Monday, February 14, 2005


I was all set to eat well today and carry that habit through the week. I had good leftovers ready for lunch, and some lovely carrots and apple slices for morning and afternoon snacks. I drank 24 ounces of water during my hour at the front desk this morning, and even eschewed a sugar-filled latte from the Firehouse Cafe for the plain old drip coffee from my kitchen.

And then my coworker brought in a bag of Cheetos and asked me to help him eat them.

Cheetos are, in a way no other snack food is, like crack for me. I'm not even hungry, and I know I'll regret it later when I have to add "half bag of Cheetos" to my mental tally of what I consumed today--still, the moment that plastic bag is torn open my attention splinters between the project I'm working on and my awareness of the orange-dusted corn snacks next to me. My focus shaken, I tell myself to be strong, to drink water and concentrate on the keyboard; but I can hear the crunching, crunching, crunching as my coworker enjoys his share of the Cheetos, and soon I think, I'll just have one, the lie we always tell ourselves to justify our first step down. And I do take just one, savoring the way its gnarled shape dissolves slowly into mush in my mouth. Then I eat another. And another.

You know how the story ends: how my shaking fingers scrabble in the bag for more and more Cheetos until my hands are grimed with the telltale orange, my mouth stained with it, the dust smeared across my nose and cheeks; how my eyes stare wildly as I heedlessly tear open the empty bag and lick the last orange crumbs from its crevices; how I survey the disarray around me at last and slump with shame, weeping orange tears through my orange fingers.

How I clean myself up and vow bitterly never again, I'll never touch the stuff again, composing myself and refilling my water glass, shaken and humbled but determined to clamber back on the wagon of healthy eating.

Right up until the office door opens and M pokes her head in to brightly announce, "Hey, don't miss out on the Valentine's Day cupcakes in the staff room!"