Someone I met recently made a statement that went something like this (exact words may not be a perfect recollection):
"It is in comfort that we experience our greatest misery."
In the second half of my life, I discovered the comfort of overeating foods that have the power to take over my consciousness and form a craving for very specific experiences. By themselves, they may be relatively harmless, but over time, my consumption has had concrete self-destructive effects.
Eating potato chips by the boatload and munching on whole bags full of candy and downing fast foods as if it were my last meal upon this great sojourn......hugely comforting and fraught with a cascade of negative consequences, beginning with guilt, guilt, guilt......and when I look in the mirror or measure the poundage on the scale.......the misery of shame comes home to stay.
Efforts to release me from the negative feelings by suggesting that this is somehow "normal" is a waste of time.
I have to stop this comfort-through-food thing. I can't give in to the cravings. Like addictions to drugs, the binges are complex behaviors that seem to focus my attention on the moment. Right now, I need a bag of chips or candy or fried food. Right now, the stresses of the day seem overwhelming. I eat to survive this feeling, and the consequences to my health be damned. Eating the comfort food, however satisfying, leads to a merciless misery of disappointment and self-reproach.
Hence, today is a new day. I am logging every calorie so that I can be aware of exactly what damage I am doing to my body. When I write it down, I eat less. The embarrassment of commiting my culinary conduct to paper tends to outweigh the cravings. I feel hungry, and it's all I can do to stop imagining a giant bowl of snack food with salt and fat and starch and calories.
Don't think of elephants. Don't think of elephants. Don't think of elephants.
The 12-steppers say, "One day at a time." Indeed.
There is a moral satisfaction in this feeling of want and deprivation. I am conquering the day's demons, the savage craving for luscious, scrumptious, beautiful foods.
It's a gastric lust for fat, for salt, for sugar, for starch.
Satisfying these temptations is easy. The food is sold with great enthusiasm on every corner, in nearly every form of communication to which I am exposed. It feels compelling.
If this hunger is a badge of moral courage, it may be a source of strength and evidence of a smug kind of bliss that attahes itself to those of us who pride ourselves on the struggle to achieve valuable life goals.
For want of a better term for the virtue of avoiding self-indulgence, I call healthy eating habits "moral bliss". This kind of bliss doesn't really feel good, until one can overcome the cravings and the hungers and the pain of being physically, deeply uncomfortable down to the marrow of the bone. When life beats me up, flimsy moral-schmorals blow away in the wind, replaced by a pile of potato chips and candy, and there is my greatest misery in life.......defeat at the hands of my own overwhelming appetites.
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene