100% pleasure, 0% deprivation

I’ve long believed that it’s easier to stay away from food temptations than to rely on willpower to keep you on your intended nutritional path once you’re in their presence. As I’ve said before, willpower is a fickle friend that can not be consistently counted on.
I quite unexpectedly put that concept to the test yesterday. Jeff and I went into Belltown to water the plants of a vacationing friend. We decided to make a morning of it by grabbing breakfast at Whole Foods then taking our new-to-us golden retriever, Dug, for a walk along the waterfront and through Pike Place Market (to continue his transition to the urban dog lifestyle).
At the Whole Foods hot bar, my eyes landed on a tasty-looking pan of creme brulee French toast. “That stuff is delicious!” Jeff said. The toast was cut into cubes of about an inch square, instead of slices, making it easy to take a tiny portion. Which is exactly what I did. I took one single square.
We took our breakfast to go, so we could enjoy it on the gorgeously landscaped rooftop of our friend’s condo building. The first thing I tried was the French toast square. “Delicious” does not do it justice. That stuff is freaking amazing. Now, here’s the interesting part: I savored that single bite of French toast, and was totally, completely satisfied. I didn’t need more of it. However, if I had scooped more of it into my little to-go box, I would have eaten it, of course (or felt deprived if I decided I’d taken too much and shouldn’t eat it all). But I didn’t take more, so there wasn’t any more available (it’s not like I would make a sudden return trip to get more). Total pleasure, no deprivation.
I actually feels like this experience touches on two ideas: The idea that we can easily eat more than we need when food (especially tempting food) is right there for the taking, and the idea that the first bite we take of a delicious food is usually the best bite, especially when we eat it slowly and mindfully and really enjoy the experience.
Think about ordering a restaurant dessert for yourself vs. ordering a dessert to share with a whole table of people. When you share with the table, you might get a bite or two, and you probably feel pretty happy and satisfied. If you order your own dessert and try to limit yourself to a bite or two….well, good luck with that. Even if you manage it, odds are you’re going to be staring at the remnants, mentally wrestling yourself and feeling deprived. Just something to think about.