Do you like to hustle? Unfortunately, I do, and it’s unfortunate because hardly anybody else (yourself included, no doubt), does! Which made it very difficult for me—a few years back when I occupied my Saturday evenings twirling and chasséeing around the dance floor—to find a suitable dance partner for the rare hustle remix the dj played at the dance community’s weekly balls.
While I managed to pacify my terpsichorean longings with salsa, waltz, and the occasional jive, I spent a fair amount of time saving my feet for that elusive hustle song. And it was during the brief sabbaticals between dances that I encountered a major impediment to my enjoyment of those ballroom dances—complimentary and virtually unlimited nibbles.
I have pointed out in previous posts (and you may have noticed) that food is to be found everywhere at all times, and the Asheville Ballroom was no exception. For a mere $10, you could dance all night in a basketball court turned dance studio and peruse the finger food buffet, continuously restocked with only the best from Sam’s Club.
In my younger years, this might have been the bomb—I mean, dancing AND all the walnut chocolate chip cookies I can eat? What could be better? Then I began learning about nutrient-dense eating and the dangers of sugar, salt, oil, flour, cheese, and meat—that’s when having unlimited access to bad food became less and less appealing. Unfortunately, despite my good intentions, I lacked the psychological and behavioral skills necessary for healthy eating, and every Saturday night I’d find myself in a push-me-pull-me in which my underutilized superego (You really shouldn’t...) inevitably lost out to a spoiled rotten id (Yea but I’m gonna anyway!). If the internal tug-of-war wasn’t enough, on the occasion that I threw in the towel early, I ended up eating a lot of junk, felt bad about myself the next day, and suffered strong cravings for more bad stuff, which often lead to even more bad food and the inevitable, “What the hell?! I’ll start fresh on Monday,” syndrome.
Boy, I sure wish I had known then what I know now about handling compulsive eating, especially in a buffet-type scenario. What would I do differently were I to encounter a similar appetizer/dessert bar? Well, first I’d make sure my belly was full of goodness—like a pile of steamed veggies and tofu or a big bowl of vegetable bean soup. Depending on the situation, I might even take my meal to the event—that way much of my time is occupied with my food and not their food. Next I’d make a plan for the buffet. The ballroom dances went from 7 p.m. to about 10, so I would plan to hold off even viewing the spread until say, 8:30. At the magic hour—assuming no hustle or jive was happening—I’d first survey the offerings, then choose a couple that really tickled my fancy, put them on a plate, and return to my seat before slowly savoring each bite between dances. If I wanted more upon finishing, I’d repeat the process.
Try it for yourself
Your next reception or baby shower doesn’t have to interfere with your enjoyment or result in several days ridden with guilt and cravings. Instead of hoping for the best, employ these strategies:
Eat a vegetable-rich meal before you go.
Time your treats. If you the event goes from 2-4 p.m., wait until at least 3:00 to eat anything. Also, you’ll make it much easier on yourself if you don’t even look at the buffet table until then.
When it’s your time to eat, choose judiciously. Survey the goods and pick a couple that particularly appeal to you.
Put your two treats on a plate (no grazing at the trough), and sit down to savor them slowly.