Objects Are Smaller than They Appear

The other day I ate a cookie.  Okay, I ate three.  This post isn’t really about the cookies.

I was sucked in by false advertising.  Hubby came home from the store with a box and the image on it burned into my brain.  Ginormous, delicious, almost healthy cookie.

So imagine my surprise when I finally gave in to temptation, reached into the box, and pulled out a little, itty bitty, not nearly delicious enough to warrant a cheat, almost healthy cookie.  That should have been my wake up call.  “Wake up, Karen, you don’t really want this cookie.”  “Wake up, Karen, this cookie is not going to be as good as you imagined.”  “Wake up, Karen, walk away from the misleading temptation that is miss-leading you down a path you don’t want to take.”

The promise of the cookie was not delivered.  The image was false.  And it got me thinking.  Thinking about how things are often not as they appear or how we imagine them.  Got me thinking about the many times I ate something and it didn’t taste as good as I expected and, rather than stop, I kept eating.  And it got me thinking about the times when I put something in my mouth that DID taste wonderful, but how that taste had diminishing returns.  After the second or third or fourth bite, the flavor, the texture, the sensation was no longer singing on my tongue.

The other thing I thought of as I pictured the real cookie compared to the promise in the photo:  that eating “off plan” food often results in disappointment.  Disappointment in the taste or that the food doesn’t do whatever I thought eating the food would do.  In this instance, yes, I was disappointed in the size.  (Sometimes size DOES matter.)  And was disappointed in the taste.  But I was even more disappointed in myself.  It’s really not about a cookie.  It’s never about a cookie.  Or a candy bar or a bag of chips.  The disappointment doesn’t lay in the packaging or the taste or with the manufacturer.  This one’s all on me.

So this post isn’t about a cookie.  Or three cookies, as the case may be.  I’s about how images in the passenger side car mirror are closer than they appear.  It’s about illusions.  And how we let them impact our lives and our choices.  And how they sometimes suck us in and spit us out.  This post is also about the reality of food versus expectations.  And in this one instance, it is about realizing that when reality fails to meet expectations I should expect more of myself and not of a cookie.  It’s all me; it’s always been about me.  It’s not about the food.  It’s never really about the food.  Just gotta keep telling myself that.

I’d love to end this post by saying that I’m now one smart cookie.  But that would be another instance of the picture on the box not matching the product inside.  So, because I can’t resist… that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

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68 Comments

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68 responses to “Objects Are Smaller than They Appear

  1. Miz

    good gosh I love your writing.
    It’s never about the food huh?
    or the shopping or the whatevering but it is, indeed, about the false advertising.

    and my, errr, one 🙂 needing to learn after the first 7000 times reality doesnr meet expectations.

  2. And the reverse side of this is the true feeling of real pleasure you get when you eat something delicious that you also know is good for you (I’m thinking of my big-ass salad as I write that).

  3. This is a great post. Isn’t that the truth how unsatisfied we are when we eat off program for what we’re hoping is a worthwile cheat!!

  4. Another perfect picture of why sugar is NEVER, and I mean NEVER satisfying for me and does nothing but make me want more. No matter if it’s one bite of something smaller than it appeared or one giant homemade cookies, I could easily live without it for the rest of my life if I just don’t take that first bite! Advertising, false or totally accurate, is the devil in disguise!! LOL!

    Now chips and Triscuits are another story altogether……..

    • Karen

      This is all very intriguing to me. I hear a lot about how very bad sugar is for us. For our bodies and skin and furthermore, how it actually makes us crave more. The message is very consistent. Yet there are some people who can manage to eat it moderately. Apparently I am not one of them. Refined sugars, be they in the form or cookies or sweetened cereal or whatever, seem to send me for more of the same or more food in general. And don’t get me started on Triscuits!

  5. I agree. False advertising with misleading images to get the consumer to buy the product. Just look at Fast Food companies which advertise their burgers and when you actually buy it, it is 2 times smaller than the image on the advertisement. And with these images, they destroy people’s mind-eye which tell you to eat healthy.

