I recently spent a few days with a group of dear, old friends and could not help but notice the role that food played in our time together. As we sat around reminiscing about good times and catching each other up on our lives, we were surrounded by food. Yes, there was plenty of fresh fruit, but there were also candies and baked goods. The hostess is a superb care-taker (physically and emotionally) and made sure we wanted for nothing. Additionally, one of my friends brought some fudge that was to die for.
Maybe because we did mostly hanging out, as opposed to going out, food was our constant companion. We ate a formal breakfast and dinner—that is, we gathered at the table for a period of time—but otherwise we sat around in the kitchen or on the back porch off the kitchen. Nothing about this circumstance would have been the least bit remarkable if a good deal of discussion wasn’t about eating and weight, specifically dissatisfaction about pounds put on and how difficult it is to take it off.
The irony of the situation seemed to strike no one but me. There we were nestled into the lap of temptation which made it very hard to avoid eating mindlessly. My guess is this happens in most social situations where food is actually too available, literally too close for comfort. I highly doubt that my friends would have kept picking at the treats and goodies in front of them had they not been within arm’s reach. It’s one thing to grab a piece of crumb cake and another to have to get up and go to the refrigerator and open the box to cut yourself a slice.
My point is that no food should be off limits if you are truly hungry and genuinely crave it, but as hosts and guests, we need to be wary of situations in which it’s ever so easy to eat mindlessly, especially if we’re concerned about getting or staying fit and healthy. We must remember that a good hostess takes care of guests by making them feel at home and cared for, but not necessarily by food. As a guest, we need to know we can speak up and ask for food to be put away, to take a break from being around it, or to ask to move socializing into another room away from it.
Even as a “normal” eater, you may find it all too easy to pick at food when it’s in your face. This is even more true when other people continue to snack and you get caught up in the action. Socializing should not mean eating. You can put away food and still have conversation and a good time. Try making the effort to separate eating from socializing and see if there’s a difference in your relationship to food—and to friends!
Visit the message board exclusively devoted to my new book, The Food and Feelings Workbook, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings.
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