For anyone following along with my path towards a healthier me, you’ve probably noticed that my diet consists of monitoring portion sizes rather than banning foods all together from my world. This I of course paired with exercise. It is a slow process, at times to me it seems glacial, but it is sustainable.
I enjoy my food. I enjoy the crisp tang of a tart apple as I bite into it. I love the funk of a good cheese and I am fairly certain heaven smells like freshly baked bread. I am positive a slice from a fresh bread still warm from the oven spread with good butter melting in and maybe a drizzle of honey over the top is what they hand you once you pass St. Pete’s entry quiz. Conversely, I’m certain that hell smells like really good bread that you never get to eat. Maybe they pump the scent in from heaven’s ventilation system.
Regardless (now that I have given all of the mechanical engineers out there something to ponder in their spare time), I knew banning foods all together from my life was not going to be a pretense I could maintain. There are certain foods I don’t have all that often. Sure, that I can handle. After all some foods aren’t meant to be eaten every day. If you have cake every day what is the point of a birthday cake? But if you only have cake once in a blue moon than anytime it is served, cake itself makes the day an event.
Seriously, try it. Don’t have cake for a while and then out of the blue (and because when you went to get carrots at the grocery the only bag they had was a fifteen pound bag and once you got the giant bag home it was simply too many carrots not to do something with as they sat there accusingly until you agreed to make carrot cake) make a carrot cake. Every person passing through the kitchen will either ask you what the occasion is or assume they forgot something and sneak off to check their calendars. Because if you only have cake once in a while, when it arrives, it is an event.
Oddly enough this post is not about cake. I was just distracted. I blame the carrots.
I am far more likely to be taken down by savory than by sweet. Cheese in fact is one of my biggest weaknesses. While I can make camembert and stilton (along with their vast cornucopia of cohorts) occasional things, it is the everyday cheddar that has the ability to take me down. While I do treat the crumbly traditional cheddar with the same respect that I afford stilton, the big block of cheddar we get at the grocery store is designated for sandwiches and snacking.
I don’t know if you’ve looked but cheddar tends to be around 100 calories per ounce. And an ounce is not very much when you are talking about cheddar. It is very easy to go over that amount without realizing it. And when your system relies heavily on knowing how many calories you are consuming, it can be maddening. Enter the above two tools. One is a cheese slicer.
If you don’t have one, check the side of your box grater. There is usually a side with the slicer blades on it. I find this super handy for hard cheese like cheddar, especially if I am portioning it out. Sometime in the afternoon cheese and crackers sounds like a good snack. The slicer enables me to get thinner slices than I can manage with a regular knife (without slicing my fingers off in the process). The thinner slices give me the taste I want but not the mass. The slices my particularly effective tool produces (which I think is pretty standard) are the same as the parmesan shavings you see in fancy salads. One slice across a cracker is all that is needed for a snack.
The second tool is the smaller cutting board. Under normal circumstances it is terribly small and tends to look a bit decorative. Do not try carving a Sunday roast upon it. The results will not be pretty. However It is perfect for cheese. First of all for my snack I can place three crackers side by side across it’s length and that is a portion size according to the box. Add the cheese and I have my afternoon snack. It also helps make a small portion of cheese (or anything really) look larger than it is. Especially if you use the board to dress it up. Place the cheese on one side, fan out the crackers, maybe add a small bundle of grapes (not too many as you don’t want them to roll off or crowd the cheese, and maybe add a few olives.
The small board limits the amount you can place on it, and if you arrange things in a lovely manner instead of lumping them on the board, you fit even less. The hidden tool in this tip is the aesthetically pleasing presentation. Cooking shows may like to claim you eat with your eyes first, but quite frankly I think I eat with my nose first, then the eyes. Luckily scents can’t be electronically transmitted with the broadcast.
Secondary or not, the arrangement can help limit the portion size and is a fabulous tool.
I know some of you are thinking, Mimsy, that’s great but I don’t like cheese. My weakness is doughnuts. No problem. One doughnut won’t kill you. It’s the box that will take you down. So take one doughnut (not everyday of course, just once in a while). Place it on your pretty little board, or tray or whatever else you are using, then add a glass of your beverage. Use a low wide glass so it takes up a lot of real estate on your board and keep the amount of liquid low so it doesn’t over balance and spill while you carry you tray to the table (and so you don’t drink more calories than you eat).
That’s one of the reasons I kept the board empty in the photo. It may not make it an exciting picture, but it presents a blank canvas. For me, the weakness is cheese so I use a tool that helps me limit how much I take from the block and use a self contained place to arrange it nicely. Whatever your weaknesses are, I’m sure there are ways to do the same with them. It may require a little bit of thought at first but after a little while, reaching for the tools when you want to eat a certain type of food becomes habit. And that is really the goal here. To create better, healthier habits. This way you can still enjoy what it is you enjoy, just in a better way.