The difference between savoring and stuffing

Since I had bariatric surgery five years ago and lost 100 pounds, I’ve often been asked how I eat for a living and maintain my weight loss.

Well, the truth is, I have gained a few pounds in the last year, proving the truth of my best answer: Strict portion control (if you do this, you can eat anything and I have to be able to eat everything). And, the other vital key that I’ve been ignoring lately: Exercise. I did the best when I had a trainer. I can’t afford this anymore but if you want to look and feel good you have to exercise HARD — a gentle walk isn’t going to cut it. You have to SWEAT daily and keep going further than you think you can.

But that’s not the topic of this blog: It’s something I found myself thinking about as I eyed an immense pork shank I had ordered for dinner at the Moana Surfrider’s Beachhouse restaurant last night. I knew that I would not eat anything like all of this indulgence, instead slowly savoring a few ounces of chef Rodney Uyehara’s richly flavored roast balanced with a piquant pineapple salsa. I’d chew thoughtfully, put my fork down between bites, converse, sip a little water. That’s savoring and it’s the way to eat if you want to lose or maintain weight. (The leftovers were Husband’s lunch; restaurant leftovers often serve as a base for a second meal in our house.)

In contrast, stuffing is what locals tend to do when they’re presented with a plate lunch overflowing with two scoops white rice, a huge portion of mac salad and some (deep-fried or gravy-covered) entree. You start shoveling and hardly pause for breath. Next thing, the styrofoam clamshell is headed into the trash, you’re uncomfortably full and you can’t remember what you ate (like driving home from work when you’re deep in thought). My solution with plate lunch is a) order a mini and ask for two mini clamshells up front. I then b) split the mini and eat half.

Islanders often complain about the serving sizes at white tablecloth restaurants, equating volume with value. But I’ve yet to emerge from Chef Mavro or Alan Wong’s or Hiroshi’s Eurasion Cuisine miserably bursting or without a detailed memory of what I ate. I would rather pay more for less if the restaurant offers true quality (and not all high end restaurants do).

I’m determined to spend the rest of my life savoring instead of stuffing. There are some things I have trouble savoring: dishes like the rice casserole I wrote about the other day on my blog (http://waa-ourisplandplate.blogspot.com), pastas in cheese sauces, risotto, polenta. My husband has no “off” button with ice cream; can eat a pint at a sitting. It’s probably best for us to avoid these altogether because all my best intentions go disappear like the puff of smoke over a hot wok.

Savoring means not only avoiding huge portions of chew-free food (see my Weight Loss witticisms in the Tips segment on this Web site) but portioning out the kinds of foods it’s easy to eat mindlessly. Don’t take the package of chips or Cheese-Its or even healthier snacks such as nuts into the living room. Portion out a reasonable serving and place it in a pretty dish. Nibble and when the plate’s empty, you’re done. It’s a good idea to have your own snack-packs ready to go in the freezer in zippered plastic bags.

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