The Constancy of “Special Occasion Eating”

The Constancy of “Special Occasion Eating”

Just before the holidays, I got an email update from a former client. It was pretty profound. One of the concepts we focus on in our coaching is to be conscious and accountable to meals. We plan and log our meals to replace the old habits of eating mindlessly, with new habits that align with our goals and values. With this record keeping, we are able to identify our sticking points and the events that derail our focus and send us back down old roads. This record keeping is so critical to the process that the number one reason clients come back to coaching is due to regaining lost weight when they stopped logging their meals. They fall into the pattern of eating unconsciously again and don’t realize how far off track they’ve gotten until they see the weight creeping back on and their clothes getting tighter.


The former client who reached out to me wanted to share something that was game-changing for her. It’s one thing to say “this is a special occasion so I’m going to eat what I want” – but, it’s another entirely when that special occasion comes up several times a week. This was her finding.


“Last January, I decided to write down all the events that come up during the year, where I would want to eat and/or drink. The total accounted for 221 events. I say accounted for because it does NOT take into account the bad days, weekend, being tired, patio beers, finding out friends’ parents or family are very ill or have died, friend in hospital, husband being out of town, off-site work meetings, co-workers with their non-ending supply of free chocolate, hormones, or the ice cream bucket list I organized for the kids this summer (because I clearly hate myself!).


Goes to show you just how much temptation is out there AND why the “it’s a special occasion”  or “I’ll start after the holidays” just doesn’t work.


January – 19 events

(New Year’s Day brunch, Friday treats at work (3 days), Friend’s birthday (2 days), Husband’s birthday, My birthday, Girls’ night, Family baptism, Friend leaving work for a new job, Mexico (7 days), Christmas leftovers at work.


February – 12 events

Valentine’s day, Friday treats at work (4 days), Friend’s (40th) birthday (2 days), Mother’s birthday, Uncle’s 65th birthday party, Kid’s both at a sleepover, Friend leaving work for a new job, Concert in MTL.


March –22 events

St Patrick’s Day, Easter (1 day), Friend’s birthday (2 days), 2 sisters and a Niece’s birthdays (1 day), Friday treats at work (5 days), Coffee with a friend, Brunch with a friend, House guests (10 days).


April – 12 events

Easter (2 days), Brother-in-law’s birthday, Friday treats at work (4 days), Girls’ night (2 days), Girls’ weekend (2 days), Managers’ cook brunch at work.


May –  10 events

Victoria Day (1 day), Friday treats at work (4 days), Date night, Friend leaving work, Friend’s for dinner, Girls’ night, School open house.


June – 28 events

Nephew’s birthday, Friday treats at work (5 days), Movie in the park, Houseguest (9 days), Friend leaving work (2 days), Glow Fair, Father’s day, Work BBQ, School BBQ, Girls’ field trips (2 days), End of school BBQ and Swim, Girls’ night, Last day of school, Manager’ ice cream day at work.


July – 36 events

Canada Day, Start a new job, Friend’s birthday (1 day), Pool party/BBQ (2 day), Friday treats at work (3 days), Concert (2 days), Ice cream festival, Houseguest (9 days), Friend leaving work, Donair day at work, Drive in BINGO, Axe Throwing, Kid free (7 days), Vacation (5 days).


August – 32 events

Civic Holiday, Daughter’s birthday, Friend’s birthday (1 day), Pool party/BBQ (1 day), Friday treats at work (3 days), Work BBQ (2 days), Laronde, Houseguest (7 days), Friend leaving work, Kid free (4 days), Vacation (10 days).


September – 17 events

Labour Day, Sister and Father’s birthday (2 days), Daughter’s party, Work travel (7 days), Friday treats at work (4 days), Friend leaving work (1 day), Girls’ night.


October – 24 events

Thanksgiving and Halloween (2 days), Niece’s birthday (1 day), Friday treats at work (2 days), Girls’ night (2 day), Dinner with friends (3 days), Houseguest (6 days), Beer run, Work travel (3 days), Out with visiting sister, 11th Anniversary, Halloween party, Halloween candy at work.


November – 13 events

Remembrance Day, Daughter’s birthday, Friday treats at work (4 days), Girls’ night (1 day), Work travel (6 days).


December – 27 events

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve (4 days), Cousin’s 40th birthday, Friday treats at work (3 days), Girls’ night (2 days), Work travel (6 days), Houseguest (4 days), Christmas party, Work Section lunch, directorate potluck, agency lunch, NYE breakfast (4 days), Vacation (2 days)”


Does this look familiar? You may have fewer or even more events than this client but it would be a fun exercise to keep track for a month or two to find out.

Often, clients new to fat loss struggle with maintaining compliance on weekends. They feel if they eat perfectly on weekdays, there is wiggle room on weekends. The fact is that there may be – but how will you know how much wiggle room you have if you have no accountability to what you’re eating? Spending calories is similar to spending money – if you spend more than you have you’re going to find yourself in trouble sooner or later.


So, start logging and see what happens. You can’t change a pattern you can’t see.