Food and Eating


Saturday – Daily Weight 153.4

There’s nothing like a change in routine to throw a girl off track.

During the week, I am home alone most of the day working remotely. As such, there is a specific structure to my day.

  • Get up
  • Walk Dog
  • Or, if lazy, take dog into backyard and carry weight of guilt as bad pet parent
  • Find food
  • Clock in
  • Take break
  • Eat Lunch
  • Take break
  • Clock out
  • Repeat morning struggle re: walking the dog – fetch is just as good, right?
  • Find Food

On the weekends, though, most of that goes out the window. I try to take Enzo on extra-long walks on my days off to make up for the fairly short and not entirely consistent walks we take (or don’t) the rest of the time. However, the threat of Snowpocalypse 2019 kept me inside most of the day. We did go out and play in the snow a few times, but I was standing still mostly.

 

This was also the day Noom brought up the largest challenge currently; cravings

It was helpful to have the subject brought up, and Noom does so in typical cheeky style. I appreciate the utter lack of any judgment and  the can-do positivity of the message. When certain messages about sugar are framed as an “addiction” from which one needs to “detox” it can start to feel overwhelming, and the process seems much more intimidating. The friendly, low-key tactics Noom employs makes it much easier to imagine developing a healthier relationship with sugar and sweets. 

 

I also used the recipe tab for the first time to good effect. I had kinda gone overboard in the morning and needed something that wasn’t going to shove me way over my allotment for the day. I found a Thai Chicken salad that turned out to be very very tasty. Thanks Noom, for breaking my food-related decision fatigue!

Sunday: Daily weight 153.3

Sunday was a different kind of challenge. Until this point, I had skipped any kind of alcohol intake as a waste of precious calories. However, I had a ladydate scheduled, and didn’t want to be a party pooper. Also, the pedicure salon is 2 doors down from my favorite cheeseburger around.

So, for breakfast, I had a cheeseburger and a bloody Mary. It was delicious, but I knew that was encroaching on a huge chunk of my allowance for the day. On top of which, I also had a beer after the pedicure, just to be sociable.

Noom talks about these social triggers, and I can see this is one of my most problematic. I love going out to eat. Love it. I would eat out everyday if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive and calorically disastrous. So, when the occasion arises for socializing, it always seems natural to suggest a meal or cocktail as the context. I do sometimes make an effort to suggest something not related to consuming something, but that turns out to be pretty weather/cash flow dependent.

Today was the day Noom introduced the idea of activity tracking beyond just a step count. It now allows me to enter different kinds of exercise and adds 1/2 a calorie to my budget for every one burned. I think this is a super smart way to look at it, since in the past, I had a tendency to use working out as a free pass to fat ass. By only giving back 1/2 a calorie, I’m less likely to wipe out my efforts with extra food.

 

After surveying the damage from my morning, I realized I only had a few hundred calories left for the rest of my day. Luckily I continued to feel pretty full until about dinnertime, so I wasn’t tempted to eat any more. And holy wow, there is no green anywhere in that food wheely thing. Oops.

I did chores for 4.5 hours, and was able to log that as activity. I earned back about 215 calories that I promptly spent on a frozen pizza. My analysis for the day was deeply red. Even still, I kept to my calorie budget.

It helped a lot to keep a more informed eye on just how many calories I was taking in. Turns out most people vastly underestimate the number of calories in food and end up overeating as a result. I was able to decide I wanted the cheeseburger more than I wanted an extra meal, and then select my activity level and food intake accordingly thereafter.

Clearly, the answer is more chores…

Daily weight – 153.7

Okay, so clearly, the first weigh in was the fluke, since I’ve gotten essentially the same number twice in a row. Good to know. 

This morning I was determined to make a better run at breakfast. I pulled out eggs, salsa, and a head of lettuce. I was imagining a healthy breakfast burritoesque thingy. I scrambled the eggs with a dollop of salsa, and tried in vain to peel a leaf off of the head without it shredding into 4-5 much smaller sub-burrito sized pieces. To no avail. 

What I ended up with was a bowl with lettuce, and salsa-scrambled eggs in it. I also made the mistake of using sesame oil to cook with, and it tasted… weird and not great. I had about 5 bites before I gave up. Ah well, I don’t really like eating that much in the morning, anyway. 

Feeling smug, I opened Noom to log what was – I was sure – a SUPER healthy and green breakfast choice. Cue sad trombone noise…

Wait, whut? I always thought eggs were supposed to be a GREAT diet food, what with being all protein heavy and low in calories? Then I recalled a lesson from my first day that talked about how the density of the food is critical in this weighing mechanism (rimshot) A hard boiled egg, for example, is a green food, but scrambled is yellow, because the method of preparation impacts the density of the food and the degree of satiety a person will experience eating it. That’s great to know, but not super helpful in this context since there’s no way I’m gonna eat a hard boiled egg unless it is also a deviled egg, which in this case would be counterproductive. 

I digress…

Fine. I regroup and carry on. 

It’s time for my lesson, which today is about the types of eating.  Fuel vs Fun. Do you eat to live or live to eat? Well, it’s complicated. Once upon a time it was absolutely the former. I still have a strong sense that were it an option, I would give up eating altogether in favor of sustenance pills. When Soylent came out a few years ago, I was genuinely excited about the possibility of enjoying a post-food existence. 

