Free Food=Must Eat?

What is it about getting free food that sends us (or at least me) on a feeding frenzy? I can’t tell you how many times I have eaten a full meal of my own, only to eat more because someone offers free food. A few weeks ago at work I had a complete breakfast of something I can’t remember, but I know I ate and that I was full. Maybe a few minutes later, I went to the office kitchen for coffee and some devil had put out four boxes of donuts. I wasn’t hungry, but it was free so I had to eat it, right? I started with just half a donut, but we know  how that little game ends up. I went back for the other half, and then another and another. Yep, after eating a full breakfast, I ate three whole donuts. All for no other reason than they were free.

So today I tried really hard to start eating better, and was doing well . . . until I got home from work. I picked my son up from daycare and found an entire bag of cookies in his cubby. You see, my kid is a human garbage machine and when they have extra food at his school (especially cookies and crackers), they send it home with him. (For the record, I also give to the school food that we are not going to eat.) While I appreciated the gesture, it presented quite the problem. A free bag of cookies that could not have come at a worse time. And so I ate. One cookie. Two cookies. Three cookies.

The drive home is about seven minutes, and I easily could have eaten 10 cookies in that time. But something strange happened; I stopped eating. So, OK, I had to consciously tell myself to stop eating and practically had to hit the fourth cookie out of my hand. I had to say out loud (and during Sesame ABCs CD, much to my son’s chagrin), “just because it is free does not mean you have to eat it.” And guess what? I didn’t.

So the next time the donuts come around, I might have one (or three), but I might not.

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