So we were sitting around yesterday morning while I was waiting for my first cup of coffee to kick in so I could go down to the basement and workout. Jeff was reading The Seattle Times, and he gets to food writer Nancy Leson’s column about the fact that more Seattle restaurants are starting to charge for the formerly free bread basket.

Jeff: “I swear, that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever…”
Me: “That’s fantastic!”
Jeff: “Huh?”

May I say a big hearty “Thank you” to those restaurants who are no longer offering free bread-and-butter (aka a big huge calorific temptation) before the meal? I love good bread and butter as much as the next person (although I loathe cheap family-holiday-meal dinner rolls). But I feel like a restaurant meal is a bit of a caloric splurge, anyway…the bread and butter just makes it that much worse. Plus, some studies have shown that if you eat all those refined carbohydrates before your meal, you’ll want to eat more during your meal.

It’s all fine and dandy to say to yourself, “Well, when they bring the free bread basket, I just won’t have any.” Really? Have you tried that? How did that work out for you? Because I’ve tried it many times, and I’ve had more failures than successes. The odds of having your willpower (a fickle beast at best) hold up decreases exponentially if others at your table are gleefully chowing down on the basket’s contents and raving about how gooooooood it is. Factor in hunger, and all I can say is “Good luck to you.”

Because I don’t believe that willpower is reliable, I am a firm advocate of not having “problem” foods in your house. You know, those foods that you have trouble eating just a little of? Snack foods are one obvious problem food category, but bread can certainly be another. So, if I decide that I’ve been eating really healthy, and I like the numbers that the scale or the tape measure are giving me, and I want to enjoy some bread before my meal, then fine…let me order the bread basket. If it’s good, artisan bread, I’ll be more than happy to pay a few bucks for it under those circumstances. Otherwise, keep it away, I say!

P.S. Jeff now agrees with me on this topic. I think it initially hit a nerve with him because of an experience we had in Buenos Aires.