The Death of a Love Affair

dessert1As a child, I loved buffets on vacation. We dined out quite a bit as a family all year round, but on vacation, buffets were an easy route, especially when we were little.

The variety, the excitement of the never-ending plates … it was just heaven in my mind, whether aged six or sixteen.

But as I’ve gotten older, my love affair with buffets waned significantly.

I’m way more health-conscious and I don’t eat most of the foods on display at breakfast buffets. Or if I do, I modify them at home: I make frozen waffles, not Belgian waffles; I make eggs, but not dripping in butter and cheese; I eat turkey bacon, not bacon and sausage. Even at fancy buffets, I usually don’t find a ton I want to eat.

And even pre-WW and pre-disordered eating, I never liked my meats drenched in sauces or my salads swimming in oil, so dinner buffets were usually disappointing, too.

There’s only one kind of buffet with which my love affair hasn’t died no matter my age or size … dessert buffets.

I think I was born with one tooth: a sweet tooth. Put fried or salty treats in front of me and I can easily turn myself away. But sweets? Sighso much tougher!

Even in the depths of my disordered eating, I still loved filling my plate(s), taking little bites of everything, and so dessert bars were heaven for me: all the fruit fillings to pick out from pie; all frosting to scrape off from cake; all the chips to nibble out of cookies; all the chewy brownies to break apart.

Sense a trend here?

Though it’s rude and gross and I shouldn’t (especially in the company of others), I could basically put a ton on my plate and mutilate the crap out of what I chose. Looking back, I’m embarassed that I ever did that, whether alone or (worse!) in a social setting.

However, it seems my love affair died a quick death yesterday, completely unexpectedly.

Backing up, we hosted our work event Tuesday night at the Radisson here, downtown. By mistake, they didn’t give us the dessert bar we were supposed to have (no worries — there were mountains of food for our guests and enough leftovers to feed 20 people — but we couldn’t give it away to anyone by law :().

Anyway, as event planner, I contacted the catering manager of the hotel once I realized the mistake. But by that point, the party was winding down, and no one had even touched the fruit platter (but me).

So I told her what had happened, and she apologized profusely and told me they’d adjust the per-head price. Sweet, right, case closed?

Not so much.

Yesterday around 2, I got a call to come downstairs to our lobby, and there was the catering manager with a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge tray of desserts, and a huge smile on her face.

She had given us a tray of literally every insanely delicious (bite-sized) thing I could imagine: carrot cake (my fave), mousse cups, cheesecake, huge (genetically-engineered?!) chocolate-covered strawberries, fudge, truffles, tortes, fruit tartes.

It was seriously stunning, and the chefs had prepared it especially for our agency, to make up for the previous night’s “oops.” She also wrote a beautiful note apologizing once again.

(I was definitely touched; that kind of customer service is so tell-tale of a city like Kalamazoo; makes me really appreciate being here).

Anyway, I put the tray on the 1950s’-style soda fountain (where our 24/7 agency supply of locally-made ice cream and hot fudge is located — yes I work in a kick-ass place) and asked our receptionist to send out an e-mail to staff, letting them go to town.

(If you say “beer” or “treats” in an advertising agency, it takes mere seconds for people to come clamoring up or down the stairs).

I’ll be honest. Before I heard my colleagues coming, I stared at everything for a good minute or so, totally ready to go in for the kill and bring a bunch of treats to my desk to mutilate to my liking, bites here, licks there.

But I remembered how calm I’ve been feeling, and the goal I have in mind. And that trumped anything else.

So instead of joining the feeding frenzy, I took one choc covered strawberry and one small truffle up to my desk and they’re here if/when I want them.

Before, if someone had placed a plate of desserts for me, I’d have picked through each one I’d take, had a bite of each, eaten icing off each … ruined them, mutilated them, maybe chewed/spit a crapload at my desk.

But this time? No. I didn’t need to, didn’t want to. I respected the food as it was, in its intended form: a treat for everyone.

In a way, I feel like this was the ultimate test of willpower, yet willpower isn’t what guided my choice. It was my own determination to take a tiny step to reach a goal, and that means making “virtuous” choices when I can — and enjoying treats on occasion, too.

Life’s meat to be lived. Had I taken nothing from this gorgeous display, I might have felt deprived, cheated even.

So knowing that, I took two things I really like, and even if I ate both, it would still be well-within my comfort zone for the day’s intake. And if I don’t eat them, I didn’t waste a ton of mutilated food.

The beauty is, instead of impulse guiding me, I’m thinking like Monica and using her 20-second rule.

And it feels pretty damn amazing.

Again, I don’t know how long this high will last, but I’m riding it out.

How about you? Is there one dessert or treat you just can’t say no to? What foods (sweet or salty) can you easily pass up?

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8 thoughts on “The Death of a Love Affair

  1. I’ve re-acquainted myself with the joys of baking cookies for other people. Yes, I can have one during the process, and that is a wonderful experience, but the rest are for others, for friends and family. And I *love* that I can let myself enjoy that ONE cookie and that I can share with others.

  2. That’s awesome, Kristina! I will be baking cookies this weekend for a party and I am looking forward to everyone enjoying them — and me enjoying one too!

  3. That is SO great, Melissa! It must have felt really liberating to have those desserts right by your side and have CONTROL over eating them. I am going to try her 20 second rule, too. I really like that idea.

    We are so similar! It is SO easy for me to pass up on salty foods – chips, fries, pizza…I will have a bite or two, but I don’t need my own plate.

    Now SWEETS? I have a weakness for cookies, cake, ice cream…pretty much anything sweet. For some reason (I think embarrassment and the idea that I don’t feel comfortable eating those things in front of people all the time), I have an easier time with turning them down at parties in public rather than by myself…

  4. Thanks, Holly!! It sure did feel liberating!!

    I am with you; I don’t like to eat those things at parties but really we’d be better off eating them in front of others than mutilating or eating them aloe!

  5. Great job!
    I am the same way with dessert buffets. They are my total weakness and so many times in my life I have piled up my plate with the intention of taking a few bites of each and then discarding the rest (which is wasteful) but on many occasions I actually wound up eating the entire plate and then of course would feel totally sick and guilty. In the last few months I have encountered a few dessert buffets where I was able to take 1 or 2 little things that looked best to me and be DONE. It was such a great feeling.

  6. Love that feeling, Lara!! It’s inspiring to be able to eat something and savor it!!! No guilt attached. No secretiveness attached.

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