My Food Diary: Holidays Edition

What I'm eating now that the holidays are in full-force (aside from cookies).
By Emily,

Breakfast: After I got Sloan out the door for her first day back at school after Thanksgiving break, I had two minutes to grab something to eat before I left for work. Since I knew we were going to be having an indulgent lunch (for our graphic designer's birthday lunch), I opted for a banana with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. I was feeling a bit bloated after our trip (we realllly went for it), so this week my goal is to be mindful of carbs, alcohol, sugar, and sodium. By no means will I be cutting any of them out, but I'm actively trying to be careful about how many I'm taking in.

Lunch: We went to Son of a Gun, one of my favorite restaurants in L.A. It's one of those places where you can technically get out of there without doing too much damage (i.e., you order the raw hamachi, flavorful salads, etc.), but they also have some of the best indulgent dishes around. Since we were celebrating a birthday we went for it: potato chips with pimiento cheese (something I simply cannot pass up if it's on a menu), shrimp toast, lobster BLT, fries with aioli, hamachi (we're health nuts), candy ice cream, deconstructed key lime pie, and banana bread with coffee ice cream. I left feeling celebratory, but like I'd overindulged, per usual. 

Dinner: If we hadn't already bought chicken wings for dinner the day before, I would have opted for something light, like a salad. I'm a big fan of balance when it comes to food. I have no problem eating heavy food and generally don't believe in certain items that are "off-limits" or "bad." They simply need to be paired with things that aren't as heavy. But by the time dinner rolled around, I was ready for our baked chicken wings. I ate about half as many as usual, which felt like a fair compromise, knowing that I'd enjoy the rest of them the next night.

Breakfast: We had a big shoot at home, so I made sure to have a proper breakfast: two slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey. Every morning I also have a cup of coffee with a large splash of whole milk. Sometimes I'm tempted to have another cup, but often end up feeling far too jittery for the remainder of the day. 

Lunch: On Sunday I'd made a big kale salad since it felt as though we had hardly any greens and vegetables over break. It takes a while to make, as far as salads go, but it's so good (recipe here). It has kale, butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, roasted pepitas—it's what I like to call a "busy salad" because there are so many elements to keep it interesting and flavorful. I'd also made some flank steak, of which we also had leftovers, so I added that on top for a really satisfying lunch.

Snack: Over the weekend, I'd loaded up on vegetables at the farmers' market that I'd washed and cut up and put into tupperware for the week. I find that if I take the work out of it during the week, I'm much more likely to reach for vegetables and hummus instead of something packaged in the pantry. I ate a good amount of carrots, snap peas, and broccoli before dinner since I knew that there wasn't a huge portion of leftover chicken wings. It helped curb my hunger a bit and ensured I got in a few vegetables, which was a win-win.

Dinner: After I ate the chicken wings, I was completely satisfied. I told myself it seemed like a good day to go without sugar, so I decided to skip dessert.

Dessert: Whoops. I hadn't planned on having anything sweet, but got distracted after I walked past a massive bowl of Skittles in the kitchen that we'd used for pictures earlier in the day. Since there were probably five bags poured out into this one bowl, I had a hard time knowing the proper portion to have. I probably made six different trips into the kitchen, each time returning back to the couch with a small handful, and in retrospect probably consumed multiple bags in one sitting. Note to self: Don't keep candy readily accessible and if it is, make sure to portion it out into acceptable serving sizes.

Breakfast: Once I find something that works, I stick with it. I had the same peanut butter/honey toast with coffee and whole milk. For the past year or so, I've been rather finicky about breakfast and either crave something bread-y (bagel, toast, scone, etc.) or nothing at all. 

Lunch: I didn't pack a lunch and returned to the office after a meeting completely famished. I went to Tere's, one of our go-to Mexican spots and ordered their Veggie Burrito, which I love since there aren't actually any roasted vegetables inside. It's just beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, a tiny bit of lettuce, and sour cream. I wolfed it down at my desk and ate only half of the chips they put inside the bag, which I was impressed by.

Snack: Right after I gave Sloan her bath that night, I found myself so hungry that I felt dizzy and a little wobbly. That used to happen to me all the time (I think perhaps I'm hypoglycemic) and I find it occurs more often when I've had a lot of carbs. I had more of my vegetables and hummus as well as a tangerine to even out my blood sugar. 

Dinner: G made roasted shrimp orzo, one of the dishes we make most frequently. I love it because you can keep so many of the ingredients on hand (orzo, frozen shrimp, etc.) and we typically have the final ingredients needed (lemons, cucumber) to complete the dish.

Dessert/Drink: There were multiple opportunities throughout the day when I'd made a conscious effort to avoid sugar (the red velvet cupcakes at our meeting were particularly difficult to pass up), so I found myself feeling a little deprived. I probably should have settled on a piece of fruit, but instead opted for a candy bar I'd bought in Toronto (white chocolate with cookie pieces) thinking it was different than what we have in the States (spoiler: It was exactly the same—just new packaging). It was a little sweet on its own so I balanced it out with a small glass of bourbon. It just felt the festive thing to do. I blamed December being two days away.

