I didn’t start dating until I had finished losing weight, which was deliberate on my part, but it turned out to be a good thing for reasons I hadn’t even considered at the time. The decision was because I wanted to focus on getting healthy first, and I wanted to be at a point where I was happy with my life before I involved anyone else in it. (It didn’t occur to me that being thin didn’t necessarily equate with being happy, or that I might want some adjustment period, until much later – but that’s another subject.)
But when I started dating, I quickly realized that it’s rather perilous for people who are trying to be more conscious of what they’re eating. After all, what’s the first date option that springs to mind? Go out to dinner. It’s expensive, for one, though often more for the men, at least initially. The real problem, though, is what to order, and how much to eat.
I never intended for my date to pay exorbitant rates for dinner. At the same time, I wanted to make sure I had some fresh, non-starchy vegetables, which often meant ordering a salad (dressing on the side, please). For places that don’t include a salad with the entrée, this starts to add up.
The entrée options were also a bit tricky at times, depending on the type of restaurant. Less expensive ones tend to offer full plates, sometimes over-full, and it’s hard to judge how much oil or butter might go into something to add hidden calories. Whereas some of the fancier ones serve quite small portions for the meal, and no matter how elegantly arranged they are on the plate, it’s still not a lot of food. As noted in earlier entries, there are times when I can eat ridiculous amounts, and so occasionally I opted for dessert – but then that might prove to be too much, and I’d go home with a slightly upset stomach.
It also made me feel rather self-conscious because I discovered that I could eat considerably more than my dinner partner. One guy even commented, “You’re an eater, aren’t you?” I didn’t really know how to react, but I felt a bit ashamed and embarrassed at how much I had managed to consume. Then I hated the fact that he made me feel that way, and so that didn’t end up going anywhere. (There were other reasons, too.)
But that brings me to another unexpected peril of dating – judgment. And not just from the guys. I found that I was starting to judge my dates by what types of food they ate, or were willing to try. Or if they ate at all. One guy I went on a date with said that he only really ate one meal a day, typically at lunch, and that gave me pause. Would I be okay not sharing breakfast or dinner with someone? After all, sharing meals is often a good way to connect after a day apart. And if someone was a meat and potatoes type of person, who was incredulous at the concept of vegetarian meals, or who didn’t like any vegetables, would we be able to eat harmoniously? If we traveled together, would we only end up at safe, chain restaurants, they type I tried to avoid, or would he be willing to try new, more exotic offerings?
I had always thought that once I got past my own eating issues, food would no longer be a source of contention between me and other people. How wrong I was.