I have incredibly fond and warm memories of Hostess fruit pies (especially lemon and apple!) and cup cakes. I wasn’t consciously aware of holding out hope that I might taste one again, but now that Hostess announced their liquidation plans, I’m realizing that I was. In the back of my mind, glimmering on the edge of awareness was the hope that someday my gut might be healed enough and robust enough that I might be able to eat one.
Not that I had any interest in making them part of my normal routine again, but just that I might once revisit that part of my childhood when the highlight of the day was eating one. Life was simple then (though I certainly didn’t realize it at the time!), and my biggest problems consisted of trying not to get beat up YET AGAIN in the locker room. No matter how crappy my day was, I knew that there was a fruit pie or cup cakes waiting for me. It’s interesting that I’ve never real thought of myself as an emotional eater, and yet here I am, confessing it to the world.
One of the most powerful experiences for me of switching to SCD has been not the greater health, but indeed the shift in mindset. I think about food more now. Not just the Whats, Wheres, and Hows of the food, but the Whys. When I find myself craving a food that is verboten, I always ask myself why. Why, when I know that this food can make my gut explode, do I want to eat it? Why is the craving for it so strong?
What I find is that hunger is rarely, if ever, the answer to these questions. Hunger might sometimes be a contributing factor, but invariably, the REAL answer is usually something like, “I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to cook something”, or “I’m feeling resentful about the choices I’ve made and the impact they are having on my life and I’m wanting to spite myself for it.”. This kind of meta-awareness has been absolutely crucial for me. Does it mean I always make the healthier choice? No. What it DOES mean is that I actually *make* a choice. Cravings for food are reflexive and automatic, and all of us have grown up with a reflexive and automatic relationship with food. The great challenge for us as SCD-ers is disassemble that automaticity and live our lives in ways that are based in conscious intention and choice. Cravings, especially emotionally based ones, will always haunt us to one degree or another. It’s not the craving that’s the failure. The failure is in not responding to the craving with intention. Perhaps you’ll choose to give in to that craving… that’s fine. You’re an adult, and that’s your choice to make. The point is that you are doing it intentionally and consciously.
I don’t expect to ever stop missing my Hostess apple pie, and there is a deep and old place in me that is sad to see it go, but let’s be honest here. That thing is not food, not in any real sense of the word. It tastes good, sure, but that’s no measure of its ‘foodness’ or its toxicity. Knowing that I’ll never, ever be able to eat another one brought out a strong response in me that I didn’t expect, and even now, I feel a desire to run out and snag a few up before they’re gone. But I’m going to choose otherwise. I’m going to choose to honor that there are parts of me that will never grow up, that will always consider Hostess snacks a refuge. I will pat that young boy on the head, wipe his tears, and make the choices for him that he’s unable to make for himself. I will choose health.