April 23 08:18 AM

All that, and a bag of chips, too

August 01, 2007
"Yeah," I mutter over the phone to my sister Dawn. "I was really bad yesterday. I can't believe it. I don't know why I did it."

I'm talking about a snack attack that sneaked up on me last night. I lost the battle. I ate potato chips. Sweet Bar-be-que Better Mades. Oh boy, was I "bad."

"Would you listen to yourself?" Dawn replies. "What did you do, rob a convenience store? Trip an old lady? You had some flippin' potato chips, that's all."

Bells and whistles. Flashing lights. Piercing pinprick of sweet, salty, deep-fried truth.

"But I blew it," I insist. "Big time."

We burst out laughing. I am sounding like a crazy person and suddenly I know it. And it's really quite hilarious. The ridiculousness of my completely out-of-whack reason for feeling bad about myself is laughable. It's truly crazy—and in a moment of lucidity, (and of course with Dawn's help) I realize how nutso I'm sounding. "I blew it?" What?

What, exactly, had I blown? World peace? A shot at the Nobel Prize? My last chance to see a sunset or hug my mom and dad?

Reality check.

No one is going to handcuff me and toss me into the slammer for munching on some Better Mades. I am not a bad person because I like potato chips.

Sadly, I hear women talk like this all the time. We're "good" not when we comfort a loved one, not when we volunteer to help someone learn to read, but when we eat a salad for lunch. We're "strong" when we turn down that piece of cheesecake, not when we help our mates move a 400-pound engine or twist the unbelievably stubborn cap off a new jar of pickles.

And we're "bad" when we give in to the desire to have an ice cream cone or a handful of chips. That is so skewed it truly is crazy. Being "bad" is being mean. Being "bad" is hurting someone on purpose. Being "bad" is taking advantage of someone. Stealing is bad. Telling lies is bad. Eating a candy bar or some taco chips is not bad. Really. Reality.

There are enough stressors in life, true sorrows and calamities, so why heap something as silly as beating ourselves up for having an occasional treat onto the plate? (no pun intended).

A quick glance around the room confirms that just about everyone has some sort of guilt issue when it comes to food. I know this, sadly, intimately. People are always dieting, talking about dieting, wanting to go on a diet, trying to diet, etc. etc. etc. "I was so bad today," I hear. While I'm not advocating or supporting downing a half-gallon of ice cream or a bag of chips a day, I'm also exceedingly weary of negative feelings associated with something as natural as eating. Eating is not "bad." Feeling bad about eating is "bad." Again, there are plenty of other things to feel bad about—some perspective is needed and Dawn always provides it.

My brilliant — if not all- too-intimately-aware-of-feminine-food-issues sister and I made a pact a few years ago. We would avoid any boring, fruitless and somewhat inane conversations centering around our various real or perceived weight problems.

We've come to realize it's tedious, silly, and basically unimportant in the big scheme of things to do so.

Still, there's always that pull to equate body image with self worth, as illogical as it is. And sometimes we break our pact and find ourselves talking about it. Dwelling on it. Getting sucked into the spiraling vortex of it until we hear how ridiculous and tedious and inane we sound and then we just laugh.

When I feel tugged in that crazy direction, I try to remember something I read long ago. The author was relating her "lightbulb moment" regarding her own weight issues, and how much useless, wasted time she spent worrying about what she ate.

Her epiphany came when she pictured the end of her life and what might be written on her tombstone unless she refocused her energy.

"Here lies so-and-so," she imagined. "She was really really thin."

Reality slap. Pass the chips.

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