The Rockwood Files: Vices in a vice grip

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

You know what I think about sometimes right before I fall asleep? Cereal. I imagine how lovely it would have been to sit down with a bowl of my favorite kind of cereal for a late-night snack before bed.

It used to be my nighttime ritual. On most nights, I’d have a bowl of Special K or Raisin Bran because they seemed like a healthier choice than the Froot Loops I truly wanted. But then a friend and exercise instructor told me that my cereal habit might be adding way too much sugar in my diet. And sugar is bad about making a body hold on to those pesky pounds it should really lose.

“But wait! It’s not like I’m eating Froot Loops. It’s Raisin Bran,” I said. “It’s got fiber.”

“Yep, but it also has sugar. Look at the label. You’ll see what I mean,” she said.

I checked the label and, of course, she was right. With one look at the number of sugar grams, my healthy snack started to curdle in my mind’s eye.

So these days I try not to have any snack after eight o’clock at night, and I do think it makes a difference. Most days, I’m pretty proud of myself for kicking the cereal habit. But every now and then, particularly after a long, tiring day, I miss curling up on the sofa with a cool bowl cradled in my hands. It was comforting, familiar and delicious.

Of course, the late-night cereal wasn’t my only vice and I certainly haven’t given up the rest of them. If my friend ever tries to take away my sweet tea, we may have to go our separate ways. Some things are sacred, after all. Besides, I’m not even sure it’s advisable to give up every vice.

I recently read a quote about vices by the late Elizabeth Taylor. She said, “The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”

Liz certainly made a good point, and she said it well before social media had reached the fever pitch it’s at today. Have you noticed that sometimes people in your Facebook and Instagram feed – the ones who are nearly obsessed with “clean eating” or intense daily workouts – take real pleasure in sharing evidence of their discipline with the rest of the Internet?

I’m happy for them. I really am. It’s great that they’re so healthy, so self-controlled. But if I have to see one more picture of their healthy lunch or see another screen shot of the number of steps they’ve taken in a single day, I might start throwing tortilla chips at the computer. (And that could get messy because, generally, there’s always a little guacamole on those chips.)

To be fair, I don’t think the super-devoted clean eaters and exercise enthusiasts are trying to make the rest of us feel bad. I think they’re just passionate about their healthy lifestyle and hopeful that their devotion might inspire the rest of us cereal-loving, chip-eating slugs to join their merry bandwagon.

Who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll do it. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to give up all my vices and document it online without turning into one of those annoying people who remind the rest of us about just how imperfect we are. But before I do anything rash, like pour my sweet tea down the drain, I should probably think it through.

Perhaps I’ll sleep on it – right after I finish dreaming about that missed bowl of cereal.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.