Thursday, April 03, 2008

Memorable moments of foodie bliss

As you already know, I am currently reading 'Weight Loss for Food Lovers'. It is written by a psychiatrist and it is probably not surprising that there is a lot to think about. In my opinion, this book fits right into that gaping hole which should be full of books that delve into the psychology of fatloss. Everyone knows what to do to lose weight. If you are fat, you can go into a bookshop and find approximately 50 million books that go into great detail about what to eat and how to move in order to become a sleek diva or buff greek god. And yet, most people still fail at losing fat permenantly. Clearly there is more to it than following a set of rules. Our body may process calories in a more or less predictable manner, but we are not machines. We are emotional and contrary humans, and eating is not like filling your car with petrol. Eating is our most primal urge, complicated with all sorts of emotional links with pleasuralbe situations. You can't just switch off the emotional connection, and what I like about this book is that you are encouraged to embrace, rather than reject, the foods that you most love (and he does liken the attachment to real love).

I'm not quite finished reading the book yet, but already I had one of those 'ah ha' moments - and I don't know why it hadn't really occurred to me before. the concept is 'high sacrifice foods' vs. 'low sacrifice foods'. When you think about your favourite treat foods and concentrate on the ones that really spin your wheels, there are probably not that many of them. Those are your 'high sacrifice foods' - the ones that produce a small moment of heaven when you eat them and that you would miss and pine for if you thought you could never have them again. Those are the ones that you should retain in your diet at some level. The rest (medium to low sacrifice foods) can be replaced with something more healthful. So, I made a list of foods that I really do love. It's quite small and elite and contains a few things like really good chocolate mud cake, nice wine and a superior ham and cheese panini. Then I did an interesting experiment. I thought back through my entire life to this point to see what meals I had eaten that were a memorable experience. Here they are. Out of the thousands of meals I have eaten in my life, these are the ones I remember as great:

* Cheesy potatoes when I was about 7. It was the first thing I learned to cook for myself.
* Mud cake at Valentinos three weeks ago. It was perfectly groan inducing (in a good way).
* Ham and cheese panino in Menaggio on the shores of Lake Como. It was simple and heavenly.
* Sangria Cava on La Rambla, Barcelona (wheee! that night got a bit wild!)
* Wonderful, crunchy apples and unbelievably juicy plums right off the tree in my Grandmothers orchard
* Pasta and red wine in an old monastery underground wine cellar in Certaldo, Tuscany
* A relaxing outdoor lobster dinner on the beach in Fiji. Candlight only.

That's really not many and most of them are memorable not just because the food (or drink) was great but because the food enhanced the experience. Maybe you can't create that perfect marriage of atmosphere and fabulous food every day, but I'm sure I can improve on my memorable meals average. I'd be interested to hear about your memorable eating experiences. and in the meantime I will get back to navel gazing about my lifelong emotional, and often turbulent, relationship with food. I'll be sure to report on any flashes of enlightenment! ;)


  1. Ooh - memorable meals....I have a few, will ponder on it and blog it when I get back.

    And no, (obviously) I haven't gone yet.

  2. Ohh yum! Now you've got me thinking about some of my own similarly delicious Italian eating experiences!

    Have you read the Beck Diet Solution? It fills an even larger proportion of that gaping whole in our knowledge about the psychology of dieting and overeating.

    Just this afternoon I was talking to someone who was using the type of "logic" that leads most of us to eat too much at one time or another:
    "I've had one slice of cake now and I wasn't meant to so I may as well try the other 2 cakes too".

    Fascinating, the human brain!

  3. I agree. I do think that falling face down in mudcake has it's place but it has to be a choice, not a thing that happens every time you nibble the corner of one! I'm almost there with it, but I have to limit myself to one wine. Two wines and I am no longer capable of walking away from the block of chocolate. It's a very interesting area and I think most people who are losing fat are very screwed up about food! It should not be such a big deal, but it is and we have to relearn the basics of feeding ourselves properly.


I love to hear from you! Tell me what's in your brain, your heart or your dinner plate :D.