Losing Your Cookies

Losing your cookies

The upshot of the above is that sugar was for special occasions. It was something we didn’t have on a regular basis. For example, I remember being ten years old and sitting what a treat it was when I was ten to sit in my friend Sheri’s basement, and guzzle down glassfuls of milk heavily laden with grape flavoured Quick powder. This purple powder never graced the doorstep of our house but boy was it good having it in her house. Going out for a meal was also exciting. This is when my parents allowed us to order our own personalized soft drinks. Those little glass bottles were delightful.

Some experts may argue that it is too extreme to boycott junk food from one’s house. When someone is excessively deprived of a substance they may not know how to consume it normally when they finally encounter it. Perhaps it is better to have the contraband around and to learn to practice moderation? I find this to be true for so many things. We have wine in the house. We like it but we normally only have it on Shabbos.

However, if I had an alcohol problem, G-d forbid, perhaps I would empty our cupboards of it to minimize temptation. Junk food is so addictive for so many of us. There are so many nasty but tasty ingredients in it that keep us coming back for more. This is true for most of us whether we were raised with it in our pantries or not. It is so satisfying and so harmless on a short term level. The perfect permissible vice. For the aforementioned reason, I think there is a strong argument for just not having the stuff lying around. One should purchase as needed. Don’t buy the jumbo box.

I have a close friend who feels that she has had enough of bad eating. Pnina has a houseful of kids and a decently stocked junk larder. Her first line of defense was to join Overeaters Anonymous. I want only the best for her. G-dwilling, “OA” will arm her with the willpower she is seeking. Still, I cannot help but feel that there is an equal case for a change of environment. There is more to abstinence than resisting what is dangling in front of us.

Solid studies have been done proving that drug addicts are much more likely to give up their habits if they start by removing themselves from the negative environment they have been using in. From a Jewish perspective, a great deal has been written about the importance of the right environment. We are not supposed to be monks living on a mountain far from civilization. We need to be able to deal with reality. However, we are also supposed to choose healthy surroundings for ourselves.

I think about the bad/good cookies I ate. I think about Pnina and her struggles. I think about balance and moderation and the necessary human need for moments of indulgence. Lastly, I think about the wide world of junky, packaged temptation. I’ve come to a conclusion. If you want to kick a habit, get it out of the house. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

The above article is dedicated to Pnina. The name has been changed to protect “munchie” privacy.

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