Tag Archives: Restaurants

Food, Glorious Food…Really!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city.  Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orleans!

My babies and I waiting to explore the city. Walking helps to work off the fantastic cuisine of New Orléans!

Welcome back to Down the Scale! I neglected my blogging duties for the past month, but my weight loss journey still continues! I must say this has been one of my favorite summers. My family and I enjoyed fun activities around town and across the country. Swimming, sight-seeing, relaxing and eating were some of the great activities we indulged in this summer. Yes, I did say eating! I didn’t think enjoying food would be part of my life when I had gastric sleeve surgery over a year ago. I was wrong and a trip to New Orléans showed me how eating out can be a positive part of my life.

After San Francisco, New Orléans is my favorite city. It is full of history, architecture, charm and amazing cuisine. Even though I don’t like shellfish, I love the other types of food New Orléans is known for like beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, pralines and of course a variety of alcoholic beverages. In my past visits, I never worried about what or how much food I consumed. This trip, I knew I couldn’t eat with wild abandon. First, my small stomach prohibits me from eating too much. Second, I didn’t want to gain too much weight. I say “too much” because I knew I would gain weight as I would be eating food higher in fat and sugar than I normally do now. And yes, I’m up a pound and a half since vacation, but I anticipated that and I’m back to eating normally.

So I was excited to visit New Orléans, but I wondered if I would enjoy the food like I did in the past. My first test was breakfast. Cafe Beignet was close to our hotel and I went by myself to pick those hot, fluffy, doughy, sugary pillows of goodness called beignets. I stood in line behind other tourists (do locals eat them, I wonder?), anticipating the first bite, but also wondering would I still enjoy them. With my small stomach, would I even be able to eat much of it? Would the sugar and fat make me feel sick?

Simply put, the answer was no. I took my first bite of beignet and smiled. It tasted just as I remembered. No, it tasted better. Now that I eat healthier, which not only means better food, but eating slower, I truly enjoyed that beignet. I didn’t rush to eat it so I could get to the next one. I savored each bite of the beignet I ate. And yes, I only ate one of these delightful treats. I was full after eating one physically, but also mentally. I finally feel like I’ve learned that eating smaller amounts of food is just as satisfying as stuffing myself. My new body shape and the feeling of health I now have confirm that.

Yes, my guilty pleasure!  Cafe au lait and beignets!  I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orleans treats!

Yes, my guilty pleasure! Cafe au lait and beignets! I am so happy I was able to enjoy a bit of these New Orléans treats!

The rest of our vacation in New Orléans went this way. I enjoyed all my favorites, just in small amounts. Rice fills me up quickly, so I could only eat a bit of jambalaya, but it was worth it. I will admit to missing Muffulettas.   The bread is just too much for me, so a bite of my husband’s sandwich was all I could enjoy. He was kind enough to share it with me and I was kind enough to share my food with him and the rest of my family. I generally share all my dishes when we go out to eat, and even at home. I just can’t eat all the food restaurants serve.

Besides food, New Orléans is known for alcohol. I still drink since my surgery, but I am now a lightweight. One drink, maybe two is my limit. Yes, I’m a cheap date. I can’t eat and drink at the same time (liquids can push the food down too fast and it really doesn’t feel good either), so the New Orléans tradition of “to go cups.” was wonderful. I could order a drink and take it with me as we walked off our fantastic meals.

Our vacation to New Orléans will go down as my favorite. I really love the city and this time we also enjoyed the company of some of our East Coast family. We enjoyed all the typical vacation activities and it definitely included food. I am thrilled that I can still enjoy food, but with a more positive attitude. Eating is definitely different for me now and I am proud of how I handle eating out now. I look forward to more vacations and now I know they can still include eating out and I can still go Down the Scale…

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Food isn’t the Enemy, but a Friendemy

Week 22 and 70.5 pounds down!  My and hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by walking in some of our favorite neighborhoods, having a light meal out and seeing a show.  And yes, it included my favorite coffee.

Week 22 and 70.5 pounds down! My and hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by walking in some of our favorite neighborhoods, having a light meal out and seeing a show. And yes, it included my favorite coffee.

My gastric sleeve surgery is the catalyst for many changes in my life, and my relationship with food is one of the biggest changes I am making. My smaller stomach physically restricts the amount of food I can eat at one time, but as I progress to Week 22 of my journey, I am able to eat more of a variety of food and I find I can eat more often. While it is nice to feel “normal” this is also giving me a bit of anxiety. With the holiday season here, or my other name for it, “the indulgent food season”, I need to really focus on my relationship with food. 

Food, in the past, has been such a huge part of my life. I used it to deal with depression, to reward myself for accomplishments, to fight boredom, and to celebrate holidays and anniversaries. I try not to use food in these ways, but it is going to happen. My anniversary weekend was a good test to see how I could handle food differently.

The ever-supportive hubby and I enjoying a night on the town to celebrate our 15 years being thick and now thin together. (A quick shout out to my hubby who has lost 50 pounds this year! He is amazing!) On these rare occasions when we have a date night, food would have been the focus. A dinner at a nice restaurant would always include appetizers for both of us, entrées and a glass of wine (OK, two) for me.

