I just heard an ad for raspberry cheesecake flavored Yoplait. Like so many food ads it’s always about satisfying (forbidden, midnight etc.) cravings with something sweet, indulgent and “satisfying.” But eating food which is engineered specifically to keep you eating requires even more energy to stop even though the ad says that eating this food will stop the craving.
You can imagine what the sexy attractive woman eating and smiling throughout the commercial is thinking. “We know you want to eat a lot but you can satisfy that craving by eating this low calorie non-food item that tastes incredibly delicious and is only 90 (always under 100) calories.”
The camera lingers over enhanced images of chocolate, raspberry shortcake, vanilla ice cream ad nauseam setting in motion bodily chemical processes so that you not only emotionally want it but also physically want it.
The insanity of this kind of 24/7 advertising everywhere all day constantly is pernicious. Food and eating should never be based on eating more to satisfying desire. Processed non-food ads rarely talk about satisfying hunger which is the real reason to eat.
When you use an engineered non-food to “satisfy” a craving you only increase the craving, which eventually demands more willpower to quell it.
I recently made the decision to stop calling processed, engineered food items “food.” They are not food. They are processed or engineered non-food products.
About 2 months ago now, my endocrinologist recommended I get a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM continuously tracks your blood sugars and you wear it on your body like an insulin pump. Which is why I resisted it for so many years. One device was enough, thank you. But though my numbers are good, 23 years of self management is wearing on me. Diabetes, esp Type 1, is a permanent part time job. Several people told me a CGM improved their control considerably. It also means a lot less testing (sticking your finger to test a drop of blood- which I do 15-18 times a day).
But the insurance company rejected me. Twice. Their reason? My A1c’s, the number that averages your blood sugar over 3 months, were too good.. In other words if I my control was poor and I had high A1c’s I’d get that CGM.
To be fair, there are lots of reasons for poor control, for wildly fluctuating blood sugars, or chronic serious lows. Those situations need continuous monitoring- but why are A1c’s the criteria? Why should someone who takes stellar care of herself be denied a technology that would make her care taking easier? That would reward her conscientiousness? Burnout is a major issue for people with diabetes, leading to depression and eventually poor self care.
But why worry? As soon as my A1c’s go up an I develop complications, I’ll get my CGM!
And finally one last bit of wisdom from the fox to the little prince. A world of truth in 2 short sentences.
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible forever, for what you have tamed.”
~Antione de Saint Exupery, Le Petit Prince
Writing about Mr. Rogers and his commencement speech reminded me of the words I spoke to my oldest son at his high school graduation party, when we were sharing memories of him and wishing him well. I’ve re-read those words at various turning points in my, and my son’s, life.
Nick graduated in 2003–I was about 5 years divorced from his dad by then. In my words to him I quoted the line from Saint Exuprey that Mr. Rogers had framed above his desk.
One thing I learned having you and your brother is that you are both inextricably bound to me and yet you are separate. You came with your own little programs.
A graduation is like any other marker in life–it’s all about opportunity and loss. This world, this family, are not what I imagined they’d be when I envisioned your future when you were a baby in my arms. And in that is another truth–you cannot protect your children from suffering–and sometimes, despite all your wishes, you even cause some of it.
It’s been important for me as a parent to remain humble in the face of the young man you are–not imagine that I’ve made you the fine and sensitive person you are, but realize I’ve simply had a hand in guiding you.
I woke up this morning thinking of a favorite line from The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
If there is anything you can say I’ve given you, I hope it’s a desire to know what is truly in your heart and to act on what your heart tells you. I believe it always tells you what’s right.
I hope I let you know that you don’t have to do great, successful or ambitious things, you only have to try your best to be a good person–a kind, gentle and compassionate man–a mensch–that that is the work of your life, and if you do that you will achieve more good in this world than you can ever imagine.
You have taught me so much–I love you more than you will ever know.
Mr. Rogers was a fan of Saint Exupery. He had a quote from The LIttle Prince framed, and it hung over his desk. A reference to essentialism of a different sort.
Beside my chair in my office is a framed piece of calligraphy with a sentence from Saint Exupery’s book, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). It reads: “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”) I feel the closer we get to knowing and living the truth of that sentence, the closer we get to wisdom.
What is essential about you that is invisible to the eye? And who are those who have helped you become who you are today?
Anyone who has ever graduated from a university, anyone who has ever been able to sustain good work has had at least one person – and often many – who believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without many different investments from others.
~Mr. Rogers, excerpt from 2001 commencement speech at Marquette University
When my sons were small they loved watching Mr. Rogers. I can’t say I loved watching Mr. Rogers, though I was thrilled they did because he was so kind and the show was so calm. But when Mr. Rogers died, I was deeply affected and sad. Since then I have come to love reading things Mr. Rogers said, and always choke up whenever I read the commencement speech he delivered in 2001 at Marquette University. Here are the opening words:
For a long time I wondered why I felt like bowing when people showed their appreciation for the work that I’ve been privileged to do. What I’ve come to understand is that we who bow are probably – whether we know it or not – acknowledging the presence of the eternal: we’re bowing to the eternal in our neighbor. You see, I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does. So, in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.
The upcoming work week is packed so I will excerpt a few more pieces from this wonderful commencement speech in this season of such speeches.