The freedom to choose large sugary drinksBy Anna J. Yoder
In case you didn’t hear, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on large sugary drinks. Wait, when did we start believing that freedom comes in a 32-ounce cup?
As someone who avoids high fructose corn syrup like the plague that it is, I wanted to stand up and applaud Bloomberg’s efforts. (True, it is not the source of the obesity problem, but at least he’s trying something). Yet, I thought to myself, “Wow, people are really going to freak out.”
Bloomberg has already successfully banned public smoking and the use of trans fats in restaurants, and has made it a requirement for restaurants to display their health code grade for the public eye.
This has all gotten me thinking about this tricky thing called entitlement. As U.S. Americans, we carry around a deeply rooted sense of entitlement. The United States is the land of the free. So, if I want to drown myself with Coca-Cola, I should be able to do that, right? Who cares what it does to my body.
My own sense of entitlement might not appear in the “Route 99” version from Sonic, but it does pop up whenever I least expect it. As a Christian, it often catches me off guard and causes me to stop and think. In this perspective, suddenly any sense of “entitlement” I might carry around starts to feel like a burden. It keeps me from seeing the needs of others. It makes me selfish, putting myself ahead of my need to be in healthy community with those around me. It also turns me into a terrible grump.
A few years ago, I spent some time living in South Africa. One of those minor cultural differences that still sticks out to me yet today was food portion size. I remember being amazed at the size of an ice cream cup I bought for what felt like “a lot” of money. The small was really small! I felt a little ripped off. True to my American mindset, I wanted to stretch that money as far as it could possibly go. “All that money” for one baby ice cream?
Stupid, right? But there it is. I needed a little perspective. I still do. I constantly need to remind myself about what it means to have enough. How do I express that in my daily life? Can I learn to be content, even when someone hands me a very small cup of ice cream?
Entitlement causes me to seek out the “good life” instead of the abundant life. But it’s the abundant life that I crave. So why do I let things like sizes of beverages get in the way of that? If reevaluating portion sizes helps me to understand the beauty of enough, then so be it. After all, are overly large potions of food and drink improving my quality of life? Or am I so used to demanding everything (whether consciously or not) that anything less feels like a threat to my way of life? In the current shape our planet is in, I know this is a dangerous way to live. And it is not who Christ has called me to be.
If portion control policies and sugar bans start to become the norm, will I become defensive? Or will I see this as an opportunity to silence my entitled self and practice the art of knowing what is enough? I truly hope it is the latter.
Anna J. Yoder of Hesston, Kan., is a 2009 graduate of Bluffton (Ohio) University, with degrees in writing, English and communications. She is the web editor at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., and a baker for Mojo’s Coffee Shop. Anna is a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys exploring food blogs in her spare time.
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