Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Silencing Cookie Monster

I found something the other day scribbled down in an old notebook. I vaguely remember it being a draft for a characterization exercise for one of my theatre classes in college. The scary thing is, I can recall times in my life when I shared a similar thought pattern over what I should or shouldn’t be eating.

Oh, that cookie looks so good. Just look at the chocolate chunks in that sucker. Mmmmmm…. But I can’t eat that cookie. It’s huge. I bet it’s at least 500 calories. Maybe more. I don’t want to even think about how many fat grams are probably crammed into that circle of deliciousness. It looks so chewy and gooey and good. I wish I had a super fast mutant metabolism. Then I could eat it and not have to worry about it showing up later in the form of cellulite on my thighs or as a soft pooch on my belly. At least I can suck in my stomach. Why can’t we suck in our butt or thighs?

I have been good today though. All I had for lunch was a big salad. I did use some dressing though, but it was the light stuff. I’ve been exercising every day, too. Don’t I deserve a little treat? I mean, it’s just a cookie. I could skip a meal tomorrow to compensate for the extra calories. Or I could workout twice in one day.

Maybe I should try on my jeans first. If they feel big, then I should definitely just eat the cookie. Or, I could weigh myself. Or better yet, why don’t I just have one bite? I don’t have to eat the whole thing. One tiny morsel won’t hurt me. That’s the perfect solution. Here, I’ll break off this tiny piece and put it in my mouth….

Oh, my goodness. That is so good. It tastes even better than it looks. Maybe I’ll have just one more bite. Besides, the chocolate taste like dark chocolate, and dark chocolate is good for you. I mean, I’ll be fighting cancer if I eat some more of this cookie. Just one more tiny bite… Oh, so yummy. Well, gee. Now I’ve already messed up. What’s the point of leaving half a cookie? I might as well go ahead and eat the rest of it. Yummy! That was so good.

Wait a minute. What did I just do? I can’t believe I just ate that entire cookie! It’s the size of a freakin’ plate. I swear, I’ll never do that again. I need to go to the gym…right now. I’ve got to burn off some extra calories. I’m so weak. Geez…the stupid cookie wasn’t even that good. It tasted kind of artificial, really. It was too chewy, too gooey.

No more cookies for me…ever. Except maybe at Christmas. And I can have some cookie cake on my birthday. But that’s it. I’m detoxing my body of all processed food starting tomorrow. What’s wrong with me? I feel fat already. I bet I’ve already gained a pound, and my jeans will definitely be tighter. I’m going to go try them on now…

A little funny? Yes. And a bit sad, too? Definitely.

Perhaps you’re wondering who really spends that much time thinking about a stupid cookie besides that furry blue monster that entertains preschoolers. I’d bet more people than you’d think.

And even if most of us don’t agonize that much over one cookie, I’ve heard plenty of people talk about their constant struggles with food choices.

Now let’s think about all that cookie and body angst this way: Just consider for a moment what would happen if we took all the time we spend obsessing about what we eat or how we look and used it instead to pray. We may not look like Heidi Klum (or Brad Pitt for you men out there), but we’d surely be more at peace.

I admit I sometimes still categorize food into good and bad categories, but as my husband reminds me: There is no good or bad food. It’s just food – fuel for your body. Some of it’s better for your body, of course. Whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and veggies are the premium fuel. But consuming the other stuff – cookies, salty chips, butter and fried food – in moderation won’t sabotage our health.

Most of the time when I start obsessing about ice cream or a piece of chocolate, I just allow myself a small indulgence and I really savor its taste. If I start to feel guilty about noshing on something that’s less than nutritious, then I remind myself that the virtues of prudence and temperance are helpful in achieving balance when it comes to healthy eating and living. When we apply the order of reason, enjoying an occasional ice cream sundae or full-bodied glass of wine won’t kill us, and indulging in them every once in awhile does not make us bad or weak.

So, here’s my advice for today: Give in to a craving. Enjoy it. Eat it slowly, and savor the taste, the texture, everything you love about it. And when you’re finished, do not feel guilty. I repeat: DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. If you start to, go on a walk and thank God for your taste buds and everything else he’s given you. And the next time you’re tempted to start obsessing about what you eat or don’t eat, try praying instead.


Jamie said...

Well, that conversation with the cookie, I've had before!! It's weird, how we feel after eating 1 thing we are not supposed to, like a cookie and then feel like we've gained a pound and we just feel fatter. Why don't skinny people feel like that?

Great post. Balance is the key. It IS ok to give into a craving once in a while, just not every day, all day!

*Mia Jude* said...

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS POST! It is funny because I actually had almost that same conversation with a cookie last week! I ate the whole thing and there was non-stop chatter going on in my mind the whole time. And I felt anxious and worried the whole day after I ate the cookie. I couldn't concentrate on anything else. Thanks for the uplifting advice about these types of foods, and about prayer.

I am going to try my best to not be afraid of eating a treat every once in a while.