On Witches, Wizards and Water

December 18, 2009 in Foodland Chronicles, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Living through the latest holiday party can make me feel like I’m in one of Vic’s fantasy movies (Dr. Grandpa enjoys fantasy literature and movies.) I’m still in shock, with my vulnerability …… my lack of preparedness to eat at this particular restaurant.

Remember the witch in the Wizard of Oz, you know the one that got splashed with water? I’m melting, melting, melting – that one. What on earth can a scene in the Wizard of Oz have to do with nutrition you may ask?

Vic (Doctor Grandpa) and I went to a company holiday party; the party was at the Melting Pot, a very nice Salt Lake City fondue restaurant. It was a first experience for me; not only had I never been to the Melting Pot before, I had never been to a fondue dinner anywhere. The closest thing that I can remember is when fondue was really popular; having a ‘dip’ or two as an appetizer or some ‘dips’ at a dessert bar.

I follow a number of ‘personal rules’ when I go out to eat, as I’m almost always confronted with more calories than I can metabolize in a week. One of the easy ones is that I don’t usually eat an entire piece of bread, especially if I’m also going to eat part of a potato, or other starchy foods. I know it may sound eccentric, but for me personally – it helps me to manage a normal weight. Note: Even with ‘personal rules’ I never seem to experience the rewarding (but mixed) feeling of leaving a restaurant still slightly hungry. I’m not going to give you a big list of my rules here, but just wanted you to know what I meant by ‘personal rules.’

I was, as I’ve said, completely unarmed – no rules were waiting for this situation.  And in looking back, I needed a wizard, a powerful one (not the fraud in the Wizard of Oz) to get through this meal without eating enough calories for me, and several of my good friends.

Just in case you’ve not had this experience I’ll try to describe it for you. The setting: There are built-in hot plates on the table; on each of these a pot is placed – that’s where you dip.  There were two pots going on our table, three on the round tables for most of the evening.

Choices, choices, choices!  Part of the problem for me. I’m an adventuresome eater.  I like to taste flavors and varieties.

The first course was two different cheese fondues, created with a flourish before our eyes from grated cheeses of choice, with flavorful liquids. The resulting flavors of the hot sticky blend were incredible.  I usually don’t eat much cheese or order foods with hard cheeses. [Note to reader: Cheese has more saturated fat than beef fat per ounce – my arteries were trying to get my attention, but failing. At 100 calories per ounce, it’s a food that has blinking caution lights in my brain.] There were bowls of a whole assortment of cubed artisan breads and another bowl of vegetables, and beautiful skewers were ready for the dipping.

I must admit, a little self-talk was going on in my head. O.K. Joyce, so you don’t usually eat cheese, you’re at a lovely event planned by the host company – no need to mention anything about nutrition, especially since it’s too late anyway. Then I was rationalizing; since this is dinner, I can just try not to have as much cheese as I might have of some other protein main course food. So I tried the breads and vegetables. It’s hard to know how much cheese I consumed; it thickly caressed whatever was dipped into it. The taste was exquisite! I was thinking, ‘these vegetables, starch (bread) and cheese (sauce) were a fairly balanced meal. This won’t be so bad. You experienced people are way ahead of me; and you’re right.  That was just the first course, essentially the appetizer, and not the main course.

A wonderful salad of beautiful dark mixed greens and sprinkled with Gorgonzola cheese (yes, more cheese) and a rich red dressing was served next.

The third course used special broths, a different one per pot.  Again, it was mixed with broth, wine, and other ingredients, with a flourish. The wine was burned off. We were next taught how to dunk for the proper time the speared potato, broccoli, and mushrooms first, and then a meat platter was offered, to use the same spears and broth. The large meat platter was served with a lobster tail, prawns, chicken, teriyaki beef, portabella mushroom wedges, and sirloin chunks– they didn’t skimp. Of course, the challenge was to taste everything cooked in each of the two pots. A selection of five or six sauces to go with the meats, fish and vegetables was also served.

Last, two pots of chocolate were served.  One was cleverly designed to look like yin and yang, using an artful arrangement of melting white and dark chocolate. I thought that that pot was so symbolic of the evening. Yin and yang stand for so many contrasting things; but among those things is that yin stands for confusion and turmoil and yang stands for peace and serenity. I felt both emotions that evening; a bit of confusion and turmoil with a meal situation for which I had no ‘personal rules’ and peace and serenity, with the lovely time spent with friends, enjoying the flavors and textures of a delightful meal. A platter of fruit, candy, and cakes were served, to be dipped into the pots of chocolate.

This is not fast food; it took us about 3 ½ hours to gorge ourselves. Like the witch, I felt that my face was somewhat, well green – green around the gills. I had eaten too much.

I want to let you know that I did very well in one aspect of the meal – the beverage. Now you’re really laughing at me, I can feel it. I was proud that there were no calories added from the drink. I celebrate that I had one freebie food that did not add to my caloric intake that evening. Water hurts wicked witches, but the rest of us can do well to stay young with water. Note: This link, in my estimation, is worth taking a minute of your time.

I guess that we can’t always anticipate how to deal with eating situations that we get ourselves into. I did not try every little cake that was on our platter, and I finally (the fourth course) did not finish all that came on our platter. I’m back to my regular weight, but it took me four days; I guess it’s a bit of yin and yang. It was a very enjoyable experience, but I had to pay the price (discomfort that evening.) But by getting right back to some standard deficit eating, I’m back to where I started.

It can be helpful to know, that an over-eating experience doesn’t need to be the end of our resolve to be well nourished and healthy. In all honesty, there was a temporary feeling of, “I’m melting, melting, melting (I’ve failed).” But that has to be ‘snipped in the bud.’ If you allow yourself to think, “I’ve failed and all my efforts are over, so I may as well eat what I want and as much of it and I’ll try again someday;” then we will likely have horrible difficulties maintaining a healthy weight. Instead, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again (with the very next meal).

The more we know, the safer we can keep our eating experiences. I’m better prepared to the next time I’m at the Melting Pot or some other witch’s brew. I’m now prepared to make some ‘personal rules’ for that type of experience, which will make it a little safer for me.

'Personal rules' can be a gift to ourselves.

'Personal rules' can be a gift to ourselves.