Healthy and Sane

Paranoia is unproductive

May 11th, 2010 · 46 Comments · Boston, breakfast, restaurant reviews, salad, smoothies, snacks

I came home last night, deep in emotions and ready to type up a post… and then I decided to allow myself a bit of distance from the situation. I needed time to process my irrational fear (?) and unproductive reaction (paranoia?), so what you’re reading today is written by me after a decent night of sleep. It helped.

Before I dive in, let me start by mentioning that I had a super fabulous dinner last night at Bin26.

My lovely dates: Meghan and Kirsten

I love these girls! I ran with both of them before and there is something about a bond you build while you run, especially long distance. You pick each other up and motivate each other to keep going. I wish we had a chance to hang out more. I think we’ll try to make it happen after last night (and apparently our husbands/boyfriends have a lot in common too – think: Top Gear). :)

Bin26 is a gorgeous wine bar in Beacon Hill. I loved the clean + modern atmosphere with wine bottles decorating the space…. in expected:

… and unexpected ways (that’s a ceiling in the bathroom!!)

I started with a 250ml glass of Grosjean Freres Premetta Pinor Noir upon Kirsten’s suggestion. She knows wines and said this was one of her favorites. This was the best wine I’ve ever had in my life!!! It was fruity and smooth yet complex but not too sweet. I am really horrible at describing wines but I am telling you that this beats $100+ bottles I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy.

After a lot of indecisiveness, we finally decided to split a plate of cheeses and zucchini carpaccio. Fresh sourdough bread with EVOO came out as well. Perfect!

Selection of 4: Grana Padano, Pecorino Toscano, Taleggio di Malga, Gorgonzola Naturale

I am not a fan of gorgonzola (or any other blue cheese for that matter) but the other 3 were fantastic. I loved their diversity… cheese + wine is a fantastic combo!

Zucchini carpacio – zucchini ribbons drizzled with lemon vinaigrette + pine nuts

This was so incredibly fresh and flavorful. I really have to recreate this at home! What a perfect summer appetizer.

So we shared these 2 plates and then I decided to order an entree as my meal.

Cocoa tagliatelle with porcini mushroom ragout scented with nepitella

Sounds fancy, no? It was delicious. Very mushroomy though so it’s not for the faint of heart. I love mushrooms so I polished this off no problem 😉

When the waitress offered a dessert menu, I didn’t hesitate. Yes, please. I’ll have the chocolate layer cake served with semifreddo

I was stoked to see cherries but the cake was not my favorite. It was soaked in some kind of liquor, which I suppose is appropriate for a wine bar but I didn’t care for it. Guess what? I still ate every bite. :(

On my way home, this is where it hit me – I was stuffed, uncomfortably so. This is also where my paranoia about what and how much I eat sunk in. Meghan only had the shared apps and Kirsten ordered a tiny tapa as her meal + a small biscotti that nearly broke her tooth so she only had a bite of it. These girls are thin and I am not. Yes, I’m healthy. I made a lot of progress recently in the self-acceptance department but nights like this give me perspective on my actions. I ordered last night like I would on any other night out. I treat nights like this as treats and of course accept larger portions than usual since of course I wouldn’t have an appetizer, entree, dessert + wine on a typical Monday night at home. But is that the right thing to do? Am I just fattening myself up slowly and giving myself a green light to do so in the spirit of “self acceptance”?

This is my “analysis” after a night of sleep. You can only imagine the less productive thoughts running through my head on my walk home. Of course I shouldn’t compare myself to others. I shouldn’t even presume I know the circumstances of other people. I think Meghan had plans for dinner with her husband later than night (makes sense why she’d eat lightly before that). Maybe the girls had giant lunches, maybe finances played a role in their decisions. The point is that I shouldn’t care. But I twisted it up and made myself feel bad. I felt paranoid about my own less than stellar choices and should have viewed them in vacuum without throwing what other people ate into the mix. Ok I think I’m done. I really did have an amazing time catching up with the girls. I just hate how unproductive thoughts creep in sometimes and ruin a perfectly fun night.

