How my indulgences have become more indulgent
I gave a talk yesterday I’d prepared months for. I think it went well. I’ll hear from the organizers soon and get their impressions.
On my way home I felt like I wanted to indulge in something to reward the effort in preparation. Years ago indulging meant ice cream, pretzels, chips, beer, wine, or something like that. Over the years, I’ve come to see those foods as less rewarding. They create pleasurable sensations but I don’t find mere pleasure as rewarding as I used
Instead I sliced an apple and ate it with peanut butter. Simple and unsweetened as it is, I enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed any of the old indulgences.
I’ve come to see chips, pretzels, and foods with fiber removed as something a company is doing to me, something unhealthy, for their profit. They give a big burst of flavor or texture, but no complexity. They make you want to eat more. Companies design them that way. And they advertise to get you started.
However good they taste, they make me feel bad for eating them.
I like a glass of wine with dinner, but I’m coming to see alcohol as something to enjoy rarely, and then to savor, if a scotch, or at least appreciate, if a wine or beer. The less I have of it, the more I like it. I didn’t want to focus on anything, just to enjoy. So I didn’t feel like them.
I’ve heard that fruit today is bigger and sweeter than its ancestors were. Apples seem big and sweet today. I see them more as candy than natural. Do people still say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? I’m not sure if they are as healthy as they used to be because I think they have a lot more sugar than they used to. That’s why I like them with peanut butter. The combination isn’t so sweet.
It feels good that my comfort food, which you expect to be less healthy, includes what many people consider healthy.
But the most important element is that I enjoyed a modest amount of fruit and legume more than I would have chips or whatever. I wouldn’t have expected that a long time ago. The apple and peanut butter felt more indulgent—that is, satisfying, pleasurable, and uncommon—than candy used to.
I didn’t plan to change my tastes. Maybe it came with age, but I think it came from making many small changes, especially cutting out foods where fiber was removed.
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