Friday, December 09, 2005

Food glorious food

When I started the new job, did I happen to mention the free food in the company dining room? Breakfast is wonderful – eggs, cheeses, fresh vegetables, different breads and cereals, smoked fish. Should I go on? I thought not. No complaints whatsoever about breakfast (though sometimes I can’t find a fruit-flavored Actimel yogurt beverage, and am forced to forego, as I don’t like the plain flavor). And, if breakfast isn’t enough, everyday at 4:00 in the afternoon, fruit and cake is served. Nice, huh?

Then, there is lunch. Some days have a more obvious theme. For instance, I know that today will be sushi day, when they bring in sushi from one of the local Japanese restaurants (note to self – go to lunch on time!). The other day we had meat day (most days are dairy). Yet on some days, the theme is a bit more difficult to ascertain. I believe that yesterday was brown food day. Quiche, kuggel, vegetarian shwarma and steamed vegetables consisting of onion, eggplant and cabbage. The fish dish was the only exception, being that it was in a bright red sauce (hraimeh), which I avoided like the plague. Not one of our more successful meals. One colleague, looking as though she was about to cry, vowed on the spot to go out for lunch today, until we discovered that today will be sushi day. Another popular theme seems to be carbohydrate day, when the meal consists of a veritable plethora of different dishes such as rice, potatoes, pasta, and quiche. Mushroom day is another biggie, when all the dishes on offer seem to contain mushrooms. Fortunately, I love mushrooms, so wasn’t too put off (despite the fact that it was probably mushroom and carbohydrate day). One of the meat themed days was particularly depressing. I’m not a big fan of meat to begin with, so needless to say, I did not do so well on luncheon meat day.

The strange thing about all of this is that whenever the topic of food comes up in conversation, it turns out that everyone is thinking about losing weight, has lost weight, or is currently trying to lose weight – including at least one of the women in the kitchen. Everyone wants healthier food, or at least healthy alternatives to the current selections. Sometimes, I tell myself that I will head straight for the salads, and only once I’ve mostly filled my plate there, return to the “nasty” stuff. It never works though, as the salad choices are less than tantalizing, and certainly not worthy of filling an entire plate. I usually try to limit myself to one carbohydrate per lunch, but on carbohydrate day, it’s an exercise in futility.

During the interview process and my first few days here, I was warned that whenever people begin working here, they initially put on weight, not unlike the long forgotten days of the “freshman 15”, which refers to the weight put on by incoming university freshmen who are suddenly faced with dining room meal plans, late night food runs and the like. In those days, I didn’t have to worry about things like the freshman 15. I was only betrayed by my metabolism after university. My academic years were spent chowing down on alarming quantities of pizza, lots of pasta (after all what else did we know how to cook?), desserts, copious amounts of Chinese and Indian food, frequent visits to McDonalds when it was practically downstairs from my dorm room, alcohol (though admittedly less than most of my peers, never having been a big drinker), and so on. Aside from running around campus between classes, meetings, etc., I was quite the sedentary individual, yet despite the winning combination of heavy food and total lack of exercise, I gained no weight, even losing at times.

Ever the slim one, it came as quite a kick in the ass to discover that said ass had widened and deferred to gravity, and I now had a problem. I yoyo-ed up and down the scale (mostly up) for a number of years, and finally managed to bring myself down to a most respectable weight before and then again after my pregnancy, and have more or less managed to maintain the weight for over a year now. It’s still a constant struggle, and the company dining room is definitely not helping! Haven’t gained any weight since I’ve been here, but on the other hand, I haven’t lost any either, which is what I’d like to do. Nothing radical, just another 2-4 kilos to get down to my optimal weight (and after having lost more than 10 kilos in recent years, this is indeed a paltry amount). Unfortunately, unless radical changes are made to the dining room menu, I don’t see any health-themed days in our future, and may have to resort to more “out of pocket” experiences, popping over to any one of a number of cafes and salad/sandwich places in search of the simple, healthy food I know I should be eating crave.


nrg said...

today is waffle day...friday. With sour cream and strawberry jam... I am avoiding the canteen. Simply smelling it adds 2 kg to my "still haven't lost the birth weight" form... I wish you luck!

Liza said...

I wouldn't mind waffle day once in a while. It certainly beats brown food day, hands down!

Udge said...

That canteen lunch does sound pretty dubious, funny that it should often be (one infers) so much worse than breakfast and teatimes. The "theme" lunches sound absolutely dire. Poor you.