I love cookies.
And I don’t mean cheap Chips Ahoy or something similar. I love a fresh-baked, not too crunchy cookie.
If I had to be partial, it would probably be a chocolate chip variation over, say an oatmeal raisin or peanut butter cookie.
However, I have realized (somewhat painfully) that cookies are NOT a food I can moderate.
So, when I do treat myself to a cookie, it might be once a week and I only buy one.
Enter: my wife.
Now, before I get accosted by my better half, I have to say: Marissa does a great job of normally keeping cookies out of the house. While she probably won’t claim to have the same cookie problem that I do, I think they’re tough for her to control as well.
A couple of weeks ago, she brought home some pumpkin cookies. These wouldn’t have been on my radar BUT because they were easily accessible, I found myself indulging anyway. Thankfully, there wasn’t much about these cookies that had me beside myself thinking about them on the ride home from work. And when they were gone, I didn’t miss them.
No sooner did the pumpkin cookies vanish, but I came home one night to see an entire box of Sam’s Club chocolate cookies on top of the fridge. I looked at my wife like she just grew two heads.
“Why on earth would you buy these??”
She said “I didn’t. We got them for free.”
So, of course, me of the weak constitution had to try one.
And what do you know, they didn’t even taste good.
“Sweet!” I told myself “Crisis averted!”
But it wasn’t.
Not an hour later, I grabbed another one.
And the next day, that stupid, no-good, worthless box was STILL THERE.
And what did your favorite bald man do?
Well, he ate two of those terrible cookies for no.damn.reason.at.all.
This is the moment where I should tell you I did what any reasonable human being would do and I threw the box away and watched those nasty cookies disappear into a trash can with Sebastian’s diapers, uneaten food and other trash.
My wife and I whittled away on those cookies until they were gone. Yes, I’m more to blame than she was.
And what boggles my mind is that despite the fact that I know I have an un-diagnosed problem with cookies, despite the fact that the cookies didn’t even taste good, despite the fact that it’s something of a prerequisite that the work I do require a modicum of self restraint, I buckled.
The problem is two-fold.
First, when we have these hyper-palatable (easy to overeat) foods that are easy to access, easy to view and have little barrier standing between us and them, the food will almost always win the battle.
Not us, not at the end of a stressful day, not when the willpower got flushed down the toilet by 5pm.
If we want our circumstances with food to change, we have to change the environment in which we have access to the food.
In my case, I know without a doubt, that I cannot have a box of cookies in the house. It doesn’t matter that I’m not actively trying to lose weight. It matters that I can’t control my intake when they’re around. All the justifications I could make will be wrong.
If you are anything like me and you have foods you can’t keep your hands off of, you have to change your access point.
Second, there’s just something about a shitty cookie that is altogether heartbreaking. By and large, what do we tend to overeat? Shitty chips, shitty crackers, shitty white bread, shitty candy bars because we forgot to pack our lunch and that stupid hum of the vending machine in the breakroom calls out to say “Aren’t you hungry, dumbass???”
When was the last time you heard someone overeat salad or steak or black beans or a damn bowl of broccoli?
“Well, you know, my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin Phillip was really lean when he was younger but he couldn’t control the garbanzo beans!”
If you want help with your food habits, you have to control your food environment. It won’t design itself to fit your will and your goals.
If, like me, you’re married or with a significant other, your better half needs to be 100% on board with these environment changes OR you run the risk of that same person wandering home with something like a Sam’s Club box of not-even-tasty chocolate chip cookies.
Last time I checked, it was really only the first couple of bites of a given food weakness that tasted good anyway. Yet we relentlessly punish ourselves because who on earth can keep it to just the first couple of bites anyway? Can we clone these people?
This article is less about shaming you for eating things that don’t align with the goal. It’s more about reminding you that moderation only works for some people. For the rest of us yahoos it’s some degree of long-term or short-term abstinence until we’ve reigned in the foods that we just haven’t yet mastered the control over.
And while I don’t float so far to one side of the food spectrum to preach that you should only ever eat whole, unprocessed foods indefinitely (although it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you incorporated more of them), you just need to draw greater distance between yourself and those hyper-palatable treats and snacks that are getting in the way of you and your goals.
At the very least, if you’re going to go for one of these delicacies, don’t let it be some cheap, poor excuse for a home-baked or better quality option.
Life’s too short for shitty cookies.
“We Make Great People Greater”
(Here’s our Malik tearing 405 off the floor like it was nothing.)