Unexpected Food

My client, Nina, had her second baby a few weeks ago and has been having trouble getting her eating back under control. In addition to being very tired and dealing with the stress of having an infant, Nina is also struggling with unexpected food that comes into her home. Nina is fortunate to have a large extended family and many friends, all of whom have been stopping over and bringing Nina and her family meals. While this is great in theory because it relieves Nina and her partner of the need to cook, it’s also difficult because Nina has to make spontaneous decisions about what to eat and how much to eat, based on what is brought over.

In session this week, Nina told me that her friend had stopped over the previous afternoon and brought a casserole, a bag of chips, and a pint of ice cream. Chips are something that Nina doesn’t usually have in the house (or, at least, not in large quantities) and she ended up opening the bag mid-afternoon and eating too many of them. That night, she took the ice cream out of the freezer (also not something she would normally eat, because ice cream is not her favorite dessert) and ate a few servings of it straight from the container.

Unexpected Food

Based on this experience and several others like it, Nina and I came up with the following guidelines for unexpected food in her house:

  1. Don’t feel bad about throwing away food. People brought the food over to show Nina their love and support, and in accepting the food, Nina feels loved and supported (therefore the act of kindness is fulfilled). Whether or not Nina actually eats the food is not relevant to her getting love and support from her friends and family.
  2. When someone brings over food, Nina will ask herself, “Does anyone in the house really need to be eating this?” (e.g. the chips). If the answer is no, she’ll immediately give away or throw away that food.
  3. Only eat at set meal and snack times. If it’s not time to eat, don’t eat!
  4. Put tempting food that others might like, but that Nina doesn’t necessarily want to eat, out of sight. Put the chips on the top shelf of the cabinet and put the ice cream in the garage freezer (and let her other family members know they’re there). Make her environment work for her, not against her.
  5. When she sees what the food is, make a plan! Decide when she’ll eat it and how much she’ll eat.
  6. Be smart about leftovers. If there is extra food that her family isn’t going to eat, individually portion it and freeze it so it’s not hanging out in the fridge tempting her.

Now you: If you have unexpected food come into your house, what are some ground rules that might help you?

2 replies
  1. Oola
    Oola says:

    I have a guideline for lunch and dinner to have about 2-2.5 fists’ worth of dense foods and the rest of the plate filled with freggies. Since the food I make for myself isn’t very rich, I can usually have unexpected food without it adding any weight because it all balances out. I don’t eat desserts on weekdays. If I have unexpected food, I can usually fit them into my guidelines, if I really want to eat them. I can save sweets for the weekend. (I eat them only with others, not alone.)

  2. Vicki M
    Vicki M says:

    I eat a very small portion of the inappropriate food with a large healthy salad. That way I can enjoy a small taste of the treat while mostly staying on my diet.


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