Alas, free does not equal zero. Free just means that: free/complimentary/no money/without charge.
Something I KNOW you struggle with, because I had to make the switch in my mentality too.
Free Booze + Free Food ≠ Free for All
Let’s see. Do you remember any of these things?
- frat party in college = drinking all the free beer!
- meeting in college that advertised free pizza = eating all the pizza and taking home the leftovers.
- wedding with an open bar = drinking all the white wine and champagne like it’s going out of style and hanging out by the kitchen so I can eat all of the passed apps.
- catered lunch at work = eat all the things, all the heavy sandwiches, pasta, chips, and cookies because, well, they are FREE!
- fancy client dinner = eat all the courses, an app, the bread basket, the dessert, drink all the wine, because, again, hey, you aren’t paying for it and it’s free!
For some weird reason, when we hear FREE booze or FREE food, we legit think of these events as a free for all and there is something in our heads that tells us that those calories are free too. Our brain turns off. We don’t think. We just eat (and eat) and drink (and drink) like we have never seen food or booze before.
Folks, spoiler alert, just like broken cookies still have calories in them, so does free food and booze. Trust me, this “revelation” made me sad too. Those calories still count. A lot. They are what tends to derail us.
I think this mindset starts innocently enough. When we are younger and in college and grad school and in the budding stages of our career, we are legit broke. Those pizza meetings in school were our savior. They fed us for many meals if you were smart enough to linger and bring leftovers home. Open bars were a time for us to let loose, have some fun (aka make questionable decisions), but at least we had more money for groceries and gas. Catered lunch made it easier to get out of the house in the morning and helped our budgets too. There was and sometimes still is certainly a place for “free” food.
I found that in our late twenties and thirties, things start getting harder and more temptations are thrown our way with “free food”. During this time, we are faced with catered work lunches and client dinners and open bar weddings. These events come into play right around the same time we are trying to lose the baby weight or as we enter a new decade and we see our metabolism slow down. We say to ourselves, “well, I work hard by golly and I am owed this fancy lunch and dinner, and besides it’s free and it is a crime to turn down free food.”
Folks, we have to get out of that mentality.
Just because it is free, does not mean it is good for you. As we grow older, we need to make wiser and more conscious decisions.
Ok. What does that look like then?
I am going to assume for a minute that you have the ability to better feed yourself from your paycheck. I want to also assume that you can learn to truly celebrate food (and booze!) on your own dime and as a treat. What does that look like? Well, it looks like eating like a clean machine 80-90% if the time, but when you go to that new restaurant you have been dying to try, or even a food truck with rave reviews (my point is it does not need to be crazy expensive) on your own time, at your own leisure, on your own dime, enjoy the heck out of that food. Celebrate it. Pay attention to it. Love it.
Watcha don’t do. Fall into the free food trap. For example, you go into the office and you are proud because you packed your yummy tortilla soup for lunch that you worked hard on and you know tastes damn good. But then your boss says “We are ordering Chinese Takeout for lunch! On me! Pick what you want!” Here is the hard part . . . YOU say, “No thank you! I brought my lunch today and don’t want it to go bad, but I will sit with you all!” Will your boss look at you odd? Perhaps? Your co-workers? Probably. Will there by eye-rolls? Maybe. Listen to me: power through them. When 3PM comes around and you are still humming and getting ISH done and they are asleep at their desk, then you can thank me. As you can when you step on the scale the next day and see it was a weight loss day. Small changes = big results peeps.
Therefore . . . when you go to the next “free” party, lunch, dinner, happy hour, wedding, you name it, I want you to really think about the food you are putting in your mouth. I want you to get out of the doomsday mentality that you must eat all the food now because you won’t have any when you go home. I want you to evaluate the buffet table and ask yourself what you really want.
We all need to get out of the free food, free booze, free for all mentality.
Instead, if you are putting food into your mouth, tell yourself it needs to fall into one of two categories.
- It better nourish my BODY (the healthy stuff, which can still taste good by the way); or
- It better be damn delicious and nourish my SOUL, as in who the heck cares how many calories this has, it is legit the best thing I have ever tasted.
Body? No. Soul? No. Free ≠ “free.”