So I'm off on my hen do tonight and I feel so un-prepared! A list of things I still have to do includes;
a) get out of bed :)
b) have some breakfast
c) go the gym for about half an hour and work off some of this nervous energy!
d) douse myself in fake tan, given that I'll be showing lots of skin to the world for the first time in 2011
e) go the hairdresser and get my crazy curls blow dried straight professionally (LOVE HAVING PRO BLOW DRY'S)
f) buy my outfit - 80's theme!
g) buy my wonderful bridesmaids some presents - I really want to give them frames with little photos of us, but I'm not sure where you get e photos printed...?
Yikes - even writing this list is making me nervous! However, since my friends are taking me for a surprise meal in town, which I am super looking forward to, it got me thinking how much freerer I now am with regards to the restaurants I eat in - and how totally emancipating this is. Lets have a quick talk about it!
When I said that me and Louis had made a new years resolution not to eat in chains any more that was partly because Louis is SUCH a foodie, but also partly the result of years of control freak abuse by me. When I was panicking about every little thing that went into my body chain restaurants were my refuge. You see I couldn't entertain the idea of eating out, unless I knew exactly what I was going to be eating so that I could factor it into my daily eating schedule. The idea of being confronted with an unexpected menu utterly horrified me! Plus, lots of chain restaurants now list calorie counts online and even those that don't, I had faith had to follow fairly strict guidelines about how they assembled the foods and you could generally find the information online. But if I'm honest the ones which listed the calorie counts were totally my favourites!
Now I'm all in favour of transparency with foods - and for people who actually NEED to lose weight these sort of things can be a godsend. But if you are just trying to maintain (let alone if you actually should be trying gain a bit!) it is really just a distraction. It wouldn't be so bad or so damaging if chain restaurants actually had a lot of things going for them, but they don't. Chain restaurants are the worst for using poor quality ingredients and they just about always rely on refined carbohydrates. Even ones that build themselves around health claims do - you know that '9 Grain' bread of Subway's? Well the first ingredient isn't wholewheat at all, its just regular old flour. It is also extremely unlikely that chain restaurants are using fresh seasonal vegetables or fresh fruit. The thing fruit and vegetables are really famous for is their vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients all of which are dependent on them being fresh and grown in nutrient rich soil. I'm not saying Subway vegetables have no benefits, but they are minimal and incomparable to what you would get somewhere that sources food more locally.
Now, the place we are eating at this afternoon I have a no real idea about the menu, let alone the calorie content. I'm pretty sure it serves all day breakfasts and is a good quality restaurant - but that is all I know. However I do know now I'm excited (not worried!) about eating there! I've been informed they source their meat ethically which is a great start both in terms of me feeling okay about ordering it, and also it indicates that they care about the quality of their ingredients overall. This is so much more important for your health than knowing the exact calorific content! My basic strategy is to try and get balanced meal in terms of having a good amount of protein, some carbohydrates (ideally unrefined!) and some vegetables. I refuse to worry about the fat, provided I am eating somewhere I trust that I think uses non rancid oils or, ideally, butter! Today I am hoping to have Eggs Royale with Hollaindaise sauce. If they dont have that I'll do Eggs Benedict or anything with Hollandaise sauce! Either of these will obviously come on a white muffin, but thats a smaller part of the meal and there is plenty of healthy fat and protein in the eggs and salmon (if I get the Royale). If I'm feeling good I'll also get a salad ;)
Now if you have ever googled the average calorfic content of Hollandaise you probably thought there was some sort of misprint - but, no thats what happens when you combine butter and eggs yolks. However, it wouldn't have survived to be so popular if it didnt have something serious going for it in the taste stakes. I had my first bite of Hollandaise with Louis a few years ago - I had NOT googled the calorie content at that point yet :) - and it is safe to say we might not even be together today if that had not happened. I fell a bit in love with both of them at that point. It's just a massive shame I let it leave my life for a few years im-between.
Luckily though, it's back now! But this took time. I mean for years I would only have allowed myself to order Hollandaise about three times per year, in a restaurant I knew the exact calorie content of the servings. Or better still, out of a packet. Ugh. I would never allowed myself to order such a thing in a restuarant that didn't list the calorific breakdown and allowed its workers - God forbid - to eyeball ingredients and use their own chef sense. With a sauce averaging at 300 calories there is way to much room for disaster with that sort of maverick outlook ;)
Oh how dumb that was! People - the French - have been eating Hollandaise sauce for years without any tragic impact in terms of weight or health. Sure they don't eat it every day and its doubtless more of a weekend treat - but that's the same for all of us right? Also, most of the fat comes from eggs yolks and butter - healthy fats that help to manufacture sex hormones and give you strong hair and nails. Butter is also the most stable fat you can cook with. I actually feel a billion times better eating this now, than some low fat stir fry cooked in rancid oil. Yay!
Most importantly of all though, even if they don't have exactly what I want to eat at this Diner that is still totally cool. Because Im no longer limiting my eating enjoyment to the weekends, I don't have to worry so much that everything be perfect, both in terms of taste and nutrition. No need for tantrums any more!
If they don't have Eggs Benedict/ Eggs Royale I can just get another balanced - but treat :) - meal off the menu and even if its not perfect in terms of taste I will be having a great time with my friends, and fuelling myself up for a night of dancing. We need energy - it is not something to be afraid of or bargained with for endless perfection.
Well, reading that I guess I was feeling a bit pensive this morning - realising how nice it is to be free of all these pointless worries- and how important! Writing this blog has been such a good thing for reminding me of these small blessings ....but what was even more fun was the realisation that there is plenty of food out there that I have never even tasted, due to fear, and that is probably just amazing as well.
Heck, if I'm loving on some liver these days the world really is my oyster!! :)
Do you like eating places where you know the menu and the calorie count? Or have you always prioritised eating places you know you will enjoy the food?