As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I love food. It is partially what got me into a place where I need a weight loss regime in the first place. It has also been quite helpful in some respects as I work on my weight loss.
I actually had a somewhat funny moment early on where I looked at one of my personal food weaknesses, cheese. In an effort to convince myself that I should at least attempt to switch to the low fat, low calorie thing masquerading as cheese from other cheeses, I sliced two identically caloric portions of cheese. One was some variety of the aforementioned pretender which doesn’t bear remembering. The other was a wedge of Humboldt Fog.
If you have never tried it I highly recommend it, especially on a plain water cracker (so as not to distract from the cheese) and possibly drizzled with a thin line of local honey. Yum. Okay my mouth is watering and I am distracted.
Where was I?
Right, the test of the pretender.
Anyway I portioned them out, each portion with roughly the same amount of calories and I told myself that as I was watching my calories now I could either have the small piece of Humboldt Fog or the larger wedge of the other stuff.
Needless to say, Humboldt won and while that doesn’t sound like a diet victory, it actually was, because calorie counting became a lot less onerous once the greedy little part of my brain realized that I could actually still eat some of the things I liked (within reason) as long as I portioned them and could fit them within my daily allotted calories.
Counting calories became a tool by which I could not only control my diet, but justify some of my cravings. Because I knew if I had to give up all of my favorites, then I was destined for failure. Or to put back on everything I worked to take off once I stopped the monitoring. So portion control was key.
I can feel you getting restless out there. I can year you.
‘That’s great Mimsy, but what does that have to do with warmth?’
Patience my darlings, we will soon arrive at something resembling a point.
Now, I started really rolling on my dieting adventure in this past Spring. While I technically started when the calendar was arguably Winter, I needed to figure a few details and kinks in the system before I got the hang of things.
By then the first of the early greens were poking up through my garden and let me tell you, if you have never assembled a salad by thinning the garden, you are missing out on a delight. Tiny but tender lettuce leaves, nips of thinned herbs, a few early pea shoots and whatever else you have growing combine to make an exquisite gardener’s delight that taste like nothing else.
Then, naturally, spring fades into summer and, among other things, fresh, just ripened tomatoes of various varieties, still warm from the sun are sliced, topped with freshly picked basil, julienned so it can be scattered over the tomatoes, and then dusted with a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt and a little (measured, thank you very much) drizzle of good balsamic vinegar.
But then the winter comes. And while the freezer is well stocked with sauce and bags of frozen veg in various states of processing, many of the foods that saw me through the warmer months and made the dieting a not so harsh thing are gone.
I know, I can get a version of many of them year round in the grocery, but honestly part of my love of gardening is the little treats that I get once a year. In the colder months I like to think of them as I flip through seed catalogs and decide what I am planting when the time comes. I like the anticipation of the once a year treats as much as I enjoy the treats themselves. I’m okay with limiting that particular indulgence to enjoy the anticipation.
But I still have to eat.
And what I crave when the weather turns is something warm and toothsome.
My solution is soup.
Soup is warm and it contains (at least the varieties I choose) chunkier bits. The warmth and chew make me feel as though I am actually eating something much more caloric than I actually am. And it is that warmth that truly makes me feel satisfied in the winter.
Now sometimes on a weekend that isn’t too busy, I will haul out my stored garden bounty and make a cauldron of soup, potion it out (freezing most of it until needed, and enjoy. But usually when I start making soup, it is January and I am done with socializing for a while and looking to stay in (plus that’s usually when I realize the freezer needs to be cleared out before spring).
So I a lot of the time I go for canned, especially for lunch.
The thing is, cans are tricky.
First of all, most cans contain about two portions. So even if you have been conscientiously reading the ingredients, you can be tricked. My solution to that is my lovely little bowl. In case you are wondering it is a ‘Souper Bowl‘ that is stoneware with a plastic lid. It is microwaveable and has a heat vent. I picked mine up at Tuesday Morning although they are sold in numerous places.
The one I use holds exactly one portion of soup. Once I figured that out, I no longer had to measure the soup so I was happy with one less thing to wash. Plus, once I’ve eaten my one bowl of soup, I can place the remaining portion in the bowl and put it in the fridge.
Because that’s how they get you on portion sizing even when you know it is more than one portion, because you read the label. You pour half of the can into the bowl (often a bowl too large for just one cup of soup, the correct portion size) and are then left with half a can of soup. If you have a bigger bowl, you often justify eating the entire can.
After all, you don’t want to stick the can in the fridge, cause you know it will just get pushed to the back and forgotten. And you don’t want to waste it. So the bowl helps. Mostly because I use the bowl often enough that stashing it with leftovers makes me wonder where it went and so I am less likely to forget the leftovers. So I generally have the same soup for lunch two days in a row.
Which is why I often take a while deciding what soups to buy when standing in the grocery and am confronted with a wall of cans.
I know it seems a little strange, but for me at least, having something warm at lunch time when it is cold really makes me feel satisfied. I also like that one bowl of soup (depending on the soup chosen) isn’t all that caloric.
In the winter, my dinners tend to be a little heavier than in the summer, mostly because when it is hot I keep meals lighter. I also live with someone who grew up in Montana and things winters are times to eat mass quantities and hibernate until spring or get as close to that as humanly possible. He also taunts the grass because it isn’t growing and he doesn’t have to mow it, but that’s a whole other issue.
So a lower calorie lunch helps out as well. I know this has sort been of a combination of a few food thoughts, but hopefully for anyone watching their calories it will prove helpful. Personally, until I tried it, I didn’t actually think temperature could make that much of a difference. Turns out it can. Who knew?
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