I was looking into the Cronut. You know, the recent craze over a combination croissant and donut, now taking New York by storm (and apparently a few other locations as well).
I confess that I’m generally a healthy eater – I know my body, I know what keeps me feeling well, I know my tendency to gain a few pounds easily – so I do my best to “indulge” – in moderation – when it comes to foods I know aren’t good for me.
And what would happen if you plopped a cronut in front of me? Or any other delectable dessert?
Uh-huh. Cookie Monster meets Godzilla (looking cute, of course).
The Particulars of Pleasure
Isn’t that the case for most of us when it comes to the usual suspects – something sweet, something salty? Are the particulars of pleasure – food, alcohol, cigarettes, sex – based in some strange alchemy of genetics, emotion, and our individual chemical makeup, not to mention tolerance for some indulgences and less for others?
You would tell me the addictive properties of sexual satisfaction and nicotine are not the same and I agree. But why are our “Go-to” sensation sources so different?
I admit to adoring a great piece of chocolate or something cakey, depending on the occasion or mood.
Or a pastry.
Or for that matter, every now and then… a plate of fries, though my tolerance for fried foods is far less than it once was, and knowing that, I can stop at a dozen fries – and even a dozen chips. Usually.
Just Say No?
Stopping on the sweets?
For me, it’s harder. And in some moods, much much harder, when something gooey and filling is all about comfort – not to mention keeping me awake if I’m sleep deprived and need to work.
Sure, I’ve written about junk food – that bliss point issue, and the science of doing more than seducing us – in fact, addicting us. This makes “just say no” more than a matter of will power in a complex set of cultural and economic issues.
This is different to a degree – a matter of the management of pleasure, perhaps. This is an occasional succumbing to very specific tastes, suspending good habits (and justifying their suspension), and simply yielding to the satisfaction of immediate self-gratification.
The New York Times addresses this issue in “Why Healthy Eaters Fall for Fries” and it’s a good read, reminding us that despite our awareness and good intentions –
American consumers, even otherwise healthy ones, keep choosing caloric indulgences rather than healthy foods at fast-food restaurants.
And reminding us that
more than one-third of American adults are obese.
Unfortunately, we seem to be of two minds – or sets of behaviors – when it comes to separating immediate choices from their longer term consequences. Referencing the addition of labeling to specify caloric content on what we’re eating, the article notes:
Even when consumers are explicitly told the calories a food contains, it doesn’t change their behavior much.
Pass the Cronuts?
I’m not saying it’s easy – especially when we’re in a hurry, overtired, and stressed. But ultimately, however delicious the doughnut – or cronut – don’t we have to take some responsibility for our choices? Especially if we’re presented calorie labeling or, as the Times article states, some other means of informing us of the consequences of our actions?
Then again, there are the critical issues of convenience, access, and cost when it comes to fast food that make “taking responsibility” fine in some cases (my Reeses?) and far too simplistic in others.
I’m aware of the science that goes into our (junk) food to keep us coming back for more, aware of the immediacy of the pleasure when we give in, and equally aware of the repercussions – not only to waistline and health, but how we feel about ourselves.
If only it were as easy as choosing to indulge occasionally, and doing our damnedest to keep it at that.
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