It’s not just about the calories

By Caitlin Kelly

I’m intrigued by what we eat, why we choose it and how challenging it is to eat (and drink!) very differently if you’re trying to lose weight.

Here’s a link to a new book that explains how major food companies carefully engineer things like potato chips so they are quite literally irresistible.

English: A pile of potato chips. These are Utz...
English: A pile of potato chips. These are Utz-brand, grandma’s kettle-cooked style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2002, I gained 23 pounds in one year, stunning both my GP and ob-gyn.

I hadn’t done anything very differently, (no entire-cream-pie-eating-sessions, for example), but two major events had happened in the same six months — I’d started research, and lots of travel, on my first book and my mother (who survived) was found to have a very large brain tumor.

I went out to Vancouver, British Columbia, (I was in Dayton, Ohio doing book research when I learned I had a few days to get there) to see her through the surgery. Oh, and, I’d discovered some cysts in one breast (turned out to be nothing) that was scaring me shitless.

My point is this — if you’d commanded me, then, to count every calorie I was ingesting, I’d have laughed hysterically. Every ounce of my energy and wits was already in play.

Nor did I have much free time to go to a gym or be intentional about weight loss. I was writing a book about women and guns in America, a topic that was sometimes so dark and frightening I got secondary trauma. I’ve never owned a scale, nor am I the sort of person who stares at herself in the mirror every day pinching every excess inch with self-loathing.

But I do live and work in a wealthy suburb of New York City, where the alpha women are all ropy arms, size 2’s in sheath dresses, their calves the diameter of my forearms. And, in America, being productive trumps everything, so we’re all running reallyfastallthetime, tending to the endless needs of our bosses, clients and families, usually in that order.
Oh…..and our needs as well.

I think this skewed order is very much a part of why so many people are so fat. When the only source of real, cheap, accessible pleasure is something in a crinkly bag you can cram into your mouth while driving/commuting/sitting at your desk, you’re going to take the path of least resistance.

If the only thing that day (or week or month) that is going to make you 100 percent happy, (without a fight or eye-roll or endless negotiation with a whiny toddler), is a doughnut (dopamine hit alert!), odds are higher you’ll reach for the easy, quick and cheap holy trinity of sugar, salt and fat than a pious, low-cal apple or pile of celery sticks.

The Thai versions of Lay's Potato Chips. Most ...
The Thai versions of Lay’s Potato Chips. Most of the flavours are seafood oriented. Why can we not get these flavours in America? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our choices are also deeply cultural. I recently interviewed a senior manager who tried to call a lunch meeting of her staff in Montreal, a city with French values (food matters!) in a nation much more committed to life balance. No one came. I love that!

We are all deeply hungry, throughout our lives, for many things — silence, beauty, kindness, understanding, stimulation, leisure, pleasure, solace. Many of us simply do not have enough of these things in our days, or lives. We under-value them, or refuse to carve out time for them or have made too many commitments to many other people. We’re lonely or bored or overworked or underpaid. Possibly all of these miseries at once!

Food becomes proxy for so many other things we really want but can’t get, often in public moments when we most need comfort or joy: Fries instead of a hug. A Coke instead of a compliment. A bag of popcorn, with butter, instead of ten (six?) hours’ unbroken sleep. A 20-ounce latte instead of 20 minutes’ walk in fresh air with a lovely view.

I’m trying, still, to lose that weight, upping my exercise routine and being more careful about intake choices. So fucking tedious!

English: Snack food (potato chips and the like...
English: Snack food (potato chips and the like) vendors at side of church in Coyoacan, Mexico City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simply counting all those calories doesn’t address the fundamental and challenging issues of every single choice affected by our knowledge [or lack of] nutrition, our limits of self-discipline, our self-awareness, and the limited time many of us have to choose, prepare and consume affordably healthy food.

I did an eight-day silent retreat two years ago and when I re-emerged into the noisy chaotic world I was much more aware how noisy environments made me unconsciously eat more faster.

Food contains so much more than calories!

