You want to know the real reason it’s so hard to lose weight? Because we are constantly sabotaging ourselves by the ageless societal tradition. The one in which it is sacrileges to meet up with friends or gather with family without it involving some sort of meal.
In other words, whether it’s meeting for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner it’s food, food food!
You can’t meet up for coffee and then say you’ll pass on ordering anything. It’ll make your companion look gluttonous in comparison and besides, your need to limit what you eat shouldn’t be your friend’s problem. So you do what custom dictates and you sigh as you order a latte and a muffin and say to yourself,
“It’s just this once.”
But is it really?
Friends invite you to the Greek Festival where there’s crafts, dance and entertainment, but how long before your group meanders to the food court for spanakopita and baklava? I’ll tell you: less than 30 minutes and somehow you can’t resist, can you?
Even work meetings become an opportunity for indulging in food. Where I work, we combine afternoon meetings with celebrating birthdays and often have cakes, cupcakes and cookies passed around. Morning meetings are often accompanied by muffins, danish or exotic donuts. I’m not sure who discovered the Donut Bar in San Diego but despite my feigning disinterest, it doesn’t take long before I an gobbling up a maple donut with real bacon bits sprinkled on top. Yes, bacon. The cure-all for everything, it does a number on your senses.
I mean, meet for breakfast and the aroma of bacon and Nutella crepes soon has you forgetting you meant to select something from the “healthy menu.” Which is why, you end up caving, and faster than you can say, “Make mine a double,” your smacking your bacon-licious lips!
“Let’s get together for burgers and fries,” says your skinny young friend who’s never known the meaning of weight control, and in your desire to prove that you can keep up with the best of them, you agree. One hour later and you’re feeling bloated and out of sorts but hey: at least you got together with a friend you hadn’t seen in weeks.
Dinner with friends means a heaping basket of warm French bread with generous dollops of butter on the side. And you didn’t even order it! Knowing you, though, there’s no way you’re going to let it go to waste, right? Of course, not.
But the next time you dine out, it’s with two friends at a vegan-friendly restaurant and soon you’re annoyed when the basket of bread normally served at restaurants, turns into one slice. It’s served in a glass with a head of garlic, a new potato and a sprig of rosemary and you’re not sure if it’s supposed to be decorative or for eating–and by whom? I mean, as far as you know, no one brought along a famished Barbie.
So you stare down the waiter who placed that bit of nonsense in front of you and declare, “What are we supposed to do–pass the glass around and inhale the bread??” For crying out loud.
Every occasion means another opportunity to eat more than you should. Parties, weddings, wakes, holiday gatherings, you name it. After all, can we come together at Thanksgiving and not have a traditional meal, replete with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie?
Not too long ago, my friend Elise was noticing this, too. Or maybe she wasn’t. She just said, “Hey, instead of getting together for dinner as usual, mind if we take a walk on the beach?”
Whatever her motives, it set me on edge. What will we do with our hands while we’re catching up when we have no food to spoon into our mouths, no bread to butter, no glasses of wine to distractedly swirl? We can’t talk nonstop, and without the ability to eat in between sentences, we’re going to have awkward lulls in conversation. Yikes. How will we cope without our socially-acceptable food crutch?
Well, somehow we made do, and you know what? It was fun. We walked a couple of miles alongside the beach and had a pleasant time of it. Conversation, fresh air and exercise to boot. In the process, I added a few thousand steps to my Fitbit tracker.
Now, it’s your turn. The next time you schedule a get-together, I challenge you to do it in a way that doesn’t involve food. Break tradition and shatter the mold! Do something outdoorsy instead. Like going bike riding. Or take a hike. Literally.
Just don’t come to my house as I will be compelled to serve you something nice and, having just returned from a short trip to Chicago, to see my daughter (yes, we followed social mores and dined out a lot), all I have is a house stocked with, what else?
You don’t like freeze-dried codfish skin, do you? I didn’t think so.