I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy by eating fruit instead of cakes and cookies–but it’s so hard!
We use the phrase “forbidden fruit” when we talk about temptation. I know the Biblical reference, but still the phrase makes me laugh. I’m not often tempted to the point of distraction by apples, oranges and bananas. If I have a taste for these, I usually indulge it without guilt. Fruit is good for us; we should eat more. Fruit is a should, a good intention. Forbidden fruit, that’s almost an oxymoron.
The Real Temptations
I go to Starbucks for a coffee. While waiting in line, I stare at the bakery shelves. Cakes and breads call to me like Sirens, their sweet song pulling me in, and I am powerless. Mint chocolate bars, double fudge cupcakes, gourmet cinnamon rolls-each one looks better than the last. Pumpkin cheesecake topped with nuts and little whipped cream rosettes. Chocolate mousse cheesecake with delicate chocolate shavings and the same graceful whipped cream. Oh my God, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, covered with drifts of pure snowy white.
A friend who’s always dieting says, “Will the pleasure of eating it be better than the pleasure of fitting into my clothes?” It’s mind over matter, in other words. These temptations pass-if I just give myself a little time to think.
The next time I go to Starbucks, I am with an Asian friend. We stand in front of the bakery shelves. The juices start flowing.
“What do you think when you see these?” I ask my tiny, size-six friend.
Think: Supersize! Think: Too sweet!
“Supersize!” she replies. “Too sweet,” she adds, wrinkling her nose. “Don’t you think so?”
Not really. But I borrow her attitude, at least long enough to get past the singing chorus of pastries.
“Supersize” is a good thing to think. It helps.
Here in the U.S., a lot of us say, “I know I should eat more fruit.” We don’t really like it, though.
In Korea I saw this, a closer link between what’s delicious and what’s “good for health.” It wasn’t unusual, but common, for food to be healthy and really good at the same time.
There, for example, the populace seemed to get excited over the yearly appearance of seasonal fruits. I saw young reporters on the TV news acting like cheerleaders as they went out to greenhouses, interviewed farmers and sampled their strawberries in early summer.
Say: Fruit Is Beautiful!
A student brought me kam , the Korean persimmon that comes ripe in the fall. And in fact, this was a fruit I fell in love with! It’s possible.
I had a boyfriend once who stopped by my office every day and brought me a piece of fruit. He placed it on my desk, a bright spot of color and sweetness in the midst of the file folders and paper clips. In the beginning, it was a surprise. I’d find a plum-but not just any plum. It would be a perfectly round, deeply red, luscious one. Or a perfect banana-firm, plump, no spots. Another day a pear worthy of a Vermeer still life, pale green, shapely.
It was the most romantic gift, fruit as aphrodisiac. The beauty of those fruits, their sensuality, made passersby take notice, comment. Those pieces of fruit did a lot to encourage the progress of our relationship. Later he told me about the care he took each morning, going to the grocery store and choosing, taking his time to look and turn around in his hand each piece of produce, discarding the imperfect ones, comparing size and shape and coloring.
Zen and the art of fruit-choosing. It was such a contrast to my way of grabbing a bag of Jonathans and rushing on through the store to fill my cart. I learned something about living in the moment from his fruit; I began to enjoy choosing it, dividing it into its natural sections (a banana has three), and tasting it, and feeling the texture of it–crisp or soft or juicy. Occasionally I’d splurge on something more expensive and exotic-a basket of raspberries, a fresh pineapple, a mango. And I would take my time eating.
I want to try mind over matter, to think of cake as too sweet; of fruit as tempting, sensuous, delicious. I’ve done it before.
I Can Do It!
And when I am seized with the temptation of the evil doughnut, I can resist-at least for a moment. And then another moment, until I’ve put enough time between the impulse and the action, and the craving has subsided.
I did it the other day at Starbucks. I got past the alluring pastry counter and then ordered my tall latte, nothing else, thank you.
But as I was patting myself on the back for that victory, the tricky devil behind the counter asked, “Do you want whipped cream on top?” and I heard myself saying, “A little,” before I could even think! And then, of course, it was too late.
Mea culpa. It was delicious.