Now just because we’re eating better and healthier doesn’t mean we don’t want an enjoyable food experience. What we consider to be enjoyable, though, is now completely different! Instead of a huge, heavy meal, we ate wonderful salads at a café. They were delicious and left room for us to split a brownie from one of our favorite bakeries after we walked around the neighborhood! And there was still time for wine as we watched a musical show later that night. Such a lovely evening and it didn’t revolve around food!

So, food is not the enemy! Eating out is still enjoyable! But…yes, there had to be a but, I still struggle with some food. My body can handle tortilla chips and salsa very well; I’m afraid too well. Crackers are also easy for me to digest and I can eat more of them then I should. I don’t want to ban them from my diet because in the past that just makes me want whatever I say I can’t have even more. I am trying not to bring them in the house, but Goldfish crackers are a requirement when you have children. Healthy food is also another requirement, so that helps me when shopping for food. I am now finally eating like my children and it shows in how I feel and how I look. Oh, and how much weight I lose…70.5 pounds gone so far!

This is my latest challenge in my Down the Scale journey and that’s OK. I feel a bit like I have two personalities when it comes to food. “Normal Jen” eats healthy and small quantities, picks better food choices when she’s out and understands that small portions are satisfying. “Old Jen” thinks about fattening food, craves full sugar coffee drinks and wants non-fulfilling food like crackers in the pantry.

Fortunately, “normal” is wining over “old”, but I know that I will always have this struggle. And if the “old” wins sometimes, that’s going to be OK. I am human. I am not perfect. I am always trying to do my best and when it comes to weight loss and being healthy, that’s the best way to be, for me.

Back in the Food World

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Getting ready to go out for my first party, post-sleeve!

Week 7 is here and I feel pretty good! Another three and a half pounds down this week for a total of 32.5 pounds. While I’m proud of my weight loss, I am even more proud of my entry back into the “food world.”

Food has always been an important part of my life, but moving back to California made food even more important. San Francisco is a “foodie” town and we have tons of great and interesting restaurants. I think our grocery stores here have a better variety of food. And of course, there are the farmers markets which are the best I’ve seen.

Having these resources wasn’t particular good for my health when we first moved. For the first year and a half, we ate out and picked up take out food more than we should have. Having a cheap and tasty take out dim sum restaurant close to the house made weekend lunches very easy. Coffee shops are on almost every corner so it’s easy to pick up a sugary espresso drink at any time. Way too many options!

Since I can’t make these places go away, I am learning to live with them and still have them as part of my life. I don’t foresee the dim sum restaurant in my near future and perhaps not at all. I haven’t had any fried foods since my gastric sleeve surgery and I’m not sure when or even if I will have it. I am trying to be very careful with my new stomach. And my fear of vomiting keeps me in line, too.

I did venture back to the farmers’ market this past weekend for the first time. It was great! Surrounded by beautiful, healthy fruits and vegetables was inspiring. My focus is on eating enough protein, but I am adding in more vegetables now. My big treat of the day was picking up my favorite Serrano chile goat cheese. Instead of eating it with wild abandonment, I measured out a teaspoon to spread on my half a turkey burger the other night. Suddenly, a teaspoon is enough to get the flavor I enjoy. This weekend, I finally realized that smaller amounts of food are just as satisfying and enjoyable as the large amounts I ate before. For this overeater, this revelation is a bit overwhelming.

My biggest food test was at a party this week. Let me just say this right off the bat, I love wine. I love parties so that I can try new wines and relax and be an adult and not the mommy. Yes, I can drink wine with my new stomach, but I must admit I’m nervous to try. My overprotective nature with my stomach is one reason, but also I have a feeling I’m going to be a really cheap date. Meaning, the two to three glasses I could drink before, I assume will put me in a coma. So, the first time I drink I plan to do it at home. If I don’t feel good, I’d rather be in my home and if a half a glass makes me silly, again, I’d rather be home.

So, no wine at my first party post-sleeve and I was fine. I drank water all night and while it isn’t as yummy as a crisp class of chardonnay, I survived. I was too busy chatting to really care! I also didn’t eat. I made sure to have a protein filled dinner before we came to the party. I did bring vegetables and humus to the party, but I didn’t eat anything. I could have if I wanted to and I think that made all the difference. Knowing I can eat if I want is empowering and I realize I am in charge of my actions in regards to food.

We did leave before they served the birthday cake, so I did get off a little easy. Again, this is something I can eat, but I haven’t had sugar for 7 weeks, so again, this is something I want to try at home. The thought of me bouncing around like a child eating sugar for the first time is mortifying and not something that I need to do in front of family and friends. And I must admit, the sugar-free items I’m eating now (syrups in my lattes and hot chocolate) satisfy my sweet tooth and I would prefer to keep it that way. Eventually I would like to drop them and use natural sweeteners, but I’m happy where I am for now.

Other food challenges await, such as barbeques, eating out with friends, and the holidays, but I am learning to take each challenge one at a time. Food is not the enemy; my eating habits were the enemy. I finally feel like I am taking charge of my eating habits and this tastes better than anything in the world…