By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Empty. That is what my jar of Nutella looked like after it was just opened for four days.
“Why did I do this again,” I scolded myself while marching to my room one night after dinner.
I knew I should not have done it, yet it happens time and again despite my feelings of guilt and shame. Every time I’m nervous or stressed out, the same thing happens: Bam goes the silver spoon breaking through the golden lid placed tightly on the jar before heading straight into my mouth.
One spoonful…two spoonfuls… three spoonfuls…no wait…20 spoonfuls of Nutella…in one sitting.
“I can’t help myself—this tastes so good,” I say to myself every time this happens.
An hour later I push myself harder than usual on the treadmill in my basement.
“Push, push push,” I told myself after burning 600 calories. “You can do this—keep going.”
About an hour or so after I started exercising, I burned over 1100 calories, and any guilty feelings I had disappeared.
“Ah this feels better,” I said to myself walking upstairs to the shower in a sweat. “Try not to do that again until another three months, okay Lisa?”
The pressure I placed on myself that night can probably resonate with both men and women across the country due to the message our society emphasizes on a daily basis: “stay thin.” Although I rarely say no to dessert, I am conscious about what I eat, which I know can affect the way I look. As the waists of celebrities and Victoria’s Secret models get narrower, so do our mindsets about what it means to be healthy, let alone attractive.
How much food on our plates is too much? Here’s my daily diet routine. Breakfast usually consists of some kind of protein whether it is eggs (with bread or fruit), or a protein bar with a cup of coffee. Depending on what I eat for breakfast, I usually stick with a chicken salad or some kind of leftover meal that contains protein for lunch, along with Greek yogurt or fruit (and perhaps a second cup of coffee). Dinner consists of whatever homemade meal is in my fridge, along with any kind of chocolate dessert or ice cream afterward.
But my diet was not always this way. Although I have a normal body weight now, I, like many Americans, have struggled with my weight. When I reached elementary school age, my weekends were spent eating hotcakes and Happy Meals at McDonald’s while eating bologna sandwiches on white bread for lunch at school. I drank whole milk, barely exercised, and spent hours watching movies or television during my free time. School lunches also consisted of the infamous pizza Lunchables. I was definitely overweight from kindergarten through fifth grade, and felt self-conscious every time I could not fit into a “small” size like other girls I saw shopping at the same store. One word I like to describe myself at the time: pudgy.
“It’s just baby fat—you’ll grow out of it,” my mom used to tell me.
By sixth grade I had enough. With the help of a family member who taught aerobics outside her normal day job, I learned more about health and nutrition. Once I started drinking skim milk playing tennis and doing sit-ups, my waist got thinner. By the time I reached high school, I had an average weight for my height. After college, my weight went down again, as I cut even more fat from my diet, and started incorporating more whole grains and vegetables.
Yet no matter how many times we change our diet around for the better, it never seems to be good enough, according to Hollywood standards. From juicing to using Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem to trying Atkins, America has so many diets to choose from it’s almost impossible to ever choose the right one. So why can’t we enjoy the foods we love at times, like Spaghettios with sliced franks or my favorite…Nutella?
If eating Nutella straight from a jar is wrong, I don’t want to be right, no matter how many calories I end up burning off afterwards. Every spoonful is worth it. So go ahead—eat that donut tomorrow morning without even questioning it. Treat yourself.
Lisa Capobianco is a staff writer for The Observer.