Weighty Dinner Conversations
I find it ironic yet not surprising that people end up talking about dieting around the dinner table. These conversations are particularly common during the holidays. As a culture we’re obsessed with food and weight. We love to eat but fear being fat. We’re fed mixed messages constantly; ‘eat more but lose weight’; ‘indulge but eat that and you’re one step closer to the grave’; ‘comfort yourself with food but whatever you do, don’t get fat’. It’s endless!
Food and dieting are big business. Recipes and pictures of decadent foods lie next to articles about how to shed holiday pounds or ads for the latest weight loss supplement. Weight Watcher’s and Jenny Craig are located within feet of chain restaurants offering enormous portions and all-you-can-eat buffets. We’re subjected to these ambiguous messages all the time and as much as we may think we’re immune to them, repetition leads to retention.
Conversations about weight and dieting take away from the enjoyment of eating. I recall returning from a trip to Italy where I had thoroughly enjoyed every meal without mention of a calorie or need to repent for one (it was truly a vacation!) only to be bombarded with statistics on obesity and diet ads before I even left the airport. I was disheartened. Then I saw Dunkin Donuts and got a whiff of clam chowder and thought, “maybe I need a treat!”. I’m exaggerating a little but you get the point! It’s hard to be tempted by food all the time and told you’re not allowed to have it.
In reference to holiday eating Ellyn Satter, LICSW, RD says “if you give yourself permission to eat, you can give yourself permission to stop”.
So here’s some food for thought. Did you overhear discussions of dieting or weight over the dinner table this holiday season? Did you take part? Either way, how did they make you feel? Did you notice yourself eating more or less?