Friday, January 8, 2010

Pleasure Without the Price

Sometimes I walk around the supermarket looking at all of the tasty-looking treats and knowing from my experience checking labels that the price to be paid for the enjoyment is not worth it. That nice-looking slice of Swiss cake roll over there is going to be 300 calories. That's as much as I spend on breakfast or 2/3 of a substantial snack. That innocent looking bit of cheese is 100 calories for two nibbles and I could have a banana for that cost.

For many years, I realized that there was a price for bad eating choices, but I pretended that price didn't apply to me because I was already fat. I was like the credit card user who sees the balance going up, but keeps spending because what's another $5, $10, $15, or $20 a month in payment on the bill when I can have what I want now? I'm already in debt, what's a little more? It's not like denying myself is going to change my status any time soon.

When I think about those tasty foods, I'll wish, on occasion, that I could have the pleasure of those foods without the price. I'll wish that someone would invent wonderful food that had great texture and flavor for zero calories, or for a fraction of the current price. I think that this wish is not one that only I have had and is part of what has us eating so much manufactured and processed diet food. We want the good without the bad, and when someone offers us a chance at this gustatory brass ring, we grab it. It always ends up that the ring is cheap plastic painted the same color as brass and we're sorely disappointed, but we keep grabbing anyway.

Part of coming to terms in a meaningful way with my problem has been recognizing that the price of overeating applies to me even if I'm already fat. Because I've been overweight nearly my entire life, it took health problems that were frightening and painful as well as a looming life change to make me wake up and smell the proverbial coffee. You can hate yourself everyday and still not change if you think that the change is never going to be meaningful enough to sacrifice the pleasures of food. And if you've spent more years fat than thin, it's going to be damn hard to believe you'll ever be thin. Even now, I'm not sure I'll ever actually be thin, but I'll settle for healthy.

Another part of coming to terms with my problems has been realizing that piling more food "debt" on my current debt is not staying in the same state, but rather getting worse and worse. Being fat is bad. Being obese is worse. Being morbidly obese even worse yet. It took my heart pounding on random occasions while I was sitting down or walking short distances to make me see that I was about to go bankrupt on the health front from accumulating too much food "debt". With the weight I've lost and the changes I've made, the heart pounding experience has almost completely vanished.

The next point that I really want to come to terms with is the idea that there will never be pleasure without a price when it comes to food so I need to stop wishing for that and just accept that the hot fudge sundaes are like buying a diamond ring whereas the carrot is like a dollar bauble from a kid's vending machine. There's never going to be a free ride, and I need to stop hoping and looking for it if I'm ever going to have a healthy relationship with food.


Phat Fighter said...

This was an amazing post. The line "if you've spent more years fat than thin, you might never believe you can be thin" (i paraphrased but you know which one) It smacked me across the face because my entire life I was made to feel fat when I wasn't, until I believed I was. And then strings of yo-yo diets from age 10 and up have just made the problem explode into a seriously life threatening situation. Being morbidly obese.. that term hurts. I know, I've been there. I am there. Even though I can look at someone and see they are bigger than me, the bottom line is due to my body structure and musculature I will still weigh more than them.

Thank you for the new way to think about the cost of food, since i'm obsessed with finance and my money putting it in that perspective will realy help

your amazing =)

screaming fatgirl said...

Thanks for your very kind comment, phat fighter! It encourages me to keep blogging about these types of things!

I had never thought about food this way either, though my husband often tells me that I have to view the distribution of my weight loss (which often frustrates me) as paying off the "interest" (my upper body fat) before I get to the "principle" (my lower body fat). His analogy probably paved the way for this type of thinking.

I do wonder if there is a link in our inability to balance our checkbooks and balance our diets - as if there is a conceptual issue at play. The Japanese are some of the best savers in the world and have very little debt per capita and few of them are fat. Maybe that's the link instead of all of the other claptrap we hear.