Of small bowls and big plates.


Today, I want to share one of these episodes in life that appear so small and simple, yet they may offer a lesson in many moments of life:

Every day at lunchtime the same dilemma at the company restaurant: a tasty salad bar with fresh lettuce, grated vegetables, and good olive oil. Tiny bowls next to it, to squeeze in a small portion of all the good stuff I love to eat. And then there was the main course  to keep me going through a long stretch of intense meetings, phone calls and work until late in the evening). That was “the script” laid out by the restaurant manager: salad is a side dish, thus it goes into tiny bowls. Consistently, I went for the main course that was not really to my taste – deep-fried dishes, meats of obscure origins and ready-made sauces – joined by a tiny bowl of my little salad. Just to avoid being hit by a loss of energy in the middle of the afternoon, I would stick with the small salad portion offered with the small bowls. I would follow someone else’s script. 

Then came a health check, where a health coach went through my  data and discussed my eating patterns, suggesting to reduce fat and meat intake. I was rather upset – I really didn’t want to eat the meat, the fat, the artificial aroma-sauces – but I cannot go hungry through a demanding afternoon (and anyone confronted with me being hungry can relate to that: I get really moody when my blood sugar is down). Discussing the options with the health coach, I suddenly realised that all I wanted for lunch was available – just not in the quantity I wanted it.

So I went back to the canteen, took the big plate meant for the main course, and loaded it up with all the beautiful, fresh food from the salad bar. I walked to the cashier, who didn’t really know how to account for my choice. For a moment, I was ready to get into a complicated debate of what bowls and what plates was meant for which food. Instead, the manager came and instructed the cashier what to charge. And that was it. It was so amazingly simple, that I really wondered what had taken me so long to make that switch. Sure, there were only small bowls at an arm’s reach at the salad bar, but the big plates were actually sitting on my way to the salad bar. I just had to grab one when entering the canteen. I hadn’t thought enough about how to get what I really wanted, and went along with a script that was not real right for me. As banal as it may sound, this was a great lesson for me to really listen to what I wanted and to be creative in getting it. Even if it is just a temporary interruption of the flow in a canteen. Ah – and if you are interested: this switch in eating pattern was a big element of a fitter me.

Where do you deprive yourself of  the big plate, because this is how others have laid it out for you? What script do you want to rewrite? For which need is the small bowl insufficient?