I’m a disciplined person, especially in relation to my daily routine and working through my to-do lists. A recent informal poll of friends and family members confirmed this conclusion. On a scale of one to ten, everyone rated me at least a nine and one person awarded an eleven. However, there are certain foods I can’t resist. For example, back in my working days I would avoid the cake rolled out to celebrate monthly birthdays. If I ate even a small piece, I’d gobble three more and then revisit the uneaten portion placed in the breakroom. The scary thing is, cake and frosting are not the worst of my problems. Since I mentioned wolfing down three pieces of cake, along with follow-up grazing, you might be wondering what foods could possibly be more tempting. Here’s a list of the top five:
Peanut Butter M&Ms: There are always regular M&Ms in our house to either satisfy a craving or serve to visitors. A few years ago, our youngest was headed to the grocery store and my wife requested a large bag of M&Ms. Our inadvertently evil child brought home a bag of the Peanut Butter M&Ms by mistake. After one handful, I became a man who’s spent three weeks in the desert without water. I couldn’t get enough of the things. One bag became two, two became three, and soon I was engulfed in an embarrassing daily habit. If you walked into my house today with one of those feed sacks they strap on horses, filled it with Peanut Butter M&Ms, and looped the thing around my neck, I’d gleefully eat to the bottom and, most likely, start looking for the next helping. I finally ended the carnage by flatly refusing to buy them anymore. Interestingly, the same thing doesn’t happen with Reese’s Pieces. I consider them an inferior product, like comparing Coca-Cola to the store brand.
Donuts: Years ago, when my son was in Cub Scouts, we had the annual Pinewood Derby. To add to the festivities, someone provided about eight-dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. At the time, I was the Cubmaster and my official duties were to stand at the starting line, lower the little gate, and start each race. Unfortunately, the starting line was right next to the donuts. Over the course of ninety minutes, I consumed six of them. After recovering from the fat and sugar hangover, I vowed to give up donuts. The problem is, I haven’t lost my desire for them. Not even a little. Every time I’m in a Dunkin’ Donuts buying coffee, I stare at the chocolate glazed or vanilla angels with the longing of a spurned lover who can’t get over his ex. I recently told my physician I’m waiting for the study claiming the donut diet is the way to go. He responded with skepticism about my dream coming true. My doctor did commit that, once I hit the age of eighty, I can eat all the donuts I want. I have roughly nineteen years, seven months, and twenty-three days to go.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: Put them out and I’ll eat them. At home, I’ll consume three or four and then grab one every time I walk pass the plate until my wife looks at me incredulously and asks “What happened to you?” At a catered business lunch, I’ll forego the entrees and sandwiches and replace the calories with chocolate chip cookies. If I’m at a neighborhood party, I’ll sneak one every ten minutes or so, making sure no one sees me emptying the plate. About twenty years ago, we switched to a primarily gluten free diet. At the time, I believed the change in cookie quality would help curtail consumption. However, our homemade gluten-free cookies are exceptional and the commercially available brand, Tate’s, are the best store-bought cookies I’ve had. The only effective strategy is not starting in the first place. As an aside, I have the same problem with butterscotch oatmeal cookies. Fortunately, they are rarely available and, accordingly, not an overt threat.
Mexican Restaurant Chips: Once the basket hits the table, I’m shoveling those warm, salty, crunchy corn chips into my mouth at the rate of one per second. I only stop to order my meal which, usually, I’m too full to enjoy when it arrives. I imagine my piggishness is partly driven by the pre-meal hunger but something about the unique flavor of the in-restaurant chip motivates my taste buds. A friend once suggested I add salt to the chips before eating. The experience was what we describe as “next level.” Don’t bother suggesting I ask the waiter/waitress to skip bringing the chips. Not gonna happen.
Pasta: I could consume pasta with every meal. If it’s served, I’ll eat until the plate/bowl is empty. My wife and I still talk about the “Ziti Incident” from the first year we were married. Without providing too much detail, let me say I spent a considerable amount of time rolling on the floor lamenting my intake of the pasta side dish designed to supplement our roast chicken breast dinner. I love pasta in all forms: with alfredo sauce, in a casserole, as part of lasagna, and when it’s made into ravioli. In my view, pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs is the dish in its highest form. Unlike the other foods above, I have no desire to curb my pasta consumption. Once you give me a heaping plate of spaghetti and a fork, I’m a happy camper.
Of course, I don’t want to live a joyless life and I will indulge from time to time. I do try to retain control over my cravings and stay healthy, hoping I will continue to remain active. At least until I’m eighty. Then, based on my doctor’s comment about donuts, all bets are off. Before that, I’m not telling him anything.
Disclaimer: no foods were consumed or otherwise harmed during the preparation of this column.
Steven Rogers’ faith-based novel, Into the Room, is available on Amazon (https://amzn.to/3bXZu1u).