I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized I needed to start eating healthy: a couple months ago, when I started to tug on a pair of black skinny jeans and the crotch promptly split open. I hadn’t even pulled the pants past my knees yet and the material already wasn’t having it. Possibly if I’d gone all in, the whole thing would’ve self-destructed, which, while doubtless a violation of some line in our very comprehensive dorm safety code, would’ve made for a much more entertaining post.
Instead, I just stood there, reluctantly impressed, and wished I knew how to whistle because this was the perfect situation if there ever was one. The only other person in the vicinity was my sleeping roommate, and I wasn’t about to wake her up just to ask her if she could whistle for me because then I’d have to explain why I was still standing there with my pants half up and a stupid look on my face. So I changed into shorts and started a food journal in order to save the rest of my limited closet from a similar fate.
The idea of a food journal is to write down everything you eat in hopes that either a) having to write things down every time you eat will deter you from impulsively snacking or b) having lasting physical evidence of everything you’ve consumed throughout the day will impose upon you a sense of crippling shame. Option B seemed right up my alley, so I set to work.
I downloaded an underwhelming food journal app—as a college student, I choose to exercise my right to avoid handwriting anything, which probably right off the bat undercut Option A—that let me take pictures of everything I ate and “log” them into the gallery.
Reasons Why the Food Journal Failed
- Too easy
The fact that I had any hope of success with Option A (being too lazy to take pictures and thus eating less) demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of my own nature. What actually happened: because I didn’t want to take as many pictures, I’d just eat more in one sitting, eg. try to eat the whole bag of Cheetos. And then, once I realized how much easier it was to shove pictures of everything I ate into an app and pretend nothing happened, I just starting logging everything and changing no habits.
For a relatively unimaginative person, I become incredibly inventive when lying to myself. I quickly found a way to creatively trick myself into satisfaction: getting all the food I want from the buffet and covering it all with salad before snapping pictures. The best part is I didn’t even realize I was doing it until at least a week in, and then I couldn’t even be mad because I was so impressed.
- Being accosted by free food
Some of you may have already seen this on Facebook, but almost immediately after I decided to eat better, I was inexplicably accosted by free food. For a while, everywhere I turned, someone was offering me leftover chocolate cake, countless candy bars, an entire tub of hummus, etc.
I don’t even like chocolate that much—great conversation starter, I’ve found—but something about free food is just irresistible. I’m thinking it’s the free part. And maybe also the part where I utterly lack self-control.
- Unimpressed lunch ladies
There aren’t any labels on food in the dining hall, and while there is a menu overhead for the cheap line, even a word bank isn’t helpful enough to identify mush. And most of the time, by the time I finish reading the menu, it’s my turn. The process isn’t any good for my nerves.
Me: Can I have whatever that is? *points*
Lunch lady: WHAT
Me: That. No, that. No, just, no—
Lunch lady: *scoops from three random dishes onto plate*
Me: Uh this is exactly what I wanted thank you bye
- Accusatory raccoons
In our dining hall, there are several posters of raccoons warning against food waste. From my first on-campus meal in August to now, finals week, I’ve noticed more and more of these PSAs. Either I’m getting progressively more observant, or there’s some employee there whose job is to periodically sneak in raccoons week by week and see if anyone can tell the difference.
If it’s the latter, he’s done a good job—I liken it to growing out hair in that you don’t notice anything until suddenly your hair is two inches longer; you see one raccoon in the dining entrance one day, and then next thing you know they’re on the walls, through the glass, and dangling from the ceiling tiles.
I find it hard to ignore the raccoons when they look so accusatory. So after I’d regularly overestimate how much I could eat—as you do in buffets—and take a picture of the food, I’d feel the need to completely clean off my plate as some sort of sick appeasement.
Me: I’m… about to throw up.
Me: *continues eating*
Friend: Stop eating!
Me: I can’t. The raccoon’s shaming me.
Friend: The raccoon has no right. Do you see that steak in front of it? We don’t have steak. It eats better than we do. Raccoons can go to hell.
It’s probably fair to say that the stress was (is) getting to us all.
I nodded vigorously. And then finished my plate, having realized that there were more pressing needs to attend to than keeping up a doomed-from-the-start food journal and that a much easier solution to all these problems was to just get bigger jeans.
Please help me out and like my page on Facebook! Good karma could help you out on that final/whatever you’re stressing about.
(Featured image from therunningbug.com)