Other eats…


Green monster – silken tofu, almond milk, banana, frozen mixed berries + frozen spinach, topped with Zoe’s granola

This was the best smoothie I’ve ever made. I attribute it to lots of berries. 😀


Everything but the kitchen sink salad – kale massaged with lemon juice and 1t basil EVOO, carrots, grape tomatoes, pickles, boiled egg, walnuts + feta

The pickles made the salad. I think I’m a genius for thinking of this. 😆




What can I say, I love fruit + nuts combo 😀


A super sweaty 60 minute class with jump rope/weight intervals. Somehow I was able to keep up. :)

Do you ever compare your food choices to others’?

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46 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Meghan@traveleatlove

    First of all, I clearly need some photography lessons from you!
    I often compare my eating to other people. I naturally fill up quickly. . . and am starving again an hour later, so it often seems like I eat little, but I eat all day long! I have had co-workers comment on me “grazing again” which used to make me really self conscious and not want to eat as much, but hey I get hungry!
    Also I had a big old taco salad when we got home :)

  • #2 - Katie @ Health for the Whole Self

    I’m so glad you shared these thoughts! I have definitely been in the same position as you were…I know that paranoid feeling all too well. Comparing my food choices to others’ is definitely something I struggle with. For years I felt good about myself when I ate less than my dining companions or made “healthier” choices, while I felt like a failure if I ate more or if I had dessert and they didn’t. It takes a lot of effort for me to remind myself that my plate is mine alone. Great post!

  • #3 - Elina

    Meghan – See, that was my point. I shouldn’t compare myself to others because we are all different. Thanks for making me feel better in any case :)

  • #4 - Candice

    Don’t compare yourself to others. As you said, one of the girls was having dinner later- your food was your dinner. And I don’t think it looks like you make horrible choices anyway.

    I usually fall into the trap of ordering along the same lines as others. I hate to order to first and will frequently shift my choice if others are ordering smaller dishes. I’ll also order a bigger dish if others are going bigger. Both are equally bad. I should order what I want/feel is best and not compare it others.

    I think your food choices are awesome and you’re being too hard on yourself. Take a step back and get of your head. Look at what you typically eat from your posts. You’re healthy girl!

  • #5 - sister inna

    i definitely find myself having the same thoughts (minus the level headed conclusion) a lot. Some days, i think it’s true, we can overeat without noticing. BUT — our journey here is to try and be aware of what we do do (tee hee), and deal with the situation better the next day.
    i know i will slip up here and there, but the key is I remember — i’m not trying to robotically put fuel into my body. i love food — and it’s nice to enjoy the fruits of that love. sometimes we overdo it in the “love” department, but the next day we treat our bodies – that crave healthy nutritious foods – well.
    i do NOT think you are giving yourself the green light to overeat by any means. you were hungry — so you ordered an entree — that is what hungry people do. looks like the dessert put you over the top, probably b/c you weren’t paying attention, having a great time with great company 😉 you will do better next time.

    i actually think you did the right thing in this situation, you fed your body according to how it wanted to be fed. the paranoid thoughts probably came with the sugar crash.

    hey — try comparing your lunch(es) at work to other people’s… see who’s healthiest then 😉 just KIDDING. comparisons are silly

  • #6 - sister inna

    PS i totally chuckled at the thought of you going into the bathroom with your camera

  • #7 - DessertForTwo

    Oh man, I know exactly how you feel. I treat dinners out as a treat and eat whatever I want. Then I eat light for 4 days at home. It’s no fun. Thanks for sharing.

  • #8 - Matt

    I think comparing yourself to other people is unavoidable. Just make sure you are comfortable with YOUR choices, not someone elses.

  • #9 - christina

    hi honey! first of all, i’m jealous of your eats — it reminded me of stuff i had in italy.

    second, you are BEAUTIFUL. and what! you are thin! you look great. i get paranoid thoughts about what i’ve eaten too, so i understand. :)

  • #10 - Daisy

    I just saw your blog linked from Meghans! It is fantastic (great pictures, and i like how you openly expressed your eating paranoia). Refreshingly honest.

