Eating as Much Bread As I Want Isn’t Freedom!

Growing up, I loved eating out because restaurant meals meant an unending supply of bread and butter. Hard rolls were my favorite. Winding my way to our table at one family night out, I spied hard rolls adorning the place settings. I was ecstatic! Even before the waiter came to take our order, I asked him for more rolls so many times that the poor guy finally gave up and brought me a giant bowl of them. Although this gesture may have been meant as a dig at my gluttony, I couldn’t have been happier. Unabashed, I eyed my booty, dug in, and ate my fill.

We think that choice is freedom but the opposite is actually true. In the mixed up crazy world of being overly involved with food, choice is bondage. If I’ve made a plan for myself, while it may be true that I’ve eliminated spontaneity and choice in the moment, but I’ve also eliminated the gut wrenching internal debates of “should I or shouldn’t I indulge” and blocked the Pleasure Seeking Child’s access point. If my decision is already made, she doesn’t have a chance to sneak in and sway me in the direction of eating the wrong foods and eating too much, a decision that I’m bound to regret later.

This notion of, “Getting to eat whatever I want and as much as I want” is a fantasy most of us have had at one time or another. It’s brought to us by: none other than our good friend the Child and surprise, surprise, it leads us in the direction of suffering. Imagining that other people get to eat whatever they want and not gain weight, we get jealous and decide we’ve been dealt a lousy hand in the card game of life. “Why can’t I do that too,” the Child whines.

Let’s follow this idea through to conclusion. Imagine that you can eat as much junk as you want and stay thin. Okay, I concede that you get to look good and enjoy the taste pleasure of the junk. But let’s look at the whole picture. Here is the downside that the Child doesn’t want you to see:

  1. One of the definitions of junk is it’s not satisfying and you can’t stop eating it. By playing out this fantasy, you’re eating mostly junk, and there is no off switch on that stuff. As a result, you’re overfilling your stomach, and your new daily experience of life is feeling bloated, lethargic, and uncomfortable.
  2. Junk has little or no nutritional value. You’re not giving your body the nutrition is needs, so you are becoming more and more unhealthy.
  3. If sugar is in the mix, you’re experiencing mood swings and the people around you aren’t about to award you any popularity prizes.
  4. Finally, and this is a big one: you feel out of control around junk. Of course you may counter, “So what if I feel out of control, I can eat as much as I want, remember? That’s the whole point of this fantasy.” But feeling out of control around food is no fun. There’s no freedom in it. It doesn’t feel good to be addicted to a substance and not be able to stop.

There you have it: the whole picture of getting what we thought we wanted. What we discovered is like all other desires that come to us courtesy of the ego, this one is empty and brings suffering. Being able to eat as much junk as we want is the booby prize!