We try. Really, we do. Maybe not consistently. Perhaps sporadically. But we R.W.’s make a valiant effort to eat healthy foods and stick to some sort of beneficial level of dietary intake. We try to make good choices so we can be as healthy and svelte as possible, and to set good examples for our children.
Of course we’ve all tried various types of diets at different phases, and times, in our lives. We have hopped on the latest trends through the ages, like the Master Cleanse, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Scarsdale, the Atkins…. All basically different unique ways to convince us how to take in less than we burn off.
I’ve never really been a fad dieter. I go through phases where I suddenly feel like I need to be healthier, or lose some weight, and come up with my own slightly bizarre ideas for cutting back on calories or fat and increasing my activity level. Mind you, this was (pun intended) a piece of cake when I was in my 20’s – 30’s. All I had to do was cut back on the bowls of ice cream, workout an extra hour a week, and I’d lose five pounds. Oh, how I miss those days. A slowing metabolism coinciding with the onset of middle age and menopause means a whole ‘nother set of rules in this game. Namely: make friends with that muffin top, it’s here to stay.
I long ago recognized that I will never be one of the Super Healthy. I’ve met several of these people. They are the ones who eat only organic foods and protein, never touch sweets, or are completely glucose or gluten free by choice. They are the ones at the gym who have that Super Healthy body type, and who talk about going home to have a lovely meal of baked chicken and kale with water. Meanwhile I’m stretching out next to them and dreaming of a pizza washed down with a margarita.
I’m also that person who believes chocolate to be a daily requirement. I’m not kidding. I literally have some form of chocolate every day. I may as well consider it a multi-vitamin. If I gave it up, I’d be sad and lonely without the friend I’ve had since childhood. What good would that do?
So, to counteract this – let’s face it – addiction, I do my best to eat lower fat meals and snacks, and eat a good dosage of fruits and veggies. And, as already stated, this focus of mine ebbs and flows with startlingly consistent inconsistency.
For example, it is springtime. This means that the season of shorts and swimsuits is around the corner. Plus my Oncologist wants me to stay well hydrated and eat plenty of protein. Therefore, I am once again hopping on ye ol’ health bandwagon.
Last night I went grocery shopping. If anyone ever wanted to analyze the contents of my grocery cart, they would fully believe me to have schizophrenic tendencies. I shop for a rapidly growing teenage boy who can eat virtually anything and still have the stature of a bean pole, a meat-and-potatoes-loving husband, and salad-focused me. My cart is a veritable cornucopia of contradictions.
As I worked my way through the deli area, I paused to browse the ready-made soups and decided one would be nice for lunch the next day – a break from the vicious circle of salads and Lean Cuisine. I was of course most attracted to the Baked Potato Soup and the Shrimp & Corn Chowder. However, in my new frame of mind, after checking the nutrition information on the label, I couldn’t bring myself to consume that level of fat and calories. Low-fat chicken noodle? Too boring. Then I picked up a Black Bean Soup. Hmmm, I like beans. And check it out: 12 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 50% iron and only 2 grams of fat. I’m in.
So today at lunch I proudly went to heat up my soup. After opening the lid, I was a bit afraid. I know no other food in the world that is that color other than…well, my beloved chocolate. If this had indeed been a bowl of chocolate fondue, like it appeared, I would have gleefully found some strawberries and pound cake and jumped in. But it was soup. And therefore intimidating.
But on-the-health-wagon me soldiered on. It tasted…..healthy. Not bad, not great. Luckily a work meeting in my building had just ended, leaving several available left-over wheat turkey wraps, so I was able to supplement my brown goo.
As I was sipping my vegetarian-gluten-free-make-me-strong ink-like lunch, I started to wonder… where do we each individually draw the line? At what point do we stop fooling ourselves that certain healthy things are yummy? How far are we willing to go to improve our diets? How much convincing does it take to convert our taste buds to come over to the “good side”? Are R.W.’s who swear they love tofu, edamame, kale and lentils just lying?
I tend to believe in the theories of moderation and balance. I’m ok with trying to do my best and eat healthy foods, because I truly do want to feel good and live a long, full life. But part of living that full life means have fun along the way and treating ourselves from time to time.
So the next time I sit down to a vat of warm thick brown liquid? It’s gonna be fondue.