I don’t know anything about food or dieting. Let me be clear about that.
I have a lot of unfounded dietary beliefs in my head that I work off of such as, “You can eat all the salt you want as long as you drink a lot of water,” and “If I don’t feel sick, it can’t be that bad for me,” and “You can eat all the sugar you want as long as you drink a lot of water.”
I couldn’t be less of an expert on dieting, but let’s be honest with ourselves. You don’t really need to be.
We more or less know how we’re supposed to eat. We do. We know we’re supposed to eat a ton of vegetables, and probably way less of everything else we’re currently eating. We know there is no magic bullet. There is no secret Japanese root that eats up calories, and that’s why Japanese people are so thin. They’re just not sedentary hogs like we are. Deep down, we all know this.
We know what we’re doing wrong. It’s not a matter of knowledge. It’s a matter of consciously making the decisions that we know are good ones. That’s hard and complicated, and that’s what I’m here to help with. So here are my ideas.
1) Look at the Fucking Ingredients
This one seems really simple, and it is. You flip a box over and let information fall into your empty skull.
But despite that, pretty much no one does this. We choose our food by either price, a well staged picture, or because it has a buzz word on the front that appeals to us.
“Oh thank God. These are gluten-free Pixie Stix. I’ll take 87 boxes.”
We’re bad enough when we pick out food at a store, but think about going to a restaurant. Do you know what’s in the alfredo sauce at Olive Garden? Of course not. Every time you go out to eat, you’re essentially saying, “Whatever you wanna put inside of me, just do it. I will ask zero questions.” Restaurants and bathhouses are the only places where that’s an acceptable notion. We don’t bother to try to know any of the content of our food, even though the content is, like, the only important part of it.
Food isn’t just something that we put inside of us, it becomes us. I am part Ritz Cracker right now. That’s fusing with my body. Part of Will Penney is enriched flour, salt, and soy lechitin, whatever the fuck that is.
Maybe it’s fine. It might be. But I should have some comprehension of that one way or the other before I continue to blindly allow it to become a part of my being, and you should too. Awareness leads to progress. Or put another way, not being a dipshit leads to not being a manatee.
2) Stop Eating When Your Body is Like, “Hey. Stop Eating, Asshole.”
Here’s a sentence that you never ever hear in America: “I wish I had eaten more earlier.” Doesn’t happen. Doesn’t exist in our culture.
But we do overeat constantly. You can’t just see it. You can hear it. You can hear your body screaming at you.
“Dude, tap the fuck out! I’m literally about to explode from–why are you dipping the parsley in ranch?! It’s decoration! God damn it!”
You know that’s what your body is telling you, and you ignore it over and over and over. So listen to your body. If your butt hurts, take a pill. If your foot is purple, see a doctor. And if your insides feel like they’re about to burst, stop putting more things in them, you repugnant corn syrup disposal.
In an attempt to prevent this compulsion, here’s a side note to any parents reading this: Stop forcing your kid to finish their whole meal. Stop setting up that psychological imperative. They aren’t going to starve to death out of stubbornness, you first world lunatic. It’s 2016. Everyone will be fine. Chill, the fuck, out.
3) It’s Okay to Be That Annoying Friend
Nobody wants to be the friend who’s like, “Oh Taco Bell sounds great, but I’m trying to cut back, you guys. Can we maybe go to The Leaf Garden instead?” And then the whole group groans, and you all go to the salad place, but everybody is thinking, “God this sucks. I could be face-first into my fourth Gordita right now. Fuck Greta, and her stupid paleo, calorie-counting bullshit.”
And yeah, fuck Greta, right? No. NO. Fuck Greta’s friends.
How selfish are we? Your craving is obviously not as important as your friend trying to be healthy, but that’s not the attitude we have. If you’re trying to be healthier, you’re the nobler one. You are more important. If your friends can’t see that, then find new friends (note: I have no advice on how to do this).
4) Remember: Coke is Not a Real Fucking Beverage
The title said that I wouldn’t tell you what to eat, but to be fair, you drink Coke.
And really, just consider soda’s place in the world because it’s incredible to think about. Soda is widely accepted to be one of the worst things you can consume and people regularly have it with their meal. Fucking with. Not as a dessert. No, you’re literally tossing water aside to replace it with Coke. You’re essentially having a family sized box of Junior Mints on the side of your burger. What the fuck is wrong with you?
