It was a gorgeous, early September day. After giving up my morning run to take the kids to the state fair, I felt motivated to get some exercise later in the day. Feeling guilty about leaving my husband home with three kids, I begged one of my boys to come with me. After multiple rejections, I whispered in my oldest son’s ear that I’d take him for an ice cream cone. That’s all it took.
He hopped in the stroller, and off we ran to our brand new neighborhood Italian ice and frozen custard shop. The kids in our area have watched this shop come to fruition, and the excitement and anticipation has been evident these past few days.
It was my turn at the register to pay for my son’s treat. I overheard an employee exclaim, “Here it is, ma’am.” She handed a mother a binder titled, “Nutrition Facts & Calories.” There she stood with her daughter on one side, relishing in her chocolate and vanilla swirled ice cream cone, and her son on the other side, enamored by his blend of ice and custard. “Where does it list your custard?” she asked as she frantically flipped through the pages.
Thirteen years ago, I walked into Dunkin’ Donuts. I was starving, and every single item on the shelves looked more delectable than usual. I told the man behind the counter that I typically ordered a Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffin, but was curious as to the amount of fat and calories it contained. He pulled out a similar binder as the ice cream shop: sheets of paper listing every menu item, grams of fat, and calories. That was all I needed to see, too.
Looking back, there was no healthy reason I needed to ask to see the nutrition facts of the muffin. I wanted the muffin, so why did I deprive myself? I felt an overwhelming amount of guilt eating anything, let alone unhealthy choices. This was during the time of my eating disorder. And, after studying the amount of fat that muffin contained, I politely declined. It wasn’t long before I recovered, at which point I craved and salivated over bread, muffins, and carbohydrates more than anything in the world. I learned through my eating disorder, and I live by it to this day, that if I desire a food, then I need to eat it. Because the consequences of not are far worse for my body, mind, and health.
I’m not accusing this mother of having an eating disorder. But, she was clearly yearning for that frozen custard. I could almost hear the conversation going on in her head. It’s just like the morning conversation about whether or not to exercise.
“You want the custard. Get it!” said the good voice.
“You don’t need ice cream. It is too fattening,” said the bad voice.
“But, it’s ok. You can enjoy a special treat with your kids.”
“You will get fatter if you order frozen custard,” said the bad voice.
And, the bad voice came out on top. “Oh my! I can’t have that. I guess I’ll just have a kiddie-sized mango Italian ice.”
I felt for this mother in more ways than simply deprivation. Was the urge not worth the guilt? I could see in her eyes how torn she was, and the struggle that went along with it. Let’s be honest. We all know that frozen custard is fattening. It’s a dessert made of butterfat and egg yolk. But, really, what did she expect to see when she was flipping through to see the amount of grams of fat per serving? Was she hoping it would miraculously be low-cal, fat-free, or rich in vitamins?
I can guess that she wasn’t nearly as fulfilled after eating the Italian ice as she would’ve been had she just ordered the custard. You can eat chocolate, ice cream, pizza, etc… and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s just about moderation. If she ordered a large frozen custard cone, she may have gained weight. But, had she ordered a small to please her craving, she would have been much better off—and satisfied. So, next time you want those french fries, the pizza slice, chocolate fudge cake, or the ice cream cone…Get it! (And, tell that voice to shut the hell up.)