Somewhere, an English teacher will be cringing at my poorly developed metaphor. Go ahead, get out the red pens...
I had a good eating weekend over Thanksgiving at the in-laws. I didn't have a lot of extras at the big dinner and really kept everything in check from there on out, with the exception of a close call with the giant bin of peanut butter stuffed pretzels. I even limited my MIL's excellent apple, pumpkin, and cherry pies to two small pieces on Turkey Day and one bite off my son's plate on Saturday.
On Friday, I had the epiphany that fired up the metaphor machine. The day after Thanksgiving, I ate well. I didn't have the traditional Turkey sandwich, opting for the turkey with cranberries. I did have stuffing - I'm not a choir boy - but it was definitely a reasonable portion. Same with dinner, where I had chili, but little else. And I stopped for the night at that point.
Even though I had a very reasonable day, I still felt full, as if I had to loosen my belt a notch. It didn't quite seem fair, as I'd eaten well all day. Why? The reason is a discovery I've been stumbling around for a while and just was able to put my finger on. I've always thought there was a "reasonable" meal size - a small dinner plate or 750 calories or whatever - and that magic amount was what I should strive for every day. Certainly, it's what proponents of calorie counting, and most diets, frankly, focus on - how much is the right amount to eat on a daily basis.
But as anyone who has bought toilet paper at Costco knows, that's only half the equation. Ok, so it's Saturday, and you're braving the parking lot at your local Costco warehouse to spend a small fortune on bulk household supplies. Let's say you've done your budget and know that buying bath tissue - the PC term for toilet paper, I guess - is most economical in bulk. The greater the volume, the lower the cost per roll, and the more you buy now, the fewer gallons of gas you use on subsequent runs for toilet paper. Great. So buy the 80 pack.
But no. There's no way you can store 80 rolls of toilet paper without creating a scene. So you do the rational thing, grabbing the 30 pack. You've done this before, and your neighbor, with great judgment about these kinds of things, swears by the 30 pack. You ring it up and head home, feeling good about your sensibility.
Now to put them away. Toilet paper is stored under the sink, of course. But there are several rolls left over from the last pack, so you still have 22 rolls to find a place for. Ah, but you have another bathroom. But after hauling 22 rolls upstairs, you find a dozen rolls of paper towels in the small closet. A dozen rolls of paper towels??? Why? Costco, of course. So you schlep the 22 rolls back downstairs and out the door, adding to the pile of various and sundries in the garage.
I think you see where I'm going. The 30 pack, of course, represents a reasonable meal. It's, say, a chicken breast with a side of green beans, whole grain rice, and a side salad with blue cheese. You were sensible, and skipped the 80 pack (Philly Cheesesteak and fries). But you forgot to see if your cupboards were full first (that yesterday was a special occasion and you are still a little full) and part of your "reasonable" portion ends up in the garage (your expanding waistline).
And that is how eating is like buying toilet paper at Costco.