I recently attended a work conference that included dinner cruise, and at first I really wasn't looking forward to it, at least in part because of food.
We were scheduled to board at 7, then depart at 7:30, so I figured dinner wouldn't be served until 8, which is much later than I normally eat. Plus, I've been on boat cruises before, and I know they can be fairly loud. I also didn't know if I'd feel up for being committed to three hours on a boat after long days at the conference.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized the food was my main concern. Even though I work with people on a flexible approach to eating and not feeling restricted or controlled by food, my normal life is such that I don't often have to put this into practice. So it took me a little longer than it might have to reframe my thoughts.
Once I realized that, though, I started coming up with other strategies and approaches.
For instance, I knew I'd have about an hour of free time before the cruise. I could have a snack then to make sure I didn't get too hungry.
I also started considering what I could do to make the ride more enjoyable. This included trying to find some quieter spots, having conversations that weren't solely about work, and getting some fresh air after spending most of the day in hotel air conditioning.
I started feeling better about it, and int eh end, it worked out quite well. A co-worker and I spent about half an hour outside, watching the pretty clouds and talking about families.
The cruise also had some appetizers as soon as we boarded - cheese and crackers, fruit, and little slices of flatbread and quesadillas - so I could have a little of that to help tide me over.
As expected, dinner started at 8, and I was very glad not to be in the ravenous stage of hunger, because I wasn't too excited about our limited options: salad, mixed steamed veggies, rice and pasta dishes (which I can't eat due to food sensitivities), and skirt steak (I'm not a huge steak fan).
This helped me not overeat, and also to focus more on the conversation with current and former coworkers, reminiscing about the old days of the company and how to find a good work/life balance.
Plus, it meant I was still a little hungry for dessert, so I enjoyed my chocolate-covered strawberry and little cup of chocolate mousse.
By then I was satisfied enough to go to the top deck and chat with another colleague about the importance of finding fulfilling work, including things like helping people eat mindfully.
In the end, the time went by very quickly, and what made me happiest is that while I enjoyed (most of) the food, I also enjoyed other things, finding that balance in life's pleasures.
I only have one regret - I somehow missed the manatee that came near the boat! But I'll remember that and next time keep a closer lookout.