Monday 20 December 2010

Gretel on...diets and afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

Gretel Hallet, came on our Chocolate Fairy Training last year and is running workshops in East Anglia.  If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you!  Meet Gretel.

On Saturday 11th December 2010 a group of Beyond Chocolaters met at Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea. Can you imagine anything more civilised than afternoon tea at F&M?! It was a wonderful occasion. Some ladies had pre-ordered from the menu and the rest of us chose what we wanted on the day. What I really valued about this experience (apart from the opportunity to meet ladies who are just great Beyond Chocolate Forum buddies) was that I was with a large group of women and not one of them said, 'Oooh, I shouldn't!' Or, 'Oooh that looks so naughty!' Or, 'How many calories are in that?' Or, 'Oh well, I'll go back on the diet on Monday.'

For many years these were phrases that I would hear regularly at any gathering of women where food was provided. For many years these (and others like them) were phrases that I used regularly around food.

Since I started working on my relationship with food with Beyond Chocolate's expert guidance, those phrases have become things of my distant and misguided past. But they are still very much part of many other women's lives.

Imagine what it must be like, or can you remember what it was like, or do you still say these things now? Food is an important part of our lives; it plays a huge part in our culture, it's available 24/7 in bewildering variety and profusion. What is it like to be faced, constantly, by temptation, by reminders of all the things that 'aren't allowed' any more? What is it like to refuse offers of food because home-made cake doesn't come with a scientifically calculated calorie count? What is it like to watch other people tuck into all the goodies that are on the 'Red List' and consequently off limits?

Well, I remember what it was like and the word that comes to mind is 'miserable'.

I was a very dedicated dieter; I read the latest diet book cover to cover several times before starting. I amassed all the appropriate foods and I dutifully cleared my cupboards of all 'forbidden' foods before starting. I stuck absolutely to the letter of the diet and I lost weight and I missed out. Depending on which diet I was currently following, I missed out on birthday cake (my own and other people’s), delicious salad dressings, cheeses, chunky chips, scones hot from the oven, crisp juicy apples, real butter, fluffy jacket potatoes etc... etc.

And when I had achieved my target weight, what happened? I think you can guess. I compensated for all those months of deprivation, by eating all the foods my diet hadn't allowed – and I ate them until I realised that all the weight had gone back on again (and more) and it was time to find another diet. And I went on doing this until I ran out of patience with diets and moved on to miracle pills and diet detox teas …. and one day I reached the end of that road too and realised that none of it had permanently shifted a single ounce and that there had to be a better and saner way of living my life.

And that's how I found myself at Fortnum & Mason with a group of wonderful women who had also come to that realisation and were thoroughly enjoying real hot chocolate, buttery scones, Welsh rarebit, chocolate fondue (with strawberries and marshmallows), coffee icecream and slices of gateau. It was a fabulous afternoon and I hope you can join us on the next one!


  1. What a great blog post, Gretel! Isn't it sad we wasted all those years dieting?

    I wish BC could reach all the millions of women out there who will go back to Weightwatchers and the like after Christmas.

  2. Me too, Jo ... it's just soooo much better being able to really appreciate food rather than worry about calories/fat/syns/points etc any more!


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