Here’s an interesting blog post about how we decide what to eat.

Do you enjoy cooking, and/or eating?

69 thoughts on “It’s not just about the calories

  1. I don’t really enjoy either one, unless the food is especially flavorful and probably spicy. (Think Indian food!). And I, like you, am too busy running around to indulge in the simple pleasure of cooking. I’m just too tired! I would probably be a better person, and more whole, if I did. Instead, like everyone else, I fall for the allure of crinkly packages.

    It’s interesting you mention you don’t have a scale. I bought one some years ago when I was down to a frightening 98 pounds. Getting on it from time to time keeps the weight from falling off faster than I notice it. In a way, it keeps me honest and accountable and unable to simply fail to see that I am neglecting myself and my health.

    1. I actually love cooking when I have the time to do it properly. I find it relaxing and my husband loves it.

      I know how much I weigh. UGH. I had to get weighed before my surgery last year and every time I go to the dr. I have to get on a scale. I avoid it for morale. I can see that I am somewhat smaller than before but I will never be able to shed weight quickly and easily. It’s also a function of age…much much tougher post-menopause.

  2. I’ll admit, I mostly just ignore calories 😉 I’m much more interested in your book, being something of a true crime addict (that sounds dark, doesn’t it?). My film producer friend and I were recently discussing the lack of visibility on the subject of female psychopaths. Do you discuss anything like that in Blown Away?

    1. I don’t talk about it much at all. Patrica Pearson, a fellow Canadian, wrote a well-reviewed book about it:

      I focused more on women who killed others in self-defense. They often got extremely long and punitive sentences. Having been the victim of a con man personally (a sociopath, certainly), I’ve had too much experience of this shit to have any curiosity about it. It’s a very different thing when it wrecks your own life.

      1. I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope you aren’t offended by my curiosity – I was in a relationship with a person I can only describe as a sociopath, so I do understand. I never glorify terrible such crimes but perhaps due to my own experiences, I find myself fascinated by the criminal mind in a futile attempt to understand it. I’m still very interested in reading your book, and Patricia Pearson’s, too 🙂

      2. To each his own.

        The only people I’ve ever spoken to who understand these creeps are cops and lawyers, who deal with them professionally. There is not a lot to understand in any rational way. But I’m sure Pearson’s book has a lot of good insights. Mine is somewhat different, but you might enjoy it.

  3. Yes. I cook. On Sundays, I’ll take a couple of hours and cook up/prepare a bunch of stuff to take to the office for lunches and breakfasts during the week. I rarely eat out and I bring snacks to work, like hummus and cucumbers (there’s a kitchen at the office). I always keep things like almonds at my work desk, too, so if I need a burst of energy or something to tide me over ’til lunch, it’s right there.

    I’ve always been as vigilant as I can about my diet and nutrition. I grew up on a farm as a “free range” child, and my parents were very good about what was “good” food and what wasn’t. So I never really acquired a taste for a lot of junk/processed food. When I went to college as an undergrad, I went vegan (easy to do in a place like Boulder, Colorado) and I didn’t have a car, so I rode my bike everywhere and walked. I re-introduced eggs and some dairy when I started grad school, and I let my diet vigilance slip. I developed chronic fatigue and a never-ending sinus infection. Turned out I was allergic to wheat (not gluten) and some other things. So I cut wheat out of my diet (which means pretty much most over-the-counter breads and a whole lot of processed foods), and within a couple of weeks I was feeling a lot better. That was the early 90s, and there weren’t a whole lot of wheat-free and/or gluten-free options. Over the years, I’ve come to avoid gluten-full foods (I just feel better when I don’t eat that much of it) and I’ve gone back to mostly vegetarian though I do eat certain kinds of fish and, every once in a while, chicken (I try to get hormone-free meats).

