Skinny Daily Post


Jane’s post has me thinking. On the one hand, we know that food (and the simple act of eating) is a very pleasurable thing. On the other hand, those of us who’ve had experience being overweight know that food (and the simple act of eating) can carry huge hidden costs. Further, we know our emotions can play a major role in affecting our decision whether to eat, what to eat, and how much.

I’m guessing that the ingredients which tend to give us the most excitement and pleasure are probably those things which were rarest in the ecosystem of early human evolution (fat, sugar, salt). So when we seek to maximize our enjoyment of food, its understandable that we turn to those special hard-to-find-in-nature snacks. Perhaps its Mother Nature’s way to give us the drive to go out and find and store things for the future.

Fortunately, I’m not a hunter-gatherer (just a marketing communications specialist) so I don’t have to wander the plains or search the forests for my food. But when I instead wander the aisles of the grocery, or the convenience store, or the restaurant buffet, my eyes and nose are bombarded by the sights and smells of those ‘rare’ ingredients. As a result, I don’t ‘blame’ myself for overeating in the past, and I don’t think of myself as a ‘bad’ person for loving chocolate, cookies, and ice cream.

What I do know is that either I was born without a functioning hunger-response mechanism or perhaps it disappeared over time. So when I ‘hunt’ and ‘gather’ pastries, and candy and sweets, I don’t have a natural physiological brake to slow me down.

The upshot for me (since I’m not a proponent of food abstinence) is that there are a variety of foods which I need to avoid hunting and gathering and storing. Perhaps if I come across them at the right time and in the right place, I might try a bit, but for me this does not mean going to the candy store or the drug store or the ice cream parlor.

I don’t have a magic answer for how to make this work, and I don’t have a set of concrete guidelines that I can share about how to decide if today is the day to have a piece of pie. I’m guessing that it involves slowing down, breathing, listening to my body’s satiety signals, and calming my mind. And if a craving ever gets hold of me that’s too strong to brush off, the answer has somehow got to involve the phrase “single serving.”

Foods rich in fat, sugar and salt are mighty, wondrous and alluring. I never want that to go away. I just want them to be a smaller part of the overall picture of my life.

8 thoughts on “The Nature of Things

  1. stretch says:

    Craving, Desire, Want… can really take hold of us and lead us down the pathetic path. Craving something / someone you shouldn’t, can lead to deep trouble. In some cultures there is no word or expression for craving, desire, or want… But we live in a culture that tells us what we should desire every few seconds.

    Jonathan is right, calming the mind is the right path. Since our bodies still store fat for some future famine time, a time that for most of us, will never come, we really do have to look for signals, and THINK about what we are eating. Mindfulness.

    Restraint. I try not to flirt with bad foods. I know if I do it could trigger mad desire and end badly. Restraint.

    Something went way wrong with social eating– in ye olden days whenever my parents stuffed themselves at a picnic or dinner, there were long walks, athletic games or hours of dancing afterwards. Activity.

  2. Deirdre says:

    “Something went way wrong with social eating— in ye olden days whenever my parents stuffed themselves at a picnic or dinner, there were long walks, athletic games or hours of dancing afterwards. Activity.”

    They also didn’t happen very often. Sweets, etc. were reserved for special occassions not for every day. This is why I allow myself to indulge on special occassions, and not at other times. It’s the simplest way for me to decide “if today is the day to have a piece of pie”.

  3. JaneW says:

    “This is why I allow myself to indulge on special occasions, and not at other times”

    yes but you also have to make sure that the special occasion is really special. In my job there is always a client lunch or party or a co-worker’s birthday or some other potential excuse to treat today as a day for indulgence.

  4. cath says:

    Single serving…I’m new to posting here and lost this blog for several months, so forgive if I’m stating the obvious…single serving: can it be as little as just one mouthful? Wouldn’t that be sufficient to enjoy the excitment and pleasure, the mouth feel, the tastebud explosion, the connection between imgining that taste and its actual, well…taste? The sad thing is that for me, it always smells and looks better than it tastes. I often find myself chasing what I imagined it should/would be like with what it was actually like, hiding from that first disappointment in bite after bite…like any addict, if it didn’t work for me, I continue to pursue the empty ghost, with twice the energy.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I think one of the other issues that I run into is that my desire for “a treat” rapidly devolves into eating a constant stream of things that aren’t really a treat at all because they are low-quality versions of the fat/sugar/salt combinations. The occasional piece of rich, dark chocolate is a treat. Steak is a treat. A double cheeseburger and fries and a Frosty? Seems (emotionally) like a treat but in reality is utter crap in terms of nutrition and the way I feel emotionally and physically _after_ eating it. I find that what helps is eating high-quality whole foods as much as possible. Then when I do eat something junky, I’m reminded almost immediately (ugh) of why I don’t do that anymore, and it’s harder for the junk food to become a habit again.

  6. stretchy says:

    Deirdre and JaneW bring up a great point. People didn’t need treats (like pie) every day… One breakthrough I had while losing weight was… “”Hey! I am NOT five years old! I don’t have to NAG myself for a treat everytime I walk into a store!”

    another way I reasoned with myself was this ” OK, I already KNOW what a slab of cake tastes like, I don’t need to sample everything, I am not the royal taster!”

    somehow “the five year old” and “the taster” had become part of who I was, and I had to restrain them before they did real harm. I used the ‘been there, ate that’ approach to help stop the madness on many occasions.

  7. Vicki says:


    I’m also a newbie to this. I just wanted to mention that since I have joined and recommited myself to choosing healthy habits. Now when I am cooking I make a concious effort to not taste test. I also have a sink of hot water ran to drop the spoons, bowls, beatters, whatever in. I hear every little bite can make a differnce and I knew this.

    I have also come across a saying that I like very much and it goes like this:

    The most important thing you say today are the things you say to yourself.

  8. Ixely says:

    If I desire/crave something so badly is sure that in the first “special” occasion I will eat it without that mindful part and worst I will eat it until I feel guilty, not full because at that point nothing will make me feel satisfied.

    What it has worked for me in the past is allowing me to eat a little bit of everything that I desire, that gives me the feeling of control and amazingly the cravings, disappear. Of course there will always be my emotional side that will rebel- often lately; but that in other times I almost forget that exists.

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