Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28th, 2014 Outside Food: The Lunch Experience

June 28th, 2014 Outside Food: The Lunch Experience

It was tough to get out of bed this morning after last night's late on-air weather coverage. I was getting up early to help some friends load their moving truck. I'm so glad I did because it felt good to help and it was one of the best workouts I've had in years. I made sure to take time for breakfast preparation and preparing a sack lunch for the inevitable lunch time break.

Lunch ideas were tossed around. Fried chicken? BBQ? Pizzas? It didn't matter to me, I had planned, prepared and packed my lunch.  I was hoping they would order out and everyone eat at their house, but the decision was made: The lunch break would be at the pizza buffet place.

At first I agreed to go too, taking my food with me. Then suddenly I started worrying about what might happen if I took my outside food into this restaurant. Would I be told I couldn't by the manager? Would people look at me in a strange way? Everyone was already in their vehicles when I decided I just couldn't do it. I asked my friend, "Do you mind if I stay here and eat my lunch? You guys go ahead and enjoy, I don't mind. I just didn't want to take my lunch into the restaurant."  He understood and said he didn't mind and we parted ways. I decided to drive home and eat lunch. I was almost to my apartment when I had a revelation.

I'm going to the pizza buffet place!!! I'm going to enjoy lunch and conversation with my friends. Part of the freedom included in the epiphanies discussed in the May 15th post involve caring much less about what others think of me. I'm confident in who I am. There was a respectful way to handle this restaurant situation without creating stories in my head about how the management and diners would react to me bringing in my own food. Who cares? If it's an issue, I'll leave, I thought.

After accepting then abruptly declining the lunch invitation, then having a sudden change of heart and going anyway, I kind of felt like I was in the middle of an internal tug of war.  But now I felt empowered and determined to enjoy my lunch while visiting with everyone else. I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my lunch bag and without hesitation, headed for the door. Instead of sitting down and feeling like I had to conceal my "outside food" that was possibly breaking a common policy many restaurants maintain, I went straight to the counter. I was greeted by a very nice lady, I asked if she was the manager--she said yes, and then I explained what I wanted.

I opened with a compliment: "I love how you've remodeled the place! I'm with the party of eight in the room over there, but I'm on a special food plan. Would it be okay if I eat the food I brought while they eat your buffet?" She replied with a smile: "That's fine!" Okay, that went way better than I imagined. I added, "do you mind if I use a plate and order a water? I'll be sure to tip!" Again, "that's fine, no problem." 

I immediately walked past the hot buffet line full of almost every kind of pizza you can imagine. Hot pastas full of sauce and cheese, garlic bread--they had it all. I grabbed my plate and headed to the table where I assembled my sandwich, logged the food in MyFitnessPal, took a picture and sent the Tweet:

I didn't make a big deal about it. I didn't talk about my food until someone at out table asked me to describe what was on my plate. Honestly, I don't think anyone else away from our table even noticed. I quietly took care of me, doing my thing as everyone enjoyed wonderful lunch conversation. I participated in the fantastic conversation too and as I did, I couldn't help but smile inside because I felt wonderful about my decision to join the group for lunch. And to think, I almost didn't because I was allowing my imagination and fear to mix into an unrealistic expectation. There wasn't a stern manager telling me to leave...I didn't get strange looks at me or my food...just a wonderful lunch experience with some of the best people I know.

What also stood out in a profound way, was how content I was. There wasn't a struggle passing by the above described buffet line. My mouth wasn't watering at the site of other people's food. I didn't feel deprived in the least. It wasn't will power. Will power is when we're exerting a large amount of energy in an effort to keep ourselves from doing or having something we really want. It didn't require will power because I didn't want. That's a big difference. The key to this difference is found in focusing on the perspective that says, isn't it nice to have such a wonderful visit with friends? Isn't this lunch delicious and satisfying? And not: I can't have what they're having. Because clearly, I could--and for free, my friend's were picking up the tab.

And that's an important distinction. It wasn't that I couldn't eat what they were eating, I could have easily. I didn't want to for very good reasons. Just to clarify, had it been a restaurant with items I could order and feel good about, then I might have returned my prepared lunch to the fridge, saving it for later. My recovery from food addiction is something I take very seriously and if I'm ever in doubt about what's available where I'm headed, then I'll always be sure to bring something with me or wait until I have access to something I can accept. I had no idea of the lunch plans today, so I adequately prepared myself, and it paid off handsomely.

I managed my calories with intention and deliberateness today. I did well. My workout was the moving experience. I prepared a very nice Tilapia loin dinner with asparagus, zucchini, pear and fresh strawberries and I enjoyed a wonderful visit tonight with my oldest daughter Amber at her place across town. Her and I have some pretty powerful conversations! Both of my wonderful daughters remind me of me in various ways.

I even took some time during a break in the move to tweet some humor:

Thank you for reading,


  1. Love your comment on the T-shirt. And great decisions today! I often go to one of two cafés to write and always order a cup of tea but rarely any food even though I am there for a couple of hours, mainly because all they have is either a full (expensive) lunch or else something like a slice of cheesecake - not really healthy to have regularly! No one has ever asked me to move on, they maybe ask me once in that time if I want anything else. I have felt guilty when a couple of times I've snuck in a small snack like a piece of cheese and eaten it surreptitiously! I generally don't, though, I just make a pot of tea last as long as I can. The cafes have never been completely full, I would leave if they needed the table. They probably quite like having more people in there, making the café look popular. At least that is what I hope!

  2. More amazing than a 20 lb loss, in my book. Not just making it through and surviving the buffet, but actually enjoying and thriving in the middle of it. Thank you for sharing this Sean, it helps me this morning. A friend of mine who has been in a 12 step program for many years always says "what we do for one day, gives us proof that we can do it for a day at a time. So grateful you took that leap of faith and went to the restaurant yesterday and shared it today with us. Yes! Shirley from TN

  3. Great choices you made yesterday. I finally stopped in at our new Whole Foods Store here in town last week. I just looked around, ended up buying some organic corn on the cob, and some uncured bacon, and tasted a few of the many samples they had sitting out. When stores offer samples, I use it as an opportunity to have a taste of something I might have been craving, it satisfies me and I don't have a whole box of sweetness or saltiness sitting at home tempting me. I walked by the famous Whole Foods buffet, which is evidently available all day long, since I was there about 3 p.m. The food looked pretty healthy, I saw a tray of chicken breasts with some kind of sauce, that looked good. Buffets are always tough, I don't know that I will ever be able to handle them. Although I try to avoid them, I have been to a few buffets in the last five years of healthy living, and did okay--concentrating on the fruits and veggies parts of the buffet, but it sure isn't easy. I have come to the realization, this journey will never be easy, it is important to plan ahead and those of us who are food addicts have to be forever vigilant. There is no "rest" day!

  4. I do the same thing Sean....worry about what others might think and honestly, I'm being unfair to them and to me. Because I've not even given them a chance. I love how you walked up to the counter to simply state your situation. You handled that beautifully! So glad I found your blog...I'm learning so much from you!

  5. It's the oddest thing when you don't crave something you normally would. Although I don't suffer from a food addiction as such, I am very partial to sweets. Since my surgery, however, my sweet tooth seems to have lessened significantly. Today, I was out with my husband and he ordered an almond croissant and split it in half to share with me. I did have a couple of bites, thought it was amazing, and gave him the rest. I just didn't want it. Weird. And good.


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