    It’s a pain in the ass to eat out with my diet, and I find that cooking is sort of meditative for me, so I do it. Plus, it saves a lot of money and I like knowing what goes into my food. I read a lot of labels, and any packaged food that has a bunch of stuff in it that looks like the scientific name for a medication I don’t buy. I understand the “quick fix” thing, and I’ve done it myself but I don’t feel right after I eat stuff like that, so I don’t do it much. My attitude is, food is important. Preparing it and sharing it is a method of connection, even if you’re just doing it for yourself. You’re connecting with yourself through the act of cooking. And even though I mostly cook for myself, I like going to the store and planning a few things for the week–it’s super-easy, for example, to throw some quinoa into your rice cooker and have a really tasty base for hot cereal all week. Just add maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some sliced fruit to a bowl of it every morning. Voila. Hearty, whole grain breakfast. It’s also a great base for stir-fried greens like kale or chard, which take about 20 minutes to prepare. Throw a vinaigrette on there along with some roasted pumpkin seeds and a side of avocado and maybe jicama…yum. I’ll also prepare some tuna with a light curry in it for a slightly different take on a standard tuna, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Little tweaks like this go a long way, and I’m constantly experimenting.

    I make the time to do this, because my mental and physical health is important, and that’s linked to my emotional health. The rest of the world can wait an hour or two for me to prepare a decent meal and get a workout in. I consider it a public health service for me to do that, because it keeps me balanced and less prone to get all snippy/irritated at myself and others. Plus, I feel much, much better about just about everything when I do these things. 😀

    1. Eating decent food can make a huge difference, that’s for sure!

      “I find that cooking is sort of meditative for me, so I do it. Plus, it saves a lot of money and I like knowing what goes into my food. I read a lot of labels, and any packaged food that has a bunch of stuff in it that looks like the scientific name for a medication I don’t buy. I understand the “quick fix” thing, and I’ve done it myself but I don’t feel right after I eat stuff like that, so I don’t do it much. My attitude is, food is important. Preparing it and sharing it is a method of connection, even if you’re just doing it for yourself. You’re connecting with yourself through the act of cooking. And even though I mostly cook for myself, I like going to the store and planning a few things for the week–it’s super-easy”

      Well said! I agree.

  4. Fatima

    Well, I eat and consume a lot of caffeine. I find myself in this cycle of eat, drink coffee, stay up, hit the snooze button, get up, and eat again. I run and do well, but my eating sucks to get the point.

    I do agree with food as a substitute. We want intimacy. We want to feel connected with someone and right now we can’t in this hustle-bustle age. (At least it seems we can’t.)

  5. Katie

    i agree with you on that one i took some advice from a sibling that maybe counting calories would help me keep my eating choices in cheque rather than trying to stop eating junk food cold turky i was told to manage my calories…… the result was the exact opposite that i had expected i was so stressed and worried that i would over eat the amount of calories i was alotted for the day that i had started just not eat in order to avoid eating too many calorie in the end the stressed caused me to gain weight rather than lose it, there is so much more to dieting and loosing weight that just watching what your eating and makins sure your excersizing that i think alot of people dont know

    1. I hate counting calories. Having been put on a super-strict diet 2 yrs ago by a doctor (which very quickly shed weight I re-gained) I did learn a lot about portion size and more dangerous foods. Cheese, for one! So A lot of it is deciding how hungry you are willing to be…or how how small a portion you can tolerate…or what you just refuse to give up.

      Junk food is not a great choice, ever. I eat it maybe 3 times a year.

      1. Katie

        Haha I think all of us have that one food. That we just can’t do without chocolate is my biggest enemy

  6. Eating and cooking: two of my favorite things. But though it’s hard–impossible, actually–to resist overeating when a loaf of freshly baked bread comes out of the oven, I try to stay healthy by cooking most of my own food and making it in large batches so that I score many days’ worth of easy-to-grab leftovers. Nothing is better than having a spicy bowl of soup ready in 3 minutes after a long day of work in the winter. Despite my best efforts, though, I’ve found myself gaining weight in the cold months and am looking forward to dropping it once it’s warm enough to bike to work and snow melts off of the hiking trails (April 21, and it’s snowing as I type this out here in Wyoming).

