Anxious or Flexible?

Have you ever felt anxious about a social outing involving food? For instance, worrying about what food will be available, if you’ll be able to find a healthy option, or how much you’ll be served and if you’ll feel like you need to eat it all, or any number of other things.

This is something I used to feel a lot, and it can still rear its head in certain circumstances, such as when traveling for work. I noticed this most recently when I got more details about a trip I’m making in about a week and a half, specifically the fact that I’m going to be eating out two nights in a row, in addition to eating conference food for lunch.

Why does this make me anxious? One reason is simply because it means limited or no down time, which is something I struggle with. But another big reason is that the meals are scheduled for specific times, which don’t necessarily correlate with my normal eating times.

In fact, quite the opposite. I normally eat dinner around 5:30, but the first night, we won’t even be getting to the restaurant until 7, which means we won’t start eating until probably 7:30. If I’m too hungry when I go, I’ll end up eating more than I want, but I also don’t want to eat too much beforehand because I know I’ll be expected to actually order something at the restaurant. I also suspect the food will be very good, and I’ll be tempted to eat more than I need.

Then I realized that I’m stressing about this unnecessarily. I started wondering, what if I thought about it from a more flexible perspective and viewed it as an opportunity?

I do, after all, like going to nice restaurants. Wouldn’t it be better to look at this as a great chance to try some amazing food at no cost to myself? And the food does sound pretty amazing. The first night I’ll be going to Fornelietto, and the second night to Bobby Flay Steak. This second one is especially fun to think about considering how much I enjoy watching shows on the Food Network, including ones with Bobby Flay.

Plus, while I won’t have much down time, this will give me a chance to talk to a colleague I rarely see about our respective trips – he’s planning on going to the Galapagos, where I’ve been, and I’m going to Iceland, where he’s already been. So we can compare notes and have fun catching up on any other trips.

And finally, the reality is, I can bring snacks to keep on-hand in case I get hungry between meals, and no one is going to force me to eat more than I want. As always, I’m not required to eat everything served to me – or, if it really is that good, if I end up overeating a bit, it’s not the end of the world. The key is to remember this flexible attitude and focus on enjoying the food, however much or little I eat, as well as the company.

This approach does make me feel less anxious about the trip, and like the outings could be something to enjoy. Now just wish me luck in remembering that when I actually get there.

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