Punishing pleasure

by tamarjacobson

Quote of the day:

After 30 years of working with emotional eaters, I can confidently say that I've never met anyone who has ever lost weight — and kept it off — by deprivation. We are sensory, pleasure-loving beings. It is not just calories that fill us up, but the joy we take from eating them. 

We don't overeat because we take too much pleasure from food, but because we don't take enough. When pleasure ends, overeating begins.

Imagine what your life would be like if you let yourself eat with passion. If you felt entitled, no matter what you weighed, to eat with gusto. You may discover that foods you loved — as well as those you didn't — truly do give you pleasure, and there's no price tag attached. And that's how it should be. Why not be astonished by the crisp taste of an apple? Why not revel in the smooth texture of an olive? Since you need to eat to live, why let one moment of joy — even one — pass you by? Geneen Roth

It is hard not to think about New Year resolutions at this time of the year. After all, it seems that everyone is talking about them everywhere. Especially in the media. Along with resolutions are the countless newspaper articles, commercials, blog posts, and books suggesting various ways of dieting. For, after the holidays everyone is reminded to return to "being good," and must surely lose all those pounds gained during the festive season of merriment, giving, and … well, pleasure

Punishing pleasure is a deeply cultural phenomenon. We are allowed to enjoy only for a guarded, little while, but then we must pay the price with guilt and deprivation. People everywhere giggle guiltily as they enjoy the season of delicious foods with friends and family during the holidays. All knowing that as soon as it is over – they will get back to "being good." Yes, "being good," is just one of the expressions I hear people constantly repeat like a mesmerizing mantra during the month of November to January.

As one who has become an expert on self regulation, I am challenged by relearning how to experience pleasure without guilt and shame. It becomes especially challenging when my brain is bombarded by a society that reinforces that which I am struggling to unlearn. 

I understand wanting to start anew at the beginning of a new era, year, or birthday. It feels natural to mark time in that way. I just wish we did not feel the need to punish ourselves for experiencing pleasure. It wipes away warm and enjoyable memories, and treats us as if we are naughty children, who need to be regulated back to obedience, and who know how to follow orders – as if we had gotten out of control, and need to be shipped back to shape!

So, I for one am going to try and ignore all the advice about reigning myself in at the beginning of this new calendar year. For, after all, I have just started enjoying letting myself go …