  6. YES, it is about you! Of course you knew I would write this – I usually never eat something if one bite tells me it is not worth it, especially cookies! 🙂 Even when I go out for my cookie treats, if I buy one that I have not had before & I don’t think it is worth the calories, I just don’t eat it & save myself for a cookie that is worth it!

    It is about you & wrapping your mind around all these little things that stop you from realizing your true potential!

  7. Karen, I so admire your honesty. I can only say that we just need to keep things like this out of the house — if your husband hadn’t bought them, would you have brought something like that into the house? I can be so excellent at not buying, not baking goodies, but if my husband brings something home, it is still hard to resist.

    P.S. I’ve heard that having a balanced diet is having a cookie in each hand.

    • Karen

      Love that last bit! No, I would not have bought them. My willpower is much stronger at the store:) I once wrote about how much easier this would be for me if I lived alone. There would be no food in the house that I “shouldn’t” eat or that was tempting for me to overeat. But the reality is I can only ask so much of my poor husband and son. Right now I am very tempted by some cereals my husband has. (The horrible ones my teen has don’t tempt me at all.) Many people would consider them not so bad. But they all have a lot of added sugar and I just want to pour them into a cup and nosh on them. I don’t know why that is what is so driving me crazy right now. Sigh.

  8. For me, I can add ‘false memories’ into the mix. Foods from my ‘before’ days that show up for a splurge meal and then are dropped from the rotation because they’re just not as good as I remembered them being. Fried foods mind immediately. I honestly can’t remember what appeal they ever had for me. (Excluding my grandmother’s fried chicken. :))

  9. Excellent post Karen. Food is seldom worth it, is it?

  10. Jan

    Great post. I agree completely that it isn’t about the food – at least for me. It’s about emotions, memories (a la Cami), sensations, yearning for a sense of fulfillment, and my unique biochemistry. Sounds so overwhelming now that I typed that out – think I’ll go have a cup of hot tea.

  11. Yes!! And why is it that we have to eat a bunch of not-so-good cookies in order to figure this out? I have found that when I fall for false advertising, especially when it comes to a packaged food product, I am inclined to eat more of it than I need/want, precisely because it’s not satisfying. I keep eating it in hopes of becoming satisfied.

    When I choose high-quality non-processed (or very slightly processed) food, I only need/want a little and am satisfied much sooner.

    I think this is all part of what they call “intuitive” eating!

  12. Great message today Karen!

    It isn’t about the food but rather the feeling or emotion we associate with that food.

    We live and learn!

  13. You are so right, it is not about the food, it is all about you!

  14. Karen – I don’t know what’s more disappointing – food that doesn’t taste (or look) as advertised or people that aren’t who they profess to be. I’m guessing the latter, because I can always make my own food that tastes better than the people…wait…I don’t eat people…maybe want to shove a few in the oven…nope, that’s not it. You know what I mean. Beautiful writing, sister. Seriously!

  15. I am almost famous in ‘my group’ for saying ‘that isn’t worth the calories.’ I am pretty good, most times, about realizing, mid-bite, when to put something down because it doesn’t taste good enough to warrant the calories. It’s about the items that DO taste good enough to warrant the calories. THAT part of MY mindset is what I have to stop/alter. 😉

  16. Objects are smaller than they appear? I said the very same thing before I put my bra on this morning. Maybe the cookie box shows true cookie size, but our (my) hungry eyeballs get big and enlarge the vision of the cookie? Guh. Sorry, I’m trying to put a positive spin on it… Not.working.

    • Karen

      So my husband, when I was complaining and taking pictures of the misleading box next to the tiny cookie, noticed that on the other side of the box was a true sized image. Really?!

  17. Pollan’s quote: the banquet is in the first bite rings true here. Yep, I agree with you: very, very rarely does something taste as good as it looks. Most of the time, too, it is the salt, sugar or fats that draw you back for more.

    I will be posting on Friday about my cookie this Friday….

  18. i’m a volume girl i like to know i’m eating so i like things that come in large quanity with little calories

    • Karen

      That is actually a great approach! When I did Weight Watchers years ago I always searched out the lowest point highest volume foods that would last a long time, like some cereals. Veggies don’t count:) I wish I could eat popcorn because that is huge volume.

