The vegan spouse recently paid me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. She told me she wants to eat more like me. Not what I eat, necessarily, but how I eat.
In our household, I am known for making food last a long time. Food, in this case, often means sweets like candy, cookies, or similar treats. It is because of me that I am eating Christmas cookies in March or Easter candy in June. I think I make things last because I like them so much that I don’t want to be without them.
I have, unwittingly, applied this style of eating to daily meals as well. A few years ago, I started bringing my lunch to work so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat in our cafeteria. I would bring a type of fruit, wasa crackers (celebrating 100 years in 2019!), and a yogurt. This was a good combination, but it didn’t carry me through the afternoon.
I gradually added more than one kind of fruit in order to fill me up, but also to allow them to play off of each other. Sometimes one fruit is really good, but the other one is only so-so. By having two, the good one makes up for the average one. This week I had a combination of cantaloupe, banana, strawberries, and blueberries. The flavors all blended together seamlessly.
While I’m eating lunch, I’m usually reading a book, playing a game on my phone, or doing a crossword puzzle. If you were to watch me eat (which I find pretty weird), you’d see me eat a few bites of fruit, read a couple paragraphs, and then have a bite of a cracker. And repeat. The yogurt is the dessert.
We eat supper while watching television. Depending on the news of the day, that alone can slow down our eating. What also slows me down is the heat of the food, which can mean temperature, spiciness, or both. I can’t help but eat foods that are really hot in a deliberate manner.
I think we eat at about the same pace, but the vegan spouse feels she eats too fast. Where’s the fire? What’s the hurry? Sometimes food tastes too good to eat slowly. Think pizza or Chinese food. Still, I do like to experience all the flavors and textures of food.
In addition to wanting to eat like me, the vegan spouse has also given me a new nickname. “You know,” she said, “you really are the marshmallow kid.”
To get that reference, you have to go back fifty years to a study conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University. Mischel gave four and five-year-old children a marshmallow, and told them, if they didn’t eat it within fifteen minutes, they would get a second one. It was a test to see if children at this age understood the concept of delayed gratification.
The study has been repeated numerous times over the years with researchers relating the decision to eat the marshmallow (or not) to everything from SAT scores to success later in life. Some have touched on the guilt you get from eating the marshmallow, while others have focused on the goal setting ability of those who don’t.
But let’s get back to me.
In our house, being “The Marshmallow Kid” is really nothing more than having the willpower to make something delicious last a really long time. I wear the name with pride, but I don’t really know if that’s one of my skills or not. Mischel’s study tells us that many of the children who were able to resist the marshmallow did so by distracting themselves with a song or a dance. That sounds more like me.
Are you a marshmallow kid? Please leave a message…