    1. I make a lot of soup and, indeed, there are few moments nicer than heating up your own homemade food. One of the advantages of working from home is that it’d much easier for me to stop for 30 minutes mid-day to make something we can eat then or later.

      Being Canadian, I know that thing of gaining weight in the winter and (one hopes!) losing it in summer. Think like a bear! 🙂

  7. Ah, food. Most pleasurable if done well and with a sense that you are doing something for yourself and your loved ones if you cook healthy food for them. My mother cooked things until there was no flavor or tenderness left so when I started learning how to cook, I picked up from friends and my late mother-in-law how to season, how to make salads, how to be adventurous. My weight has been a roller coaster all my life but menopause sucks – your whole body changes and it is not easy to lose the pounds. Still – I ride for miles almost every day and keep my portions small. I find that I am hard on myself but harder on family members (although I have learned to keep my mouth shut) about their food choices which are a choice like any other choice in life. And I truly think that, in many cases, people overeat because they are unhappy.

    I enjoy cooking most of the time. We may eat out once a week. I can’t say I really enjoy eating – it is just something I do and because I am so concious of my weight it can never be totally enjoyable although I could eat chicken three times a day

    1. I’ve given up obsessing about my weight. I need to lose at least 30 pounds, more like 50 to make my doctors do a little dance. But I know it’s not going to happen. I work out, I eat healthy food, but I also drink alcohol (much less than before.) Post menopause, we get barely 1600 calories a day, which is a joke. So I just do the best I can and accept that being a very muscular woman (which I’ve always been) and with big hands and wrists, I’ll never be a size 2 or 6 or even 8. If I get back to a 12, that would be cause for celebration and I’d be very happy to stop there. I think it’s do-able, but I expect it to take a year to make it sustainable.

      We do eat out, and it’s tough, then, to be abstemious. Life is about pleasure as well. The balance is the challenge.

  8. I’ve always enjoyed eating good food..I used to enjoy cooking when still co-raising sons & married..Now that my sons are grown & on their own & I’m divorced; I realized I do NOT enjoy cooking. I’ve gotten spoiled by being cooked for now..and I love IT. I don’t own a scale nor do I find a need for one. I gauge my level of healthiness from rountine checkups; I gauge how fit I am by how I look in the mirror. Plus I work out daily & I’m on a glowing green smoothie 4 days a week that is full of natural wonderful goodness(raw veggie & fruit smoothie) I treat myself, probably, far too often to the taboo things which I love eating..I think that is the only way not to over-indulge. Depriving oneself of the sweet things to eat makes it more tempting..and then folks over-indulge . Or least thats the way I see it; and it works great for me. I’ve never been over-weight..But I honestly think I’m more fit now , then when I was in my 20s. Its a mind set.

      1. You can add mini-workout sessions your day; which when added up can equal a whole work out. I’ve got lil 3 & 5 lbs weights at home..A set in my bedroom and a set in the dining room..When I have a few moments they’re right there so I grab them & do a few reps..Also if I’m just watching the news or whatever on TV; I do reps while watching . Add on walking to your daily routine..Even a few steps all adds UP..Wherever you go, park further out from the door..and walk the rest. And of course when an option; take the stairs..

  9. Steve

    The problem I seem to have is eating the kinds of foods that are GOOD for you instead of the foods that taste good. Now if they could just figure out a way to make broccoli taste like chocolate, then we d have something. We could all be slim and trim.

  10. Interesting comment about the only cheap accessible pleasure: maybe the problem is we need to make sure we have other cheap, accessible pleasures! Maybe modern life is structured so that we’ve lost track of those? But don’t you think the place we have control over some of this is in the grocery store when we make the decision in complete control of our faculties to walk down the junk aisle and buy all that stuff that shouldn’t be in the house at all, instead of the bag of tiny carrots?

    I totally agree that this–“if you’d commanded me, then, to count every calorie I was ingesting, I’d have laughed hysterically. Every ounce of my energy and wits was already in play”–is at the heart of the problem, especially when you are under stress as you so beautifully describe. Also, the issue of food being made specifically to addict us is a large and serious problem–don’t know whether you’ve read “Wheat Belly” yet, but so much of what we’re eating isn’t even real food anymore, even if it looks as innocent and simple as whole grain bread!

