Wed, Oct. 16

What makes it easy to overeat?

Well, there are plenty of occasions when you might feel the urge to eat. Oftentimes, we even do not think why it is now and here we want to eat anything within the perimeter of our eyes (or in the fridge). It can be the stress. It can be that we are tired after a long work day and walk into the kitchen, ready to indulge. It can be that we are at a wrong place at a wrong time: the so-called situational eating or indulging.

I will develop slightly more on this last reason for overeating, giving you, as an example... the serene and relaxed place of a cruise ship. Ouch! Over the last 20 years or so, I have been cruising extensively and, to be honest, I like it less and less. I love the fact that the ship can get me to a brand new destination daily, without packing and unpacking my hat boxes... However, the industry has become quite a mass production, both in terms of customer service and the food they are serving (and I am cruising with quite reputable lines). As I recently took to the seas during the school break, I kept witnessing a full-frontal assault on the buffet service: daily and 24/24. People who, seemingly, just had their lunch were coming back for the seconds and then, for the "High Tea at Seas", meaning cookies and pastries and cakes and then, maybe, some tea or coffee. That was coming your way some 2-3 hours before your full-course dinner, which, on its turn, was followed by various activities, such as "Chocolate Extravaganza".

Personally, I have a habit of sticking to my nutritional plan no matter where I am, but, to be honest, the moment I wanted to venture behind plain boiled eggs, raw broccoli, tomatoes and bananas, I kept running into nitrates and nitrites and worse. (I should not have mentioned the bananas: if I was lucky, there were whole banana fruits available for me, but on some days, we had sliced bananas, conveniently floating in... some sugary orange juice, nothing to consider if you want to stay on the healthy side. Most of the food items seemed to be modified by the humans the wrong way: either by adding salt or sugar, or maybe lots of fat).

Scanning the buffer for any lean proteins, I detected some, but again, they came, well, with problems... Beans were canned beans, and canned is not good for us. If they were prepared from scratch, they were floating in some suspiciously thick-looking sauce, guaranteed. Same with the meats: even a piece of any meat ending in "...-loin", such as a sirloin (being the healthiest and leanest), a chicken breast or other cuts: they were all "enhanced" with enough of salt, fat and other additions (not to mention the sauces) to make me feel like a very pregnant, bloated, genetically-modified organism for my days at the sea and several days following my successful disembarkation. BTW, it is rare that on the ship you get any organic fare, so be prepared...

So, I was doing my best to avoid the "Chocolate Extravaganzas" and awesomely-looking Belgian waffles with double whipped cream and this and that on top. I managed, even though after 7 days of that cuisine, I felt very nutritionally challenged. However, cruise after cruise, I seem to be observing how the passengers get caught in that trap of food which looks tempting, is available at all times, and, especially since there is not much else to do, makes them gain the "cruise 20" in a matter of days. We might call it "vacation eating" (will we be back to "normal" once home? And, what is "normal"?). Or "emotional snacking" (missing your home and family yet?), or the "buffet problem" (still, even without all that food laid out in front of us, can we really stop from overeating?). I honestly do not know how some people managed to enjoy the cruise, feel good about their eating habits and regularly come back for more... On the other hand, there were some who seemed not to move out of the buffet zone for the day! And, they seemed to truly enjoy the experience: oversized plates, which automatically make us take more food, because if we take just a little, it seems like nothing, the variety of fatty and sweet food. I can only imagine, if someone is into this type of foods in their regular life, surely they'd have a very hard time not to crash the buffet during a cruise!

I often think we should be helped out: by not being served unlimited all-you-can-eat fares, by not having our taste buds challenged by extremely (and dangerously) salty or sweet food items, by not having the industry tell us that a diet soda is OK, even though it is packed with aspartame or such, only making our taste buds more dependable on that super-sweet, artificial taste, which will be never matched by the sweetness of a simple orange. Our oats really do not need to float in that heavy creamy substance and our nuts do not taste any better when roasted or salted. Why don't we give the natural food a second chance, instead of feeding ourselves with an array of chemically-challenged, saturated in fat substances?

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