Diets, Restaurants and Friends

When on a diet, it is wise to go out to restaurants less frequently, because you won’t always know the number of calories in everything you will be served, especially the secret sauces. But whom do you usually meet at the restaurants? Your friends, is the most likely answer. So if you cut back on restaurants, you might end up with too much free space on your social calendar. I find this unacceptable. I always want to have time to see my friends.

Realizing that I could not justifiably boycott dinner plans with friends, I decided to always have a backup plan. The reasoning behind this is that I wouldn’t always know what restaurant we would eventually choose. My backup plan was to order the least complicated salad, with the dressing on the side. This allowed me to keep control over my calorie intake and see my friends as well.

I did not always believe that I could control my hunger when I frequented many different restaurants. Seven or eight years ago, I was very frustrated with myself over my failing diets. I felt like I needed to keep myself under control 24/7. When a friend would suggest that we meet up somewhere to grab a bite, I felt my control starting to slip. I would make up excuses like, “Oh, I just ate dinner,” or I would pretend that I had committed myself to a different dinner that night.

I even started to worry that friends might unexpectedly call me up for dinner on any given night. When my phone rang, I tended to let the answering machine pick it up as I listened to the caller leave a message. Suddenly, I didn’t want to talk to my friends. What if they wanted to buy me dinner…Oh my, what a crime! I always had my standard excuses ready to tell my friends. It is interesting to note that these excuses are made because we don’t want to eat. These are different than the excuses we make to explain why we ate something. Here are some of the excuses I use when I don’t want to take in extra calories:

· I’m having a medical procedure tomorrow and I can’t eat anything after 3:00 p.m.

· I just learned that I’m very close to becoming diabetic, and I’m on a very strict diet.

· I’m just so full right now, but I can take some home with me (then give it to a homeless person).

· Pretending to throw up in the bathroom (make sure someone hears you), and pretending to clean it up.

· Hiding some of the food where they might not find it (the oven, on top of the fridge). This way they don’t realize how much food they actually have left.

I think most of my friends knew what was going on inside my head. They didn’t call me on it. I’m sure they recognized that I was going through some pretty hard times, and luckily, I outgrew that phase.

When I ate with my friends at various restaurants, I noticed some recurring themes in the advice they offered. Almost all of my friends were very surprised to find that I was eating so little. They would say things like, “Johnny, you’re a big guy. You have to eat more than that,” or “You’re not really fat, you’re just a big, husky guy.” To that I would say, “Oh yeah, you’ve never seen me naked.” Sometimes that would draw laughter, other times silence.

These were times I had to reconcile what my friends were saying with the sanctity of my diet. I felt I had to take a side. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that most of my friends were just trying to make me feel better and save me from the misery of my diet. They really did like me just the way I was. The problem was that I didn’t. I knew I had to hold my ground and order that Caesar’s salad instead of that juicy steak nine out of ten times. Somewhere in this phase of my life, I learned how little I would have to eat, or how much I would have to exercise each day to lose weight. From that point on, it was up to me to perform.

Losing weight is an arduous battle that takes some time to accomplish. We can have our friends and our restaurants at the same time if we are willing to modify our thinking just a little. We all have habits we will need to change, patterns we will need to break, and emotions we will need to quell.

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