  19. This is so well-written, and those Kashi cookies are definitely little devils in disguise… or big devils. Congratulations on only eating three.

    But yes, it’s not about the cookies. The illusions are so important. We do this in so many areas of our lives. We get caught up in anticipating something… good or bad. And then when it happens, it’s not always as good or bad as anticipated. For me, it’s another reminder to strive to focus on the present.

    • Karen

      Part of my problem is I usually really like Kashi products. Like there frozen dinners and crackers. But I did give up the cereals and the crackers because they really do add more sugar than I want to eat. So even the “healthy” brand is not so healthy. Sigh.

  20. Marti

    awesome post and very true. So often I give in and the result is disappointing.

  21. I hate when things aren’t worth it but you keep eating anyways. I know I have done that plenty of times. I really do try to only have things I really enjoy…but its so easy to get sucked in to things that just aren’t truly enjoyable.

  22. Truer words were never written.

  23. A most excellent post! And 100 percent correct. My latest was a round of delish chicken strips except after the first one, none of the rest tasted as delish or fulfilling. So did I give them to son or toss them in freezer? Nope. It’s not about the chicken strips; it’s about why I purchased this off-menu food in the first place. I went to the store hungry and smelled them. And was weak-willied enough to just march over and buy some without even stopping to talk to myself about it. It was all about me, too.

    • Karen

      Oh the worst is walking into a store that has some tempting scent wafting through the air! The other day it smelled like cinnamon rolls at my grocery store. It was killing me:(

  24. Lisa T

    “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” — William Shakespeare

  25. One of the reasons I gained weight when we lived overseas is because I kept searching for that “taste of home” and couldn’t find it. They’d say chocolate chip cookies, but it wasn’t anything like I thought I a CCC should be.

  26. it’s a great post and insightful, but I’m just laughing at your last paragraph and how funny you are.
    thanks!

  27. I wasn’t planning on commenting (just lurking today), but I thought it was an excellent post with much to think about (is it worth my taste buds, the first few bites being wonderful, etc).

  28. Mon

    Great insights, Karen! I agree wholeheartedly with your observations. So much goes on with us psychologically when we read packages that promise things like ‘Melting Moments’ or that suggest something is’Heavenly Delicious’.

    But can food really provide those special moments??

    Nah…it can’t.

    In fact, as you said – when the experience doesn’t meet the expectation, we’re disappointed. So the food actually provides a negative experience.

    I think as our awareness of this fact and of our own relationship with food (and our responses to the marketing of it) grows, we have taken a big step toward reaching our weight loss goals.

    Great post, Karen!
    Mon

  29. So true Karen, in so many things in life! Things are not always what they appear, and advertizements from big companies are the most guilty of this. They tell us things are healthy that aren’t, and they make us feel like we will get so much satisfaction out of their product, but the reality is the opposite. There is only disappointment to be found at the bottom of a bag of cookies.

  30. Yep…I had a serious altercation with sugar last night and I’ve been spending the day trying to get deeper into detox. Man, it makes me mad when I let those illusions get the best of me.

    there is something also to be said for the PLAN. When I plan for treats, even really decadent ones, they taste better and I feel in control. When the cookie catches me off guard, it can set a negative ball in motion that is hard to catch.

  31. Great post! And it’s so true what you say about the power of illusions! I think what’s important is to establish a state of awareness or mindfulness for how you really feel with what you eat – if you really like it, if you really want, if you really feel well afterwards. If all three criteria are fulfilled, then green lights for eating! Foods that fulfill them, I’ve found, are often those that are also nourishing and healthy. All the other stuff, although it might come in a fancy disguise, is often flawed in some respect.

  32. The beauty about our weight loss journey Karen is that we eventually learn that its just not worth it. I still struggle with this desire to eat just because its there regardless that its not that great.

    I am so glad I saw this tonight. Your not alone my friend we are all in this together!

