Tuesday, April 29, 2014

resolution 5.1

This year I made several New Years resolutions. I've been making these for years and some have worked out better than others. Despite some notable failures, I still think they're valuable exercises.
This one has been working out better than I expected.

From the list: 
Section 5, item 1 (don't you be laughing at my list! I may be more obsessive than others...)
No restaurant desserts

I'll repeat, No Restaurant Desserts.

I love to go out to eat. I love nice restaurants with interesting food. Desserts at restaurants are special treats, complicated confections that most people wouldn't even try to make at home. They are usually huge, with extra garnishes and swirly sauces. They are designed to elicit a decedent, indulgent feeling. Go ahead, you deserve this! 

Over the years, though, as I have tried to decreased the amount of sugar I consume, I've found that fancy desserts look better than they actually taste. I'll make one exception for the ice cream sundae with liberal amounts of Amaretto and Bailey's Irish Cream that I had in VA last summer. It didn't look like much and tasted like heaven.

Another issue with restaurant desserts is that by the time they arrive, I'm usually full. I'd love one or two bites, but that's harder to do than not ordering it at all. Also, those fancy desserts aren't exactly cheap. 

Weighing all those factors: cost, disillusionment, no room in the tummy, and the inevitable guilt over calories, I decided to make the choice ahead of time that 2014 would be a year of just saying "no". (disclaimer - this has nothing to do with my afternoon cookie break.)

How has it worked out? Better than I hoped. 
Why? Because the choice is already made. There's no thinking about it at the moment of ordering dessert, it's already decided. 

The one time I had some temptation was going to dinner with friends to the Cheesecake Factory. Seriously, one doesn't go there for the salads. I knew it might be trouble, so I used one of the tactics I've read about in habit creation. Openly share your challenge and ask your friends for help. On the way to the restaurant, I mentioned my resolution. I put it out there publicly, so I would have three other people watching my back. That really helped me ignore the huge case of cakes they make you walk past on the way to the table.

As you've guessed, it's not really about dessert. It's about mindfulness and simplicity. I finally recognized that stressing over whether or not to order dessert, and feeling full and guilty when I did order dessert were outweighing the joy of actually eating dessert. It's about recognizing that something that is supposed to make people happy, wasn't making me happy. Sitting down to write out "resolutions" is an attempt to give myself some guidelines to adhere to, to free myself from repetitive decision-making. 

By opting out of dessert, I find I'm enjoying my entree choices more. Since I only have to make one food decision, eating at a restaurant is more relaxing. I'm not stressing about dessert or no dessert. I don't feel overstuffed. The bill is lighter. I even have a fall back plan when the rest of the party is ordering dessert. I'll have a cup of herbal tea.

Maybe next year, I'll go back to ordering dessert occasionally, but for now, I'm just taking a break.

plain, humble, home-baked cookie