  • #11 - Elizabeth

    I don’t care my food choices with those of others, but I DO compare my body to those of others; whenever I pick up a “Lost Half My Bodyweight” edition of a magazine, I immediately look to the measurements and people of my height. When I find someone who is, I immediately compare our weight and how we look.
    Regardless, it’s fruitless to compare; if you’re happy with how you’re eating, keep eating. If you’re happy with how you look, then keep lookin’ sassy. But, if you’re not happy, then do something about it, but how everyone else looks/eats shouldn’t factor into your decision. Does that make sense? Probably not.

  • #12 - Elizabeth

    Ugh, when I said “care,” I meant compare. Apathetic Freudian slip?

  • #13 - Lauren @ Health on the Run

    You’re right…paranoia definitely is not productive. However, this is a trap everyone falls into (they’ve actually done studies that show people typically order/eat food based on what their dining companions are doing!!) So don’t beat yourself up over it — you are not alone! :) I have done this many times, and have even tried to make excuses for myself for why I’m ordering more than others (“oh well, I did a long run today and I know they didn’t so I can order this extra dish”) This is equally unproductive…by trying to justify my choices, it shows I am focusing way too much on what others are eating, and not enough on what my body wants/needs.

    I think you are right to say that restaurant nights are a treat and to ALLOW yourself to order what you feel like. You aren’t overindulging everyday. Being able to enjoy great food at a great restaurant with great people is one of the joys in life! :) So don’t be so hard on yourself. Today is a new day! :)

  • #14 - Elina

    You guys are so wise. Thank you for all the wonderful comments.

    Innz – hehe, Meghan mentioned that the bathroom was super cool so I took my purse with me. Don’t worry, I was a looking like a weirdo going to the bathroom with a camera. 😉

  • #15 - Alicia

    Hey there Elina,
    I know how you feel!! It can be hard not to compare yourself to other people – especially if you’re trying to maintain your weight (and when you love food like I do). It happens to me all the time – but sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t know if someone had a big meal earlier in the day, or they just weren’t hungry today…everyone is so different. What I do know, is that you do look fabulous!! Life is short, we need to enjoy ourselves while also being healthy – I think that they way that you combine healthy eating and activity makes you fall into this category. You take really good care of yourself and your body – and you should be allowed a treat (without the guilt) from time to time….
    Easier said than done I supposed – but thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes. :)

  • #16 - Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    I am definitely guilty of food comparison moments! The thing I always try to tell myself is that I can only do whats best for me and get the things I enjoy, and I have to assume that the other people at the table with me are doing the same!

  • #17 - Hallie

    Oh thank you SO much for this post. I do this ALL the time…I swear no girl eats here in Southern CA. I’m trying to get over it, like last night I was out with a friend with dietary restrictions so she couldn’t eat but I was hungry so I did. It’s hard for me to eat when other people aren’t eating, I feel like they are looking at me judging or something. But that’s SO silly! I really think this is only a problem for those of us with food “issues” but I can so, so relate. I look at my skinny friends and how they never eat breakfast, etc,, and think, well I eat healthy mostly, but I clearly eat a lot, and that’s why I have 20 lbs on most of my friends.

    But I’m trying to keep in mind all the healthy things I do for my body, like eating good things and exercising. I’m not the thin girl and I’m finally realizing I never will be. But I’m training for a a half marathon, I make a mean veggie/tofu stir fry. I do love me some Mexican food too, and that’s ok.

    And…this doesn’t matter at all but…I would classify you as thin…isn’t it funny how our perceptions of these things is SO relative? I’m really glad you got better perspective this morning. And I’m sorry I wrote a novel! This really resonated with me this morning.

  • #18 - Chubby

    Girl, come eat dinner with me and you’ll feel really dainty! Eat with my husband and you’ll feel daintier still. (The man often treats a Chipotle burrito as an appetizer. To his credit, he works out like a maniac and doesn’t eat other junk food.)

