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Cynicism comes easily these days... - Elf M. Sternberg
Cynicism comes easily these days...
This morning on the train, I sat across from a signficantly heavyset woman who was feeding her toddling child breakfast. The breakfast consisted mostly of yogurt, which is a pretty good breakfast to get into a toddler, although this was one of those high-sugar varieties. The kid also had a sippy cup full of water, and she was drinking it readily.

Then the mother took out her breakfast: A Starbucks grande caramel frappucino (410 calories, 13 teaspoons of sugar, 15gms of fat), followed by two Pizza Hut fast-food breadsticks (280 calories) slathered in ranch dressing.

I try not to be cynical. I really do. Maybe that's not her usual breakfast; maybe it was an emergency buy on her way out the door. Certainly my own breakfast wasn't much healthier today, since I had my own on-the-go buy of drip coffee (55 calories) and a fast-food sausage sandwich (460 calories, 10gms saturated fat), too.

But it was the badge she wore that caught my eye. A "guest pass" from a local charity food bank. Not "volunteer" or "staff." She spent at least ten dollars on breakfast, but she's headed into the city, and sure enough, she got off at the stop where the food bank is headquartered. With her guest pass.

I'm still trying not to be cynical.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

4 comments or Leave a comment
l33tminion From: l33tminion Date: June 21st, 2012 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
A grande frappuchino is about $4, Pizza Hut breadsticks are $3 for 5 (maybe leftovers?). Is an extra two or three bucks for a sugary, cold coffee drink over a plain coffee really such an inordinate luxury?

Sure, there are long-term health costs to eating so many calories, but there are also long-term health costs to feeling shitty. Among other things, if you're significantly heavy, it may take 600-700 calories in the morning just to feel appreciably full (moderate dieting would involve reducing that gradually, but that still involves some stress and effort, especially if you're in a hurry and have other things to worry about (e.g. the aforementioned toddler)).

There are a lot of ways being poor impacts someone's health, but that doesn't make it fair to hold poor people to a higher standard of asceticism. Eat some pleasurable, quick, filling food for breakfast, use food assistance to obtain some (reasonably) healthy groceries (among other things, to feed your toddler), before (quite probably) heading off to a long shift at a shitty job. It's not optimal, but it's not really that unreasonable or hard to understand.
laplor From: laplor Date: June 21st, 2012 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this!

I have never struggled so hard with my weight as when I have been unemployed and thus depressed. When my children were small it was even worse. And I have the research skills to know how to make good choices. Not everyone does.

At my heaviest, I felt judgmental looks when I dared to eat anything at all in public, and sometimes that has led to eating 'treat' foods only in private - a situation that is conducive to binge-eating if one is prone. I admit that I am.

And, Elf, is there any chance that the coffee might have been purchased with a gift card, and the bread sticks may be a leftover from a rare family celebration? When I used to work in a pizza shop, the manager let me take leftover slices home at the end of the night. Did giving them to my kids as breakfast or lunch make me a bad parent?
omahas From: omahas Date: June 21st, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Justification, justification, justification. Having depressing and bad situations in your life does not JUSTIFY making bad choices. Once can appreciate that bad choices might be made more often, but then again in those situations you must be more vigilant against making them as well.

But the worst in these responses was trying to claim that making bad food choices is a justification for making you feel better…as though changing your thoughts about what makes you feel good about food isn't the better choice.

You're making excuses for not having to make the hard choices and the big changes in life in your generalized responses. And you refused to acknowledge in your specific responses that Elf already allowed that the food choices she was eating were an "emergency buy" on the way out the door, for example, and that he wasn't eating much better.
urox From: urox Date: June 21st, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think they're justifying. I think they're trying to put in perspective that when the odds are against you, you're more likely to make worse decisions. You hit it on the nail that one has to be more vigilant.. so these people are required to expend even more effort (when already shorter on spoons, effort, money, brain energy, etc than other people) to try to do the right thing.
4 comments or Leave a comment