FYI: This post is not meant to be an eat-like-me kinda post. My goal is to give you a behind the scenes on intuitive eating, sharing what guides my decision making about food and how that plays out on the plate. This post is about WHY I ate the food I ate, not WHAT I ate. I hope that in reading these posts, you see that "healthy" eating can look really different from day to day.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on hygge, I spent last weekend up in Boston, visiting friends and family and for the Clemson game. I love to share travel eats on the blog, but realized it might be helpful to share some of the WHY behind those food choices.
The day I’m sharing is Sunday, the day after the Clemson game. While we were in Boston, we stayed with our friends Rich and Katrina who live in New Hampshire, taking over their best friend’s apartment while she was out of town. We all went to the football game the night before and didn’t get back and in bed till 1 am, since it was a late game and traffic was a mess. When we woke up around 9, I was pretty hungry for a substantial breakfast, especially since we had eaten dinner early the night before and stayed up late. But we had plans to meet my brother and SIL for lunch at noon, so going out for a full breakfast didn’t make a lot of sense. While we showered and got ready, Rich and the hubs went down to street to grab a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich and coffee from a little deli and coffee shop. The sandwich brought me from about a 3 to a 5.5 on the hunger/fullness scale.
If I was going to eat to satisfaction in that moment, I probably would have paired it with some yogurt and fruit, or a smoothie sounded really good that morning since I felt dry and dehydrated. But it was already 10 am, and we were going to one of my favorite restaurants in Boston at noon, so I wanted to have an appetite. Also, wasn’t going to be that jerk who made my husband hunt down a smoothie and carry it back for me in 30 degree weather. Body knowledge is important in intuitive eating, but so is brain knowledge. When you marry the two, you’re better able to make decisions that meet your physical and emotional needs.
For lunch, we met up with my family at Row 34, which I went to a few years back with my RD friends when FNCE was in Boston. Because I was dehydrated (apparently my body has adapted to SC humidity) and we had eaten pizza for dinner and a cheesy avocado torta for lunch, I was craving something light and fresh. Row 34 is known for their lobster rolls and raw bar, so Scott and I split a buttered lobster roll, an order of black garlic tuna crudo, and raw oysters. Sidebar: I love raw oysters, but never know what to order because I don’t know what flavors I like – briny, creamy, sweet, etc. I would love to do a raw oyster flight somewhere so I can figure it out!
When I ordered my meal, I thought it would be enough to satisfy, but as I was eating my lobster roll half, I really wished Scott and I had ordered our own. It reminded me of a line from Ellyn Satter’s definition of normal eating: “Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.”
Since I wasn’t feeling totally satisfied after lunch, I suggested we walk over to Flour, a nearby bakery that I ate at probably 47 when I stayed nearby at FNCE. They’re famous for their sticky buns, and that sounded perfect. It was pretty crowded when we got there, and when I got to the front of line, I found out they were out of their sticky buns, so I panicked and got berry bread pudding. But as I was thinking about it, I really wished I got the Boston cream pie, which was confirmed when I tried a bite of my brothers. I really love cake’s that have custard or cream in them. Do y’all ever do that where you have to order something quickly, then immediately regret your decision? Anyway, the bread pudding was still really tasty, and I ate about 3/4ths until I was satisfied and threw away the rest. I used to get major anxiety about throwing food away, but one thing I’ve realized is that whether you’re throwing food away or eating it when you don’t really want anymore, it’s still wasted food. (I do try to be mindful of food waste though in many other ways, like saving leftovers and freezing stuff.)
From there, we packed up at the apartment and drove up to Exeter, New Hampshire, where we were staying with our friends the night before flying home. I had never been to Essex, but it is the cutest little town! We went for a leisurely walk around the river and I got to play with the sweetest 10 ½ year old Swiss Mountain Dog.
We capped our walk off with a visit to Sea Dog Brewing Company for beers. I went with their wild blueberry wheat ale that they’re famous for. It was only about 5:30, and I was only mildly hungry, maybe a 4.5 on the hunger scale. I also thought we’d be going out to dinner later, so Scott and I decided to share a bowl of mussels steamed in their beer, while our friends got a hummus plate and a crab Rangoon wonton dip.
When we got back to their apartment, I expected we’d go out to dinner in an hour or so, but the coziness of their apartment (and a football game) absorbed us, and when we had all changed back into sweatpants, it was clear we were in for the night. I regretted not ordering this salad with seared Brussels sprouts, cremini mushrooms, greens and tamari that sounded really satisfying after a few days of minimal greens. Instead, the goal of dinner became to just fill my belly up a bit to keep it comfortable, which is a totally acceptable goal. So I warmed up a slice of leftover pizza and the other half of leftover torta from the day before. Definitely not a glamorous, or balanced meal, but it met foods most basic role of providing fuel.
In looking back at my day, obviously I ate very little produce. I think the only plants I had were the tomato sauce on my pizza, 2 tablespoons of coleslaw with my lobster roll, and slice of avocado with our tuna crudo – can we count the onions in my mussels too?? Definitely not meeting the food guide recommendations that day! Before I share my thoughts, I’d love for you to take a moment to think about how that makes you feel. Did you notice any judgement or fears arise when you saw the lack of fruit and vegetables (or whole grains or beans or nuts, etc) in my day?
Personally, I am not concerned, because I know that one day of eating doesn’t make or break health. I also know that when judgement is taken out of food, I’m better able to listen to what my body, and right now my tastebuds are telling me they really want some produce! I notice how my stomach has felt a little wonky all weekend, and some fiber would be nice. Thinking about roasted vegetables feels so warm and cozy on my tongue. As I’m posting this, I’ve already had a really refreshing salad with tons of beans and salsa from Salsaritas when I was at the airport, tons of seasonal apples at my snacks, a Brussels sprouts and cremini mushroom stir fry, and picked up groceries to make things like a butternut squash soup and mushroom pasta this week. Balance is what happens naturally over time when we listen to our body and give it what it needs.
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