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I absolutely hate the word “snacky” in all of its manifestations. It’s not the fault of the word itself. It’s the fact that someone I used to know—someone a little too trendy, a little bit annoying—used to use it all the time. She especially loved to refer to people as “snacky”. It was a pretentious grad-school trendoid thing, as far as I can tell, being as politically incorrect as she could be—for sometimes, snacky was merely a mark of approbation, but sometimes I got the sense it was a purely anthropophagous sexual term. In any case, it always struck me as a stupid word and consequently annoyed the hell out of me.

Well, this week’s Friday Five has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with snacks themselves, or rather, the way I think of snacks. Rob took some moments from his busy schedule as a father of two (extremely belated congrats, Rob!) and ventured the following question:

written on an empty stomach. name five snacks that your mind immediately turns to when the need or opportunity arises.

Ah, Rob, the man has a finger on the pulse of issues that need dealing with. No, seriously! I mean, in my life, the issue of snacking is a big one right now. I managed to lose a lot of weight during my first two and a half years in a Korea, but over the last seven months, I’ve gained a chunk of it back. Not all of it, to be sure, and I’m certain that the cycling I’ve taken up and the swimming I’ve begun again will help. (Would that I could have kept them up, but I was so sick that I basically had no energy or strength to do so until my wisdom tooth came out and the repeated infections stopped.)

Exercise is important, and the lack of it doesn’t do a body good, that’s for sure, but there’s something else, very important, that lies at the root of my weight issues, and that is snacks. When I’m sitting around in my apartment, writing or reading or watching a film, I often feel the urge to have a snack. It’s not so much hunger—sometimes it is hunger, or thirst that my brain mistakes for apparent hunger, but often I think it just has to do with the desire to be doing something other than just reading or just writing.

Just what foods do I think of? Oh, things like this:

As you can see, all of this is pretty unhealthy. Well, now I am working on my weight, and more importantly, on my health. I should be formatting that part of my brain, and installing new software.

Cute metaphor aside, it’s true that the only way to get a real change in behaviour like this—behaviour to which it’s so easy not to pay attention—is to exert conscious, steady effort in avoiding the things one likes too much but knows intellectually are bad for you. I’ve done so to some degree already, in fact—there was a time when I would consume this stuff in large quantities, in the family-sized bags or bottles instead of in the small single-serving size I buy nowadays. But that, I feel, isn’t enough. After all, what the hell are these junk foods? It’s not as if companies put them onto the market for my benefit, so why am I such a fool as to pay good money for them, only to receive bad health benefits as a long-term result? It is a kind of insanity that makes no sense, but only once you look at it from the side. Looking at it head-on you can’t see the problem, because these foods are readily available, woven into the fabric of one’s life so easily, and they take no preparation time.

Stopping one’s consumption of them actually does take an effort, so I think what I will do is simply initiate a routing code in my mind, artificially—would that I could do it automatically!—as follows:

Desired Snack

Delivered snack


A piece of fruit.


A glass of water and a stick of gum to let me get the chewing out of my


The smallest piece of chocolate I can buy individually.


Water, fruit juice, some barley-water, or perhaps tea if it strikes my
fancy, sweetened with honey only (and NOT sugar).

Machine coffee

Water, or a limit of one machine coffee per day.

If I follow this plan assiduously, then I think my progress both in reducing my weight and improving my general health and productivity will be increased twofold.

We’ll see how far I get with it.

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