“Free” Stuff

I am terrible at making good decisions when things are offered to me without a monetary cost, particularly food. Let’s take, for example, the events of last night. Not only was my favorite bottle shop offering free donuts, but there was free pizza and free deep-fried cookie dough (the south is a magically gluttonous place). I’m not too annoyed with my decision to eat some pizza or one donut because I was prepared for that and adjusted my diet accordingly, but the deep-fried cookie dough was unexpected and I didn’t really resist.

My justification? It was free.

Unfortunately, looking at a decision simply through the lens of a direct monetary cost is kind of a terrible way to make good choices. We live in a world with a ton of free or nearly free things, just look at shows like “Hoarders” where generally low-income people have more than they could ever use. We live in a culture that is overflowing with calories and trinkets, and a common justification for hoarding calories in our bellies or trinkets in our home is the low cost associated with acquiring them.

But what if I were to look at that deep-fried cookie dough from another angle, perhaps time? That food was not nutritionally necessary in any way. It didn’t have any essential vitamins or minerals that I was lacking and it didn’t have calories that I needed. In fact, that food meant I was well over my calorie limit. My guess is that one of those deep-fried cookie dough balls was about 500 calories (and I had two), and it may have been more, but let’s go with the 500 calorie count to make the math easy.

One cookie ball gave me about 10 minutes of pleasure or 50 calories per minute. In order to work off those calories, I would need to run for about 35 minutes at a 7mph pace (8.5 min mile). So, was 10 minutes of pleasure worth 35 minutes of running the next day? For me, no, it wasn’t. At least not in this situation, maybe there are some situations where it would be.

We could also re-monetize that. If we say that one minute of eating pleasure is directly equal to one minute of not running (which is a huge assumption) then after eating that cookie dough ball and running I am currently in a 25 minute pleasure deficit, Given my current pay rate of $30 per hour, that dough-ball cost me $12.50 worth of my time… which makes that “free” snack no longer free.

So, anyway, basically, I make shitty decisions when I am offered “free” food, but hopefully, I can shift my mindset and think about things from a more forward thinking perspective in the future and pass on the extra desert. Particularly when I know that I will probably get just as much pleasure out of one bite as I would out of an entire dough ball.

As always, I’m open for comments and questions on any subject, just submit them anonymously here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH

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