Enough on the plate

Food for Thought

Enough on the plate

Once when we went out to eat, I refused dessert. My daughter ordered an ice cream, but she couldn’t eat more than a fourth of it. I polished off the rest in record time. Watching me devour it, she asked me why I didn’t order some for myself. I looked at her with ice cream on my lips and compassion in my heart. “You don’t understand,” I said, “I’m dieting.”

I know many of you must be scratching your heads in puzzlement. How could I eat the ice cream, but still be on a diet? Simple: I didn’t order it for myself. If I ate off others’ plates, it didn’t matter.

Yes, dieting doesn’t just change the contours of your body, but also the workings of your brain. So if you plan to take it up, be prepared for certain changes in key cognitive processes.

It starts off with disbelief. It is very hard for a person to understand that he should actually deprive himself, when there is so much to eat and so little time.

This was the case with an older obese woman who was told by her doctor to go on a strict diet. He told her she should eat two chapattis at each meal. This was someone who took rice-eating very seriously, so her sons were stunned when she readily agreed. She asked the doctor only one question: “Do I have to eat the chapattis before or after my meal?”
If you don’t understand the disbelief, let me put it thus. Eating is, after all, one of the primary functions of a living being. It is not only an essential part of our physiology, but also our daily schedule. Therefore, dieting disturbs a normal itinerary. What do I do at meal times if I’m not supposed to eat? I know, people will tell me to take a walk. Well, a walk is going to take me past a hotel, any hotel. I may avoid one, two, maybe even three hotels, but the fourth... well, I’m going in, I tell ya.

For, wherever you go, you see eateries, be they roadside chaat stalls, the ubiquitous Indira Bhavans, or the swank speciality cuisine joints. Have you ever wondered what will happen if we don’t support them? If the whole nation goes on a diet, won’t all these places go out of business? Where will those poor workers go? Therefore, dieting is detrimental to the nation’s economy. This will be any conscientious person’s thought, and all large people are extremely conscientious. We may end up toting more weight, but no one will be able to accuse us of ruining the country’s economy.

Dieting also goes against our upbringing. Ask any middle-aged person, and s/he will tell you that, in their youth, they were told to eat what was available, and make sure to clean their plates. Well, at those times, special dishes like holige and laddu were available only at weddings and during festivals. Now you get them anywhere and at any time. Therefore, we are still eating what is available, and cleaning our plates... is it our fault that a lot more is available and finds its way to our plates?

Once you begin dieting, your reasoning powers become somewhat different... well, maybe a little convoluted. As I said at the beginning, if you didn’t ask for it, it will not add to your weight. I’ve personally had many a ‘light’ meal off of someone else’s plate. That is why a reluctant dieter loves company at meals, while a strict dieter is the grumpy loner noisily crunching his way through raw veggies in the corner.

Also, only a dieter will understand what a balanced diet truly is — one cookie in each hand.
In the end, dieting helps us understand that everything in this world is truly relative. After seeing even abstemious people suffer from a laundry list of diseases, we comprehend one thing. Even if we diet, exercise well, and do everything right, we may not live to eternity. It will only seem like it.

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