in terms of my own needs.
    And- yes, I think the glass of wine and the conversation does = more calories in. There's just someeting about community eating that gets me off base. I just don't sweat it. I figure the 80/20 rule works.
    Have a great holiday!
    4189 days ago
    I track and guess as well as I can. And I do try to keep the amounts of hard-to-know things *very* small.

    When in doubt, I ask for the recipe. Most people are flattered and happy to share it...

    Hang in there! It really IS a tough season to balance.
    4198 days ago
    I always track it. Even if I am totally guessing. If I didn't track food for a day, I'm afraid that I'll take advantage of myself and really pig out. Then what about the next time I go out? I would probably do it again. It would become a "safe" way to pig out. I can be tricky too and I've found that tracking foods helps me stay honest with myself.
    4200 days ago
    I also think it's difficult tracking foods that someone else prepares. It sounds like you've found a balance between good choices and giving into some temptations.

    When tracking days like that try to find something similar, but if I can't find it I'll skip the tracking that day. I know I'll get back on track the next day. I try not to let the "off track" day bother me.
    4200 days ago
    When I know a party's coming up I try to exercise a little more that week.Brfore AND after.I don't count the calories while at the party,but I too try to add it all up when I get home.Just do the best you can.
    4200 days ago
    I to have had a few parties to attend. I enjoyed eating some very good foods along with some that are not so good. I agree it is hard to put down everything accurately and I tell myself that I am just not going to try to figure it out. Then when I get home I spend two hours trying to break it all down. Yes I agree maybe on those rare days we should just not even try, but then again it is a reminder of how we use to be and to not fall back into the same old patterns. As for me I know that most likely I will just continue to try to guess at what I have ate and put it down.
    4200 days ago
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