Getting a Handle on the Fondue Effect

Ahhh…Fondue. It’s delicious and it’s fun. It’s also a gooey metaphor for a mistake we all make in life.

If you’ve never indulged in fondue, it’s basically a meal where you take little bits of solid things and dunk them into various kinds of liquid things. Little bits of bread go into cheese sauce…little bits of meat go into savory sauce…little bits of pastry go into chocolate sauce.

It all sounds innocent enough. After all, how much damage could a bunch of little bits cause anyone?

If you find yourself agreeing with this assumption, I ask you this: why is it that so many people start out eating fondue looking like this:

Blog - before fondue


And finish up the meal looking like this:


Blog - after fondue

It’s because of what I call the Fondue Effect.

I learned this lesson the hard way, after more than one post-fondue, bloated, uncomfortable night’s sleep.

The problem has to with those seemingly innocent but quite deceptive little bits. Those bits lure us in throughout the meal, even as we grow fuller and fuller. They call to us as we look at another dripping morsel. Then another.

Don’t worry, they say, it’s just one more little bit. It won’t make a difference.

And so we indulge. And we indulge again.

And we realize, too late, that those little bits quickly add up…and become a big problem.

We experience the Fondue Effect all the time:

  • We work an extra 20 minutes at the office, telling ourselves it won’t make a difference because, really, it’s just a little bit of time. Then we do it again. And again. And soon we find we know nothing about how our kid is doing in school.
  • We go out to lunch with friends at the office, telling ourselves it won’t make a difference because, really, it’s not that expensive. And then we do it again. And again. And then our monthly credit card statement goes up $250.
  • We talk negatively about our bad hair-day or our recent screw-up to others, telling ourselves it won’t make any difference because, really, it’s all just good fun. And then we do it again. And again. And then we find we feel pretty crappy about ourselves all of the time.

The Fondue Effect can wreak havoc on our relationships…on our health…on our savings accounts. And it’s all due to those little bits.

Now, to be fair, engaging in something that isn’t good for us every now and again isn’t an issue. And sometimes the Fondue Effect can actually work in our favor – where we add something positive into our lives a little at a time and get great results.


It’s important to know the other, darker side of the story…how we can convince ourselves to indulge in something that’s not good for us by telling ourselves that it’s small or a one-time thing. And then we tell ourselves the same story over and over, indulging again and again.

The good news is that counteracting the Fondue Effect is possible. Behold, a few strategies…

  • First, face the truth about whatever you’re doing that isn’t great for you. Know that little bits add up in the blink of an eye.
  • Have a game plan ahead of time. Know what you’ll tell yourself and what potential consequences you’ll envision to keep yourself from over-indulging.
  • And when those consequences happen every now and then, do not beat yourself up. Simply know that the Fondue Effect has gotten the best of you for the moment, and that now is the perfect time to put an end to it.

Yes, life is for the living. And fondue can be awesome when the time is right. The trick is just remembering how those little bits can add up…and knowing how to keep them from doing so.

And, sometimes, it’s about knowing when you need to just skip the bits altogether…and go for a bigger, better option.

Just so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

blog - sandwich

This week…

Understand the Fondue Effect. Know how those little bits can add up to big problems in your life.  Stop convincing yourselves that they don’t make a difference.

And know that, for the most part, your life will be better without them.

Now go do good…and do it well.



photo credit: Jiuck via photopin cc

12 thoughts on “Getting a Handle on the Fondue Effect

  1. Liliya says:

    Great post, Deirdre ! As usual 🙂 I love the Fondue effect and indeed we all get caught in it quite often… will post this on my page 🙂
    Cheers ! And Happy New Year !

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Thanks so much Liliya – I appreciate it and it’s so great to hear from you! I hope all is going great for you…Happy New Year as well!

  2. Theo says:

    Thanks for the post, Deirdre! What a great way to visualize the art of overindulging! I was beaten by a Fondue Feast this fall, so your blog is a great reminder to not nibble too much or bite off more than one can chew. My plan for at least one portion of the feast is to delegate better and be okay with not taking on more. Focus on the protein, rather than the dessert. Here’s to a great 2015!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Sounds like an awesome plan, Theo – delegation and boundaries are easier said than done, but can definitely fend off the Fondue Effect. Here’s to less bloat in 2015!

  3. Rancy says:

    Wow, what a great analogy! Somewhat like having a Starbuck’s habit, huh. It may be just a Mocha a day, yet it adds to your waistline and subtracts from your wallet. Better to make a conscious choice than to mindlessly keep adding one little bit at a time.

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Love the Starbucks analogy…and who can’t relate to that??!! Thanks for the comment Rancy 🙂

  4. Patty says:

    Great analogy Deirdre – fondue and overindulging! I have heard it said that denial is the shock absorber of the soul. When we don’t want to look at whatever we really should and we indulge in our food/money etc fantasies. I like your game plan.Know where you’re going!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      I love your saying about denial, Patty. So true! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  5. Rick O. says:

    Excellent post with insightful observations.

    One way I’ve found to break bad habits and make new good ones is to just focus on changing one little thing one day at a time. When I string enough days together, I sometimes end up with amazing positive results.

    Keep on writing!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Such a great point, Rick. There really is an upside to the Fondue Effect…one that leaves you feeling much lighter (read: significantly less bloated). Thanks for posting your thoughts!

  6. Jan T says:

    Really like the way you gathered up a few tasty thoughts into a metaphor for letting the pattern of excesses creep into some totally unrelated areas . What looks like you’re moving along a flat surface sure becomes that ‘slippery slope’ that can get pretty steep.

    I’ll use the two words, “Fondue Effect” as triggers to stop and regroup. Many thanks for taking a couple of words and making them speak volumes!

    1. Deirdre Maloney says:

      Thanks very much, Jan! That pesky “slippery slope” haunts me regularly. But I actually have the same strategy you mentioned…and saying the words “Fondue Effect” when I’m in the midst of it actually makes me stop in my tracks so that I can at least make an intentional decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *