How I May Eventually Make Smarter Food Choices

Recorded on April 11th, 2016

There are 606 files in my “text files” folder. They range from one-off snippets about favorite beers and LPs to buy, to model numbers for things like printer cartridge refills. There are also dozens of notes on restaurants around town. If I find a dish I like, I’ll write a few words about it so I don’t have to re-invent the wheel next time.

I just started adding a new angle to those restaurant notes: before-and-after details about cravings we have, and then the resulting regret that comes from having given in to those cravings. Because what usually happens with us is we think, “Ooooh, let’s go to Ye Olde Local Mexican Restaurant, yeah, and let’s PIG OUT on chips and salsa and beans and rice and burritos and beer and it’ll be awesome and I don’t care if I feel bad later this time it’ll be different let’s do it okay okay I’ll drive.”

And then we do all of the above, and as soon as we get in the car after the pigging out is over, we say:

“Ugh, I don’t feel so good.”
“Why did we do that? This happens every time. Are we stupid?”

I’ve often thought it would be a good idea to capture the way we feel before we eat and drink, when we have a crystal-clear hankering for something salty, heavy, savory and delicious, and then write down the sensations and associated quotes that happen after we’ve done our damage. It seems like if you do this enough, you could see some patterns emerge that could tell a thinking person that no, this time will not be different, and you’ll be as sorry for over-eating this time as you were last time.

This morning I followed through on that brainstorm because my joints were in actual pain following some severe pizza over-indulgence at one of our favorite places yesterday. (No, it wasn’t Pizza Tonight, but I’m not going to name the one it was, either. Our bad habits aren’t their fault.) I scribbled some thoughts down in Drafts while the bad-stomach feeling was still fresh. Here’s what I added to the text file for “Pizza Restaurant X”:

2016-04-10, 2:30 pm:
"I want a savory lunch. Let's get a small Sicilian pizza and fries at You-Know-Where."
"Yay! I'll drive!"

[We eat the fries and half the pizza for lunch, then Phil eats 3 more leftover slices for "dinner" at 10 pm.]

2016-04-11, 10 am:
"I still feel like a bloated, dried-out husk, like when I drink too much beer. And my now joints are stiff and they hurt."
"Are we stupid?"

So, there’s my cautionary note-to-future-ravenous-self. If I can keep this up and populate more restaurant files with enough quantitative evidence, I may have a prayer of preventing untold episodes of heartburn and bloat in years to come. This is why we have tiny computers in our pockets all the time!

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