Let’s be honest—first dates are horrible and humiliating experiences. Trying to do and say all the right things so that the other person doesn’t think you’re a complete freak is exhausting and no one likes trying to make small talk with a virtual stranger, no matter how good looking he or she might be. In fact, the cuter someone is, the more pressure there is to make a good first impression. Do make good jokes; don’t bring up politics or religion. Do wear a flattering yet appropriate outfit; don’t dress like a castoff from “Rock of Love.”To make matters worse, a lot of dates revolve around food and dinner is a catastrophe waiting to happen. As if there weren’t already enough things that could go wrong. Eat the wrong thing and you’ll be paying for (or wearing) it all night long. Next time you’re out with someone for the first time, don’t let these foods turn your date into a disaster.
As tasty as they might be, aromatic foods like garlic and onions can wreak havoc on your breath, making it a lot less likely that you’ll go in for a kiss at the end of the night. The chemical compounds that give them their pungent flavor break down into hydrogen sulfide in the stomach (the same stuff that’s in rotten eggs) and your body has no choice but to release the odor on your breath as you exhale. Red meat can sometimes leave a funky taste in your mouth, too, and alcohol can dry out your saliva, allowing bacteria to run rampant. If you must eat that garlic-and-onion steak tartare, there’s not much you can do to eradicate the smell, except wait it out and chew on a bit of parsley.
Don’t Be a Gasbag
I’m just going to come out and say it: try to avoid foods that make you fart. Flatulence is caused by undigestable sugars that ferment in the large intestine. Foods high in these sugars—raffinose, lactose, and fructose—can make you feel bloated and gassy all night long. Beans are the number one culprit, but also watch out for any veggies from the cabbage family (like broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts), large amounts of fruit, and dairy products, if you’re lactose intolerant. If you’re having breath issues and pop a piece of sugar-free gum or a mint, make sure it’s not flavored with sorbitol, a chemical sweetener that’s also a laxative that can cause irritable bowel syndrome.
A Hot Mess
There are lots of foods that don’t cause any particular digestive woes, but are so tricky or cumbersome to eat, that you’ll either wind up looking like a tool or spend so much time concentrating on eating daintily that you’ll ignore your dining companion. Ribs and buffalo wings are bad choices, unless you think your date will be turned on by seeing you with sauce all over your mouth and hands. Spaghetti can be tricky too, if you’re not a master at twirling noodles without flicking marinara sauce all over yourself. Ditto on the wine, since after a couple of glasses, spilling is almost inevitable. Lobster and crab are also bad calls, since cracking claws can be difficult if you’re not a pro. Here’s a good rule of thumb … if you order an entrée and it comes accompanied by wet naps and/or a bib, you have chosen poorly.
A Seedy Affair
What’s less sexy than having seeds and debris all over your teeth? Having to bust out a toothpick or dental floss to fix the situation. It happens to everyone on occasion, but it’s super embarrassing when, in a dimly lit restaurant, your date leans over the table and gently whispers into your ear, “You have tooth boogers.” Foods like spinach, strawberries, raspberries, or corn on the cob are notorious for leaving souvenirs stuck between your molars. Unless you’re a pro at discreetly removing the remnants, it might be more effective to just avoid these foods.
A Food Coma
There’s a reason that snakes sleep for a week after eating a whole rabbit. Most foods are fine in small amounts, but huge quantities of anything are a recipe for trouble. Giant helpings of starchy, dense foods like lasagna, macaroni and cheese, biscuits and gravy, or anything fried and slathered in cream sauce might not be the best option if you have plans to go bowling after dinner, or just plan to remain awake and upright. Eating too much will make you feel like there’s a brick sitting in your stomach … not conducive to merrymaking or making out. After a big meal, your body devotes most of its resources to digestion, so you end up feeling drowsy and sluggish. Not to mention that you’ve possibly popped a button on your pants.
Is Nothing Safe?
So—pasta, red meat, and vegetables are out, as are shellfish, beer, and red wine. What’s left? Tuna, tomatoes, and bottled water? Ultimately, when you’re on a date, you should order what you like and what you think will taste good. If chicken with forty cloves of garlic is your thing, go for it, and hope that your date doesn’t mind. If you’re at a sports bar, there’s no reason not to split a bucket of wings, as long as you’ll be sharing the humiliation of blue cheese all over your mouth. The good news is that once you’ve been with someone for a while, you can get away with eating pretty much whatever you want, and he or she will love you anyway.
If you do choose a risky food on a date and the worst case scenario happens, how you handle the situation can make all the difference. A few years ago, I went on a date with a guy and proceeded to dribble a glass of cabernet all over my white dress. Instead of running home and hiding my head in shame, I borrowed a t-shirt and boxer shorts, let him throw my dress into the wash, and kept having fun. In the end, my dress was clean, my date felt like a stain-fighting hero, and three years later, we’re still together.
By Allison Ford. Want to read more articles like this one? Check out DivineCaroline.com or these related links: