Friday, March 12, 2010

Watching What Other People Eat

One of the people on the Leaving 190-ville team (SparkPeople) likes the quote at the bottom of my messages: "The toughest part of a diet isn't watching what you eat. It's watching what other people eat." I don't remember where I stole that from, but it's certainly true!

Once you're under 200 pounds, you start to approach the 'normal' range of weight (or, in many guys' cases, the 'fit' range). You can buy clothes in 'regular' stores. You may be able to give up the seat belt extender in airplanes. Your endurance increases. Your feet hurt less. Blood pressure drops. Diabetes becomes easier to control.

Then, you start trying to eat like 'normal' people too, and the days of salads and sugar-free tea go out the window. You're still trying to reach a lower weight, or are trying to eat a 'maintenance' diet, but everyone else is enjoying themselves!

You and your friends go out for pizza, and you know you better not have more than 2 pieces, preferably cheese or veggie. Your friends are going to eat at least half a pizza each. You have Sunday dinner with the family, and Mom brings out the bread and butter. While you indulge in one piece with a 'naughty' amount of low-fat oleo, everyone else is slathering the butter on and demolishing the loaf. When you visit IHOP, you mentally calculate how many calories you'll have in your other meals for the day before you order (suggestion: make this brunch and only have ONE other meal that day). At the tables around you, people are having all-you-can-eat pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hash browns. The kids' soccer team goes to DQ for a post-game treat. They order Blizzards while you have a vanilla cone or a small sundae.

And, of course, all of these foods are being washed down with gallons of sweet, delicious, evil pop. You're still trying to convince your liver that water isn't bad for it (at least I am).

Often, I can just look at these people's butts to remember that I am not the one eating the wrong amount of food. One time at IHOP, my spouse speculated that a man at a nearby table would be lucky to see his son reach adulthood. My skinnier co-workers may indulge in pizza or donuts occasionally, but I know what Spartan lives they normally lead. It sure doesn't feel that way when we're eating treats together, though! You feel like the odd person out, the one who can't do what normal people do.

I'm not surprised some dieters become food Nazis with their families and friends. It's got to drive them nuts, seeing everyone else having all the fun. Eating 'regular' foods with your family (or going to 'regular' restaurants) is also more challenging than having a fridge that ONLY contains skim milk, spinach, and skinless breast of chicken. It'd be so much easier if everyone else ate the same things you did.

I'm still trying to find that balance without going medieval on everyone else. Often, I just take smaller portions or cut out one of the sides. I split entrees with my wife or order the Happy Meal at McDonald's. It may appear abnormal, but, trust me, it's not.

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