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  • Writer's pictureSona Parmar

Meringue Overboard

Today, as I disembark the European cruise*, I contemplate the two observations I’ve made over the past week:

1. There are a lot of obese people here.

2. I really like cream.

Let’s do number 2 first. There’s less to cover.

I grew up in a house where all fat was considered bad. Toast was eaten without butter, strawberries without cream. I never thought much of it until recently, even though I know from my nutritional training, that fat isn’t the devil that it’s made out to be.

So the other day, in the name of research, I ate a scone with cream and jam.

Oh. My. God.

Where has this marvellous configuration of ingredients been all my life? Seriously. I absolutely was not prepared, for how something so simple, could taste so good. Suddenly British afternoon tea made perfect sense.

That’s the cream story (short, but definitely worthy of mention).

The obesity story was a perhaps even more unexpected.

When you’re on a cruise, you get to eat as much as you want, pretty much whenever you want. You’d think it’d be a nightmare for someone with bad eating habits - but that’s only if you think your eating habits are, in fact, “bad”. I don’t think all the obese people I encountered did, or at least they didn’t seem to.

It is said that when you don’t feel enough, you can’t have enough. I couldn’t help but feel that that’s where all these people may have been coming from.

From a young age, food is often a substitute for love (“eat this dear, mummy’s busy”). Here was love on tap 24/7. It was a welcoming prospect, even for someone like myself.

Yes, I’m a nutritionist, but I’m also a person who’s had issues with food. I’m not saying every fat person has food issues, but most do.

Your stomach is as big as your open palm and, if you are conscious of what you’re doing, eating “as much as you can carry” (as they would say in Ayurveda), would fill you sufficiently. If you are consistently eating more than this, there‘s likely to be a reason. It’s something I consistently observe in my practice too.

Given my new-found love affair with cream, how do I stop at reasonable amount? (my 7 year-old (aka my mini-me), has now taken to spreading it on her gingerbread men!)

In 12-step programmes, they talk about “one [being] too many and a thousand never enough”. Once upon a time, I would have advocated a zero-tolerance policy. Now, I know it simply does not work. Not really. You end up picking another “drug” of choice.

So the trick is get mindful: to start thinking about what you want, why you want it and how it feels when you get it. Intuitive eating is all about having an internal GPS with regards to food. Once you start using it, it’s actually not that hard. I guess you could say that it’s like getting out of your head and into your body. Yes, that old, new-age nugget again: how does something make you feel?

Because we hear it all the time, we think those words don’t have value. They do. And they make navigating the minefield of all-you-can-eat meringues, a helluva lot easier.

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