Sunday, October 11, 2009

Birthday Indulgence?

Tonight I took my son out to dinner for his birthday. It's a tradition I have that I started seven years ago when he was much younger. I was a single mom, working, going to school, busy. I had four children at the time and it seemed I rarely saw them except when I was exhausted, cleaning, or doing homework (theirs and mine). Even then I took them everywhere as a group. I realized that I rarely got one-on-one time with my kids, so I started getting a sitter and taking each child out alone for their birthday dinner. The very first time I did this, I took my son, who had just turned 9, to the mall. We walked around, talked, went to dinner. I let him order anything he wanted and then we went shopping. I let him pick out a new pair of pants and a shirt at the store (a special treat for a boy used to getting hand-me-downs or whatever was on clearance) and then I took him to a movie. He was so happy, holding my hand, smiling, talking. When I sat on his bed and tucked him in that night, he said, "Mom, this was the best birthday EVER. I love you." I knew then that this was a tradition to keep.

He's a lot bigger now... he towers over me. He doesn't hold my hand anymore and he doesn't always want to hang out with Mom. But for his birthday dinner, we went out. We talked, we ate, we bought him a new sweatshirt. We had a nice time and reconnected. I sure do love my son. I am so blessed.

Since the restaurant was his choice I knew I'd have to make some careful menu choices in order not to screw with my weight loss. I wanted to enjoy my food but not at the expense of my body. I looked over the menu at Red Robin, known for its huge burgers and "endless fries." I knew fries were OUT. I have *no* moderation with fries. Give me a plate of fries, my eyes glaze over, I ask for a bottle of Ranch, and within minutes the fries and Ranch have become part of my body. Bad news when they keep bringing you free refills of fries. Anyway. I saw an old familiar favorite on the menu... something that I *love* and know from my past experience on Atkins and South Beach is a pretty safe bet: chicken fajitas. Yeah! I love 'em. I make them at home sometimes and have them over a salad. Skip the tortillas and you have a nice, low carb dish (I am not low carbing, but still, it is nutritious and fits in the calorie budget. If you want low fat as well, you'll have to tell them to go easy on the oil and skip the guacamole and sour cream too, but for me, guacamole and sour cream MAKE the dish!)

I ordered my fajitas, "no tortillas, extra lettuce please." They came on a nice hot plate: sizzling chicken breast, red and green peppers, and onions. There were cute little hard shell tortilla bowls of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa (I did not eat the bowls) and a side dish of shredded lettuce. It was really good! I ate about 2/3 of the food and boxed the rest to have over a salad at home tomorrow. I had ice water with fresh lemon slices to drink.

I came home and looked up the nutrition facts for this meal. The usual calories for chicken fajitas? 970. But by skipping the tortillas I saved *400* calories... four hundred! ...for a total of 570. Since I skipped the shells and only ate 2/3 of the food, my dinner was well under 500 calories, and I was full and satisfied.

The rest of my day was simple: tea with milk & agave nectar as a starter, an egg over easy and a Bistro chicken sausage with a side of cantaloupe for breakfast, some iced green tea and half of a Dove dark chocolate bar for a snack. Lunch was a Lean Cuisine four cheese cannelloni and a huge plate of baked kale chips. Add in the fajita dinner and I came in at under 1300 calories for the day. No exercise, so this is pretty reasonable.

Don't let birthdays or holidays or other "special" occasions derail you. You can indulge and still be okay! A piece of birthday cake is working its way into my day tomorrow, but so are a lot of veggies and a nice long walk. It's all about balance. Celebrate life, not food.

19 comments:

Salted with Shadows said...

I love Red Robin's chicken Caesar wrap. :)

katie ann said...

There's a local Tex-Mex restaurant that gives you the option of lettuce wraps with your fajitas. Such a cool way to enjoy the filling without the added calories of tortillas.

Karen said...

Way to go. Wish I could catch some of your stregnth right now, could really use it. Going through some stuff right now and I've turned to food again, even though it solves nothing and only make it all worse for me. But for those few moments of pleasure from the food, it's so hard to resist.

Derek said...

I'm shocked that so many calories are from the tortillas alone!

Birthdays are usually a double-threat for me. Not only am I eating out, but there's cake, too. Almost all restaurants are about making the food taste good and not caring about the caloric value of the meal, so it is definitely wise to have a plan.

South Beach Steve said...

Those special times with our kids are worth a little indulgence. He will remember those birthday dinners for his whole life. It sounds like you did really well though. Great work!

Leslie said...

Great choices Lyn. Your determination is shining through big time!

Melissa said...

WOW! That sounds Delish!!! :)

Georgia Mist said...

Great! You did fabulous! I'd have just... crumbled onto the fries!

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

What a celebration victory that was. When I read "Red Robin," I braced myself for something along the lines of "Then they had to call the Fire Dept to get me out of the booth."

That's great about the bday tradition, too.

Anonymous said...

That's so awesome Lyn, well done!
I'm totally intrigued now.. what are baked kale chips and how can I find/make them?

Steelers6 said...

Lyn, I love how you are eating SO consciously these days! You go! Wow. And of course you have gotten very varied comments here in recent weeks, bc everyone does what works for THEM. I love how you are so focused, and are doing what works for YOU. I get a little concerned when well meaning folk post comments that sort of seem to be giving you "permission" to do this or that as long as it is in moderation etc., even though you have blogged about something that is a stumbling block for you. But YOU know you best, and know what you have not been able to handle in the past. And you are doing it.
I was so proud of you for staying 'in tune' at RED ROBIN! I know how hard that is. Yum.
Great focus!

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

baked kale chips are a yummy, salty, crispy and HEALTHY snack! You can find the recipe on my blog: look along the left side of this page and you'll see a heading "Recipes." The very last recipe link is for Kale Chips. Hope you enjoy them... I do!

Steelers6~

Thank you :)

Tammy said...

I love that last line. I've never been to a Red Robin...not sure if we have them in Georgia...but with endless fries...we don't need one, lol.

stephseef said...

WOW. GREAT choice making! I'm struggling with going to my weigh in at WW tonight, and came here to see how your day went. Now I know I can go. :)

Thank you!!

Paula said...

Good job! :) You should be proud of yourself! I don't always make the best choices when I'm eating out so I can really appreciate this - I have a hard time with skip the anything bread-like! lol

Rachel said...

What a heartwarming story. It's true - time together is the biggest gift parents can give children. I'm a fan of quantity time as well as quality :)

Melissa said...

I just had a similar experience, only mine wasn't so pleasant. I celebrated my son's birthday this weekend, but couldn't resist the temptations. I over indulged and felt awful afterwards. I think it's great! that you was able to still enjoy your son's birthday and not over eat. You are such an inspiration!

thegardenweigh said...

You made a great choice! Wow, I'd not have guessed the tortillas would be that many calories. Shows what I know! I need to catch some of your willpower!

It sounds like a great way to spend birthdays with your kids!

Brenda said...

what a great tradition to share with your son! I always have to think ahead before going out to a restaurant, sounds like you made some great choices!!
Love your blog! It's a great inspiration for me :)