This weekend I was at a housewarming party, and the two areas where people congregated were the kitchen/bar set up, and the outside balcony with the smoking set up. I must admit that these days I have become a bit of a health bore at parties. Someone tells someone that I am a health writer, and a small group of people insist on having a deep long discussion on my theories on health. This is of course very annoying to the broader group who either couldn’t care less, or who would just prefer more idle chit chat at parties rather than deep discussions, or more simply they have heard my stuff a dozen times and are happy to not hear it again! To those dear friends who continue to put up with my rants, a big thank you!
Next time you are at a party, look at the two groups of people, let’s call them the munchers and the smokers. Broadly speaking, no pun intended, you will notice that the munchers are much bigger in girth than the smokers, who look generally lean and fit!
There are many reasons for this of course. It is said that nicotine suppresses hunger. But what if it is not so much a suppressant of hunger as a replacement of munching time? Let us say the average time to smoke a cigarette is 6 minutes. In this time, the average muncher has gone through about one serving of Doritos, which is about 350 calories including 53gms of carbohydrates. If a smoker has say five cigarettes during a party, which is on the low side, during this time the muncher has gone through an extra 250gms of carb junk food. Of course this is a very simplified model because one can argue that the smoker will finish her cigarette, come in to the kitchen and munch to her heart’s content. It is also true that even hardcore munchers take breaks from their carb inhaling.
What I am highlighting here is how easy it is at a party to ingest a quarter of a kilo of junk carbs.
Smokers will always consume less than non-smokers because 1) Nictoine suppresses hunger 2) time taken to smoke instead of munch 3) food tastes disgusting after a cigarette 4) smoking is a distraction from munching.
Do not for a moment think that I support smoking. The simple truth is that smokers live 13-14 years less than non-smokers. A smoker has a 1 in 7 chance of getting lung cancer. This may seem like an acceptable risk to some, but these are the same people who buy lottery tickets along with their cigarettes at the newsagents, and the chance of winning the lottery is 1 in 7 million! Yes, smokers are a million times more likely to get lung cancer than win the lottery! And smokers may be lean but they are not fit in any sense of the word. I am yet to find an athlete smoker in any strenuous sport who can compete with a non-smoker of comparable training and talent.
The point I am making in this article is that both munching and smoking at parties have their own downsides. So here is a simple checklist for the munchers to have a great time at parties and stay healthy at the same time.
- Do not eat the chips and the crackers and the bread and the corn snacks.
- Instead, serve yourself some of the dip in a bowl, get a small dessert spoon, and just take bites of dip. Eat as much dip as you like, it is still a lot healthier than the chips.
- Do not drink beer or white wine. Stick to red wine and whisky.
- If you must have cocktails, do not have sugary ones. Stay with gin and tonics.
- Do not save room for dessert. Fill your belly up with extra meat and vegetables.
- Last but not least, do not accept any prompting on eating from anyone with more than 20% body fat. Remember that most people have an unconscious drive to remake the world (and their friends) in their own image.