Default Treats vs Thoughtful Treats: A Story about In-N-Out Burgers
When I was growing up in Los Angeles, In-N-Out was the burger place.
It was the place to go after football games, the default meal stop for road trips, and the subject of the highly anticipated “In-N-Out Day” that my school hosted once a year.
Because I didn’t frequent the burger joint often, it always felt like such a treat to go, and I eagerly awaited the special occasions that would justify the trip.
As I started shifting my eating habits for the better, however, the In-N-Out experience started to change—the burgers weren’t quite as tasty as I remembered them to be, and I didn’t feel that great after eating them.
Even so, my mind was stubborn—the association between “treat” and “In-N-Out burger” was so powerful that I continued to eat them well into the “these burgers aren’t worth it anymore” phase.
Put simply, my past-self treat was a treat no longer, and I just wasn’t quite ready to accept that.
. . .
When we start to eat more healthfully, our bodies thank us with increased energy, improved digestion, and increased affinity towards healthier foods.
But there’s typically a period in which our bodies and our minds are at odds; though are bodies are ready for change, our minds lag behind, still gravitating towards the not-so-healthy comfort foods of our past. (After all, it’s not easy to dismantle years, if not decades, of emotional attachments to our favorite meals.)
And so we continue to eat our “treat” foods even when we’ve outgrown them, undercutting both our health and our happiness.
Let’s stop this pattern in its tracks (if we’re going to treat ourselves, we should make it count, right?).
The next time you find yourself reaching for a “treat” food, just ask yourself the question: is this a default treat or a thoughtful treat?
Whether you’re grabbing ice cream after a stressful day or drinking soda to overcome your afternoon slump (or shoving down Krispy Kreme donuts because oh-my-god-you-haven’t-had-these-in-years-and-they-were-the-best-things-ever-growing-up), it’s likely you’re holding onto some treats that you’re ready to let go of, and a bit of mindful reflection might be all you need to move on.
Do you have any “default” treats that you’re ready to leave behind? What “thoughtful” treat can you enjoy instead?