The end of Halloween signals the beginning of the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season. Another thing it signals is the desire to eat anything we want. And that’s apparently OK – if the eating takes place under certain conditions. Today we will itemize and analyze six of these alleged diet schemes:
Food Rationalization #1: You can’t gain weight if you eat in the dark. This has a dual benefit: Not only do you stay skinny, but you save electricity as well.
Some people – and you know who you are – engage in secret eating. The obvious appeal is that there are (almost) no consequences. You don’t have to listen to criticism, and you don’t have to feel embarrassed if you’re already a bit plump. The bad news is that your body sees you eat, even in the absence of unsuspecting bystanders. In an age when we can order a feast with nothing more than a phone call, it could also be called “anonymous eating.”
Food Rationalization #2: Everything’s fair game, from a restaurant-size can of mayo to a deep-fried Ho-Ho – IF it’s somebody’s birthday, wedding, anniversary or funeral – especially if these occasions are in your honor, except perhaps for the last one. What is it about celebrations? Does happiness + love = food? (If you were ever a child, you already know the answer to that question.)
Of course, exceptions are OK, but rationalizations tend to nibble away at the facts. Is overindulging the exception, or the rule? Beat this one by keeping a journal of what you eat and when. Then decide if your calorific sprees are a habit or an occasional luxury. It’s easier to act on the facts when you know what they are.
Food Rationalization #3: If you eat while standing up (preferably over the sink), it is officially a “snack,” and therefore, light and healthy. This includes leftover fried chicken, cold pizza, and pork pies. Can verticality influence the horizontal consequences of our eating? Nope. Calories are calories, no matter if you’re sitting or standing.
Food Rationalization #4: Fat and carbohydrates are rejected by the body if your feet are in contact with a boardwalk, if there’s an ocean nearby, or if you’re more than 103.5 miles from home.
I’m not trying to discourage yummy boardwalk cuisine, but take a look around you. There are trim people eating those same wonderful fries, corn dogs and funnel cakes. Their secret? Moderation. Don’t resent them. Think of them as skinny beacons of hope that you, too, can enjoy treats AND stay healthy.
Food Rationalization #5: As long as there’s a tomorrow, it’s OK to stuff yourself today. In fact, the internationally recognized starting time for most diet and exercise plans is “Tomorrow.” We like tomorrows because there’s always one waiting in the wings. Ahhh, the sweet taste of procrastination … AND wings, by the way.
It’s all part of the human struggle. We want to enjoy the moment, but only to the extent that it doesn’t ruin future moments. Your body will tell you what to do. When you weigh more than your Toyota, you’re eating too much. Eating less will result in lower weight (and better gas mileage). But don’t give up entirely on the enjoyment of the here-and-now. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Food Rationalization #6: Last, and most certainly not least, is the medical angle: “It’s my metabolism! My thyroid! It’s just baby fat! I have an overactive gland!” When responsibility is just too hard to take, we can always blame the ailment du jour.
Many consider being overweight a disease. Given that obesity can lead to any number of maladies, I get the point. But there’s a big difference between obesity and the act of overeating. There are lots of physical processes we can’t control, but launching a midnight assault on an innocent ham isn’t one of them.
I’m very much aware that shedding pounds and keeping them off is difficult. And I would never belittle anybody’s efforts. But we should be wary of the little tricks we play on ourselves to suspend reality. Liberate yourself from food rationalizations by exposing them for what they are.