Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zen and the art of potato chips

Ah ... crinkle crinkle ..... mmm.... crackle crackle .....yum ..... snarkle chomple crunch.

What's that sound, you wonder? That, my friends, is the sound of Flickettysplits snarfling her way through the end of a packet of plain potato chips. And starting in on the salt and vinegar.

I have very little in the way of willpower these days, especially when it comes to food I like. And I don't often get the craving for potato chips (erm, it happens about once a month if you catch my drift), so when I get that urge I've learnt I love myself a lot more by giving myself permission to give in.

If I don't, you see, then all my available energy goes into trying to NOT think about potato chips. And it is virtually impossible for the human brain to conceive of a negative. Because you have to think of the thing first before you can not think of it, if you see what I mean. It's a classic media management technique - do not speak in negatives because your audience will hear the opposite of what you are saying. For example, saying "no comment" just makes an audience think you DO have something to say, and that therefore you're hiding it, and ergo you're dodgy.

It works in the case of potato chips too. In trying not to think about potato chips, I of course spend every waking moment thinking about potato chips. Iimagining potato chips, romanticising the crunchy crunch crunch of potato chips, salivating at the thought of potato chips, thinking about the different flavours I could buy - and then trying not to eat them, after all that. It's a torture. A living, waking torture.

Let's do a little experiment just to prove what I'm on about. I'm going to tell you not to do something, and I want you to let me know how well you go. Here it is. Do NOT, under any circumstances, picture a blue-eyed polar bear when you read this sentence. Don't think of a blue-eyed polar bear.

Ah ha! You see?? It just doesn't work! Don't believe me? Think I'm pulling the wool over your blue-eyed polar bears' eyes? Let's try it again just to be sure.

This time, try REALLY HARD not to think of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Definitely DO NOT think of the Opera House just next door either. And whatever you do, make sure you FAIL TO IMAGINE an igloo. With a tree growing out the top of it. And little shiny tap shoes with sequins on them scattered amongst the branches.

I rest my case.

And so it is for potato chips too. I have learnt, over many years, that it is easier to simply eat the potato chip than it is to try and be totally zen about not-imagining-and-then-eating-it-anyway. It doesn't always work, and I still sometimes feel guilty afterwards (years of conditioning are hard to undo, after all) - but mostly, I just enjoy the potato chip. And if I DO manage it, I feel much prouder of myself for not feeling guilty and not having to wage an inner war - against myself - just for the sake of a bloody potato chip.

They're just chips, after all. Should we really beat ourselves up as much as we do, just for eating a packet of potato chips? Or a chocolate? Or a vanilla slice? Or whatever your particular secret craving food is? Are they really worth all that?

Of course they're not. Enjoy your chips next time you have them. Remember that giving yourself permission is a much healthier business than killing yourself by trying to resist - and then failing.

And there's something very zen about that, after all.


Gina said...

Mmmm.... potato chips.... currently stuffing mouth with chocolate.

Elise said...

you are so right....

poet said...

Yay for this post, you're absolutely right! (and don't I wish I'd realized this particular piece of wisdom much earlier in life... :)


Shannon said...

First of all it's so good to see you back here.

Second, thank you. THANKYOU for this post. It's so funny because I was JUST thinking today that my goodness I ate a lot of junk and then remembered why and thought...well, it's just once a month, I think I can give myself a break once a month and relax. My body goes through enough right now, at least I can give it cheddar cheese. And Provalone. And a dounut...

Also,I was just talking about your blog to my boyfriend. He is training for a marthon and I ride on my bike beside him while he runs. So while we were running/biking I was telling him how much I loved to read your blog, so I felt the need to read him this post outloud. He thinks that both you and I are insane.

You are in good company.

Jules @ MoonCat Farms said...

What a great post. I have learned to give in to my chocolate need and have some stashed around the house.

If I don't, poor hubby takes it upon himself to drive to the store and get some for me(him).

Problem is that I am now thinking of chocolate WITH potato chips....yummm