Ruby has had the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on constant rotation all weekend. The basic gist of the movie is that a wanna-be scientist finds a way to make the water in the air into any food, which then rains down on his island community where all of the residents have eaten nothing but sardines for years. Throughout the movie, everyone goes crazy stuffing themselves with whatever food is raining down–hamburgers, pancakes, ice cream.
This has started me thinking.
I had this internal conversation this morning as my left over spinach quiche was heating up for breakfast:
Me: *reaches for the tortillas*
Me: I don’t really want tortillas.
Me: But tortillas go with this quiche.
Me: But I don’t want them. I’d rather have more quiche.
Seriously, this went back and forth for a solid minute or so. With me standing there holding a package of corn tortillas in one hand and a frying pan in the other.
I had an interesting conversation with my sister late last night where she said something to me that struck a chord. She said that food is not a recreational activity, it’s a necessity that needs to be controlled.
And I had such a strong reaction to that. Food is a recreational activity. Our brains release all kinds of feel-good hormones and chemicals into our systems as a reward for eating. We eat as celebration. It’s part of the human condition, isn’t it? Relegating food to a controlled necessity is just–it’s depressing.
Here’s the problem: It’s really hard to trust that given free reign, we won’t decide to live solely on chocolate cake.
Well, guess what. According to Spark People, a whole chocolate cake with icing has 1879 calories. So even if you chose to eat an entire chocolate cake, spread over three meals and a couple of snacks, and nothing else all day long, you’re eating a reasonable amount of calories.
But, seriously. Think about eating nothing but chocolate cake all day. It might go down real smooth for breakfast. Even a mid-morning snack. Maybe even lunch. I can almost guarantee you that by dinner, you’ll be looking longingly at something else.
But what if that something else is pizza?
Okay, so you eat pizza all day tomorrow. And maybe hamburgers or bacon or Reece’s peanut butter cups the next day. Maybe after that you only want ice cream.
Before you know it, though, an orange will look really good. And then maybe you have a salad for lunch because fresh vegetables are appealing, and not because you can’t have anything else. Then fish for dinner becomes a treat and not a punishment and you might still want chocolate cake, but not exclusively.
It’s a simple concept that has a lot of programing to overcome in my head. I’m not at the place yet where “I really want a piece of cake” isn’t closely followed by an intense internal conversation about the morality of that piece of cake.
The hard part, for me anyway, is learning to trust myself. I’m getting there, but it’s a slow road. And why shouldn’t it be? I have 30 years of dieting to overcome.