“No, thank you,” I replied.
What I really wanted to say was, “Yes, please. A giant serving with chocolate drizzled on top. And while you’re at it, send some home with me to eat later because I will want to have a taste before bed.”
Earlier that day at the grocery store, tears formed in the corners of my eyes, “Why is this so hard?”
Just like anything else, food can be a blessing or a curse. We need food to live, but when we find ourselves living for food, we create a strange system where food becomes a form of therapy and reward. When I get good news, I celebrate with a milkshake. When I reach a milestone or personal goal, I reward myself with a giant steak and baked potato. When I exercise all week, I grab a chocolate bar at the store as an “adaboy” for working so hard. If I’ve had a tough day, a big bowl of popcorn, coated with butter and salt, always makes it better. And don’t even get me started on those weeks that are filled with stress. Those are the weekends filled with sodas, candy, desserts, and lots of butter covered bread.
I know it’s bad for my body, but there is this little voice in my head that justifies the decision and when those unhealthy foods have become such an ingrained part of my life, saying no can be as hard an alcoholic denying himself a drink. Food can be an addiction just like anything we decide to run to to satisfy, numb, or mask our emotions.
Due to recent knowledge about my health, I am even more aware of the need to choose healthy eating and I am going to have to make this a lifetime practice. Lifetime seems like such a definitive word and it’s not easy when that word is hanging in the forefront of my mind every time I walk through the grocery store. A lifetime choosing green things instead of starch. A lifetime of healthy carbs instead of yummy unhealthy ones. A lifetime of walking past doughnuts, candy, and ice cream. And I know there will be moments for exceptions. But I also know that I have to develop a better lifestyle before I start making those allocations or I will be flat on my face, eating all the wrong things, and feeling bad again and again.
As I struggled to form the words, “No, thank you,” so many of you understand how difficult those words can be. “No, thank you,” can be the hardest words to form on our lips, but they can also be the best decision of our lives. As we learn to say, “No, thank you,” let’s also remember to respect the ones around us when they get the courage to utter those words. Whether it’s food, or something bigger like alcohol or drugs, “No, thank you,” is a huge part of gaining back the control of our lives.
May our “No, thank you,” get stronger with each situation.