Did Someone Put A Gun to Your Head?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work in an assisted living community.  My job involved talking to people who had nutrition issues (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure) and to give short lectures to the residents.

The talks were fun, because the topics were interesting (to me, anyway).  They included how taste changes with age, how to be active while sitting in your chair, ways to add fruits and vegetables to your daily diet.  Then there would be a question and answer session – again, always fun, because I got to think standing on my feet.

One question that seemed to arise on a regular basis was “why do they always serve dessert?”  Usually followed by the comment “I have gained ten pounds since I moved here!”  After the first few talks, I felt like I was dealing with college freshmen, although I understand that, with inflation, the “freshmen ten” is now the “freshmen 15.”

I understood their frustration, because, after having worked in several facilities, I felt like I was on a cruise ship.  Along with three meals a day, there was always some type of snack around – cookies, fruit, cake.  And, along with salad, vegetables and a main course, the meals always had dessert.

You probably feel this way sometimes as well, especially when you eat at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. You want to eat what is in front of you, and you feel as though there is no choice.  Then, when you discover you have gained weight, you wonder why.

Let me tell you what I used to tell the folks at the assisted living facility – and it is this: Did someone put a gun to your head and tell you that you had to eat dessert?

I realize this is a bit harsh, to you, and to the folks I was lecturing. But it makes a point – no one is forcing you to eat dessert.  In fact, no one is forcing you to eat anything.  My concern for the elderly is that they eat adequate amounts of food to stay healthy, and if they eat dessert, it’s their choice.  Well, my friends, when you are at a restaurant, or at your friends’ houses, the same holds true – it’s your choice. You may feel concerned about upsetting your host by not wanting to eat dessert, but no one is holding a gun to your heading and forcing the food down your throat.

My suggestion to you is simply pay attention to what you are eating, take your time, and enjoy your meal and the company. If you know you are going to have dessert, perhaps cut back a bit on some of the foods you eat during the day.  Or, an even better idea –  be more active.  Activity helps to increase your metabolism and to burn calories.  Whatever you consider, though, do NOT skip meals the next day – that sets up a dangerous cycle of starving and overeating.

The folks at the assisted living needed a bit more advice, because dessert was offered at every meal.  We did need to discuss more strategies for watching their intake during the day, especially if they weren't active, and in reality they did not need as many calories as you and I do. 

The bottom line still holds – no one is forcing you to eat, you are responsible for what you into your mouth.

Unless, of course, someone is holding a gun to your head.


Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

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received from your primary care doctor or other medical professionals.