This morning I stepped onto the scales to check on my dieting progress and it made for the grimmest of grim reading. The Brothers Grimm have nothing on this.
I did all the usual tricks, holding my breath, positive visualization of myself at my slimmest and hottest (although let’s face it, that was when I was about 19 years old so maybe a tad unrealistic), standing on one foot….to no avail. The scales don’t lie and neither do my hips. Not only did I not lose any of my mass, I actually gained a pound.
This isn’t going to be a self pitying rant about losing baby weight and how my body has changed beyond recognition. Nor will it be a lentil-weaving type debate about whether we should even try to lose weight or just learn to love ourselves and go hug trees. What this will be is a look at some of the reasons why a not-so-yummy mummy like me, living in the fabulous place that is Abu Dhabi, finds dieting just a bit challenging…..
The Coffee Mornings
One of my favourite things about having a baby here is the sheer amount of options available for meeting other mums over a cuppa and a slice of cake. At 10am on any weekday morning, you are likely to see groups of tired-looking but chatty ladies with babies, storming coffee shops in malls all over the city. These events provide a reason to leave the house, a forum for commiserating, sharing joyful stories of sleep deprivation and let’s come back to it….cake. Yes, we could all just drink skinny lattes and avoid eating naughties but where’s the fun in that?
Tea is made for cake. Coffee is made for cake. We all need the sugar just to stay awake (oh that could be a wonderful song, but I digress!)
Even if a coffee morning is hosted at a fellow mum’s home, chances are there’s a star baker amongst the crowd who somehow found time in-between changing nappies to bake a scrumptious cake. After all that effort, it would be rude not to try a piece.
Several coffee mornings per week, combined with my feeble willpower, means that I put away a fair amount of baked goods. Enough said.
Back home in the UK, in the winter time when the weather is cold and frosty, it’s lovely to be indoors in front of a roaring fire, eating hearty and rather stodgy home-cooked food. A lot of people gain a few extra winter pounds from comfort eating and being less active in the great outdoors.
For me, the Middle East in the summer works largely to the same principles, although substitute the roaring fire for a large air conditioning unit and cold weather for scorchingly hot. Like, 50 degrees hot. We spend a lot of time indoors. Stodgy comfort food totally optional.
We are ridiculously lucky to have endless options for eating out in Abu Dhabi. So many luxury hotels with several restaurants each, independent eateries, mall restaurants, cafes, street food vendors and the list goes on. My husband and I purchase the Abu Dhabi Entertainer book each year, which is a voucher book containing hundreds of two-for-one meal vouchers. Obviously this means that we must visit as many of the restaurants as possible to use up the vouchers. With Little O in tow, it’s a bit tricky but we can still do daytime mall restaurants and cafes, and the very occasional dinner out when we can find a babysitter. Just to get value from the voucher book, of course.
Dangerously (for my diet) the majority of these restaurants also do online ordering for home delivery, so a 5 star meal is just a few clicks away. As an unwilling cook, these services are priceless to me, especially on those evenings when the baby refuses to go to bed and by 9pm we are exhausted and wondering what we can have for dinner. The delivery guys are starting to become good friends of ours.
No, not just a meal somewhere between breakfast and lunch, to ease the headache after a big night out.
Here, ‘brunch’ means something entirely different. Think all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganza with unlimited beverages of the soft or adult variety. The Friday brunch is a legendary phenomenon (our weekends are Friday and Saturday, we don’t just take Friday off work to indulge, for those who were wondering!). These events happen at virtually all hotels and run from around 12noon to 4pm. During this time, one can eat and drink an unlimited amount. The buffets are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, food from all over the globe, presented beautifully. A dieter’s nightmare.
For me, the desserts are the killer. One hotel even has a dessert ROOM, no kidding. Many a time I’ve left at the end of a brunch with a sugar headache after trying pretty much one of everything.
I’m limiting brunches as much as possible at the moment but it would only take one to undo all my ‘good’ work (although I’m not sure putting on a pound actually counts as good work). For those not in UAE, if you ever visit, you must try one. I might even join you, especially if it’s at the hotel with the dessert room.
In view of all of the above, I’m actually coming around to the fact that I may just need to learn to love the Mummy Tummy.
Mums should be a bit cuddly, right??
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