    Anyway, I’m sorry you felt so bad after dinner. Eating out with good girlfriends definitely is a time to enjoy what’s on your plate and in your wine glass. The food you chose looked absolutely amazing; it’s not like you were blindly housing crappy food at Burger King. You were enjoying delicious food as well as the special occasion experience of catching up with good girlfriends. I can understand the guilt about eating the dessert you didn’t truly love, though. This is a problem for me, too. If it’s in front of me and I’m paying good money for it, I feel bad if I don’t eat it, even if it’s not my favorite. I’m working on turning down food I don’t completely love.

    Also, you absolutely ARE thin! You look amazing and healthy and toned in all your photos!

  • #19 -

    i luv u so much more for the pickles in ur salad. k pickles and eggs! YES PLEASE!!! hehe. oh totally NOT a fan of liquer based desserts. i remember i had rum and raisin ice cream awhile back and it made me so sick! i dont know what pocesses me to try rum desserts lol.. but they always look good and people always say they taste good, but not for me… btw im so glad u let urself sleep it off and wake up with a clearer mind. i think ur so skinny and gorgeous and totally fit!!! but i can understand ur anxiety.. and no matter the size of a person.. that anxiety can creep up.. especially if u feel uncomfortably full or bloated. xoxo <3 HUG

  • #20 - Claire

    I hope you are feeling much better today because you definitely should not feel guilty about your meal out. I know it can be hard not to, but you have to remember, look how strong you can be! That workout was obviously fueled right and remember to focus on fitness not calories burned. I can’t wait to read about you recreating a zucchini carpaccio, it looks amazing!

  • #21 - MeggyD

    I have been to Bin26 and took similar photos of the magnificent bathroom ceiling and wine bottled walls!

  • #22 - D

    i love, love, love your blog, and i especially enjoy reading your more “thoughtful” posts about food and emotions. you clearly enjoy great food and really appreciate what you eat, but you are honest in showing that even someone who takes pleasure in amazing food can still have some doubts now and then. a lot of blogs show the author enjoying tons of meals out and gourmet food, but no mention of any guilt. i think that it would be very unusual for a woman to not feel anything whatsoever in that position, and i admire your ability to write about your feelings with such honesty and reflection. you dont let your worries interfere with your love of food, but you admit that it’s not as easy as people often make it out to be. i think that everyone compares, but it’s how we process those thoughts that makes a difference.

  • #23 - katecooks

    i haven’t commented in a bit but i’ve still been reading! i totally understand the food comparison thing…i live in LA and most of my girlfriends are skinny by trade (models and actresses) so even though i am fairly thin and healthy, i ALWAYS eat more…and like 8 times more. it’s really hard not to compare or beat yourself up when your dining companions eat so much less. also, when i am out with the boy and find myself always eating as much if not more than him, i feel that way. oops.

    so yeah, it happens to the best of us! BUT i really wanted to comment because i hate that you said that those girls are thin and you are not. honestly, i hope that you know you ARE slender…at least from what i can see in your photos and pictures don’t lie when it comes to weight :)

  • #24 - Cara

    Elina, you are a thin girl. Just like I am a thin girl. It’s taken me a very long time to go beyond just accepting myself and actually being able to call myself a thin person!

    I am also a victim of the comparison game, I know it’s unhealthy, but here are some things I remind myself of that help:

    – I don’t know how my friends ate the rest of the day, or the rest of the week for that matter. Maybe they aren’t so careful. A lot of the skinny people I know eat bagels and frappucinos all the time, so even though they may have eaten a smaller portion than me at this particular, it’s usually the case that I am making better choices all around.
    – My food choices are mine alone and I have to make them work for me. Again, what I choose for my body might be different than what they chose. Maybe I DO have a bigger appetite than some of my skinny friends, but I’ve learned to compensate with exercise and the rest of my diet so that it’s ok to splurge on things. I confess that sometimes I still get self conscious about being the girl that eats the most all the time, but I’m also probably the girl that exercises the most and takes the best care of myself! Not that its a competition or that I really think exercising is burning enough calories to make up for some of these meals, but I’m really just trying to keep myself in my own frame of reference and forget about what everyone else is doing.