How is this such a popular choice? How did we let them trick us into thinking this was viable? Are Christmas polar bears really that persuasive? Do we think that if something is a beverage, it doesn’t count towards our health? I don’t know, but let’s all agree to stop being such idiots about this, treat soda like the carbonated liquid death that we already know it is, and move on with our lives.
5) The Ranch Dressing Delusion
The Ranch Dressing Delusion is when you convince yourself that the carrots and celery you’re eating are healthy even though you’re using them to scoop up ranch before every bite. It’s using the presence of one healthy aspect to trick yourself into thinking your entire disgusting meal is healthy. This delusion is probably responsible for a good 25% of America’s obesity, and it comes in many, many forms.
“Fries aren’t great for you I guess, but at least they’re a vegetable.”
“Can I have like…triple cheddar? I mean since it doesn’t have that cow hormone in it, might as well.”
“It’s not a doughnut. It’s an apple fritter. I need it. I haven’t eaten ANY fruit yet today.”
This doesn’t happen because food companies are brilliant at tricking us. It happens because we want to be tricked. We want to have something to hang onto to make us feel okay with eating garbage. We want to ignore the dressing that quintuples our salad’s calories. We want to feel like gluten-free pizza is somehow good for us. We want to stuff 8,000 fruit snacks into our face because they’re made from “real fruit” (such high standards we have).
But of course, this is all bullshit, and we know it. We just need to acknowledge it way, way more than we do, and step outside of our own delusion. Or, failing that, we could try to create our own delusion…
6) Convince Yourself That Bad Food Actually Sucks
You remember when you were a kid and you would play “The Floor is Lava,” or “I’m An Astronaut!” You had fun, right? It’s fun to make believe, to pretend.
Well did you know that Cheez-Its are baked in the same ovens they used to cremate people? Did you know that the glaze on Krispy Kreme features the chemical also found in the Ebola virus? Did you know that there was a scandal recently that revealed that Wetzel’s employees across the nation wiped pretzels on their asses before they were sold?
None of this is true of course, but it gives you an idea of how effective pretending can be. But in order for it to work, you have to really get into it. So don’t just tell yourself that pizza dough eats at your stomach lining like termites on wood. Feel it. Convince yourself that it’s true. Use the power of imagination to know that Sprite is actually carbonated horse pee (Honestly, is it that much of a stretch?).
7) Replace the Food Vice…With a Vice
We all have our vices. One way to get over your vice of shoveling garbage into your gob is to reward yourself with a different, less fattening vice.
Food is very often a void filler, but it’s not the only one, so find something else: Video games, watching brainless TV, sex (with others or yourself), the occasional street drug. Pretty much any vice besides weed (because it makes you eat fattening garbage), and booze (because it is fattening garbage) should help.
The important part is that once you find your skinny vice, you stick to it. Learn to associate eating not terribly with pleasure. Train yourself like the Pavlovian mutt that you are.
8) Act Like You’re Above This
There is nothing snobbier than $10,000 a plate charity ball, but guess what? It raises a ton of money for charity.
So maybe sometimes snobbery can be used for good. When you’re passing by a Cinnabon in the mall, of course you want it deep down. Just the smell is bringing you to the brink of orgasm. But no. You’re not going to stoop down to that level because you’re not one of them. You’re not a gross, mouth-shoveling cretin like the people waiting in line for one. You’re better than that. Take pride in yourself for not being like that.
Or, if you don’t like snobbery, then think you’re awesome in another way. Pretend you’re Batman as you storm past that Cinnabon. Speak in that awful Christian Bale voice for the full effect, and say “BATMAN DOESN’T EAT PROCESSED CARBS!”
Or, in lieu of all of these things, you could just be a consciously living adult who thinks about what they’re doing as they’re doing it.
That’s kind of what this all boils down to, right? Know what you’re doing, what your priorities are, and make the right decision. If that seems boring, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe just pretend to be Batman for all of these steps. Look at the back of the box of Cheez-Its and go “WHAT IS A CHEESE CULTURE? I SHOULD RESEARCH THAT!”
Or accept that this isn’t supposed to be fun. This is the shitty part of life. You need the shitty part to balance out the fun. So yeah, eating healthy sucks, but it’s the reality you need to accept. Sometimes life sucks. But at least if you put up with it, you won’t suck…as much.
So step back and look at what you’re doing. Take over the controls in your brain and direct yourself away from what you know is bad towards what you know is good. It’s boring, but it’s putting up with the boring part that makes you a hero.
So do it. Be the hero your face deserves, and your waistline needs. Be the Batman of boring salads.