Loosening up: Food rules lessons from a wedding to Jerusalem

I didn’t try any wedding diets or those things that are supposedly clearing your body of the stuff (nope, won’t even say it for the SEO juice). To be honest, any attempt I might have made to ‘lose a few’ leading up to our wedding last year would have been a joke because it was about seven weeks out from Christmas and New Year’s, during which we traveled home and then to Hawaii. I hadn’t been running much because of my first real injury (ah, the agony!), and then we signed up for the Eugene Marathon which meant January was for base training. And base training is for teaching yourself how to eat enough but not ALL the things. It’s also a lesson in patience with the “remember, you were VERY RECENTLY not running!” mentality.

Brain, in retrospect I see that you may have been a bit overloaded. Sorry ‘bout that.

My dress wasn’t “tight” but it was fitted, and I’m not one to think about wearing Spanx or even sure where one might buy them, so I did think it’d be great to not feel bloated on our wedding day. In my life experience, the two things that help with that are 1) not drinking and 2) eating fewer processed carbohydrates. The latter could hardly be considered a shift, as 99 percent of the time we don’t have those around, anyway. But for the purposes of wedding-day, this meant being more mindful at restaurants and forgoing the bottomless bowl of granola that happens every now & then (but srsly have you had the Cocoa Goodness?! RIGHT?). And look, I’m not saying we’re drinking all the time – our lifestyle in Monterey certainly didn’t measure up to the DC happy hour scene – but deciding on this “fewer drinks” goal for February made sure I was a little extra selective. This still happened, so we won’t say I’m great at playing by all of my own rules.

We made it to wedding day and all was lovely and perfect, and you just look around and think nothing of what you did in the four to seven weeks prior, just that this exact day is finally here. And it was everything we could have hoped for. I had quite a bit of white wine, whilst enjoying the bread and cheese plate, and we danced until after midnight when the playlist got switched to a Disney sing-along. WINNING.

Wedding dance party

Photos by Kelci Alane Photography

I left for Jerusalem two days later. (Yep, just up n’ left the country without my husband. Not highly recommended, but also not with a single regret.) In one of the birthplaces of the actual Mediterranean diet we, the “Press group,” enjoyed five to eight course meals always accompanied by fresh pita bread and often with a full glass of wine. Hello, carbs and alcohol! We ran a little bit, since you know, that was the whole point of the trip, but were mostly bused around and had zero control of basically any part of our day.

Real talk: At one point I thought, “I’m so glad this trip happened AFTER our wedding!” because ugh all the bloat, ya know? But a few days into the trip, of not running and dealing with a heavy jet-lag and a little stomach-shocked by the amount of food we were constantly eating, I honestly felt no different. Tired, sure. Antsy to finally RUN, absolutely. But bloated? Nope. Fatigued from all the food and wine? Not really. The food there is incredible; meals always full of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, which you also see in abundance at street carts all over the city. We ate in groups of at least ten to fifteen people, family-style, so to over-eat would have been a feat in and of itself. With the exception of breakfast, our meals lasted for at least two hours as the courses rolled out slowly and always ended with a small dessert. We were never rushed, rarely uncomfortably full, and never dissatisfied.

Best breakfast in Tel Aviv

My point: That trip (and the weeks leading up to it) taught me many things, but in regards to food, it was a reminder to chill the f*@k out. Loosen up.

Our American food system, on average, doesn’t quite deliver this type of dining experience and if we look closely, there are many consequences to that. We want meals to be quick, we order one thing and the portion is probably big enough to actually be three courses, and we’d rather pass on desserts and wine with lunch and/or the one slice of “fresh” bread (ah, the pitas!), but instead all of those things will be consumed in excess after, or with, dinner. This is certainly not to say that one couldn’t overeat in any situation or country, but when rushed and/or following food rules of societal or personal nature, it’s much more likely.

One year later, reminiscing, I see how much the two experiences together meant to me. When we loosen up a bit, take our time to really savor our food and enjoy our company, it matters. When we let go of food rules and listen to what our body is trying to say, it matters. When we have dance parties until midnight, it’s a damn good time. Give it (all) a try. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be made public.