    Hope this helps a bit. ((hugs))

  • #25 - Barbara

    I had a friend with a lovely figure. Mine was fine, but I always felt fat standing next to her. (I wasn’t) One night out, she had been gone a while and I asked her husband if everything was all right. He said she was in the loo, throwing up her dinner. She always does that when she eats too much, he said.
    I never said a word to her but learned a good lesson that night. Never compare yourself to others, because you have no idea what their life is like.
    I’m talking about the 60’s…..when I don’t think anyone even knew what bulemia was. I certainly didn’t until years later.

  • #26 - Jess

    Aww! I felt so sad for you when I read your inner battle after your fab dinner with friends. I can so relate – and its so not healthy or productive to beat ourselves up that way but its also just as hard to not fall into that trap if you’re already so attuned to it as it is. I can’t say I have the answers because I clearly don’t since I battle it too, just know that you are not alone AND you are beautiful and healthy just the way you are. Hugs!

  • #27 - Ali @ Redhead Reports

    Hey Elina! I love your blog – I am so glad you commented on mine so I’d find yours! haha

    I love the fruit/nut combo as well :)

  • #28 - One Healthy Apple

    As easy as it is to say not to compare one to others, it’s hard! We live in a society full of comparisons and sometimes comparing is not a bad thing. It gives us a frame of reference when it comes to habits or can help us create our own goals.
    That said, I do it from time to time when it can be productive. I like to know what some of my role models do or when I need a little context.

    I applaud you for taking the time to think it over and analyze this situation- looks like you learned a lot from it.

  • #29 - Naomi(onefitfoodie)

    of course I compare my food choices to others, its hard NOT to when you go out to eat with lots of people…but I dont think I look down upon or get jealous or anything like that of what others are eating…I eat what I want and thats that! i gotta look out for me!!

    i LOVE BIN26!! when I was there, we got the same cheese plate!!

    my mom supplies coffee for 80% of the boston area restaurants and she JUST got BIN26 and lalarohk (have you been there?!?) I havent but heard its amazing!!

  • #30 - Kelly

    I always love hearing your perspective on things. I used to compare so much, but for some reason, I’ve found it gradually easier to gain distance. Maybe because there are so many other things going on in my life, I don’t find I want to focus on fat, calories, portion size, etc. It also means that I have become much better at leaving food. Last night I went to dinner and we had quite a few courses, but I just took a nod from my hunger and ate slowly and weirdly I had no problem leaving a lot on my plate at every course. Other times that isn’t the case. I’ve become better at being okay with myself wherever things end up.

  • #31 - runeatrepeat3

    Unfortunately I do still compare myself to others sometimes, especially people that are also fit runners. It is never constructive, but it is so hard to avoid.

  • #32 - Erica

    I need to try a green monster. Everyone seems to rave about them! Thanks for stopping by my blog girl! So glad you did because now I have found yours:)

  • #33 - highonhealthy

    I compare myself to others too when it comes to food and how much I’m eating versus how much they’re eating. On Sunday I went out for lunch with my mom and brother for Mother’s day and after finishing up I was hit with a realization that made me extremely uncomfortable – my brother and mom still had food left over while I had polished off my salad and sandwich.
    The thing is, as soon as those thoughts came I banished them. My brother had bread as an appetizer and I had no idea how much or how little he had eaten before the lunch. My mom on the other hand, never eats much. Then there was me – I’d gone on an 8km run that morning and so far only eaten a 200 calorie energy bar. of COURSE I was hungry! So I pushed the thoughts aside and pushed myself to continue enjoying the time spent with my brother and mom.

