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.
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?