By: Lauren Anderson
You remember that cult classic from 1993 “Indecent Proposal”? Just me? Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson are young and hot and married and in love–but broke as hell. The dishwasher needs fixing! Student loans! “I just want to do my art!” I know Demi was wearing a crop top and overalls at one point. That’s all I can really remember.
By the power of Hollywood storytelling, they somehow stumble across the path of a billionaire Robert Redford and he offers the couple one million dollars for a night of sexy times with the wife Demi. The audacity! The intrigue!
THE. INDECENT. PROPOSAL.
The couple talks and talks about the morality etc. (It was so shocking in the 90’s.) Demi eventually decides to say yes. They foolishly believe their marriage can prevail. Then sexy times occur. And the young marriage inevitably falls apart.
Because Hollywood really thought they were the right ones to give the world a lesson about LOVE BEING MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY. Hahaha!
Ahhhh, Hypocrisy. Gotta love it?
* * *
Well, now that we’re all on the same page… and that iconic film is fresh in your memory, follow me if you will, down the snack isle of the nearest grocery store that stays open till midnight.
It’s rounding down around closing. I just got done with a show. I’m so hungry from running around that I feel like I could eat a horse (an even more indecent proposal? Not in Canada!). I’ve got no food at my house, and in an attempt to not get fast food or something like it– the grocery store wins.
Except every food blogger and nutrition expert will say it’s ill-advised to go grocery shopping when hungry enough to eat something as majestic as a horse. Cause, you’ll be more likely to make food choices that might not support you.
And yet, here I am.
I friggin hate grocery shopping. It’s a chore that’s a bore, and if I ever get Robert Redford rich I’m never stepping into one again. But daydreaming about hiring out your chores list won’t get you fed.
The up side to hating to grocery shop, is I have a pretty strict list of what I buy every week. It’s a system. It’s a fine-oiled machine. I’m in and out.
I’m pretty loose about what I eat nowadays when I’m dining out or over at a friend’s house, but in my home I still keep things Essential You compliant. Meaning that I still get the oils that my body can recognize and easily process, no sugars outside of fruit and occasional honey, and no real grains or dairy save for the occasional coffee creamer and rice.
Honestly, it’s the way I taught myself how to cook, so doing something different seems harder than just staying loosely compliant. Win win!
Ever heard that saying “Don’t practice until you do it right, practice until you can’t do it wrong.” (Good one right?) This is kinda how I feel about eating and cooking in a low-inflammation/ low-glycemic way. The Essential You way.
When I stop to think about the magnitude of what I just wrote, I’m a little gobsmacked. (Hot damn I love that word–GOBSMACK!) Two years ago, I didn’t know anything. Now I can’t forget.
Does that mean I’m perfect or strict or even a good cook? Oh hell no. Does that mean that some brie cheese or dark chocolate or occasional 4 pack of King’s Hawaiian Bread rolls never crosses the threshold? Haha! You’re funny. Of course they do. But they are occasional. And that’s the miracle. Even the chips I buy are made with avocado oil.
It’s weird to think that my “treat” foods are still pretty simple, without a lot of processing. (Except the King’s Hawaiian Bread… but seriously. Have you tasted that stuff? Daaaaaaang.)
And it got me thinking that how I shop in the grocery store is pretty thrilling if I look at where I am now, and where I began. You guys, I buy apple vinegar and chard sometimes and ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT. (I know. I know. No one likes a vinegar bragger…)
But if I ever need any proof of the power of practice, please refer me to this blog and the last couple of paragraphs I just wrote. That slow and steady practice over time, taught me so much about what I put into my body, and then what it does when it’s in there. And I am different because of it.
That being said, I’m still me. And I can brag about knowing what Chard is, but that doesn’t mean it makes it into my cart every week. In fact, I don’t know about any of you, but I go in cycles with the veggies I buy.
Sometimes I’m on a veggie safari, sometimes I’m that picky kid in kindergarten that will only eat baby carrots and apples. Yes, a varied, gorgeous, vegetable lifestyle is ideal. But as long as I’m getting SOME VEG more than no veg… I’m good!
And the main take-away that my nutritionist reminded me of is:
I’m still eating veggies. And I should give myself a friggin break.
Cut back to the grocery store.
As I wander down the snack/soda aisle to pick up some LaCroix, I make an unusual pivot, and what do I see right on the other side of the aisle? Cheetos. Like old school, crunchy neon orange snacks that I haven’t even really thought about in years. Chester in his sunglasses with that seductive lean—captivating me with his coolness like a babysitter that will let you stay up too late.
