Yesterday, a really interesting conversation popped up on my food blog. I used the word “splurge” twice – one to jokingly say I’d eaten a whole bolani instead of my usual half. And then again when I had a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich after lunch.
In reality, I don’t consider EITHER of these things “splurges” and if I’d been talking out loud I would have used air quotes. But it prompted Mish to ask:
What do you think of the idea of ‘splurge’? I find that it can be a good thing to do, but also dangerous for me..because for me I find it’s wrapped with guilt.
Just wondering what you think of that.
To which I replied:
What do I think of “splurge?” Hmm. That is such a good question. I think I don’t use that anymore. For example, I had ice cream and cake on my birthday. But I didn’t think of it as “splurging.” I just thought if it as “ice cream and cake, which I am enjoying” rather than “something I don’t normally do.” It has the same emotional weight as “juicy plum.” It’s just one thing I’ve photographed in my day.
Does that make sense? I’ve never really thought of it in that way. I definitely USED to think of “splurge days” (Ha, usually the night after my WW weigh-ins!) but I just realized that I do not think in those terms anymore. Although a lot of what I eat would probably be considering splurging to other people (I’m writing this word so many times now it looks crazy, what a funny word). Fried food. Sweets. Cheese. To me, it’s all food.
I like that.
Then Mary chimed in and said:
Interesting. I don’t use the word splurge at all. In fact, it’s one of the words I hate. I really honestly don’t think of food in that kind of way. I read a food blog once where a girl ate a hamburger with some sides (beans? don’t remember) and she talked all about how it was a splurge but she enjoyed it so it was okay. I was thinking about how for me that was a normal meal – the idea of that being a splurge just made me feel like it’s a word I don’t want to be using for myself or in general.
Sorry, that might not be totally on topic, but I hate the word. And possibly the idea.
I know that many people incorporate the word, and the concept of “splurging” in their weight loss habits. I I used to. Back in my earlier WW days, I used to splurge (ie eat with abandon) the day or two after my weigh-ins.
But I realize I really do not think so much that way anymore (even though! I know! I used it twice in one blog post -it was sort of ironic). If I’m coming up to a big event — a birthday or wedding or something like that – I’ll plan for it. I’ll never go all-out and eat everything in sight as if it doesn’t matter. And like I said, if I eat cake, I’m just eating cake. Another time I’ll eat cherries. No one is more splurgey than the other.
I’ve really tried to stop thinking of foods as good or bad, as splurgey or everyday. Each day is different. Today I had “real” cheddar cheese on my English muffin instead of my more usual Laughing Cow Lite cheese. Did I splurge? (because I’d just done a 2 hour workout? :-)) Hmmm, I think of it as doing a little math in my head and deciding that I’d go for the real cheddar. Just because. Because I wanted to.
I think this is a real shift (and a good one) from the way I used to think before. What do you think? Do you still think in terms of splurges? What about “treats?” (another very provocative word)
August 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm
Toward the end there I think you hit the main point: it’s about thinking whether food are good or bad. If you label them and consider foods “bad” then the concept of splurging comes in. It’s also a concept that has a lot to do with creating a calorie “budget” then splurging a lot of calories on one item. Since I don’t count calories thats just not a concept that fits into my way of eating.
OMG I HATE THE WORD TREATS (in regards to food). Don’t get me started. HATE HATE HATE. Treat yourself well, please, but don’t treat yourself with food. That’s how most of us got into the kinds of situations we are in.
August 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm
Interesting. I use “splurge” to describe consumer events (i.e., “I splurged and bought this purse that I totally didn’t need!”) but I do not use that word with food.
August 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Yep I am with you on the whole “good” and “bad” thing…and feel exactly the same way Mary does re “treat.” And this whole discussion (not to mention the ideas of mindfully or intuitively eating) makes me wonder about the progression of awareness/weight loss/healthy eating. Can someone go from being a obese, mindless binge eater directly into intuitive eating or do they have to go on restrictive diets and learn what we consider the basics, before they can begin to think about mindfulness? I think of all of the people (myself included) who have lost weight on one diet or another, who thought they had it all figured out, only to gain some or all of the weight back and have to start over. And I guess the reason I wonder about this is because I am really embracing the whole mindful thing now, but maybe I wouldn’t have been able to back in 2005. Ahhh…so much to think about!
August 18, 2010 at 11:46 pm
Karen, I do think that there is a spectrum of weight loss and approaches and certain amounts of “readiness” for various things.
August 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm
I’m going to make Mary cringe right now, because I do use the word “treats”, mainly to distinguish foods that are less than stellar, nutrient-wise, and therefore are reserved as a “once-in-a-while” food. I think of those kinds of foods in terms of frequency, I guess. I try to limit them so that I fill my day with better foods, but if I’m in the mood for something fun, then I’ll factor a “treat” food into my day…
I read the word “splurge” so many times in your post, it sounds so funny to me now, too! 🙂
August 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm
That’s funny, “splurge” and “treat”, when describing food, don’t make me cringe…unless the person starts beating themselves up from guilt over said food. I’m with all of you on the “good food”/”bad food” thing. Which is probably why the one that bothers me the most with reference to food and eating is “cheat.” As in, “I had a cheat day” or “I cheated and ate….” It sets up a whole “forbidden food” aura. I never really succeeded in getting healthy until I ditched the idea of “forbidden foods,” even though my way of eating seemed pretty restrictive when I started getting healthy.
