I ate a Snickers for breakfast

I like healthy food.  Or, at least, I think I do.  And I have often said: “if only I had healthy food around, healthy options, I would eat a lot better.”

Recently, I have had the opportunity to put this theory to the test.  And…it hasn’t gone that well.

Picture this: you work some place where free food is provided for you.  All the time.  Literally every day there is a refrigerator chock full of fresh fruit, vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and juice, all free for the taking.  There is fresh fruit on the counter too: apples, oranges, bananas, and even little cups of peanut butter to put on the bananas.  There is a water cooler with all the fresh, cool water you can drink.  And a vending machine with fiber bars and other healthy snacks.

But…

The vending machine also carries other offerings: candy bars, chips, Skittles, Starburst, cookies, doughnuts, Honey Buns.  And there is a soda machine with all the delicious sugary soda you can handle.  And every Monday they buy you free lunch from local establishments that often features deep-fried, heavily-sauced options (fried chicken, fettucini alfredo, hush puppies, pizza, catfish, etc…).  And sometimes they throw in other tantalizing extras “just because” (they passed out unlimited Peeps around Easter, they took us all to the movies a few weeks ago, with extra-buttery popcorn included, and sometimes the ice cream truck rolls through and gives everyone whatever they want, free of charge).

In theory, you gratefully select the healthy food so generously provided, ignoring the bad stuff.  In practice…it’s a little bit more complicated.  Or, at least, tougher. 

Because a fiber bar looks okay when it’s your only option.  But sitting next to a Big Mac, it’s no contest.

And that is precisely what happened to me this morning.  Having skipped the most important meal of the day at home, I got to work and went to the fully-stocked break room to figure out what to have for breakfast.  There were good and healthy options aplenty, but there were also the tempting other things to eat for breakfast.  In the end, it came down to a Nutrigrain Bar or a Snickers.  And I think it should be pretty clear which way I went.  A Snickers.  A Snickers and a Diet Pepsi.  For breakfast.  I am so ashamed.      

So I have changed my outlook just a little.  It is no longer “if only I had healthy food around, healthy options, I would eat a lot better,” but “if I ONLY  had healthy options around…I would eat a lot better.”  Because I feel quite certain that, as long as there is tantalizing bad stuff around, I’m not going to be able to stop eating it.  You get bored at work, you don’t want an apple, you want chocolate.

I just want to know, does anyone else have experience with making tough food choices?  And if so, where do you find the self-control?

12 thoughts on “I ate a Snickers for breakfast

  1. I’ve battled this problem for far too long. I know one thing for certain. It’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it. That goes for any vice you’re trying to overcome in life.

    For example, I don’t want to watch the next season of true blood. But if I let myself see the first episode, well, it’s like sitting with a bag of chips in your lap and not eating any of them. Not gonna happen. That was a terribly mixed metaphor, but you get the point.

    • On the contrary, I found your metaphor to be neither terrible nor mixed. In fact, I think you have elevated the whole discussion considerably, and certainly made it more interesting.

      You say “[i]t’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.” I don’t disagree. But this statement operates on the assumption that you WANT to resist. WANT to avoid giving in. That your end goal is not participating in the vice. If that is your end goal then, yes, it is more effectively achieved through avoidance than resistance. But don’t you sort of enjoy the challenge? Enjoy the temptation? Part of me really loved eating that Snickers.

      I am particularly fascinated by your reference to True Blood, which I don’t watch regularly, but have seen enough of to recognize it is a temptation. Why not give in? Why do you not want to give in? What’s the conflict? Its appeal is not exactly like that of an open bag of potato chips. But intriguing!

      • I have to agree that HBO makes some of the best TV. But I just wish that best TV was a little less “real.” I understand that people get all naked, filthy mouthed, and generally debauched at times. I just really don’t want to see it. But I do enjoy good tv. It’s a dilemma.

        I am no officianado of p*rn, but True Blood is the closest thing I’ve seen to compare to it.

        I guess I could shift the paradigm and look at it like a challenge. But, if I’m really going to challenge myself, maybe this is really too easy of an obstacle.

  2. I agree as to HBO generally, but, at least to my (admittedly limited) knowledge and experience, True Blood isn’t “real” at all (and I’m not just referring to the vampire component). True, I have encountered people at least that filthy mouthed, but in terms of the outlandish nudity and gymnastic debauchery, I don’t think that is REALLY going on anywhere (and if it is, I certainly wouldn’t know anything about it).

    Real or not, though, do you REALLY not want to see it? (I suspect I know what your answer will be; I also suspect that you are a better person than I am, not that I would find this revelation surprising).

    I appreciate your dilemma, not as it relates to television exactly, but certainly as to movies. How many really great non R-rated movies have you ever seen? Like you, I don’t need gritty “reality” riddled with 4-letter expletives and abject nakedness, but just in terms of theme and subject-matter, it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of good, profound, thought-provoking movies that don’t have that rating. They are good, not because they contain those elements, but those elements are often germane to the subject matter. So what do you do?

    I’m certainly not going claim porn aficionado status either. But I will go out on a limb and say that, to the extent there is a line between art and pornography, the True Blood people have pushed it from fine to transparent to non-exsitent.

    I’m not asking you to shift the paradigm. I think you are closer to the right track than I am. I am sure you would be up to this challenge if you wanted to be; mine is a problem of wanting to be.

    • I read a little, and am relieved to see that “the intellectual problem of delayed gratification is philosophically fundamental to human nature.” I am a little bit more concerned by the implications that, by eating that Snickers, I may be prone to ADHD. And it’s looking like I’m not going to fare too well in high school either. 🙁

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