The Cheetos tempt me with an indecent proposal. Just like Robert Redford. But like, as a snack.
I’m a kettle chips kinda gal. I love the crunch, and a lot of the more adventurous chip flavors leave me feeling a little squidgy. But Cheetos? I dunno. There’s something about the gnarled bits of fake cheese that I can’t seem to get enough of.
And I stop in my tracks.
My brain starts to go, “Ooooo. Cheetos. When’s the last time you had some of those?” And then I think, “Jeez, is there any real food in those things?” I pick up the package, and I read the label. “Not much… but damn those look good.”
I start to convince myself that what I’ll get out of eating it, will justify me buying it. It doesn’t take long before I’m Demi Moore shedding my overalls. And the poor Woody Harrelson of my Cheetos-free lifestyle gets left in the orange dust.
Which is odd right? Knowing what I know now about how food is processed in the body, things like Cheetos often don’t even appeal to me anymore. Because I know how crappy I feel afterwards.
But Cheetos are different. They’re like having a cigarette at a high school reunion. You don’t do it anymore, because you definitely know better— but because it’s a night of nostalgia and remembering when you felt immortal, suddenly you’re like, “F-it! Let’s party.”
Because Cheetos are the King of the “F-it” food group. It’s a food choice so clear about what it is, it practically holds up a blazing orange middle finger to your face and defies you to try and walk away.
In two years, I can count the times I’ve had some Cheetos– exactly 5. I know, because I haven’t purchased them to bring into my home since I made the commitment to change my lifestyle. And the 5 times I’ve eaten the tempting traffic-cone-colored snack, I was at a party. Or a friend’s house. And it was a few handfuls at most.
Because for as much learning and growing as I’ve done so far on this journey, there’s one thing I know for certain. If I’m bringing a bag of Cheetos into my home, they’re not going to last the night.
So I just don’t buy em anymore.
But you’ll recall from the beginning of this tale, dear readers, that I was stupid hungry at the grocery store. And all bets were off. And so I bought a bag, and I invited Chester in.
You can guess how the rest of the night went down. I had Cheetos for dinner. And the bag was gone before I went to bed. Just like Redford’s character in the 90’s flick.
Asked and answered. No surprises here. When I woke up the next day, my hands were so swollen from the salt, that I couldn’t get my rings off.
* * *
Let me just say that for the record, the stereotype that’s popping up here of a “big girl being seduced by food”, and “can’t control themselves around junk food”, is not lost on me. I can hear it too. I probably even leaned into it a little for the sake of this story.
But it bugs me just as much as it bugs you. Because that shit’s harmful. It’s stereotypes like that, that give internet trolls the material to back up their fat/food shame.
Just know that when I talk about Cheetos, and being enticed by anthropomorphized snack characters, it’s just my attempt to humorously start to unpack a problem I KNOW is bigger that being a Cheeto maniac.
It’s just hard to talk about, so I deflect. Like Chandler in “Friends”. Humor is a weapon. A catalyst to get these potentially guilty feeling up and out of my body and mind. So I can lay out the clues on the table and see what’s going on, and hopefully get to the bottom of it all.
There are things I figured out though, after my dance with Chester in the moonlight:
- I am not equally enticed by all junk food.
- I am more easily swayed to eat from what I call the “F-it” food group, because it feels naughty or destructive somehow. Like it’s a safe-ish way to burn it down.
- Because I am a bit of a hedonist, I think I am attracted to things that feel “Too much”. The “Too much” nature of it might be part of the appeal. Like an “Animal-style” burger.
*whoa… that might be a breakthrough
- I felt guilt and shame after I was done. But it didn’t last as long as it used to.
- My education helped me get over my Cheetos “hangover” by eating extra greens and foods with little-to-no processing the next day. And it helped! I felt moderate, and like I was serving my body as opposed to doubling-down on more “F-it” foods.
Just like the 90’s, and the movie “Indecent Proposal”, I know this Cheetos incident will fade into history and will soon be forgotten. But just like the style trends of my youth are back to haunt me now in full platform shoe swing… I know this will bubble up again.
But unlike Demi and Woody and their now-doomed relationship, I don’t think I’ve made a mistake.
I think I made a little breakthrough. Instead of feeling afraid or overwhelmed about this food stuff, I feel a new excitement I’ve never felt before at the prospect of getting to the bottom of all this.
There is inexplicable clarity at the bottom of the Cheetos bag this time.
I might finally be ready to take this on.
And that sounds like a pretty damn decent proposal if you ask me.