While some would caution us (with good intentions) not to place too much emphasis on the way food makes us feel, it’s undeniable that food does affect our mood.
Whether it’s the smell of fresh-baked cookies, fresh from the oven, the feel of bread dough as we knead it into rolls or loafs or braids, or the snap of fresh green beans before they hit the colander for rinsing, the use of our other 4 senses when cooking and eating are indispensable when it comes to the total food experience.
There are the phrases “eat to live” and “live to eat.” The first one is for folks who look at food as a tool: fuel for daily tasks. It has to serve its purpose and nothing else. The second is for the rest of us who really enjoy our food. Sometimes that leads to over-indulging, but I think there’s a middle ground.
Part of that middle ground is found by examining the quality of what we eat in relation to the quantity of it.
Recently we attended a friends birthday dinner and it was asked of all who wanted a second slice of cake. It was very good cake, and the first serving was definitely on the conservative side.
While a part of me, the inner child if you will, wanted another, larger, frosting-overloaded piece of cake, another part of me (and, thankfully, the part that had control over my actions at the time) demurred. Why? Because one slice was enough.
Now, some would call this willpower. I am actually rather infamous for my lack thereof. Some would also call this self-deprivation. But I call it good sense. By appreciating the piece of cake I’d already had (following a delicious meal of lobster ravioli and a nice tall cocktail–see what I mean about the willpower?) I stopped myself from almost-certain indigestion and regret.
We’ve all been there, right? The oh-I-can’t-believe-I-ate-so-much moment after a large meal. The feeling of leaden limbs, the desire for a nap, the mushy-headed-ness of overdoing it. The hangover if it was a case of one-more-drink-won’t-hurt, last night.
What’s the secret, then, to avoiding overindulgence?
There isn’t one. Not really.
It’s just a matter of being aware of what we’re doing, eating and drinking. Of knowing how much really is enough. And enjoying it.
There’s some sort of major sporting even coming up this weekend, I’m told Many may be invited to parties. Those parties may feature tables laden with heavy, fatty foods. Buckets of beer. You know the drill.
And I’m not going to preach small plates or counting calories, I’m just going to suggest that, if you want to avoid the calling-in-food-sick on Monday morning thing (when everyone knows that you really just partied too much), you think about each trip to the buffet or each scoop of 7-layer-dip you take. Notice the texture, flavor and enjoyment it gives and take a moment, a fraction of a second even, to appreciate it before going back to for another. And maybe realize it’s enough.
While I go set my DVR for the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.