The Fallacy of Abundance

Too many of us believe that tucking into a large plate equals abundance. Many believe that feeling stuffed at the end of a meal means that our hunger has been satiated–because in America, a heaping plate makes for a good meal. Go to any Las Vegas buffet, grab a tray on the all-you-can eat line, and you’ll see a scramble for sub-par food: greasy chicken wings, stale bread, hardening rice, slop-like sauces,and muddy looking desserts. There’s no end to a meal at a Las Vegas buffet, just as there’s no end to any meal in America. And that’s the problem. Big plates and snacking have replaced sitting down to table, picking up a fork, knife, and spoon, and connecting with a friend over a tasty meal and conversation.

Back in the 1970s, lunch hour really meant taking an hour for lunch. Today you’re lucky if you get fifteen minutes. And if you do occasionally take a longer lunch, it’s rare to find a friend who can join you at table. So what do most Americans do for lunch? They grab something to go, or buy a microwavable item, and scarf down at the desk. An hour later, hungry for something other than food–say a conversation or a nap–the worker bee turns to sugar-loaded junk food. After all, the office kitchen is overflowing with a never-ending┬áseries of birthday cakes, chocolate chip cookies, and other celebration foods that no longer feel very celebratory. Boredom, loneliness, and fatigue join up for a temporary party in the office kitchen. It’s a sad state of affairs. So what should the post-millennial worker do to stave off obesity?

Take a hike. At lunch, take your 15 minutes for a walk. Take another 15 minutes to eat a salad–away from the desk–with a friend or colleague. Talk about something other than work. Laugh a little. And don’t head for the office kitchen when sugary snacks sweat on the counter. Say no to eating between meals. If you have the urge to get up from your desk, visit a friend. Don’t eat until you’re back home. And if you’re sitting in a restaurant that serves heaping plates the size of platters, save your wallet and share. And finally, remember: abundance isn’t always about how much you pack into your stomach.

Baby Steps

Getting into shape doesn’t mean you have to abandon life’s comforts. In fact, over time, fitness and good nutrition provide the active person with more comfort and relaxation–not less. With this in mind, begin to change your habits by defining what you’d like to change.

To begin, determine your long-term goal. For instance, in the next year you would like to: cut out sugar, lose twenty pounds, start jogging every other morning, grow your own vegetables, etc. etc. Write these large goals down.

Now get more specific. Pull out one of your goals, and decide which one you will focus on today and the next day. If you’re really ambitious, commit to the rest of the week. By chunking down your long-term goal, you are giving yourself a realistic game plan.

So, let’s say you decide to tackle the goal of cutting out sugar. After you’ve written down today’s date and the goal for the day, take action. To break the habit of pouring a packet of sugar into your frappuccino or of munching on M&Ms at work, provide yourself with an alternative. Bring some Baby Carrots to the desk. Fill a thermos with coffee and milk. Avoid the sugar bowl at every junction. Don’t go near the M&Ms. If you can get through a single day without sugar, reward yourself with a $1–which will be put towards a new outfit or a vacation you’ve never been able to afford because you’ve spent so much on frappuccinos.

When the urge to down sugar becomes too great, distract yourself. Go for a short walk, or listen to a song you love. Getting some fresh air is an excellent way to overcome craving, but if these tricks don’t work, call someone dear to you and tell them you love them. Do whatever you need to do to rid yourself of this craving. If you can get through day one, then you can get through day two. There’s no end to your strength!

To be continued!