Dulcis in Fundo

By Irene Schiff, photograph by Attilio Ruffo

The "last sweets" said the Latins, and at the end of the year it is a moment that is particulary... sweet.

Sweet because we remember a birth, therefore an important event. Sweet because it is the birth of the Lord, therefore an act of faith. Sweet because we remember moments of our youth, therefore we relive emotions more or less far away. Sweet because we find ourselves among friends and relatives, therefore we are creating stronger family and relational bonds. Sweet because there is an exchange of gifts, therefore there is curiosity and gratitude. Sweet because the tables are sumptuously laid out and therefore we are tasting (it is appropriate to say) the quantity as much as the quality of the food. Whatever the reason is, the metaphore Dulcis in Fundo becomes a reality and the sentimental sweetness is often transformed in culinary sweetness. Raise your hand if you do not let yourself be tempted by the deliciousness of the food! However, there are those who do it for pleasure and those caught with feelings of guilt. And now, between pastries and chocolate candies and, soon, the sweets of the carnival, we can find ourselves with tight-fitting clothes and with the boring idea of having to, yet again, lose a few pounds. But is it possible to follow a regular diet or take up a weight loss program without feeling depressed, frustrated or angered?
A diet, said someone, is that brief and useless period of time which occurs between two long periods of excessive food intake. Therefore, to make this activity less difficult, it is necessary to try and understand what is our relationship with food. Why do we experience variations in our weight? It is obvious that I am not referring only to those experienced in special occasions like the holidays and get-togethers, but rather these ups and downs we could qualify chronic, which repeat themselves for long periods throughout the year.
We have to ask ourselves the reasons we have eaten more or less than necessary and what needs to be done to change this. To throw oneself in food or, on the contrary, to diet excessively can hide psychological needs and discomfort and it is also for these reasons that variations in weight do not only depend on the calories we absorb.
Read the following test and respond honestly to the questions. You may discover that the relationship you have with food can be different than what you always thought. Only after having learned about yourself on this angle can you decide how to position yourself in front of a laid out table.
In this test, for each chosen response, there will be an indication as to what path should be followed. Follow the plan that will develop and you will arrive at your psychological profile relating to food.
And now should I wish you good luck or bon appétit?

Holiday food

Pasta and holiday sweets

Sweets made with fruits

Test: The Holidays and food

1) To eat is
a) a pleasure, go to question 3
b) an obligation, go to question 4

2) You eat meat
a) sometimes, go to question 7
b) everyday, go to question 6

3) You prefer?
a) the appetizer, go to question 4
b) the main course, go to question 2Table with food of the Holidays
c) the desert, go to question 7

4) You prefer?
a) breakfast, go to question 5
b) dinner, go to question 7
c) lunch, go to question 8

5) The best way to relax is
a) to sleep, go to question 8
b) to take a walk, go to question 9

6) You end a lunch meal with
a) a fruit, go to question 7
b) a sweet, go to question 11
c) some cheese, go to question 10

7) Vegetables are
a) a pleasure, go to question 12
b) an obligation, go to question 11

8) Gymnastics is best done
a) at home, go to question 7
b) outside, go to question 13
c) in a gym, go to question 12

9) Sauces are
a) a pleasure, go to question 8
b) full of calories, go to question 13

10) To "lift yourself up" you eat
a) a pie, go to PROFILE 2
b) a steak, go to PROFILE 1

11) The best vegetables are
a) fresh, go to question 10
b) fried, go to PROFILE 2

12) A food break is with
a) cookies, go to question 11
b) some water, go to PROFILE 4
c) a carrot, go to PROFILE 3

13) Bread is best
a) white, go to question 12
b) whole, go to PROFILE 4

According to you, food is not only a question of taste but a matter of sophistication and aesthetic pleasure. You give a lot of importance as well to the presentation of the plates, the organization of the table.
That's all right, but once in a while try also the pleasure of a picnic in a park with sandwiches or rice salad!

A lunch is not a lunch unless there is lots of food, stuffing and calories. A sweet is good only if you can throw yourself in it and swim in waves of whipped cream.
But be careful; are you hearing strange little voices? Maybe they are coming from you scale!

Your rule is gym and low-calorie diet; after a little exaggeration you punish yourself with vegetables and a run in the park.
Aesthetics is all right, to be healthy is fine too, but don't be too tough on yourself also because some fat and protein are useful to the body and mind.

Has the doctor told you? Steam-cooked meat, water bread and organic food. It's all right to take care of the essential, but there is nothing wrong to let yourself go once in a while. Next time you are out, make a little sacrifice: go in a pastry shop and try at least a little sweet. You will see that no one will die from it.