Every day, like most people, I need to make a choice whether to eat what I want to eat or to eat what I “should” eat (“should” is in quotes because this is what I’m thinking every time I plan to chow down: “Well, I want this but I should have this instead”). These decisions should come easy for someone who is pushing 40, what with all the years of practice, but it’s been getting harder and harder – sometimes, I’ll stare at a menu for over 10 minutes before deciding on the most ridiculous, deluxe, combo thing that I definitely don’t need to eat… with plenty of remorse.
Comfort has a lot to do with it. The pleasure you get from those artery-clogging treats and cheesy tidbits is such a powerful feeling. (And when it feels good, why not have some more? Mmmm… s’mores…) I’m very attached to comfort food, it’s very emotional. But the decision to eat something that’s good for you is too intellectual, it can confuse the average person who has all of the blood in their brain draining to their tongue and is not in the mood to weigh the options.
Another issue is money. Healthy options seem to lose a lot of value when you’re aware of how unsatisfied you’re going to feel afterwards. Why would I spend $7.50 for a “lite & fit” egg-white omelet (without cheese? Wouldn’t that just be scrambled eggs?) with low-sodium toast and fruit, when I could have half-a-dozen sausages, a pound of cheese, and all of the pancakes that I could possibly ingest for $7.49? Come on, give me some incentive! This frame of mind carries over into the realm of regular grocery-shopping, as well. I regularly visit the “clearance” room (an unappetizing foyer located in front of the mens’ room) at my local “Ralph’s”. Most recently I scored with a slightly damaged box of Krusteaz Banana Bread mix for an astonishing $.50! (Review to be posted soon.) How can kale compete with that?
So, how can I turn the healthy decision into something that’s less of a life/death decision and more of a second-nature choice (as it probably should be)? How can someone obey their cravings in the face of astonishing medical evidence that our treats are gradually increasing our risk of heart-disease, steadily clogging our arteries (I call it “arterial motive”)? Personally, I like to “trick” myself into thinking about the evils of the food… the environmental impact or how I might be helping mega corporations to exploit indigenous peoples. (Want some chocolate? Just remind yourself that those beans might not be “fair-trade”, and “POOF!” your craving disappears.) But, predictably, this hardly ever works.
I may never find the perfect solution – where every day is a perfectly planned experience of reasonable square meals (and some light snacking). And that’s probably for the best. None of my friends have it figured out, either. I would be a real drag to hang out with if I became a prima donna about my food. Who wants to go out with an uptight eater? I’ve known quite a few of these types over the years, and I can guarantee you that they are also the ones that keep Twinkies hidden in their bathrooms and feel ashamed every time that sugar even crosses their minds. That’s no way to live. After all, while it’s hard to have a positive self-image when your love-handles are rapidly expanding, it sure as hell beats living in a personal hell where your food desires drive you crazy.
All right, 2014. Bring on the culinary delights, bring on the new cronuts, the home-made ding dongs. I’ll resist the temptation at first, but… well, if you insist.