Monday, September 22, 2014

I Won't Dessert Desserts

I have noticed that food has been mentioned a quite a bit in my blog posts over the years. I'm not obsessed with food. I just want to drive by food's house to see if food is home. (That's a riff on a Jim Gaffigan joke.)

OK, let's be honest. I am obsessed with food. It's the only way I have found to be successful in keeping the 60+ lbs off that I lost a couple of decades ago. (Please note that I'm not saying that this is true for everyone that has successfully lost weight. I just know how it works for me. Professionals would say that I have an eating disorder.)

While I am generally quite strict with my diet, I do take dietary vacations. And when I do, it often involves dessert foods. I think this puts me in pretty good company with my fellow Mormons. If actual practice were any indicator, researchers might easily conclude that dessert foods are central to Mormon life. We rarely hold any kind of activity where treats are not served. We often go so far as to turn treats into an art form.

I mean, we Mormons have a revelation on diet that very few of us bother to follow very closely. Oh, we're all over abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and illicit drugs. But we're not too hep on otherwise eating very healthy — except for a few of us that annoy everyone around us by incessantly noting how righteous our diet is. You know, kind of like being proud of how humble we are.

So, like most Mormons I know, I think about and sometimes even celebrate dessert foods. I sometimes even eat such treats. But I have my favorites, as do most people. This is one of those areas where diversity of opinion is perfectly acceptable. You can like what you like and I can like what I like. After all, there are so many options available.

A couple of years ago the Primary pulled me in for a Father's Day event where children guessed answers to questions about their dads. I was stunned when my kids failed to recognize that my ultimate favorite dessert item — first, last, and always — is ice cream. While I like a wide assortment of desserts, I will always opt for ice cream given the choice. (Unless it's got coconut in it. Then I'll pass.)

And, yes, I do have my favorite flavors and types of ice cream. Fine ice creams are delicious and wonderful. But there's nothing I like better than a thick ice cream milkshake; the kind that is so thick that it sticks up higher than the rim of the cup and can't be sucked through a straw.

I also am quite fond of cones dipped in candy coating (usually chocolate) that gets hard. Nobody in the universe (that I know of) makes these dipped cones better than Dairy Queen. If you think I'm wrong on that point, please direct me to anyplace you think is superior and I will do my own personal taste test if possible.

I believe dessert foods to be fine when eaten in moderation. I don't indulge in dessert foods with enough frequency to appreciably harm my health. If I were eating this stuff everyday it would be a different story. When it comes to dietary health, how you eat on a daily basis has far greater impact than how you eat on rare occasions.

Humans have a multifaceted relationship with food that is not well understood. It has always been thus. But today our economic conditions allow vast swaths of people access to wide varieties of food options. I am amazed by the selection in the town where I live of 300+ restaurants that cater to a tremendous variety of tastes and budgets.

My brother was once talking with a coworker that had managed to lose quite a bit of weight. He told my brother that his secret was to sever his emotional relationship with food, seeing it purely as fuel. Most people could only endure such a dreary view of food under conditions of extreme hardship. After all, it pleases God to bless his children with food to please the heart, gladden the eye, strengthen the body, and enliven the soul (see D&C 59:15-20).

A few years ago I read an interview with a nationally renowned dietitian. The interviewer wanted her to specify which foods should never be eaten. The dietitian refused to take the bait, insisting that there are no bad foods, only bad diets. She said that many foods that we perceive as decadent are perfectly fine in the proper amount as part of a balanced diet.

So I figure that it's fine and even psychologically healthy to enjoy dessert foods. As a measured part of a healthy diet, of course.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"We often go so far as to turn treats into an art form." Very funny! I also have lots of treats at ward activities. I love this post!