My co-workers and I recently said goodbye to an intern who worked in our department for a long time. And in the South, in order to say goodbye to someone properly, the send-off must involve food.
We met at the Mexican restaurant (my favorite kind) to say goodbye with basketfuls of chips, bowls full of salsa and loads of tortillas, meat, beans and cheese. Some were fried, some grilled, some just ordered meat, cheese and veggies over rice, some were brought sizzling fajitas. As you can imagine, this was a torturous scenario for someone on a strict diet like mine.
I’ve tried in the past to work with restaurants, asking them to give me whole wheat tortillas, cook my veggies in vegetable broth or water, lay off the salt in my meal. Waiters will nod their heads, reassure me they can meet my requests and then dash off to the kitchen without another thought, relaying the order to the cooks.
Inevitably, however, I’ll get veggies cooked in oil, visible amounts of salt on my food, or plain white flour tortillas. I hate confrontation and causing a fuss, so I’ll usually either eat it, knowing I shouldn’t, or I’ll just ask for a to-go box and just do without. In either case, I feel like I’ve failed or just wasted my money.
My four faithful readers will remember how I constantly preach preparation. If you’re going to eat right all the time, you will need to be prepared. That means you anticipate the temptations, expect the moments of weakness and show up armed and ready for battle when the moment arrives.
When it comes to food, I’ve been forced to become a planner. When I received the invitation to this party, I immediately planned to eat a hearty meal ahead of time. The event started at noon, so I just planned to eat in my office at 11:30, ready to head to the restaurant by 11:50 or so. I warmed up a good sized portion of leftovers, so that I wasn’t hungry at all, and ordered water at the restaurant, so that I at least had the sensation of partaking in the festivities.
I follow the same game plan for family events. In the South, an event like a family reunion is a veritable smorgasbord of fried foods, desserts and other delectables I would’ve ravaged in another life. Now, I’m on a strict plan to heart health, and foods like that are off my radar. And in order to keep them off my radar, I have to show up prepared.
For such family events, I usually try to bring a large lunch, something really hearty that I really enjoy. I get to eat something I love and maybe stuff myself a little, too, which takes away any temptations to indulge in “just a little of this or that.” In addition, I will usually swing by the store and get myself a dessert. The Esselstyn’s allow me Haagen-Dazs Sorbet on occasion, and it’s plenty sweet, cold and creamy enough to satisfy my sugar cravings.
It probably sounds like a lot of trouble just to avoid ONE wrong meal. And it is, really.
However, I know how that horrible foe, Temptation, works. It lies in wait for days, months, years if it has to. It waits for that moment when you’re unprepared, weak, hungry, ready to cave in. And in that moment, it longs to bring all you’ve accomplished to dust, evaporating your resolve, withering your resolutions until there’s nothing left.
That’s why I plan my battles one meal at a time.
How do you plan for temptation in your eating or in your life?