Monday, July 12, 2010

Eating on a date

Dating is fun, but it comes along with a whole set of stressors: What should I wear? What should I talk about? What should I eat? And that third question can be really loaded.
You don’t want to starve yourself so much that you can’t think about anything but food. On the other hand, eating too much or eating the wrong foods could make you feel lethargic or even self-conscious. Luckily, Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian, American Dietetic Association national spokesperson and president of the Dietetic Association, was able to give us some pointers for a smooth dinner date.
Garlic & Onions
We know these foods can give us foul breath, and that’s more than enough reason to avoid them on a date. “They’re notorious offenders for causing bad breath because the oils that come from garlic and onions get into the bloodstream and hang out,” she says. “They can linger for two to three days.” So if you eat a garlic-heavy meal two days before the big night, your breath could still have a hint of garlic when your date picks you up. To top it off, garlic and onions are difficult to digest, so if you eat them on your date, you may suffer a little stomach trouble.  And you definately won't get kissed!
“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…” Anyone who finished second grade can fill in the rest. Says Moore, “If you eat beans on a regular basis, you can have them without gas or bloating, but if you’re not a regular bean eater, you might not want to have them on a date,” Moore say, adding encouragingly that they’re “a little better stewed or in a soup.”
Mashed Potatoes
A baked potato won’t necessarily cause a problem, but Moore recommends skipping the mashed variety when you go out to dinner. “They’re usually loaded with heavy cream or milk,” Moore says, noting that while this can spell disaster for lactose-intolerant diners, it can also make even milk-lovers feel a little bloated. If you’re dying for a potato on a date, it’s best to stick to the baked variety.
What isn’t wrong with this on a date? Spaghetti and linguine can be quite messy, and the last thing you want is to get food on yourself (or the guy sitting across from you). While plain pasta shouldn’t make you feel too lethargic, heavy pasta sauces like alfredo and Bolognese will weigh you down.  Moore has one more reason to skip pasta on a date: “When we eat out, pasta is served on a huge plate, so we may have a tendency to overeat.” (And don’t even think about asking for a doggie bag. When you’re just getting to know your date, that’s plain tacky.)
Can’t get enough cheese? You might want to pass – at least if you’re early in the dating game. Aside from the fact that fatty cheeses can be heavy, the dairy product won’t do any favors for your breath. “Some cheeses just have a stronger odor, like bleu or aged parmesan,” Moore notes. That odor can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Santa Cruz-based food blogger Damaris of kitchencorners.comrecommends skipping dairy in general on dates. “Dairy is something that people should definitely stay away from,” Damaris says. “You wouldn’t be able to notice it offhand unless you’re kissing someone, but since a lot of dates end up with a smooch, I would recommend staying away from dairy for sure.”

A lot of these rules fly out the window once you’re in a serious relationship (who wants to avoid fettucine alfredo forever?), but when it’s still early in the dating game, it’s best to save these foods for solo meals.
In the meantime, there are a few ways you can avoid the pitfalls of heavy or bloat-inducing foods. “Make sure that you stay hydrated – it keeps you feeling alert,” Moore says. “It can [also] keep your tummy full so you don’t eat so much food.” And what if you notice your breath feeling less-than-fresh after a meal? You don’t necessarily need to chomp on gum or mints. “You can always finish the meal with a hot tea,” Moore says. “And a wedge of lemon or lime will also help to get rid of bad breath.”
Other than that, she suggests you stay within your culinary comfort zone while you’re on a date. 


Succulent and soft
yet big balls
covered and textured
hidden underneath
the main attraction.

Colorful blend 
of savory delights
awaken the palate
as they burst out,
“I am tantilizing
and delightful--
eat me!”

Spaggetti and
meatballs for dinner...

Written by Yolanda Pacheco Garcia
from the book Awakening Love