Fall is a bittersweet season for me. On the one hand, there’s the beautiful foliage and the break from oppressive summer heat. There’s football and tailgating, county fairs and fall festivals, Halloween and Thanksgiving. This year we also have the rare Thanksgivukkah, in which Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah collide. (Sweet potato latkes and pumpkin-filled donuts, anyone? Yes, please, says this Protestant.)
If there’s downside to fall besides fewer daylight hours, it’s that there seems to be food-food-food every time you turn around! Of all the seasons, fall has the most food-centric focus, which makes a lot of sense considering the abundance of foods harvested at this time of year.
Apples, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, dates, squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, pomegranates, and a variety of root vegetables are all harvested in the fall. We, of course, turn that healthy bounty into caramel apples, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin-shaped candy, etc. and then groan about the temptations of the season. (I know it’s not just me!)
Despite all these manufactured temptations, I somehow managed to lose weight and mostly keep it off through the past five fall seasons, and to be honest, it’s really not all that hard for me. Well, no harder than your average Tuesday. (Now, Christmas–well, that’s another story and another post entirely.)
It wasn’t always that way, of course. In the past, I started eating Halloween candy and pumpkin-shaped everything from the time it hit the shelves, through the holiday itself, up until the clearance candy I bought ran out, which was usually just in time for Thanksgiving and its 4-day food celebration. I wasn’t gorging myself every waking hour, but when added to my poor diet in those days, it’s not difficult to see where 100 extra pounds came from.
But that was then and this is now. I’ve made changes over the past few years that enable me to enjoy the season in moderation.
Instead of indulging throughout the season, I put boundaries around the celebratory times and foods. If I’m going to a regional fair, I pick one thing to enjoy. (For me, it would be a corn dog/pronto pup.) For Halloween, I might have one or two chocolate pumpkins, instead of one or two packages. For Thanksgiving, I’ll enjoy whatever I want during the meal and go right back to my normal way of eating afterward. Establishing these mental boundaries help me enjoy the celebration without going overboard.
Regular readers know that my approach is one of moderation. I eat foods from all food groups, with an emphasis on the healthier side of the equation. I don’t rule any food out completely, but the less nutritious foods are enjoyed less frequently and in smaller portions. For me, this sets a proper mental place for these kinds of foods, so that when they show up in abundance during this season, there’s no built-up rush to overeat them. I might not be explaining it sensibly, but it makes sense to me.
While I don’t usually keep a detailed food and exercise diary these days, I do have a running tally in mind throughout the day–not the nitty gritty nutritional numbers, but a general idea of total calories and servings of specific food groups. This is mostly a leftover habit of my weight loss phase and not an unwelcome one. I like being aware of what’s going on with my eating. Not being aware is what got me in trouble in the first place.
That’s my approach to the “eating season”. It’s worked for me so far, and I’m sure hoping it works this year, too! I’ll certainly let you know if I find a need to adjust. As of today, though, bring it on!
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the other AIM bloggers’ thoughts on “the eating season”:
Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!