I’m getting fed up. On the one hand, I want to eat well for health and happiness and all that. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend a ton of time worrying about what I eat, or feeling deprived, or counting calories. The biggest hurdle I’m encountering in trying to achieve that long-sought balance is dessert.
In one ear, I’m telling myself that it’s okay to do without dessert more often than not. That it’s not necessary for completing a meal, and that it’s a bad habit best done without. The sooner I kick it, the better (much easier said than done).
In the other ear is my paternal grandmother. She’s well into her 90s now, and she’s telling me it’s not worth doing without. I should enjoy myself, worry-free, while I’m young and able, and not get hung up on ideas like long life or what my body looks like.
This all comes on the news that the Fella and I have both gained about 2″ of waistline over the summer. He’s also gained nearly 10lbs. I haven’t gained anything, which is worrying for different reasons.
And I don’t think we’ve been especially debaucherous. We stick pretty closely to a good, vegan-ish diet for five days of every seven. While we do splash out those other two days, we both lose our taste for junk before the weekend’s out.
Yet it adds up. Were I to put a finger to a particular culprit, I would blame booze. Those liquid calories go down too easily, and don’t take up the kind of space that solid ones do. Not to mention that being even slightly drunk instigates snackiness, which invariably means chips, or crackers, or similar.
So though I feel that minimizing or eliminating ‘treats’ is the obvious answer to this dilemma, I’m still nagged by the notion that we will be depriving ourselves. We’ll be living less fully or happily because we go without dessert most nights, or because we limit ourselves to one alcoholic beverage per day of the weekend.
But that’s just as clearly nonsense. What makes me unhappy (and the Fella too, I think) is being fat. Is being uncomfortable in my own skin. Is feeling sick, or tired, or depressed from eating garbage, to the point where it seems like the only solution is to soothe myself by eating more garbage. How can it be deprivation to not eat said garbage in the first bloody place?
We so strongly tie our emotional well-being to food. The act of eating, and the rituals that surround it in particular, are packed with emotion. Just yesterday we agreed that what we like most about getting our ‘treat’ of Sunday breakfast bagels with cream cheese has almost nothing to do with the bagels themselves. They’re barely even bagels – just soft bread hoops, with an uneven spread of plastic-y foiled brick cream cheese. But we have this ritual.
We take the dog downstairs for his first potty break of the day. Then I go back home with the pup, and the Fella takes a jog to the local national coffee-and-donut chain. By the time he gets back, I’ve got cups and plates set out, and our Sunday YouTube lineup cued on the TV. We sit and much, and watch a couple of videos. And that’s it.
It may not seem like much, but it’s become our little thing. We both like the thing, because it’s ours, and we spend those moments together. We pause the video and talk about what it’s made us think about. But the thing and the food go together. Take the food out of the equation, and it’s just not the same.
With this problem, as with any problem, any solution we arrive at must be practical yet sustainable. And any sustainable solution is going to be predicated on achieving balance. What may work is paring back everything, then examining the foods or habits we might want to add back and asking ourselves how much value these things possess. Are they worth adding back in? How badly have we missed them? Have we even missed them at all?
I’m not opposed to altering or replacing our Sunday ritual, but I feel if we kept nothing else, I’d like to keep it. Something about the pleasing arrangement of tasks, about the time of day. It’s early enough that it’s unlikely to be interfered with, unless we stay the night before at someone else’s place. And it’s just a few moments when we’re home together that’s just for sitting quietly, and munching, and watching telly.
Surely that’s worth giving up dessert for.