Why do people assume that everybody wants candy, no matter where you are? Has this become so normal?
The other day I was at a lunch restaurant, where you can buy healthful foods, such as a salad full of nutritious ingredients (my choices: chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese). I chose mineral water to go with my salad.
As I was paying the cashier said “… and have some candy”. I answered “No, thank you”, but she had already thrown a handful of wrapped toffees into my grocery bag.
Did I seem like a customer who wanted candy with my healthful lunch? Apparently. One apparently assumes that EVERYONE wants it nowadays. It’s normal to eat candy, at any time.
The Twist of the Tale
It’s of course voluntary to eat the candy you are given. It’s your own responsibility what you put in your mouth, no one else’s. I have chosen not to eat candy. So, do you think I ate them?
I spent my lunch break at my desk to finish paperwork before the upcoming vacation. Not much fun. And the four toffees just lay there, so of course I had earned the pleasure of eating them. But I had decided not to, I don’t eat candy and I wasn’t even craving them. A while later the toffees still lay next to me. A minute later they were gone.
This was an interesting experience. Normally, I never eat candy (except for really dark chocolate). I would never dream of buying it. And if someone offers, it’s usually easy to say no.
The difference this time? It wasn’t enough with just a quick decision not to, the toffees just lay there tempting. My self-discipline was already used up working on boring administration. And you only have a limited amount of self-discipline (although it will be refilled with time). So, even if I don’t suffer from troublesome sugar cravings, I still fell for the temptation.
I could of course have thrown the toffees away on my way back to work and avoided the temptation. This is the secret for those who effortlessly want to eat healthfully: never keep unhealthful foods in the house.
Now, you might think that some toffees is not a big thing, but the example is only the tip of the iceberg.
A World of Temptations
People addicted to sugar don’t have an easy time. After the toffee incident I thought of this when shopping in my grocery store. Normally I don’t notice the candy, but now I looked more closely.
Just on my way through the outer sections of the store to the real food there were at least 15 small stands with tempting sugary snacks. Candy. Chips. Cookies. Lemonade. Soda. Crackers. Muffins. Pastry. Chocolate. And more. You can’t walk 30 ft without encountering a new stand.
Can you imagine a sober alcoholic having to pass 15 stands of temptingly displayed drinks every time he or she goes grocery shopping?
As a parenthesis: can you imagine giving up smoking while being tempted with 1,000 cigarette packages at an arm’s distance every time you pay your groceries? This is what reality looks like here.
Whose Responsibility is it?
Of course, fundamentally it’s everybody’s personal responsibility what they put in their mouths. But those who tempt us also have a responsibility. Nobody would throw in a small bottle of spirits together with an unknown customer’s lunch just to be nice. Who knows if the customer is an alcoholic?
Perhaps it’s time for those tempting to show responsibility too? I’m not saying that you can never offer sugary snacks. But perhaps one should think a little bit first, to avoid making life unnecessarily difficult for other people.
What do you think?