Mindlessness and the Goldfish cracker

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I was having a conversation today with one of the moms whose baby is currently in our NICU, and I mentioned something to her about how there are those foods that I know that I don’t like but still find myself eating. I am not sure, looking back, how this came up at all in our topic of conversation because I am pretty sure that we were talking about something totally unrelated, but this is something I think about from time to time, so I thought maybe it would be a good blog topic. So here they are…foods I don’t particularly care for that I continue to eat anyway.

I should preface this with the same story I told her, which was about some of my nursing school days. On Wednesday evenings, we had lecture for about 17 hours (really, I think it was for four hours…but it seemed like a lot longer since I often was coming right from a full day of work to be there). And on my way there, I loved to stop at the grocery store to pick up some staples to help me get through the lecture with my brainpower relatively intact. There was some variety to the foods I chose, but they were almost always crunchy things that came in large enough bags that they would last for the entire lecture. The one that sticks out the most when I think back to those days is Goldfish crackers (specifically the Pizza and Parmesan flavors).

I ate a LOT of Goldfish crackers. I was in nursing school for two years, year-round, and I sat through a lot of lectures (Side note: I also gained 35 pounds in nursing school. Not a mystery how that happened.). So my Wednesday would go like this: Go to work. Spend the day working as a nurses’ aide (easily one of the hardest jobs there is). Finish work and drive to the grocery store. Buy Goldfish crackers and Cherry Coke. Drive to school. Settle in next to my nursing school BFF, Paula, with my book and notebook open, several pens on the table in front of me, and my snacks arranged around me. Steadily eat an entire bag of Goldfish crackers as I listened to my professor. Develop horrible heartburn. Pop a Pepcid on my way home.

Goldfish crackers are one of those foods that I don’t really care for very much, but I eat them anyway. I still occasionally grab a bag when I am grocery shopping. I can’t eat them slowly and savor them. The bag is opened, it must be finished, and I munch and munch until they are no more. Once the bag is empty, I usually remember that I don’t really like them. But in the moment? It’s mindlessness at its worst.

Some of the other foods that are on this list are any cracker that has an excessive amount of powdered flavorings on it (such as any Cheez-it other than the original flavor, any of those flavored Ritz chips, the new flavors of brown rice Triscuits…you get the idea), Pretzel M&Ms (and most pretzels, actually), Lays Stackers, most flavors of Pringles, most flavors of Combos, most crackers, almost all non-homemade cookies (so that would include things like Keebler cookies and Chips Ahoy!, as well as grocery store bakery cookies), the home fries in the cafeteria at work, and the list could go on and on. In the last month alone, I have eaten all of these items at least once. And every time, I ate my entire serving and then reminded myself that I didn’t like them in the first place.

This is some great ammunition for my inner mean girl. First of all, the act of eating an entire bag of Goldfish crackers in one sitting lends itself really well to some negative self-talk. Second of all, added on top of the fact that I ate the entire bag is the fact that I don’t really like the damned things in the first place. And when I am feeling at my worst about something like this that I have done, what is my response? If your guess was to open up another bag of Goldfish crackers, you would at least be getting close to the spirit of the truth.

Mindfulness would probably go a long way toward removing these unloved foods from my life. If I came at a bag of Goldfish crackers from a place of mindfulness, I would not open the bag because I would remember that I don’t like them enough for them to be worth it. And maybe I would eat something else instead.

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