Hattiesburg American Column: 11/16/2010

Here’s my column that appears today in the Hattiesburg American:

I started a diet over the summer when Robert St. John said in his column that he was going on a diet. I quit my diet a few days ago over a platter of fried green tomatoes at the Crescent City Grill. Quit might actually be a strong word, though, since I haven’t given up on the idea per se. I’ve just deferred any real effort until after Christmas.

As I see it, the next few weeks will be nothing short of a calorie/carb/fat obstacle course.

Food is comfort, and skinny is self-esteem, but holiday pies are a social contract. You can’t decide you aren’t going to eat them without a note from your doctor, and even then someone will say, “Just have a small piece.”

Mississippi is, after all, the most obese state in the country. Every day here requires real vigilance if you want to diet. There’s that certain time of year, however, that requires super-duper extra-hyper vigilance. It starts with the first bucket of Halloween candy and doesn’t even start to let up until Mardi Gras. This is the time of year when spinach dip starts looking like health food.

That season is here, and I have a survival strategy.

I read the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano, and I think I get it. One, eat teeny portions. Two, pay penance after. Guiliano talks about eating the finest chocolates in the smallest portions and paying penance after by eating leek soup to reset the metabolism and balance out the calories.

She presents a few other foreign concepts like the leisurely enjoyment of eating, the leisurely enjoyment of walking, and the leisurely enjoyment of being watched looking good. None of that suits my current lifestyle, so I’m just going with portion control and penance.

My new holiday motto is “Put one brownie on your plate at a time, and don’t eat it all at once.” If I can just pace myself with nibbles, maybe I can keep up with how many calories a single office party costs. That way, I know whether I can afford one celery stick or two the next day.

Failing that, maybe I’ll just enjoy the holidays and save up all of my penance for January.

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