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FFJD: I’ll Have The Burger With Some Salad

I get a weekly email, Skinny & The City, that sort of tells me low-cal recipes and crap that sometimes I read or delete faster than you can say “I’ll have the fries.”

The newsletter often follows the trials and tribulations of one dieter. A recent email talked about eating on a first date: Can you diet? What should you order? Should you care what he thinks of you in regards to food?

These are all tricky and nuanced issues, far more for women than men. But eating on a first date is tough and often awkward.

You don’t want to be “that girl” who orders a salad, because we wouldn’t want the prospective man to think that we’re boring dieters. Which is interesting, because men also want to be physically attracted to the girl they’re going out with, which can often be thought to require (not require per se, but be aided by) dieting. This is not to say that all men want thin women, but a lot of them do.

This complex relationship between dieting and dating is coupled with our thin ideal that especially is present in Hollywood: you should be pin-thin but you should never admit how you did it. Instead, celebrities will often say they just “lost their baby fat” (which KILLS me, like o rly? You have baby fat at 25?) or eat “fish and veggies!” aka Adderall and Diet Coke.

Let’s be real.

Sometimes this ideal can cloud our judgment and cause us to make unhealthy decisions for the pursuit of a “perfect body.” But let’s get back to dating.

If you are trying to eat more healthfully (of which the term is fluid, to lose weight, to gain weight, to reduce blood pressure, etc) what if you feel pressure to order something unhealthy to send a message to your date? This is a strange kind of pressure that I’m not even sure exists in the eyes of men, but it definitely does for girls. This is all complex enough, added in with guys’ frequent desire for girls who “eat,” (which I find interestingly prevalent in JDate profiles, probably influenced by this thin ideal that strong affects Jewish women. Let’s be honest, 3/4 of “Sushi With My Girls,” although very hilarz and poignant, was poking fun at the ED subculture among JAPs and their friends.)

I am making rampant generalizations, I realize. There is some middle ground with regards to what you order, but women receive a lot of mixed messaging about food in general. Which is an extensive topic for another time.

A friend told me a story of a first date with her now boyfriend, where she ate a burger before the date and then had a salad with the dude. He noticed the ketchup on her dress and she was mortified. Why did she feel this pressure to eat what she wanted before she saw the guy? Is this the reverse situation, where she wants to seem “healthy”? Two years later they’re together, ketchup and all. So I’m not really sure what point of mine that proves. Basically, order whatever the fuck you want.

Obviously the food shouldn’t be the focal point of a first date anyway, but it probably doesn’t go without thought from one party.

I think that you should do what you want when it comes to food on a first date. If you want the salad, get the salad. If you want the steak, get the steak.

If a guy can’t deal with your food choices, he certainly doesn’t deserve you.

What do you think?


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