With fork in hand I write this column while eradicating the remains of an Easter carrot cake that, by all accounts, was consumed unaccompanied. Typical hosting etiquette was shed like a Caribbean tan as I served myself first and often over the long weekend.
Carrot cake is my crack cocaine. Left to my own devices, I would have eaten the whole thing in one sitting. Some claim I did. Frankly, I don’t recall — it’s all a bit of a blur.
When the big three hit (turkey, reindeer and bunny), sound defences, which hold firm in peacetime, fold under a barrage of sugar. On occasion, I diverge from accepted protocol and feast on cake prior to the main course. Why maintain a facade when we all know what’s coming?
Under normal circumstance, people wonder in awe at my stoic constitution, forgoing chips, chocolate and snacks without the slightest flinch.
“He must love carrots, it’s all he eats.” Sure, I love carrots — when they’re imbedded in cake! I choose carrots — I avoid cake. Like the alcoholic, there’s no such thing as one drink (or one piece of cake).
I could easily embrace the “foodie” moniker and eat with abandon, but I choose health — with occasional breaks for loading.
According to Wikipedia, a foodie is “a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and who eats food not out of hunger but due to his interest and hobby.”
Sounds right. Hunger didn’t lead me to cake, I was merely engaged in “interest and hobby.” Truthfully, I was “feeding the monkey” — nursing an addiction that could stretch my belt and compromise my health if left unattended.
Somewhere along the line, eating lost its raison d’etre and joined scrapbooking as a recreational activity. Our society accepts, even celebrates, gluttony. Just try to watch one of the many culinary TV challenges without being drawn to the fridge — not because your body requires nourishment, but because it’s there.
Sure, there are some very talented people performing kitchen magic with food. If being a foodie means balancing your body’s need for sound nutrition with your brain’s desire for imagination, then I’m in.
Let’s be honest, the problem isn’t creativity. The problem is content, consumption and frequency. Regular foodie trips to swanky four-star destinations (interspersed with chicken nugget slumming) shouldn’t open the gates to unrestricted consumption. Thirty-dollar poutine is still fries soaked in gravy. Posh calories are still calories.
To some degree, overindulgence has been given a hall pass by well-intended social media groups as self-acceptance and positive body image takes main stage. Without question, these things are very important and necessary, but we can’t lose sight of a broader holistic picture that also includes physical health.
Let’s be honest, being overweight puts a strain on your system. According to new research, you can actually be fat and fit, but not fat and healthy.
Dr. Stamatina Iliodromiti, clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, states: “The higher total body fat or fat around the abdomen, the greater the risk of heart disease and stroke in individuals without existing disease.”
Don’t think that hours on the treadmill will counter poor choices at the dinner table. As comedian Ricky Gervais laments, “Upping my workout time to offset poor eating habits has only led to painful joints.”
Eating is social, fun and comforting, but when overdone, can make you very sick. Managing bodyweight is less about diets and fasting and more about developing a healthy relationship with food. In fact, most people who have been successful at weight loss admit the change came when they started viewing food as an energy source as opposed to a conditioned response to boredom and stress.
Proper weight management is much less complicated than we make it. Don’t get lost counting micronutrients and struggling through crazy fad diets. When weight comes off fast, it returns even faster. Slow and steady wins the race.
If I had to offer one suggestion to help curtail overindulgence, it would be to strictly manage trips to the grocery store. You can’t eat what’s not there. Develop an “anti-list” of guilty pleasures and keep them out of your cart. Whatever you do, never shop on an empty stomach and don’t pretend that “just this once” actually means once.
A healthy kitchen is the first line of defence against an expanding waistline. Control what goes into your cart and you control your weight. If you can ignore the carrot cake, chips and chocolate hiding in your pantry, you’re a better person than I.