December 16, 2010

The toughest dinner to diet

Dieters always complain about how hard it is to lose weight at a buffet. Meh – been there, done that. In fact, on my cruise, I actually managed to lose a pound! Buffets do have massive quantities of food, but there a lot of tactics for dealing with those – you scope out the whole line first, figure out what’s healthiest and load up on that, and figure out the one thing you’re dying to try and have a small portion.

Nay, blog readers, the buffet is the least of my troubles in consulting. I’ve written a lot about how business dinners involve multiple courses, mandatory drinks and a dessert course, and looks of disdain if you try to special order things (none of this “grilled dry with steamed veggies on the side”; you get it the way the chef wants you to get it or your colleagues wonder what kind of freak you are to be insulting one of the contestants on Top Chef Masters). But I’m not talking about just any business dinner here. The dinner I think is hardest at which to diet involves all of those, plus more complicating factors as well. Give up yet? I’m talking about the tapas business dinner. (Insert “dun dun DUN” sound effects of foreboding)

Tapas is tough enough to do on a diet when you’re just out with friends. For those of you who’ve never experienced it, it’s a meal made up of a series of small plates. It sounds great for a dieter, because the portions are all small sized, but you’re supposed to order lots of them – so you end up eating just as much. Furthermore, they’re usually very decadent (and fattening) things, and it’s very hard to keep track of what you’ve eaten when it’s just a few bites here and a few bites there.

In a business setting, tapas become even worse for your waistline. Because the plates are meant to be shared, usually one person orders for the whole table. At a business dinner, perceptions become extremely important – they don’t want to seem stingy or cheap, so they order way more than is necessary (usually 3-4 plates/person). Then they say “was there anything I missed?”, offering up the chance for others to add favorite dishes on the menu that they didn’t initially order. You usually end up with at least three or four times the amount of food you actually want/need – and it’s all sitting right in front of you and ready for you to pick at. This especially becomes a problem when you consider that tapas meals always tend to take much longer than regular meals. You don’t just order once and then that’s it; colleagues usually keep ordering more food as the dinner goes on, and then you’re encouraged to order more wine as well… basically the dinner just never ends. In addition to giving you more time to pick at what’s on the table, it’s now cutting into your gym time. You know what means, though: tabata time!

On the plus side, no one notices what you eat and don’t eat, because it’s all communal. So if you have really strong willpower, it’s a great dinner for you to exercise that and have no one be the wiser that you’re on a diet. However, if you’re a grazer or someone who feels guilty letting food go to waste, a tapas restaurant is pretty much the worst place you can go.

How do you deal with tapas? Or business dinners in general?


2 thoughts on “The toughest dinner to diet”

  1. a) i claim a no meat rule at business dinners (which really has extended to my life). that helps
    b) even with tapas i’ll order the shrimp or fish or something
    c)wine then water. once everyone has a few glasses less people notice youre drinking water
    d) dont eat the bread, ever!

  2. i am a vegetarian so tapas are just kinda awkward for me unless i am with good friends who understand how i eat…easier for me to not share my food!

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