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GMing for Weight Loss

Gaming is a fairly sedentary activity, and the extended periods of time involved and predilection towards consuming huge amounts of Cheetos and Dew doesn’t really help either. As a GM, you probably have a bit more pull over your group than as a player, and that can be used to your advantage when trying to eat healthier and loose weight. Here are a few tips to encourage some weight loss while you’re GMing, or at least minimize the damage.

“Where’re the Cheetos?
Easy stuff first: don’t bring snacks for yourself, and ask your players not to share with you. If you’re feeling weak-willed but brave you could ask your players not to bring snacks at all. On the other hand it’s probably safer to ask them to bring healthier snacks like carrots, popcorn and juice.

Bringing food to gaming seems to be a traditional thing, but in my experience I’m not sure if most people are actually hungry or if they just expect to eat. I don’t normally snack, but during game that goes right out the window. Eating is a social thing, so again, asking your players to cut back on the snacks can help. Another part of that may be because gaming is done around a table, and what else do you do at tables? Eat. Try moving your game to the living room couches, if it’s not too disruptive.

Number 6 on the Speed Dial
Some groups game over meal times and have to coordinate actual food, not just snacks. In any given group of people the only food acceptable to all of them is either pepperoni or cheese pizza, and sometimes not even that. It’s also painful to try to organize food when you’re hungry – it’s easier to give in to unhealthy options if it means getting food faster. Try organizing your food arrangement ahead of time, and determine dietary “restrictions” before hand so you can suggest healthier options that your players may actually agree with. Sometimes you can’t find options that please everyone, but those with more restrictive eating habits are usually OK with getting food on their own.

Instead of going out, try eating in. It’s pretty easy to set up a slow-cooker to make some chili, pre-chop veggies for a quick stir fry, or assemble a lasagna and pop it in the oven before game. It’s especially helpful if there’s a non-player in the house who’s willing to help out (like your amazing and wonderful spouse or roommate). Eating in is much cheaper for everyone, but make sure you ask your players to kick in a couple of bucks now and then to offset the costs to you.

En Garde!
Lastly, I have a couple of non-food tips. First, stand up instead of sitting. Standing burns more calories and and makes you more likely to move. Get rid of your chair if necessary. Second, get really into the game – do voices and sound effects, wave your arms, speak in character, dance around and dodge like someone is poking you with a sword. Moving burns calories and being immersed in the game can help you to ignore the food.

These tips aren’t exactly going to melt the pounds off, but they can be a useful way to help curb unhealthy habits and encourage good ones. I’m sure you’ve got more tips, so let us know in the comments.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "GMing for Weight Loss"

#1 Comment By Adrian On June 11, 2008 @ 5:34 am

As our group has gotten older, we have found that our gaming diet has changed. Gone are the days of no stop cola or beer and solid fat snacks.

We now game more over dinner time, so I tend to organise food such as a curry or pasta sauce as was suggested. We find that way, we are much less likely to snack so much on chips and sweets.

We are also now more likely now to have only a couple of beers and then head to water. There is nothing that will put a dampener on a session more than a bunch of snoozy, well fed and inebriated 30+ year olds.

I think we all feel less of the post game day blues(read indigestion and blood sugar levels gone crazy) as well.

#2 Comment By brcarl On June 11, 2008 @ 11:04 am

I agree with all of the suggestions, but I’d also offer that the gaming table might be a place where you can relax on healthy eating habits.

My groups are also made up of all 30-somethings (some older), and with our busy schedules we’re lucky to get together twice a month on average. As such, the guys really look at it as their “poker night,” where they can kick back and just enjoy the time without worrying about real world responsibilities — including healthy eating.

Most of the time our bad habits are contained to splitting a box of some Little Debbie fat-bomb somethingorothers, plus everyone has their poison of choice. Jack and coke seems to be a favorite; I usually stick with Mike’s.

Anyway, I guess it comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish. If you have a weight problem or other health issue that can be complicated by even a single night of bad eating, then by all means, take some measures as described. But for the occasional group that meets as much for escapism as for gaming, I would bet you can go ahead and guzzle that third beer (just make sure to cut them off in time for the drive home!)

#3 Comment By lynxnc On June 11, 2008 @ 11:19 am

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but my GM is a chef. We eat really well most nights. LOL. One option that we do alot in the summer months is grilling out. You can grill alot of things that aren’t so bad health wise. Someone gets the charcoal started, we game a bit, then put whatever on the grill, sometimes game a little more, and then eat. In the winter months, we generally get someone bring a crock pot where we make soup, chili, etc. with everyone contributing to the ingredients. Granted, we most of the time still have our share of junk food and alcohol, but we snack on a veggie and fruit trays too.

#4 Comment By Martin Ralya On June 11, 2008 @ 11:37 am

@brcarl: Yep, I agree about game night being “night off from my diet night.”

I like the idea of eating healthy on game night — it’s a great post, Adam, and sound advice — but I eat healthy the rest of the week. Game night is when I get to eat grease-laden pizza and not worry about it. 😉

I have cut out fatty snacks during games, though, and I’ve noticed I have more energy at the table. Lighter, fat-free or low fat stuff seems to be a better fit than candy and straight-up junk food. Pretzel sticks are my new favorite gaming snack — fat-free, low calorie and they’re not messy.

#5 Comment By BryanB On June 11, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

I game about every two weeks. My current diet allows for two free days out of every fourteen. This works well for the gaming schedule. While I try to limit myself to smaller portions and less sugar, I still eat whatever I want on game day. Gaming is a social activity and snacking at the game table is part of the fun.

That being said, I hardly get to snack at all as a GM. I’m much to engaged with the game to get much more than a bite or two and a swig of Coke Zero to wash it down. Even when two players are bantering, I often get caught up in the fun and forget to take a bite. I’ve put three slices of pizza on my plate before and had two of them left at the end of a session.

One thing my current group has been doing, for the most part, is to take a break in the middle of the game for dinner. We have 6 to 6 and half hour sessions so this is workable for us. A shorter session might not be able to accomodate this. Even with people bringing food, taking a short eating break helps the GM to get his fill. It also facilitates player discussion about the game and that has been fun to. Some of the best strategies to come forth have been thought up over pizza or Chinese food.

Certainly some snacks are more healthy than others. When I feel that I have overdone it on chips or candy, I’m usually inclined to take apple slices or carrots and dip. Cucumbers and ranch are also a good snack. Pretzels aren’t bad but they are high in carbs when eaten in large quantities. I’m well past the days of bringing whole boxes of Twinkies to the table.