These are days of upheaval and transition. Yes, yes, the country is suffering from a buffoon in the White House. But I’m literally speaking about matters much closer to home– namely my own.
We’re moving to our “forever home” in about two weeks, and the conditions in our current one are a mite lax. Specifically I’m referring to food preparation and consumption. Or really the lack thereof.
The kitchen is open but barely.
Want a bowl of cereal? No problem, help yourself. Better check how much milk there is first, though. Grocery store visits aren’t exactly a high priority at the moment.
Have a hankering for some pasta? Great, there’s one small pot that hasn’t yet been packed. Plus a box of rotini in the cupboard. Knock yourself out.
What’s that? You say you were hoping for poached salmon with a caramelized sauce and a side of wild rice? Yeah, that does sounds good. It also ain’t happening here at least. Dust off your credit card and throw on a clean shirt. Let’s head over to the bistro down the street – your treat.
Times are tough when the moving boxes are being packed. And one of the first casualties of that is healthy eating. I’m not admitting to anything or even pointing fingers, but one of us had only an ice cream cone for dinner recently.
I pride myself on generally being a pretty healthy eater. Whole grains and vegetables are a mainstay of my diet, as is a consistent desire for fresh fish and poultry. I try to avoid at least an excessive intake of red meat, high fats, and carbohydrates. I don’t always completely succeed with all of that, but I make a constant effort.
Because my blood pressure is controlled by a 10 mg blood pressure med, I do my best to also stay away from salty snacks. That’s a tough one because I absolutely love popcorn at night when I watch TV. We tend to pop our own and refrain from buying the processed microwave kind which is loaded with sodium.
Where I truly am terrible, however, is with fruit. I’m just not crazy for any of it. Apples are boring, bananas annoying, citrus is messy, and passion fruit is much too flirty for my puritanical bearing. Cherries are fine but only at the bottom of a Manhattan.
Let’s hope the daily multi-vitamin is doing something for what fruit is supposed to provide. To paraphrase the previous commander in chief, I can do better.
Where I’m going with all of this is, is that in spite of my lofty ideals about healthy eating, I have been taking some serious detours lately. For the past six weeks I’ve inhabited a wondrous world of fast food gluttony. My exit lanes off the nutrition highway (specifically Interstate 95) take me back to places I once haunted with regular abandon.
Except for perhaps the short period after I got my driver’s license, I don’t think I actually ever craved eating a Big Mac or Chalupa. Starting in my college years, and certainly all through my twenties, my fast food consumption was borne out of lethargy and a purposeful and intellectually dishonest belief that economic constraints forced me to avoid eating healthy. Because, you know, salad bars or containers of pre-cut veggies were just SO hard to find.
But lately I’ve morphed into something I am decidedly not proud of.
For a few weeks starting in late April and into mid-May, I began traveling up to Jacksonville to cover some law firm accounts for my boss while she was away on vacation. It was a bit of a schlep, driving three hours each way and taking around five hours to complete the actual work. Although I could have taken pains to bring snacks and food from home, I didn’t. Instead, I made my first forays into fast food establishment after many years of abstaining.
I felt guilty and dirty.
Like the preadolescent boy sneaking a peek at an open Hustler Magazine on a counter at the 7-11, I walked into each restaurant scanning the eyes of customers and counter help alike, convinced that at least one of them would recognize I didn’t belong there.
“There’s the guy who made promises and vows that he’d never set foot in a place like this.”
Indeed I had done exactly that.
In 2004 I saw Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, “Super Size Me.” The film follows Mr. Spurlock’s 30 day experiment of eating only McDonald’s food at every meal, three times a day. The toll on his health is profound and evident. Viewers are given definite proof of precisely how his high-caloric and trans fat-laden diet are a health danger, courtesy of filmed visits to his doctor. The lab results show conclusively that the fast food meals he was eating were harmful to his health.
This was anecdotal evidence that I hadn’t ever really seen before. Although by this period my fast food intake was limited, I did have a habit of dropping into one if I was running late and found myself hungry. What’s a Taco Supreme going to do to me? Please, we’re just talking “fuel” here, right?
But after watching the documentary, I understood that pretty much all fast food is something we need to avoid. I took a personal pledge and decided to keep it. There are clearly other alternatives.
Road trips can admittedly be challenging, especially if you have a tight time frame to reach your destination. But in addition to packing a small cooler of home-prepared snacks, I also followed good ‘ol Jared’s advice and chose healthier options at Subway or Quiznos. A lot of good that ultimately got him in the end though, eh??
I stayed in that mode pretty much until just the last couple of months. It wasn’t hard, and Gorgeous is even more determined than me about eating in a healthful way. We pretty much eat very healthy meals at home.
But on only my second six-hour trek to Jacksonville, I caved and took an I-95 exit straight to a Wendy’s. I ordered a Single with fries. Fries! The one menu item in “Super Size Me” that never went bad in the lab they created to age the food items.
This was my first fast food meal in 13 years. I can’t lie to you. That hamburger was delicious. It was juicy, greasy, and tasted out of this world. It was a combination of my first kiss and the day my 401(k) reached $100,000.
What? You were hoping for Shelley or Yeats?
What followed is ugly. McDonald’s egg and biscuit sandwiches on the way to my morning shift at the library (I asked them to leave off the cheese. Points for that?), a Taco Bell black bean burrito on another Jacksonville trip, and dare I admit the piece de resistance — a classic Whopper while ostensibly out on an errand to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. Which, of course, introduces the concept of closet eating.
Yesterday was National Doughnut Day. Guess what national chain I patronized? Yep.
And while all of this is going on, I continue to go to the gym most mornings while also managing to somehow eat healthy dinners in the evenings — pretty much all by take-out from that bistro down the street. To add insult to injury, I’m even losing weight much to the chagrin of Gorgeous (alert readers will recall that we’ve been through this scenario before).
As blogger Juan over at Tooneetales is fond of saying, this too will pass. We move in less than two weeks, and healthier habits are sure to return as soon as normal routines come back into play.
Plus, most of us know that the first bite of a forbidden fruit tastes good only the first time. After that it’s just a guilt trip gone really bad.
In the interim, perhaps I’ll run into you at McDonald’s. Super size me.
Until next time…