    We can’t let ourselves let negative thoughts like this surface and if they do enter our minds (which they will), then we must force them away. :)

  • #34 - Kirsten

    Love the pictures–they came out so well!! Don’t worry just because I was in grazing mode last night doesn’t mean I don’t love a good 3 or 4 course meal! My sister hates eating with me at my parents becuause she says I eat all the food and leave her none! And- you look fab :)

  • #35 - Jenna

    Girl I know it is hard and I still struggle with it solo much today, but you cannot compare yourself to others because everyone and I mean everyone is different so hold your head high and proud :)

  • #36 - Alice

    I always compare. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit it, I do it smugly. If I order something healthy/am eating something healthy, and my companion is eating a grease fest, I feel so smug. This is wrong!

    What’s also wrong is only eating a little bit because my companion is, or ordering something light because my companion is, even though I want to eat more. So yeah, either way, I can’t win.

    It’s hard to distance everyone and everything else from food. It shouldn’t be, but it is!

  • #37 - Alice

    Also – as for your ‘fattening up’ comment –

    Girl, imagine if we never had meals out, wine, or cheese! I would take the extra 2% of fat per year or whatever it would be, versus never going out :)

  • #38 - annie

    You look like a thin girl to me. Just keep that in mind.

    Also, I tend to compare my meals to whoever is around. Yep, guilty.

    I think I would have done the same and really enjoyed what came my way. It looks like a beautiful atmosphere and such a special time out with friends! Why not really enjoy it all?! When I eat out I splure for sure.

    Just know you aren’t the only one. Also, the other girls could have behaved and made their individual choices for a number of reasons (like you mentioned)… but who cares! Free yourself, let loose and do what feels best for you. Much better to look back on the night fondly than just remember being anxious or worried. It really was just one meal.

    I don’t know if I’m writing this for you or for me. 😉
    I went out with friends last night and had some soda and ice cream after a day filled with moderate exercise and strategic food planning. I had it all planned “perfectly” but a late night snack with pals came along. I nearly had a panic attack when I came home.

    How about we both take a hint from your post title 😀

  • #39 - Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)

    What a fun day out!! Your eats look picture perfect…I would have loved that cheese plate! 😀

    Remember that you need to do what is right *for you*. I learn things as I go when eating out. If I feel overfull and didn’t enjoy my meal, I don’t beat myself up over it, but instead ask myself what I could do differently the next time around.

    It’s totally *okay* to enjoy a larger-than-normal meal if you don’t do that all the time…and I’m all for ordering whichever dessert suits your fancy the most at the time, based on the fact that it’s not a daily thing. 😀

  • #40 - Are you allergic?

    […] Paranoia is unproductive […]

  • #41 - Shannon

    easier said than done :) i was constantly comparing myself to others this weekend out of town, but i realized that i should just listen to myself instead of eating as much/little as they were. it worked, until i got back home :( yeah, not the best start to the week… but a few positive days is a step in the right direction!

  • #42 - Kerstin

    I think we’re all guilty of this sometimes. Everyone is so different though – e.g. I’m 6 feet tall and sometimes need a little more to get full than my petite friends – so like you, I always try to just do my own thing :)

    I’m going to see if I can get my hands on some of that wine!

  • #43 - Lele

    It is always always always bad when I compare what I eat to others. Thank you for reminding me of this.
    It doesn’t accomplish anything, it doesn’t matter, and it’s just… BAD!

  • #44 - Heather

    I think this is the best post. Thank you for being so honest, as I’m sure this is something we all feel at one time or another. Try not to beat yourself up about it. Be proud of your body and how healthy you are! Today is a new day. :)

  • #45 - Vino Voyage on the Spirit of Boston

    […] Paranoia is unproductive […]

  • #46 - sarah (the SHU box)

    great post :) clearly you struck a chord with many of us!

    i am on the smaller side, but i eat dinners like you just ate not all that rarely. although i would probably drink more wine + share dessert! seriously, though, i understand your point but i hope you are feeling better now especially seeing how many of us relate.

    and, i also wanted to say i think you look great – and fit and thin – in your pix as well!