Saturday, July 2, 2011

Good Food vs Bad Food, Part 1


Beck wants me to rid my house of "bad" foods--defined as any food not on my "diet."

There is no such thing. No food is a "bad" food.

Many years ago, when I was about 100 pounds less than I am now, I remember an incident where I was chatting with a group of women about my favourite bed-time snack: a bowl of ice-cream with a brownie or two on the bottom, chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. One woman said to me, "I wish I could eat like that." My thought was, "Of course you can eat like that, if you are willing to accept the consequences."

Obviously, I knew exactly what I was doing.

One way to accept the consequences with eating a bowl of ice-cream like that is, well, get fat. Been there, done that.

The other is to include it as a part of what one eats for the day. It's simply a matter of balance: if I splurge on this, I must restrict, well, everything else.

So, technically speaking, it is inaccurate to say that "ice-cream with a brownie, chocolate sauce and whipped cream is bad."

It may also be dangerous. To say that a food or certain foods are "bad" is to set off a rebellious, child-like reaction which is harder to avoid than the big bad bowl of ice-cream.

But it goes beyond simply reacting to being told I can't do something--it's more like I don't want to accept the fact that I cannot (or should not) eat certain foods.

Because, of course, I don't want to restrict my eating in other ways. I'm as spoiled as they come. It's like I want to be able to walk in the rain without getting wet. I want to deny that the laws of physics apply to me. To tell myself that I "can't" eat something puts me in a frame of mind where it's possible I'll eat it out of pure spite. Isn't that odd?

But I'm a grown-up now--and I don't want the insanity of my thoughts to rule me any longer.

So, truly, I can eat whatever I want as long as when I eat it, I do not sabotage the goal of getting to and maintaining a healthy weight for myself. Given my goal, then, I have to cut back on something else--whether I like it or not.

So, my first diet rule is this: I can eat whatever I want as long as I know what it will cost* and I include it as part of the calories I have set for that day.

So, just how much of a splurge is that "favourite" snack?

1/2 cup of ice cream: 130 calories.
But, let's be honest, I probably ladled in one cup or more. so: 260
1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup: 70
2 (Two-Bite) brownies: 180
4 tablespoons low-fat whipped cream: 30
Total: 540 calories.

Dear heaven.

Just having the ice-cream with chocolate sauce is outrageous. I can see now why my grandmother called it a "treat."

My mother called it an indulgence--and lived with guilt.

I am of the generation who has been culturally conditioned to believe that we are owed treats-- that indulgences, should indeed, somehow, be risk free.

This road to personal responsibility? I've a feeling we're in for a long and bumpy ride--with only the occasional stop for ice cream.
* There may be other psychological and subsequent behavioural costs to consider. For example, eating that bowl of ice-cream may set off uncontrollable urges to eat more ice cream (or more high cost foods) --or it may set off a hard to resist habit of eating ice cream (or other high cost foods) on a regular basis. I don't know. It's something I'll need to be on the look-out for. I wish I didn't have to. But that's really neither here nor there, is it?

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