“Why do you do this to me?!”
“No, really, half that size!”
“This is not helping my diet.”
“Are you trying to kill me?”
As a server I’ve heard my share of statements like these. Listening to women turn down dessert can sound like someone is torturing an entire room. It’s like you have brought a poisoning agent and they are prepared do battle for their diet. Telling people the dessert specials can make you believe you just offered someone hardcore drugs. While I understand the need for self-control when it comes to sugary sweets, in my opinion this is an unhealthy way to look at any type of food.
Now, I have often turned down desserts at restaurants because their portion sizes are so huge and I’m not about to not eat all my delicious dinner just to cram a defrosted piece of cheesecake into my mouth. I’ve turned down dessert at friend’s houses when the savory dishes are too enticing to stop eating and save room for sweets. And sometimes I’ve turned down dessert because I wasn’t impressed with what was offered. (Future blog about my snobbishness concerning desserts coming soon.)
But with that caveat, I love dessert and I rarely turn it down!
I worked in a French bakery for a couple of years where I learned to bake some of the most amazing creations and got to eat them as well. I became thoroughly spoiled on fresh cookies, croissants, filled cupcakes, eclairs, cream puffs, and pumpkin rolls. The idea was we got a free pastry every day and I took the establishment up on that. And then we would have to trim a cake or bake a test cookie or test the pastry cream and I also eagerly participated in all of these aspects of the job. My boss waited excitedly for the day I would get fat from all the sugar I was eating but I was still young and my metabolism was strong. I ate all day long and loved every bite.
I honestly believe there are plenty of reasons to turn down dessert. We’ve been doing it for generations in different ways and for different reasons — for instance, the practice of Lent. Lenten discipline wasn’t instilled as a practice for weight loss but as a way to come closer to God through sacrifice. Now many use it as an excuse to go forty days without chocolate. Priorities shift when you have health concerns and learn to cut certain things from your diet, or when you decide to make changes to your lifestyle and eating habits.
Saying no to certain foods seems completely healthy and I encourage us to make thoughtful decisions about what we decide to eat. All too often the giving up or turning down of food is done in a less than desirable way, such as when it’s done by blaming the server for being a temptress, telling the host who lovingly provided it that you ‘just couldn’t possibly,’ or by telling everyone around you that you have to lose to ten pounds. We live in a culture that teaches us to do what it takes to elicit sympathy from those around us, be it a self deprecating Facebook post or a put-down about our weight in front of the waitress.
I would love to encourage a change in behavior. I realize it has to be a change in more than just the ‘dessert oppressed’ woman. We need a change in the friend who will pressure others to have dessert so she doesn’t feel guilty about her own. A change in the restaurant industry that gives us a pound of cake when we order a slice. A change in mindset of what dessert really is — is it just that occasional slice of cheesecake enjoyed with the company of friends, or does it include the morning donut, the afternoon candy, and the late night ice cream?