The most frustrating part was that she had almost made it. She'd been good all week, sticking to Hamilton's "approved-food list": egg whites, chicken, low-sodium turkey breast. She had been losing weight, too, watching the numbers on the scale go down as her hip and cheekbones became more pronounced and, unfortunately, her mind became more and more preoccupied with food. She had tried to distract herself from both her hunger and her nervousness about being nearly naked on camera by watching television, but the commercials seemed designed to sabotage her diet with endless pictures of slim, happy, gorgeous women eating big, messy burgers while they laughed and fell in love with equally gorgeous, equally gluttonous guys. Fearing that hunger combined with the power of suggestion would propel her to the nearest drive-through, she forced her ravenous attention away from the television screen. Standing up, she gripped the edge of the couch to compensate for the dizziness that lately accompanied her every sudden move and made her way to the walk-in pantry. She was searching through Hamilton's impressive (girly?) supply of herbal teas that he swore were "just as satisfying as a snack" when her eye landed on a jar of honey-roasted peanuts, half hidden behind the fat-free mayonnaise.
Honey-roasted peanuts: sweet, salty, and creamy, all in one miraculous package. Kate found herself standing frozen, transfixed before the holy grail of caloric density. What harm could one or two peanuts do? In fact, she told herself, her metabolism was probably slowing down, starved as she was for fat and sugar calories. Two or three peanuts could be just what her body needed to kick it into calorie-burning overdrive. Feeling almost righteous, she reached for the jar and twisted off the lid, the pop and hiss of the vacuum seal releasing the familiar heavenly scent. She inhaled deeply and shook out three peanuts, closed the jar, and took her tiny bounty back to her spot on the couch in front of the television. She ate the nuts painstakingly slowly, enjoying each one as if it were the richest, most extraordinary piece of Godiva chocolate. See? she thought as she finished the last one. No harm done.
She was right, too. There had been no harm done by the first tiny handful of peanuts. But who had ever been able to stop at three honey-roasted peanuts? Just three more can't hurt, she told herself as she made her way back to the pantry, repeating the ritual of opening the jar, carefully shaking out three peanuts, and padding back to the couch.