Breakfast: I grabbed my peanut butter/honey toast on my way out the door for a day of meetings and running around downtown. Since I already knew what I was going to be having for lunch (more on that below), I felt like I wouldn't be having too much bread in one day, which never agrees with me. By 1 p.m., I was famished.

Lunch: Our e-commerce buyer and I had already decided on our lunch spot (The New Moon) downtown because of its proximity to our meetings and because they have an incredible Chinese chicken salad. Sometimes they end up being less of a salad (not a complaint) and more of just a bunch of fried foods thrown together, but this one is actually light and refreshing. I ate half and brought the rest home with me to have the next day for lunch.

Dessert: Since we were seeing a lot of different brands (on a buying trip for the Shop), most of the showrooms had large bowls of candy out. I'd successfully avoided probably ten bowls of enticing options until I stumbled upon a bowl of all pink and red Starburst. I mean, I'm not a robot. Luckily I kept it at about six candies—not because I didn't want to demolish their entire assortment, because a seventh trip back to the bowl would have just felt a little too aggressive.

Dinner & Dessert: Cristina and I decided on dinner at Rustic Canyon, since I'd never been and it was recently named one of LA's top spots (once again), so we made an early reservation. I wasn't even hungry yet, but always struggle with being a buzzkill at meals if I'm not ordering the way I normally do. I ate entirely more than I should have: half a loaf of bread with burrata, pork terrine, gem lettuces, ricotta gnocchi, yams... topped off with a large slice of chocolate cake. At the end of the meal, even though everything was delicious, I was disappointed in myself for not showing a bit more self restraint. We split everything, but I felt uncomfortably full, something I rarely do since it's such a yucky feeling. While we were saying goodbye, we spontaneously decided to go for a walk. It's one of my favorite things to do after a heavy meal, but not something that's as easy to manage now that it gets dark so early. But after a leisurely two miles (we listened to Christmas music the whole way), I felt a lot better by the time I got in my car to drive home.

Breakfast: I knew that at my breakfast meeting there would be donuts, so I had a banana with peanut butter beforehand in order to not overindulge. I actually found myself not even hungry, and ended up not having a donut (despite the fact that everyone else was having them). It felt good to remind myself that I do have some self restraint and just because something is available, doesn't mean I need to eat it.

Lunch: Even though my Chinese chicken salad from the day before had been carried around from roughly 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. when I got home and I was a little worried about food poisoning, I finished it while finishing up some work. While it's always tempting to multitask and eat while on my computer, it's a bad habit that I need to work on. After the meeting, I'd brought home the leftover donuts, so I brought them into the office for our employees. I hadn't planned on having one and yet.

Dessert: ...I had two donuts. Ugh. This time I blame the fact that Fridays simply feel indulgent. The good news is they were extraordinary (and I'm not the biggest donut person). One was creme brûlée and the other was peanut butter and jelly, from Astro Doughnuts

Dinner: G and I went out for a quick date night and got sushi. I'd planned on having sake alongside it, but was so tired by the time we got there (5 a.m. wake-up calls will do that to you) that I stuck with water.

Breakfast: I made chocolate chip cookies for a friend and obviously had to sample them to make sure they were good. Between the dough and the baked cookies, I had about four. Not the healthiest start to the weekend.

Snack: Around mid-morning I realized I should probably eat something besides dessert before lunchtime. Since I had a baby shower at Noon, I opted for a banana with peanut butter to ensure I wasn't famished when I showed up.

Lunch: At the baby shower, I made up a plate of small finger sandwiches, fruits, and cheeses. Even though the Champagne cocktails looked very appealing, I got a grapefruit mocktail since I knew I'd be having wine later that night.

Dinner: G and I decided to order in from Jon & Vinny's, which was quite indulgent (and delicious). We got a white pizza with jalapeño, two pastas (one with a vodka sauce and the other cream based with sausage), and a shaved zucchini salad. We also drank most of a bottle of red wine. 

Breakfast: I was still scooping out chocolate chip cookie dough to freeze by Sunday morning, which meant it also served as my breakfast (it pairs perfectly with coffee). At the farmers' market, I got Sloan a variation on a cronut, which I helped her with. Needless to say, the day started off differently than I'd hoped.

Lunch: At dinner the night before, I'd only had one slice of pizza and a bit of pasta, so for lunch, I still had two slices left and a little bit of pasta. It was a good reminder that even when I'm indulging, it's important to still be mindful of serving size. Plus, there's nothing more exciting than remembering there are good leftovers in the fridge!

Dinner: Usually G and I make a large, home-cooked meal on Sunday night—it's a nice way to cap off the weekend and we usually are stocked up on food after my farmers' market trip. But the day kind of got away from us, so we both did our own thing. G doesn't like cheese (I know, CRAZY), so I made myself an impromptu plate while he heated up some frozen chicken nuggets and potstickers. And because a cheese plate is significantly better with a cocktail, he surprised me by making me a gin martini. 

Final thoughts: It's clear that the holidays are an indulgent time. Between events, social outings, and baking at home, there are simply more opportunities than usual to partake in the festivities. After taking account of everything I ate and drank this week, it provided insight into how I'm hoping to finish out the year: I still plan on celebrating (duh!), but will be looking for a bit more balance in the form of added greens, some protein (eggs for breakfast would be a start instead of cookies), and watching my portion sizes when it comes to dessert.

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