    I did quit eating wheat after my father got rid of his diabetes and thyroid problem by doing it, and the one striking thing I notice now is that I hardly ever get the faintest hunger pang–and believe me, my hunger pangs were always outrageous!

    I always enjoy your reality-based and thought-provoking posts.

    1. I really think we’ve lost touch with some of our simplest pleasures…I would much rather have a long lunch with a good friend than buy one more tech toy. But how many of us now have time for anything but work then rush to next commitment?

      It is only since I really looked at my life and how deprived of pleasure I felt that I started to be more aware of this. I now book pedicures, haircuts, lunches with girlfriends, movies….whatever makes me happy and doesn’t cost a million bucks. Knowing I have pleasures in my life that are not food or drink makes it easier to resist the allure of cheesecake and/or martinis (both of which I **really** like!)

      People live such crazy, rushed, distracted lives…We eat at home at a table, with a tablecloth and linen napkins and music and candles. No, we do not have kids (and a million distractions ferrying them all over the place.) But we could gobble crap in front of the TV, and we don’t. It’s a choice. I have never owned a microwave and don’t want or need one. I can boil water and have fresh vegetables within 5 minutes on my stove. I can cut up an apple and a piece of cheese in seconds. There’s this false sense of URGENCY I just don’t buy into, even when I have had FT jobs and an hour commute each way.

      I basically don’t buy junk food. If it is in my home, I will eat it. If it’s in my home, it will be consumed! So….it doesn’t get to come in the door! Seems pretty simple to me.

      Glad you resolved your health issues….Hunger pangs are tough. One thing that has helped me is to eat a lot more lean protein.

      Thanks for the kind words!

      1. I so agree with you on the false sense of urgency: any commercial or ad for fast or pre-made food from the last 35 years will telly you that you don’t have time to cook! But making meals special as you describe is the point–“living” in the course of your busy life, rather than buying into the script about being unable to do anything except support the Golden Arches, Swanson’s et al. You’ve almost got to be a bit of a rebel to make it happen nowadays!

      2. I don’t have kids or their incessant and insistent demands, so that may be a whole other issue.

        But as for adult life, fresh, decent food is not rocket science. Never has been, never will be.

  11. amatterofinstinct

    I love to cook, I love to eat. But I don’t like junk food and my mom doesn’t buy it, so lucky me I guess. Still, stress really messes up all forms of planning and will-power!

      1. I actually eat a ketogenic diet. It’s really, really easy to maintain and cook for — though it’s also insanely boring. Maybe that’s good, though, if one is trying to satiate one’s “real hunger” in lieu of grabbing a bag of frito’s.

        Even though this diet doesn’t work well if you’re out at a restaurant, I swear to god it decreased my hunger pangs, my obsession with food, and made me feel 10x better. (That said, I do cycle on and off it, because eating with friends is fun.) And. I don’t count calories — not because I’m metabolically lucky — but because the metabolism switches modes. Instead of burning carbs, you burn ketones. The upshot is that your weight remains stable (or even drops b/c it reaches a new resting point, as mine has done) without worrying about numbers all the time.

        There’s so much interesting scientific research on it, too, including its role in weight loss, preventing alzheimer’s, helping epileptic patients, preventing cancer and diabetes, etc. And it doesn’t require a lot of prep time, or eating fruits and vegetables (though you can include all this if you want to). Here’s a favorite site of mine, written by an M.D. with a special interest in the topic:

      2. Thanks.

        It’s problematic for me if it doesn’t work well in a restaurant setting (as that’s where I tend to socialize) and if it’s “insanely boring” how do you stick with it?

      3. amatterofinstinct

        I think the consistent healthy eaters and exercisers are in the minority for the exact reasons you say–it is hard.

