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Friday, December 5, 2008

I ate onion rings!

I picked up my husband from the airport last night after a long day of cleaning and working to get my home in order (oh so much easier when he’s not around, am I right?). I had thawed out “grill food” and had enough vegetables to have a nice grill out. I prep, hubby grills.

But he had been traveling since 6:00 a.m., so when I suggested the grill –well the look I got was so sweet and sad (it said “I will if I have to, but please don't make me") I suggested we go to the Alehouse and get something.

Now the Alehouse has always been one of my favorite restaurants because they have these “zinger” chicken fingers that they will grill instead of fry. It’s always been a favorite because I used to “reward” myself for having something that would normally be “naughty” in a healthy way. They also offer a ton of grilled lean food, without really heavy sauces, they will substitute without complaint and provide steamed vegetables – all in all, tons of healthy choices – so I wasn’t even limited to the zingers when I went there. All in all, a “dieter’s dream.”

And during my “militant control” days of active weight loss – using that little “mental trickery” of choosing Zingers, going to a place where I knew I could find “MY” food, all of those things make this restaurant a great choice.

Except they also serve onion rings.

And I love onion rings (if you can actually love a food – which I think is another post for another day). Always have. Always will. And I loved the Alehouse’s onion rings especially well. But for 6 years now, I haven’t had an onion ring at the Alehouse or anywhere else. Well, almost. I hadn’t had them unless I had them on a late night “forbidden food” binge which usually included onion rings, patty melt, fries, a malt and a HUGE serving of guilt and self-loathing. You see, I had convinced myself that onion rings were a food that I couldn’t control – so I tried just refusing to have them – ever. And what happened -- well I had set myself up to make onion rings a forbidden food that “called” to me whenever I engaged in compulsive overeating or bingeing.

Boy – that was healthy behavior, wasn’t it?

But what I’m learning from Renee is that onion rings can come with a side of ketchup instead of a side of guilt.

When I got to the alehouse last night, I was thinking on the way there, that I was going to have a healthy turkey burger with no bun and steamed broccoli (they do great steamed broccoli – which shouldn’t be hard, but you’d be surprised how MANY places get it wrong).

But when I opened the menu, I immediately knew that I didn’t want that.

I did my visualization – I visualized what eating the broccoli and turkey burger would feel like long term and conversely what downing a PLATE of onion rings would look like. But I still wanted the onion rings. So I visualized eating the broccoli, the turkey burger and a FEW onion rings. And I got it, I got that I didn’t need to eat a PLATE of onion rings – that this wasn’t a decision between “health” and “guilt and loathing.”

So that’s what I ordered. Except I actually realized I wanted grilled chicken instead of a turkey burger. Again – a choice I made NOT because that was the healthier of the two, but because it was what I REALLY wanted.

And, of course, the full, oversized portion plate of chicken, broccoli and onion rings came, along with my husband’s plate of ribs and onion rings (remember, he’s naturally slender).

And the nice waitress had brought two smaller plates “in case we wanted to share.” It was perfect!!

I cut my large chicken breast in half, portioned a nice portion of steamed broccoli onto my plate and took a few onion rings (I didn’t even COUNT them – which was what I was thinking about doing, but then I thought “no, don’t count, LISTEN to your hunger").

And I ate, and I enjoyed my husband’s company and enjoyed the portion of onion rings that I took out.

And then, things got even better. The waitress left our food in front of us for a while. My naturally slender husband had, of course, not eaten all of his onion rings and neither had I. And I looked at his plate and looked at mine and felt the MOST AMAZING SENSE of peace and calm and happiness because . . .


I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

I was satisfied. I wasn’t sitting there on my hands. I wasn’t looking to sprinkle artificial sweetener on the onion rings. I wasn’t hawking down the waitress to get her to remove the “talking” onion rings – because they weren’t talking to me.

I engaged in what I think MUST be naturally slender behavior.

And I was giddy and dear husband – God love him – looked at me and said “why are you grinning like a Cheshire cat?”

And I said “because the onion rings aren’t talking to me!!!”

And he laughed, told me how excited he was for me (he's great that way -- even when his wife thinks onion rings can talk) and it was a great evening!

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