Hey, There's Dairy In That Milkshake: Five Ways I Justify My Terrible Food Decisions

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If she can settle on the pasta by convincing herself she needs to carb load before her big night of drinking, we'd probably get along.
I had a milkshake with lunch the other day. I didn't feel too bad about it, even if I have been bitching about my build lately. I look sort of like a centaur these days, only instead of man's torso on a horse's hindquarters I have a famished African child's swollen belly on the frame of an Olsen twin. Washing down a Potbelly sandwich with a chocolate milkshake wasn't going to help matters, but on the other hand, I'd just come from the gym, where I'd dominated a game of half-court pick-up ball with some old Russian Jews. This was a milkshake I'd definitely earned.

Then my wife said it.

"Better to have dessert with lunch than with dinner, right?"

She was trying to make me feel better, using some Men's Health-flat-belly-in-three-weeks tip to justify the questionable food decision I'd just made. But she was justifying to a Chief Justifier, a man who could find an excuse for shooting Cheez Whiz into his veins if it sounded delicious enough. I was immediately overcome with food guilt, which I washed down with a swig of milkshake. (I mean, I already paid for it, right?)

The whole incident got me thinking about some of the highlights of my storied food justification career.

The One Soda A Day Rule

I mean, there's freakin' fruit in it. It's practically V-8.
I'm hopelessly addicted to the midday caffeine rush brought on by a Coke or Pepsi with lunch, preferably one poured from a fountain into a cup full of ice. (Canned soda into ice falls second on the soda-delivery hierarchy, followed by bottled into ice, canned from the can, bottled from the bottle and, finally, any soda poured into an empty cup or glass. At that point I might as well be drinking water, which is just gross.)

To moderate my intake, I generally limit myself to one soda per day. Which is why, one evening not long ago, as I idled in the Jack in the Box drive-through, trying to decipher whether the potato-and-bacon-wedge side dish could be paired with a Jack's Spicy Chicken value meal (there's an up-charge), I began talking myself into a milkshake.

Normally this option would be dismissed as too fat-ass a move, but the only viable alternative to a milkshake was a soda. And I'd already had one soda that day. I couldn't possibly have two.

Milkshake it was. Oreo, I believe.

Do it for the Craft

See, I told you I'd blog it.
Driving home from work the other day, I started thinking about dinner. My wife was out, so I was on my own, a predicament that typically leads to some high-octane justification. I should eat something healthy, I thought, like a rotisserie chicken.

But then I remembered: Mooyah, a relatively new outpost of a locally based burger chain, had just opened near my house. Had anyone written about that?

I decided that no, the story of the regional burger chain expanding to an area strip mall had somehow gone untold. I would be the one to take on this challenge. So off I went. Their house burger is a double, so I had to have that. And their fries are popular, so I needed some of those. And wouldn't you know it? They tout their shakes right there in the window. It'd be irresponsible not to try one and share with the readers of City of Ate. So I got one (Oreo, I believe), and sucked all that down in the name of responsible journalism. I even took a photo for the blog, which you can see above.

Sadly, I never did get around to writing about it.

Sooner Rather Than Later

mint chocolate cookie after.jpg
Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream (not pictured)
Ever buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream? Ever swear you're only going to eat half of it? Ever eat half of it, put it back into the freezer, return to the couch, start craving some more, start listening to the voice in your head explain how you're going to eat it eventually, whether now or a week from now, so you might as well eat it now so that your body has more time, between now and its eventual death, to burn off the calories lurking in the second half-pint? Ever say to that voice in your head, as you stab your spoon back into the carton, Voice, you are a lot smarter than people give you credit for, you know that?

What's that? You've never even had Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream. Oh Jesus you're missing out.

Here's a List of Things I've Eaten During One of My "Health Kicks"

Chicken is a lean protein, you know.
Loaded baked potato (there's hardly any meat!), fried chicken (there's no red meat!), steak (it's a lean protein!), peanut butter by the spoonful (it's a "super food!"), beer (because soda is so bad for you), soda (because it has to be better to be addicted to soda than to booze), vodka (fewer calories than beer), McDonald's breakfast (a big breakfast means I can eat a lighter lunch), salads with full-blown double-battered chicken tenders and honey mustard (because while it sure seems like you're just ordering chicken tenders and asking them to lay them on a bed of lettuce, it's listed under salads so it must be good for you!).

True Story

Do those look like french fries to you?
I once vowed to go a month without eating french fries. On the second day, I went out to eat at a restaurant that sold tator tots. And I ordered them, God damn it, because anyone who grew up coming home to an empty house and loading up a cookie sheet with the contents of whatever Ore Ida bag happened to be on sale that week knows that while there are lots of varieties of fries -- classic, crinkled, curly, crispy, waffle-cut, criss-cut, hand-cut -- tot is not one of them.

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mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

Joe, since you obviously love cookies and doing things in your car, I am surprised you haven't tried throwing cookie dough on cookie sheets and sticking them in your car, to test the assertion that your car's like an oven in this heat. I mean, you know, it's science! Get Alice or Jim to test it also, and boom, you got yourself a peer-reviewed blog entry.


Here's one you can apply to any food or drink without having to come up with an individual justification for each one: Life's too short to pass up the good stuff. It always works for me.

The Wife
The Wife

I'm sorry that I'm not a better influence. And yes, the Mint Chocolate Cookie is absolutely my fault. That's what you get from marrying a woman who spent a summer working at Ben & Jerry's.

Frank Stokes
Frank Stokes

I think that the phrase "tater tot" was created and copyrighted by Ore-Ida....just sayin'...


At least the burger had vegetables on it.


In 50 years we'll all be chicks


The funny part about this to me is that the food on the right-hand side of the lady looks WAY better to me than the food on the left. I guess that's because I know how my stomach feels after I eat fried food and sweets. Learn to like fruits and vegetables and your body (and body image) will thank you!

No offense to all the people who complain about their bodies while filling their bodies with things that make their bodies look that way.... but you can break the cycle. Or stop complaining.


But you gave up pork for love, Joe P. Tone. So there's that.

(I went fully vegan since I saw you last ... I still fondly remember our conversation wherein you were asking me, bewildered, why I would ever give up meat. When I told you it was for health reasons -- high cholesterol, to be exact -- you told me as if giving up a secret, "You know, they have meds for that." This post just took that conversation to a whole new level of awesome. And you are one of my favorite carnivores BECAUSE of your mad justification skills.)

Nick R.
Nick R.

I told myself this weekend that the venison burger I ate (which was covered in monterey jack) was probably fine, you know, because venison is leaner


Hilarious. Loved this!

Nick R.
Nick R.

What are vege-tables

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