      4. Well, it requires a very serious and consistent amount of self-discipline! Not to mention putting your own needs (exercise, the right food, a walk, a class, the gym) before those of others — your kids, husband, sweetie — which many of us don’t do.

        There are SO many temptations everywhere….I’ve been shocked and quite horrified to see a trend in my local grocery store, where they are putting cakes, cookies and other high-calorie, low-nutrient treats in the produce (!?!!) department. So even if you are trying to be good and buy only fresh fruit and veg, there are sugar-bombs all around you. It’s a little gross, but clearly profitable.

      5. amatterofinstinct

        Oh that’s appalling. The so-called “food” companies will stop at nothing to make us keep eating the cheapest food with the biggest profit.

  12. This is so true and from the number of responses, definitely something that we can all relate to in one way or another. I think we are brainwashed as a society into thinking that we should all be thin and the fact that we aren’t (at least I’m not) makes us feel failures. If we don’t have the luxury of time to address what we eat properly, then as you say, we will reach for the quick solution and I don’t care what anyone says – a bar of chocolate tastes so much better than an apple! For me, weight is an ongoing battle and I definitely eat for emotional reasons, even though I know that I shouldn’t! Great post. Thank you.

    1. Having just had my cup of tea (it’s 4:40 in the afternoon here), and a small muffin, I hear you!

      I think we struggle mightily with pleasure and how (else) to attain it easily and affordably and reliably. We all know that food and drink def. do it. It’s all the other things that are too costly, time-consuming, difficult, whatever…

  13. “If it’s “insanely boring” how do you stick with it?”

    Because it’s insanely boring. Like brushing your teeth, you just do it and stop worrying about it. “What am I going to eat?” stops becoming a huge predicament. It can be kind of freeing for some. I’m sure it would be prison for others!

    1. I get that. When I was on my Loathed Diet, there was such tight restriction on what I could eat it got pretty simple. But I thought I might vomit if I had to consume one more tiny portion of almonds, or another serving of cold, wet, sour low-fat yogurt. Gah.

  14. Back in college a psychology professor explained to us that every person needs a satisfying activity to replace one we’ve lost or to counter one that may not be as rejuvenating to keep us happy.

    Food isn’t just the tempting commodity that we know it is. Apparently it serves as the very first need in our hierarchy of needs. And when human beings reach the point of ultimate stress, many will tend to unconsciously regress and turn to food for comfort. It’s natural. It’s normal. And it’s acceptable, contrary to what others believe.

    So more often than not, our food choices aren’t only determined by our appetite. At a certain low in our life (serious grieving, boredom, loneliness, or aversion to a certain “diet”), we are vulnerable to the yummy treats behind grocery doors. The junk food companies thrive on this. They know what makes the body/palate tick and that’s where they get the boost. Unfortunately for us, it works. Instant gratification as we call it.

    The downside of all the munching is the increase in weight, size and risk for lifestyle determined illness. Realistically, self control is the only way we can balance out this compulsion to stuff ourselves with savory potato chips. Another equally or more satisfying activity may be needed. Sports? Music? Support from friends and family? A spontaneous romp with your lovey? It’s a challenge to attain equilibrium in a busy world we live in, yet most ideal lifestyles require so much determination anyway.

    But once we’ve found the right solution that works for us, it’s surprising how attuned our heart and mind can be to our body. Trial and error obviously leads to discoveries. In my case, I learned that a medium size bar of Toblerone or a few shots of tequila can counter an idiopathic sadness in me in any random day. After that, I’d resolve to clear my mind and figure out what exactly caused that urge to down a lot of calories. From there I could turn to a much more constructive activity like exercise and doodling.

    We need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes to not lose our wits. Only when things finally come into perspective can we finally plan. Balance is the key.

    1. Thanks! Beautifully said. So depressing when someone’s comment is far more lucid than my post! 🙂 Kidding.

      You make a great point indeed — you have to sit with yourself and figure out why candy or liquor (oooooh, both please) are making you happy when/if there might be something making you sad. I simply enjoy the taste of a great cocktail or dessert, so that’s just a huge exercise in self-discipline (as last night) when I do not have wine with dinner (sigh) or dessert of any type. But I’d also had a pretty great day, so was not in special need of comfort. It’s also a matter of how much exercise you do to burn off your calories (and your metabolism — very different at 22 or 32 than 50s and beyond.)

