My husband and I were invited to an elegant weekend at a beautiful resort about two hours away. Everything was taken care of including the food and I didn’t know if, or how, my diet was going to survive.
I don’t know if this would be considered five-star dining, but it was close enough for me. At the first night’s dinner, there was filet mignon, a made-to-order risotto station with three kinds of cheeses, mushrooms and a squash puree, and hot, homemade bread. And – don’t let me forget – an open bar for the entire weekend. Oh dear.
I could tell right away that this was not going to be a “be nice to your diet” oriented weekend.
For the rest of the weekend we noshed on filet mignon (twice), a vegetarian lasagna in which the vegetables lost in the battle of cream and luscious cheeses, roasted asparagus frittata, cheesecake, dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache four inches thick and, well, you get the picture.
I have been working very hard on my diet lately by keeping track of my food choices and their calories. Now I was faced with more food (quantity) at a level beyond my cooking abilities (quality) and I was a little overwhelmed. I did the best I could, including making some very good food choices, but still, I never would have eaten that much if I’d been home.
Now that I’m back home, I’m spending some time reflecting on social events while trying to diet. We all face times when what we eat is out of our control whether we are at a friend’s birthday party or spending long days at the hospital with a loved one and facing the dreaded cafeteria.
Here are three lessons I learned from an incredibly fun and overly pampered weekend.
Lesson 1: I can’t stop humming the Rolling Stones’ song, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.” It’s true, when someone else is in charge of the menu, you can’t always get what you want. High fat, high sugar, tons of starches and too many desserts can derail your diet efforts. However, if you try, you can get what you need: an extra helping of salad, a pass on the bread and butter or a lower calorie dessert. There are choices to be made.
Lesson 2: Engaging with the people around you may help you eat less … or more. A recent study showed that when women ate with their women friends they consumed an extra 300 calories. This could be referring to those intimate lunches with your best friends where, when the waiter asks, “Would you ladies care for dessert?” you collectively throw your diets to the wind and respond with a resounding, “Sure, why not?” and then choose the ooey, gooiest chocolate mountain of fudge thing on the menu. It’s OK, you justify, because you’re going to share. On the other hand, if you spend more time talking and less time eating, you’ll slow down and allow your body to register as “full” before you consume everything in sight. In theory.
Lesson 3: There are always consequences to our actions. We can still make the best choices possible for our diet – and keep a tight rein on portion sizes – but the consequences of four days of luxury could still be gained weight and a struggle to get our eating back under control. If you gained a pound or two, it should be fairly easy to lose it. Short-term weight gain, compared to the weight you gain from constant eating from Halloween candy to New Year’s Day, should come off in a few days to a week at the most.
The bigger challenge may be in trying to get your head back in the “game.” You could try to give up full breakfasts complete with Danish for a small bowl of whole-grain cereal and skim milk slowly, but I have found that when I’ve only lost control for a few days it’s better to jump right back on that vegetable wagon with both feet.
We had a lovely time on our mini vacation and consider it just that: a short-term fantasy escape from our real life reality. It didn’t hurt to have a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese and some fruit for breakfast this morning – at least, not too much.
Dear Reader: How do you handle short-term temptation? What do you do when you realize there is nothing diet-oriented at a dinner party? Please leave a comment. You never know what might help someone else.
Until next time,
Susan L Stewart