Wednesday, December 20, 2006

wanting the biggest piece

Do you think some people are hard-wired to be greedier than others? I was reading "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansink (quite fascinating BTW) and he found that overweight people ate more than other people in his experiments. Whether it was a never-ending soup bowl, a dish of ice cream, m&ms, or stale popcorn -- the overweight ate more than normal weight people (who also overate when faced with larger portions). Were they hungrier or were they just...greedier? As far back as I can remember I have always coveted the largest cookie, the largest piece of cake, the dish with the most pudding in it. It used to be that I'd make sure I was first in line at any buffet -- to make sure I got the food I wanted. I'd feel slightly gypped if the waitress gave the person next to me the plate that had more fries on it. I tried to get the corner piece of cake -- because it had more frosting -- well, unless the corner piece was smaller than the others. As a kid I remember eating so much at buffets -- especially desserts -- that I felt sick.

These days I still want the biggest cookie, but I hang back for the buffet line -- hoping that some of the good food is gone and I won't have to wrestle with my desire to eat some of everything. Wantsink found that people ate more when there was a variety -- even if the variety was m&ms that were all exactly the same save for color. I am definitely a variety victim. When I had tea in London, I cut all of the cakes in half so I could taste all four or five kinds. The women with me each had 1 or 2 cakes; the end. They didn't seem to feel any compulsion to taste everything available. Lately coworkers and customers have been bringing in huge platters of various kinds of cookies for us. I look at the platter with 12 different homemade goodies on it and flee. I have the same problem with menus -- I want one of everything. I agonize -- should I have the burger or a sandwich? the pancakes or an omelet? the fries or the onion rings?

I think this is really the root of my issues with food. How can I overcome my greed? Is it partially fear? I'll never have this cookie or this cake ever again! I'll never come to this restaurant again and even if I do, they may not serve this sandwich anymore! Tis true that there are ALWAYS more delicious cookies in the world and there are ALWAYS fabulous sandwiches. How can I convince myself of this truth and overcome my natural greed? I worry about finding the answer -- not just for me, but for my 9-year-old daughter. She is a skinny little thing right now, but I watched her eat five desserts at her sister's Christmas program. God forbid that my legacy to her is a lifetime of food and weight torture.

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