Key to Happiness

I woke up the other morning to a magazine sitting at the kitchen table.  I poured myself a glass of water and gleefully tucked into my eggs, until a headline caught my eye.  “Break Your Coffee Habit!” it suggested incredulously, as if America’s love of coffee was stoking our drug habit or killing puppies.  Along with the numerous other headlines over various publications about kicking xyz habit here, a mantra my mom taught me rang in my head, “everything in moderation.”

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When I was a kid, ice cream was my best friend.  I ate a large bowl of the sugary cream at least once a day, piled high with bright colored sprinkles and maybe ever some chocolate syrup.  I ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s once a day for two weeks while living in Chicago, and going out to handmade gems is still one of the simplest pleasures in my life.  Although I have (thankfully) grown out of my gorging habit, I still like to enjoy a bowl more often than not.  Also, as I have grown older, my palate has changed from sweet to more savory, and coffee is one of my favorite indulgences.  Robust, dark, and mysterious, I save the velvety goodness for intense writing sessions, tastings at local joints, and dessert with my family.  It is not an everyday occurrence and affording myself a cup sometimes brings me to tears of joy.

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It makes me sad that people feel the need to cut ties altogether with a food or drink they love.  Certainly there are certain circumstances where it may be necessary to stop cold turkey, but should we give up that cup of coffee forever?  Never again taste the sickenly sweet frosting off a cupcake?  If something brings us that much joy why should we feel so guilty about it?

According to the CDC, 69.2% of American adults are overweight.  This fact can make it easy for doctors, nutritionists, and skeptics to point the finger at our love of sugary sweet and fatty foods.  This may be true, but I know many people who indulge in the occasional piece of cake or hamburger and look great.  The key words are indulge and occasional.   Treating decadent food for what it is, a treat, and truly enjoying the flavor is important.  You know how when you dive into a brownie sundae and after a few bites it doesn’t taste like anything anymore?  Instead of going for quantity, focus on the quality.

This whole idea of moderation also goes back to the quality of ingredients.  It is much easier to truly get lost in a dark, strong cup of coffee than the watery version most likely served at the gas station.  Enjoying the flavors of your food is more fulfilling than eating to sustain.

So to all those people who think they need to kick that habit, stop.  Start enjoying the food you eat and stop using it as a crutch to support you through each day.  We are fortunate enough to have an abundance of delicious options at our fingertips, so let them amuse your palate.

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