Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Guesstimating Macros: Planning Around Mystery Foods

Let me pitch you a scenario right now.

You happily have your macros planned out for the whole day. You have it all down to the gram and feeling pretty dang proud. All of a sudden, you get a text. It reads "Birthday dinner tonight at 5:30pm". It's from your aunt and it's for a family friend, which means it's not an option to not go. 


First, take a breather and relax because it's not the end of the world. Secondly, this actually happened to me last week so there is a legit way to handle a scenario such as this one.

It's called life and life isn't gonna plan itself around your macros. Stuff happens and plans change. You might have a restaurant planned but the line is too long so you have to go someplace else, completely messing up your macros since you were banking on that grilled chicken salad. You might get last minute dinner texts like I do or a coworker brings a surprise treat in just because they wanted to brighten everyone's Thursday.

Don't panic! There are ways to navigate these situations even when you have your macros planned.

With my aunt, it was easier because my family knows that I'm on a "special diet" as they call it. They know I'm really into fitness and "all that" so I know they're not going to give me a hard time about my macros.

But, wait. You still don't know what's going to be at that dinner. Here's what I do: I call them and ask if I can bring anything. That way I can make something that I know I'll be able to eat and not have to sit in the corner while having to watch everyone eat around me.

By calling and asking them, usually they'll start going through what they're making to see if I can bring anything. Voila, I just found out what's on the menu! If they don't do that start probing like "do you need a salad, or a dessert, or any appetizers" because chances are they'll say "well, we already have the chocolate cake, and cheese and crackers, etc."

Or, if you're comfortable asking because it's family or a close friend that knows about your goals, simply flat out ask them! Just be like "hey, I gotta plan my macros so what's going to be there. P.s. you're the best aunt/friend/family member ever and I love you." I suggest adding in that last part so they don't get annoyed or exasperated with you ;)

So, back to how I dealt with the situation. I knew pasta and meatballs were going to be on the menu. I also knew that I did not have enough carbs for pasta or enough fat to allow for a protein like the meatballs. Here's what I did:

     1. I had chicken planned for dinner so I ate that before I left because I wanted to make sure to hit my protein and keep it high.
     2. I deleted the rest of what I had planned for dinner and as well as my after dinner dessert treat. This allowed me wiggle room for carbs and fats. Because let's be honest, there wasn't gonna be much protein in my dessert ha :)
     3. So, I now knew I had x amount of carbs and fats when I got there for dinner. I didn't need to worry about hitting protein since that was already close enough for the day. There was a roasted vegetable salad, some bread, and a couple of other appetizers in addition to the pasta and meatballs. I grabbed the salad and half a piece of bread and was able to sit down and eat with my family, completely enjoying myself!

Now, it was a birthday party so do you think I really didn't plan that cake was gonna be there?! 

As this was a very informal get together with my family, I just waited til the main serving part was done and then got my own little piece. If you're at a more formal situation just ask for a smaller piece! If that doesn't work usually what I'll do is I eat what I need and then do the good old "here, you can have the rest!" to either my dad/uncle/cousins I mean whoever is the designated garbage disposal in your family. We all have one and it's either my dad or uncle. If anyone can't finish their leftovers it goes straight to them. That way I can eat my cake and not waste it! Worst comes to worst and you don't have someone else to give it away to, just eat the cake. Seriously. You only live once so just eat it and you'll be fine, I promise.

Here's another situation that I was faced with this week. I had a meeting around lunch time and all it said in the email "refreshments will be provided". Then, my boss went on to say that there might be pizza, or cookies, or doughnuts and coffee, or all of that or maybe just juice. I'm seriously not kidding, that's what I was given to go on. I just know that some type of food will be there. Instead of panicking, I thought it out.

Again, plan for carbs and fats if you don't know what's going to be there. A food that is high protein while low in fats and carbs do not usually appear at gatherings such as this. I mean we're talking grilled chicken or egg whites. When's the last time someone has brought in a giant bowl of egg whites to a meeting?! Exactly. 

So give yourself plenty of wiggle room with fats and carbs. What I did in this situation is that I saved my morning peanut butter for possibly the afternoon depending on what was going to be there. If I ended up having a doughnut, I would just cut out the peanut butter entirely and then I'd have it still packed for tomorrow! If it was something like just coffee and juice, I'd have the peanut butter when I got back. So I was able to cut out a decent amount of fats (because let's be honest I eat A LOT of peanut butter) as well as some carbs by taking out the rice cakes. Instead, I ate my greek yogurt (usually my afternoon snack) as my morning snack which is high protein, lower in carbs with no fat. 

I got to the meeting anddddd it was.....pizza! There was also a side salad which was nice as well. So I grabbed some salad and a small slice of pizza. I did some calculating with my macros before I went so I knew that I would still have to nix the peanut butter because pizza can be pretty fatty, and still keep out the rice cakes. I also got rid of my cookie dough balance bar that I usually have for lunch since that gave me extra carbs and fats to account for the pizza. That left me with my egg whites to eat as my snack when I got back because I usually eat those for lunch. 

I didn't have to mess with my breakfast, dinner or dessert macros at all! Essentially, all I did was play around with my lunch and snacks. I swapped my snacks since that allowed me wiggle room for fats and carbs. Then, since the pizza and salad became my lunch that left me with the balance bar and egg white scramble which is usually what I eat for lunch. I had to get rid of the balance bar and then kept the egg whites as my afternoon snack to make sure I got enough protein. 

Even with playing around with my macros, I didn't feel deprived at all! I still got a yummy breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, then dinner and dessert. 

I realize that it's not going to work out perfectly in every single situation but that is what guesstimating is for. It's not meant to be exact and it may not get you down to the gram but the important thing is it allows you flexibility. I think it's totally fine to have about 2 days a week where you guesstimate. I've been doing it that way for months now and I've seen nothing but progress!

It allows me mental freedom and I don't get as anxious about foods at parties or meetings. It's a lot easier if you know what's happening ahead of time (don't worry a post is coming about that, too) because I personally find that there are multiple "guesstimating situations" as I call them. There definitely is a difference between guesstimating when you know what's going to be there vs. when you don't know. Obviously, the second one is harder but I hope that this at least gave you some tips and ideas! 

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