We Nutracheck regulars, Sprog and Steve, have written occasional joint blogs this year, which people seem to have found interesting. So we thought it was about time for another one...
STEVE and ANN (Mrs Steve): Would you be free to come to dinner one day, Sprog?
SPROG: Oh, yes please!
STEVE: This is going to be a meal fit for an expert maintainer!
SPROG (thinks): I wonder what that means? Will it be a delicious meal that is within my calorie allowance? Or will it be a rich, varied, and sumptuous feast, which will require all my "getting back on track skills" afterwards?
SPROG (says): I'm looking forward to it!
STEVE: As I said before, this is going to be a special meal, designed for maintainers.
SPROG: Yes, and I have been wondering what that means!
STEVE: I thought I would prepare a big meal, where if you ate and drank everything on offer, it would be an awful lot of calories - probably a meal that you, Ann, or even myself would think was completely over the top. But there are two twists:
(1) There is a detailed menu (produces menu), showing the calories of every element - including all the drinks.
(2) I want you both to be absolutely clear that you should eat just exactly what you want to eat. My feelings won't be hurt in any way if you don't eat much of something or even none of something.
SPROG: But what about all the food that will go to waste?
STEVE: Don't worry about that! I guarantee that nothing at all will go to waste, because I planned the menu so that every single thing could be kept and used again.
SPROG: Ohhh, that's clever... you mean the only possible reason to eat or drink anything all evening is because I want to, and don't mind having those calories? And I don't have to worry about offending you, or worry about food being thrown away? And I will even know full well exactly how many calories are involved?
STEVE: You are one clever lady - that is it exactly!
SPROG: How do you think of these things?
STEVE: I don't know how I think of these things, but it's an awful lot easier knowing that there is always someone game to take part in them! I think the inspiration for this one was reading on the Nutracheck forums that a big problem people have in keeping to their diet (or their maintenance) is when they are invited round to someone's house for a meal.
SPROG: You're right. People worry about offending the host when they turn down something when they know (1) it's calorific and (2) it's been carefully and lovingly prepared. So let's see if tonight's dinner avoids those snags.
SPROG, ANN and STEVE: Bon appetit!
SPROG: So here we are! What's first?
STEVE: It's all on the detailed menu sheet. It's a Thai Prawn Salad to start. If you have a third of it it's 100kcal of prawns, 20kcal of mango and 10kcal of spinach. I think we can probably ignore the chilli, lime juice and herbs.
ANN: And there's some bread. Can I pass it to you Sprog? It's (looks at the menu) 140kcal a slice.
SPROG: No, thanks, Ann. I'll apply Sprog's First Law of Eating Out: 'Don't have bread to start with; you won't need it and it will use up a lot of calories'. And I can see from the menu that a single piece of bread is more calories than the rest of the starter.
STEVE: Fair enough. but how about some wine? It's a nice rosé at (consults menu) 80kcal for 125ml.
SPROG: Yes please. The 80kcal of wine is more 'worth it' to me than 140kcal of bread.
STEVE: Hmmm, let's see. I think they're both worth it to me! (pours wine for Sprog and Ann, then helps himself to wine and bread)
SPROG: Well that was interesting! We have slowly made our way through pepperoni chicken (with mountains of vegetables), various cheeses (and various trimmings) and a hazelnut and chocolate dessert.
STEVE: Yes, and a different wine with each course!
ANN: The menu says that if we had had a reasonable amount of everything, that would have been 2,300kcal. That's not too bad really.
STEVE: I suppose I've learned a lot about low-calorie cooking over the years.
SPROG: I'm sure that's right, but having the calorie-counted menu helped a lot. I saw exactly what calories I was taking on board, as we went along, and I could also have a little bit of things, and not worry that the rest would have to be thrown away. I enjoyed the meal a lot, and I think I probably came in a lot lower than 2,300kcal.
STEVE: Mmmm. I tell you what - we've got a chocolate orange in the cupboard, and it goes nicely with coffee and port. Do you fancy some? Does it make it any better if I now declare our scientific experiment over?
SPROG and ANN: Oh yes, go on then!
STEVE: Back on the pony this morning?
SPROG: Of course! But, anyway, I just added up my calories from yesterday, and it was a total of 1,930, including the chocolate orange! That's hardly going to bust my diet wide open! What about you?
STEVE: Weeellll... I sort-of lost count after all the cheese and the port and the chocolate orange and the glass of whisky. But next time I'll do it properly, like you did!
SPROG and ANN: Amateur!