I’ve never been a fan of dinner parties, but when the president of the college asks you to come to his home, you go. When the invitation arrived in my email, my first thought was not about the conversation, the attire, my schedule, or any of that. It was about the food. It seems silly that food plays such an important role in my life, but it’s not silly at all how dedicated I am to reaching and maintaining my goal weight.
I have turned down several social opportunities in the past year because they involved food. I tend to be very particular about what I eat, and I like to have complete control over how it’s planned, prepared, and portioned. When I do eat out, it’s after having researched the nutrition information made available by restaurants and planned for the meal in my daily schedule.
I need to lighten up. In fact, In my weight maintenance class, one of the activities that we do is called “Dine with a Dietitian,” where the class chooses a restaurant, we all order on our own, and we discuss our selections. It’s an exercise to show us how to eat out. I recognize that I’ll not always be in a position to prepare my own meals. I realize that I can’t always be in control of every small detail. For one meal, one night, I decided to jump in the deep end, not knowing what was on the menu.
In my daily meal plan, I left about 350 calories for the dinner party. I planned for 1 starch exchange, 3 lean proteins, 1-2 vegetables, and 1 fat. When I went to the buffet, I was offered what appeared to be a seasoned, skinless chicken breast. The caterer asked, “Would you like a large piece or a small one?” I asked for a small one. What she put on my plate was in the neighborhood of 2 ounces of meat. Next, I saw hot rolls, which I skipped. Then, there were mixed vegetables. I scooped out around 3/4 cup of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. The next station had red skinned potatoes. I looked further down to see if there was a whole grain option, but I didn’t see one. I took 1/3 – 1/2 cup of potatoes and scooted on down the line. At the salad station, I saw that there were hard boiled egg slices available. To bring my protein up to 3 ounces, I took 3 egg slices. I added mixed greens to my plate, and topped them with some tomatoes. I skipped the dressing. Although my plan included a fat, I was once advised, “When there’s prepared food, there’s generally fat built in. Don’t feel it necessary to add more.” So, I didn’t!
I was relieved when I got to the table, because I was able to fit each of the foods into the exchange system easily. I was able to portion the foods because I have plenty of portioning experience from home. I was able to know which foods to gravitate to, and others to avoid, because of my UAMS nutrition classes. This wasn’t the nightmare I was expecting at all!
Then Came Dessert
So, the president’s wife makes this legendary cheesecake. The question wasn’t whether I wanted a piece, but whether I wanted a piece covered with cherry pie filling or blueberry pie filling. Because I have blueberries most weeks, I opted for cherry. Did I mention that it had a pecan crust? I can only imagine the nutritional profile of this dish. What I can say, with certainty, is that I tasted it. I ate around the edges, made sure to get a cherry, and was able to speak with authority on its pecan crust. I left about 90% of what I was served on my plate, which I covered with a paper napkin.
I SURVIVED! I used all of the skills that I’ve picked up in nutrition class, maintenance class, and in the real world to navigate an unknown food landscape, and I came out in one piece. Even though the dessert wasn’t on the road map, I didn’t eat it. I tasted it. You might even say it was my fat serving 😉
I’m still pretty uptight, but I survived this experience!