  33. You ARE one smart cookie, Karen!

    Oh those darn advertisers, the images on the boxes, the promised-but-not-delivered goodness… Yep, I know that one. And the eating more because of it. And the blaming my eating on the advertisers. Ha! Been there, done that… many times.

    I am reminded of an exercise in a “strategic thinking” class, where each person looks at an image printed on a card, small, black’n’white, a little abstract. At the bottom of the card it says, “Find the ring-necked pheasant.” Some instantly point to something on the card and say, “There it is!” Some, not seeing anything at first, turn the card around, sidewise, upside down, and then say, “Oh, I guess this is it.” Almost everyone “finds” it. Then the instructor says, “There isn’t a ring-necked pheasant in the picture; no pheasant at all.” The point is how easily we can be led to believe something IS that actually IS NOT. Like the cookie box. I try to remember the pheasant when I look at most food items.

  34. Don’t you hate that “enlarged to show texture” disclaimer next to the cookie? *sigh*

    It does look good though…

    Great post- right now the scale has me under the illusion I’m not doing well- BUT I know I am- I mean I didn’t eat ONE BITE of pasta last night! Or any cookies, or chips, or all the other darn temptations of the day!

    Haha smart cookie :p

  35. Not to under-sell the power of willpower, but it’s refreshing to be reminded about the power of false advertising. Never before in human history have we had fleets of people trying to make Fake Food look absolutely delicious and irresistible through commercials and packaging. It’s got to be part of out culture’s obseity epidemic.

    You are so right, though, that the promise is almost never as good as the payoff. I love what the other commenter said about savoring healthy food–that’s why I love the farmer’s Market; it makes real food a pleasure to the senses

  36. I feel the same way when I hear about some wonderful diet version of something I like, I try it and it is always a disappointment. Better to have a very small amount of the real thing than overeat trying to make something faux satisfying.

    • Karen

      For me, there are some actual “diet” versions that I like “enough.” If my husband asks if it is good, by response is usually “for a diet food.”

  37. I am constantly disappointed by chocolate muffins from the coffee shop in my building. Not only should I not be eating them anyway, they never taste as chocolatey as they look. Most of the time, I toss them about halfway through and remind myself that if I don’t like it, I don’t have to eat it (so why do I keep buying them??? 🙂

  38. Ain’t it the truth!

    Husband & I were watching TV when Quaker Oats runs an ad for their instant oatmeal. Pictured was a good-sized bowl, filled to the brim with oatmeal. “Do you realize that’s probably 4-5 bags?”, I asked DH. We both laughed because recently, he asked for a bowl of oatmeal as I was making some for son. “Only one package”, says he. One package barely covered the bottom of the bowl & his face was funny indeed when I handed it too him.

    Good for you for only eating three cookies! I probably would have scarfed them all down, in some kind of crazy misguided vengeance for them not being As Pictured 🙂

    • Karen

      Oh those bags do make a tiny portion! I guess maybe some expert out there would say that’s the whole problem with us – our portion sizes are skewed. That a cookie should be little and a bowl of oatmeal too. Hmm.

  39. Karen, you rock as a writer. Seriously. Great post.

  40. Your words have pinpoint accuracy. Illusions are a huge factor in the way we manage our lives. If we believe in those illusions, we’re often disappointed. If we can get real with ourselves, and look those illusions in the eye, stare them down and point out to them (in our heads) that they are not real, they lose their power.

  41. Nicole

    Great post Karen. I love to bake but every time I say I will only have one cookie, I end up eating 4 or 5. I wish I could be like my husband and only have one or two a night. Every night, hubby has a small treat and is done. Not me tho. I have to finish them off. I really need to focus on self control. My problem is I do well for about 4 days and then BAM, I’m baking something. I JUST NEED TO STOP BAKING. 🙂

  42. Wow, saw this on the weekly honor roll on Fitbloggers and I am very happy I clicked. Your writing is awesome!

  43. It’s crazy, isn’t it? I too have been sucked in the same way. Or by eating something that I didn’t want to try to mask what I really did want – and then eating the other thing anyway. Advertising…I guess it really works on us. Who would have thunk it?

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