A close friend recently recounted a conversation she overheard between her husband and his dietician. He had submitted his menu of the previous week and the dietician noted that he had ‘cheated’ 18 times. We had a good laugh over it, at his expense of course (because if you can’t laugh at your husband why have one?) but in truth, we both acknowledged that his situation was not unique. We all struggle to eat well and everyone wants to lose that extra 10 pounds. I wake up every morning declaring this to be the day my diet starts….only to have it all go to hell by 3:00. (I can’t help it – we are surrounded by deliciousness and my resolve never lasts more than 12 hours)
The same close friend once lamented her own dieting issues, then questioned her very need to. She said we struggle all our lives to eat well, stay active, and maintain a healthy weight – surely by the time we pass middle age we should be entitled to slip a little, no? I have to admit her reasoning resonated with me. Why are we so determined to deny ourselves the pleasure of food? If you drop dead tomorrow are you going to regret that you passed on that big slice of chocolate cake with fudge icing the day before? (I know I would!)
I remember a young woman I worked with, years ago. She was heavy, no doubt and constantly on a diet. A group of us went to McDonald’s for lunch one day (ok, not a healthy diet establishment, for sure) and I recall being surprised that she ordered a Quarter Pounder with supersize fries and a ‘diet’ Coke (she whispered conspiratorially to me that regular Coke is exceedingly high in sugar and she was watching her sugar intake) Now I’m no genius, but by the time you’ve inhaled that greasy burger laden with cheese and scarfed down 3 pounds of fried potato your sugar ship has pretty much sailed – just get the regular Coke and book yourself in for an Angioplasty.
Now I’m not saying we can’t indulge occasionally. I love a Big Mac and fries every now and again but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking a low calorie beverage is going to reverse the effects of this junk food meal. Eat it, enjoy it, and make a mental note not to do it again for 6 months because denying ourselves the occasional treat (junk) is just stupid. And no one would be impressed by a gravestone that says ‘she lived a full life on 1200 calories a day’.
In my family we have a number of birthdays in August which means a lot of cake. Now we discussed celebrating all birthdays at one gathering and that’s fine, but don’t deny me my cake. I have one birthday and on this one day of the year I want to eat and drink whatever I like without worrying about the repercussions. And none of this low fat crap. I want a chocolatey cake with a sickeningly sweet chocolate icing because if you’re going to give me cake I want the real deal, and substituting flavor for low fat options is akin to going to Baskin & Robbins where they boast 31 exotic ice cream flavours, and ordering vanilla.
Now this rule applies to coffee as well. The low fat, low foam, no cream, no sugar, no flavor, latte is a miserable alternative to a freshly brewed coffee with a squirt of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream, full fat of course. Unless you drink 6 of these a day it’s unlikely you’ll break the scales over a specialty coffee. I guess what I’m saying is, I think we need to ease up a little. Maybe live a little more and stress about our weight a little less? Unless you’re morbidly obese what harm can a few pounds do? It’s a good cushion if you fall and great insulation for the winter.
I suppose at the end of the day it all comes down to moderation. Anything in moderation is ok. Indulge yourself. Eat the chips today – don’t eat any tomorrow. And if you’re going to celebrate an occasion, do it right. Pour a big glass of milk/wine, grab your fork, lock the door, and just eat the cake already.