      I think many people are seeking a comfort they can’t find — whether emotional (relationship problems), intellectual (underemployed or unemployed or bored silly), spiritual. It can be more difficult to parse the issue and resolve it than just eat something tasty!

      1. Thanks as well! Lol. My ideas just seem to flow thanks to how thought provoking yours are. Your posts are very interesting and I enjoy reading them. Its refreshing actually. 🙂

        And I totally agree that eating is easier than playing shrink to oneself. Speaking from experience, that’s how I ended up being kinder to myself when I’m down (or simply craving for something haha). As long as I know my limits, I know I’m good.

      2. Thanks!

        It took me a lot of mental wrestling to really get to what was making me so annoyed, (these days, plenty of things, but mostly the hassle of earning a decent living) but also seeing some progress (finally) in recent weeks between more exercise and fewer calories is also motivating me to be more careful about consumption. Without visible/quick progress, you think “why bother?” I figure it will take me a year to shed all the weight I want (50 lbs ideally, 35 for sure) but I refuse to starve myself into it. It just won’t work.

        Living in a culture that fetishsizes very skinny women is also difficult. But I’ve blogged on that before.

  15. I used to love to cook, and on occasion, I still do. But yes, I love good food, there’s something seductive about the colors, scents, and the many emotional triggers wrapped up in the food on our plates–positive or negative.
    But I’m picky, always have been.
    I have found myself doing a lot more unhealthy, emotional eating in recent years. Convenience as life got busier? Sure. A way to avoid and “stuff” the issues I don’t want to examine? Definitely.

      1. Really good dark chocolate, and SALT. I am a complete salt addict.
        I suppose now would be the time to admit to the yuca con cebolla dripping in oil I ate a little while ago…

      2. I can’t get into dark chocolate…even tho it’s healthy. Too bitter! The other night I made the error of eating two small pieces of Ghirardelli (sp?) dark chocolate with mint filling….and did not sleep a WINK from all the damn caffeine. Lesson learned.

      3. I like the tinge of bitter, I think it goes along with the salt cravings.
        Damn, now I’m thinking about making a batch of salted brownies.
        Somehow the broccoli slaw I was planning for tonight’s dinner is losing its appeal. Hmmm.

  16. Lori Henderson

    Dr. Oz has so many great tips on cooking, eating and food that I am so inundated that I revert to egg whites, salad and nuts to avoid becoming confused. Now very little tastes especially appealing. Cooking has taken a back seat to other movement. Like swimming.

  17. I’m an emotional eater so I relate very much to everything you’ve written above. When I worked at the office, the highlight of my day, was lunch. Really quite depressing when you think about it though!

    Mexico was good for me. I kept myself to a 60 peso a day food budget, and ate really well on it, all sorts of delicious things (thank you comida corrida places!). But the thing was, there was so much to do, see, experience, there were days I actually forgot to eat, which would have been an unthinkable phenomenon in my former life.

    Man, it’s gonna suck going back to the office!

    1. Maybe not if it’s the right office?

      The friends we are visiting in D.C. …the husband works for the 5th best place to work in America (a construction firm with offices all over) — and each one (!!!???) has a bar in the office and people are allowed to drink at work there starting about 4pm. Sign me up! 🙂

      1. I think it will be very very difficult for me to go back to office culture – and by that I mean in a large institution, no matter how off the usual wall they appear to be. I was struggling with it so mightily in the last few years (having worked for an employer rated very highly in Australia), having a taste of a completely unhinged life is doubtless going to make it worse.

        Not looking forward to it, but asi es la vida! Who knows what will happen in the future

      2. Maybe this will cement your determination to make it on your own. I hated my last job and now earn 50% of my old salary. I miss the cash but not the bullshit and stress.

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