As for those specific words, I tend to use “splurge” more in the case of spending more money than I usually would on a food item. (“I splurged on some artisan roasted nuts at Whole Foods.”) And “treat,” for me, usually is used in reference to something I don’t go to the trouble of making for myself very often, mainly because I’m the only person in my family that likes said food and it’s a time-consuming thing to make. (“I made some roasted eggplant today! What a treat!”) It’s funny, I enjoy chocolate very much, but I don’t think I’ve used “splurge” or “treat” to describe it in quite a long time…probably because I eat a little fairly regularly, and it’s easy to get. Although I might splurge and buy some fine dark chocolate when it’s not on sale. 😉
August 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm
Oh yeah, CHEAT! That is really up there. I forgot about that one. Because the rest of that phrase is… “Cheated on my DIET.” You can’t cheat on your lifestyle.
August 18, 2010 at 9:32 pm
I’ve learned to think of food as nutritional fuel. Is that a “good”/”bad” thing? Maybe, kind of. Some foods really are better for my body than others, and considering the nutritional value of what I’m putting in my mouth works as a natural brake on poor choices.
The question for me has really become: How much nutritional value am I getting for the calorie?
After decades of lose +/- ten pounds or so, I’m really fed up with the cycle. I know moderation is the only thing that works for me, day in and day out. So if I eat foods with minimal nutritional benefit, I’ve learned to do it in moderation. And I plan it. Then I don’t have to call it a splurge or a treat or whatever. it’s just an infrequent, planned, event.
“Splurge” doesn’t exist for me; and “treat” isn’t a bad word, but “treat” doesn’t define what happens when I make a moderate, less-nutritious choice. “Planned variation” comes closer. A planned variation might be a treat, but mostly it’s just a nutritional choice. Keeping it clinical in this way has made a big difference in my ability to keep making the healthier choices.
August 19, 2010 at 6:18 am
I did an interview this weekend and was quizzed about my food “weakness” and you said it better than I fear I did 🙂
it’s just food.
August 19, 2010 at 7:30 am
It is funny when I began my journey I thought of those skinny cow bars as little rewards after being so strict all day. About 2 months ago I stopped all “treats” for about 2 weeks. I think I needed to do a detox from the treats and things of that nature just so I could end this bad relationship with food. And it worked because now I do not feel guilty. I just think of food as food if I feel like having a skinny cow bar once or twice a week I have it and do not think anything but mmmm tastes good lol
But it took me 4 months to realize food is just food and it does not matter what I eat it is just fueling my body not doing anything emotionally for me. And to reply to the commented above yes I think you do have to overcome the emotional attatchment to food to truly be successful but I think that takes a long time! I still feel the pull from time to time when really stressed to want to just grab something to eat and how I quit smoking I quit binging Sugar free gum!
Everyone is different and everyone has a different relationship with food but I do think this is a very valid point!
August 19, 2010 at 9:20 am
I acknowledge that language has power, but I think we get our knickers needlessly twisted over this. If you are health or weight conscious, certain foods are staples of your diet-as-in-lifestyle, and others are… What? Foods-we-eat-less-often-but-carry-no-special-emotional-power? I don’t have a problem with the word splurge or even the word cheat, because they don’t seem to drive me to excess. Maybe because my overeating problem had more of an insulin resistant, biological basis versus an emotional guilt-driven cause. However I choose to name them, certain foods are not good for my blood sugar and i know to stay well I need to eat less of them. I don’t say Never or think of them as poison, but they are… Well… Splurges.
August 20, 2010 at 2:14 am
I don’t think it’s a good idea to improvise until you have a firm handle on the basics. How can you manage a favorable budget of calories in -vs- calories out if you don’t know the input/output? Can you really feel your way there?
How about the word “indulge” rather than “splurge”? How about “deviate” rather than “cheat” although I’d rather not label myself as a deviant? My food choices are vegan with occasional pescatarian additions. Whole grain. Very limited sugar. Very limited process foods. It would never occur to me to “splurge” on dairy or a steak. On the other hand, I did have some excellent venison last fall and I tagged that as a deviation.
My biggest quandry for intake is wine. I know I have to consider it carefully as it can blow the budget way out of the water. I really look forward to that indulgence.
August 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm
I use “splurge” every once in a while, and to me it means-
a) I just did a long workout, so I can sustain more calories than normal, which is definitely in “finger quotes”.
b) I am going to eat something that’s on my “very occasional” food list, like french fries or fried cheese or chocolate cake, etc.
c) Very, very occasionally, I’m going to go wild and knowingly exceed my normal calories for the day and not care. Pretty much reserved for birthdays (mine) or vacations.
For example, I splurged last night because I was feeling majorly crampy and split a bag of coconut m and ms with my honey. I will splurge again in a month when I go to Vegas for 3 days.
Very thought provoking, thanks!