From 2003 to 2004 I worked very hard to achieve a 15-pound weightloss. It was a long and expensive experience and was much harder than I expected (details here). I feel proud to be maintaining the weightloss, which I do with daily exercise and a relentless vigilance to calories, but I'm aware of a vague panic at the back of my mind that keeps me fearful: if I don't exercise each and every day or if I don't constantly resist my desire for snacktime or if I drink anything besides water, I fear I'll blob out immediately. It's not a secure way to live.
Today I notice an article that Mo Pie has linked on her blog Big Fat Deal that shows me another way to live, a way to enjoy food without the fear of sudden blobitude. It explores how French women eat a much richer, fattier diet than English or American women, but stay much slimmer. "Let Them Eat Cake," in the U.K.'s Guardian Limited, describes how French culture treats food completely differently from how we do in the U.S. and in England. Basically, French people are slimmer than we are because, while they eat richer foods, they eat less of them. The French treat meals as small events, worth sitting down for and spending time on. Mealtime for them is a social time to be enjoyed and a sensory treat to be savored slowly. They pay great attention to their food, chew it with relish, rest their fork between bites and as a result consume less food and calories.
I guess as long as American society keeps moving faster and faster, keeping mealtimes short or non-existent, and shoving food into our mouths as we walk/type/watch tv, we're going to be fat. Sometimes I can be satisfied with much less chocolate if I eat it slowly and give it my full attention, but even as I type "full attention" I can feel how foreign the concept is of giving a mouthful my full attention. No one stops everything to give a meal their full attention in the United States; to us it would seem like an unforgivable waste of time.
I've decided I'm going to start paying more attention. It will be a challenge with my new restaurant job, but an excellent practice to put in place to keep me from the weightgain that restaurant jobs often include. I am going to make a point of sitting down each time I eat, focusing on each mouthful and really paying attention to what's in my mouth. I will turn off the tv and put down the paper. No more eating while walking or while talking on the phone. I will make real time for real food (I'm embarassed to have ever considered energy bars as food). From now on, I will strive be more "French," enjoying food more and eating less.