Tuesday, March 01, 2011
In the workbook, Beck calls this chapter "eating out with ease" whereas the book uses the "staying in control" title. In both places she offers plenty of useful tips applicable to a certain type of "eating out" -- that is, eating in restaurants or at larger parties. You can check the restaurant menu on line in advance and preplan what you're going to eat. You can preplan what you will nibble on at a large party where you're basically wandering around with a drink (might be non alcoholic) in the left hand, keeping the right hand free for shaking. I do these things and most of us who have been fighting in the trenches for any period of time have adopted such strategies for a long time.
But Beck does not, in my opinion, adequately address the issue of going to people's houses for meals: formal sit down dinner where the hostess has planned a menu, shopped for food, prepared several courses (appetizer, soup, main, dessert plus plus plus) and expects you to eat. Her suggestion that you take along a platter of something -- (raw veggies??) -- and provide that for the "feast" is frankly not one that is going to go down well in most instances. Asking the hostess to cook in accordance with your requirements, saying nothing and shoving a portion off to one side, skipping several courses that the hostess places in front of you -- none of this is conventional social behaviour.
And if you accept formal social invitations, you must reciprocate by having people back to your own home for a similar type event. Offering them a huge green salad and a little chopped fruit, or a bowl of homemade soup and some fat free yogourt with berries, will seem just slightly weird. Really. And if I spend the time reciprocating with a comparable meal (I'm actually a pretty decent cook when I turn my mind to it) that means I'll have spent the better part of a weekend handling high calorie, high fat, high sugar foods -- planning, preparing, serving, cleaning up, eating at least some of it -- triggering a craving for these foods which can derail my eating plans for weeks.
So: if the sabotaging thought is "I should be able to enjoy myself on special occasions" and the helpful response is "I can enjoy other aspects of the special occasion, but not the food so much", then I think that's right. And this approach works perfectly well for restaurants, large professional type dinners and cocktail hours, buffets and so on. But I also think (from my own experience) it does not work well for the kind of formal sit down dinner party with 6 or 8 people which was a staple of my social life for many many years; accepting invitations, reciprocating invitations. I don't do that any more. I try to substitute other social events -- the golf games, the walks in the woods, the trip to the gym, the gallery, the concert, the play -- with more and less success. Some people simply will be offended if you do not want to make a formal sit down dinner the focus of social get togethers: that's what they're used to offering, that's what they're used to receiving.
Beck glosses over this very real difficulty, rather than meeting it head on. Social life will change when food cannot be the focus of every social occasion with friends. And some friends won't accept that.
Scales today: 150.5. Go figure!!