But, since my hysterectomy, hormonal changes have really impacted my relationship with food. I suffer from cravings in a way that simply never used to be the case. Sweets have become a huge focus. In the past, I’d have candy every now and then, on a whim. For a while now, it would be an odd day that I DIDN’T have some kind of sweets. Over the last year, I can’t even count the number of times I would find myself in the car on the way to the mini-mart on the way to buy some Lifesavers Gummi Collusions*. Or a Big Hunk. Or, more usually, both. 

Even after I started to consciously realize what an unhealthy habit this was, I found it INCREDIBLY difficult to stop. I would make bargains with myself about how many days a week this was acceptable. Which is itself is kinda nuts. 

So when Noom asked me whether I was a “fuel” or “fun” eater, I realized the answer wasn’t the one I would have made 5 years ago. Weight loss with a side of Self-revelation!  

I progressed through a series of vignettes about the types of eating that are most common

 

Right, and don’t forget fog-storm eating… Where you’re mindlessly eating even though you’re already full and can’t stop. 

But the beauty of Noom is that while I thought I knew what was coming next, Instead I get:

 

If I hadn’t already been sold on this program, that right there would have done the trick.

Okay, then. Check off one kind of eating I’m not doing!

For a snack later in the morning I have a couple of trusty white cheddar popped rice cakey things. These are green. Woot. Lunch consists of a leaf of lettuce – carefully extracted, but still mangled – in which is rolled a pickle spear, 3 slices of roast beef, and some A-1. I skipped mayo and bread, making this little package a slim 308 instead of what would have been 600+ made conventionally. 

I decided to poke around in the recipe tab for ideas about dinner. I noticed a fair number of asian choices, and had a craving for Tom Kha. I looked up a slow-cooker recipe and was happy to see it only came to about 265 per cup. Made a big ol pot of that. Crunched down a couple more rice cakes and a sugar free pudding. 

Ended the day about 300 calories under budget, which felt like a triumph, but I do know there are diminishing returns at some point. Though generally fewer calories are good, one doesn’t want to stray into the territory where the body starts to think you’re in a famine and hoards those fat cells at all costs. Nobody wants that…

 

*The first time I bought these, I TRULY thought they said “collusions” rather than “collisions” Infer what you will about the times we live in. 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Weight – 153.7

On my second morning, it became clear there was some kind of funky about my weigh in. Either the day before, or now, because one does not simply lose 4 pounds in one day without even trying. More’s the pity. 

Whatever. 

More weighs-in would clear that up, so there wasn’t much point dwelling on it. 

I poured myself a bowl of Kix and sat to complete my first daily activities. The first thing I noted was that to my suprise, KIX IS A RED FOOD. Even though it’s relatively low in calories and sugar, the caloric density isn’t great. It makes sense on some level, but I was surprised nevertheless. This was the first time Noom’s analytics taught me something new. It wouldn’t be the last. 

 

I admit, I really like the immediate feedback this system delivers. Knowing that my breakfast already burned 1/3 of my “red zone” foods made me a little more careful about how I planned the rest of my day. 

On the other end of the “gee, that’s not what I would have assumed” spectrum was dinner. I dimly remembered from another run at losing some weight, that Wendy’s Chili was one of the best fast food options you could get. Low cal, high fiber, and quite yum. The pantry was a bit bare after skipping the grocery store last week, so I decided to pop out and grab something. 

1 large chili and small fry later (488 calories total) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Chili was green, and the fries were yellow! This ran completely counter to my expectations; low key breakfast cereal RED, fast food dinner, yellow and green. Who knew?

Another feature I discovered to my utter delight is the recipe tab

During the course of the day, Noom tracks your current calorie and “color” proportions, then takes this information to offer a list of food choices that are in budget for remaining meals. This is SO INCREDIBLY HELPFUL. Even on my best days I tend to suffer from a form of paralysis related to trying to decide what to eat. Having a list of choices – along with the instructions to make it – right at my fingertips, along with the impact on my remaining calorie budget is INCREDIBLY helpful. I would say that even without any of the other useful and interesting things Noom does, this alone makes it distinct and worthwhile.

We did take a trip to the grocery that night. I left a lot of things on the shelf I would have been inclined to grab in the past. I also added some sugar free pudding and popped rice cakes to the cart. I know in the past, it was important to have reasonable stand-in choices for chips and candy, so these were serviceable alternatives for hitting those buttons. The gummy worms in the checkout lane were calling my name in their wormy little mewling voices. though. I did resist. Go me. 

So, on this day I managed to come in almost 200 calories under my total allowance. I wasn’t aiming to do that, but it was nice to feel like I could do that while still feeling satiated and enjoying what I’d eaten. I’m starting to think this might work out after all!

Yesterday was my first full day of Noom. After downloading the app and poking around the first day, it encourages you not to weigh yourself, or even do much of anything except agree to believe you can be successful. 

Okay, I’m in!

Daily Weight: 157.4

One of the elemental steps for using this system is a daily weigh-in. While I don’t have “scale anxiety” I’ve never really been a fan of the daily weigh in strategy. Also, I’m not sure I entirely trust an electronic scale, but it’s what I’ve got, so there I am.

Personally, I have always felt like weekly weigh ins were more meaningful since, as even Noom concedes, weight can fluctuate from day to day for all sorts of reasons, such as:

  • Did I drink an unusual amount of water?
  • Am I bloated from steroid use?
  • Is Mercury in retrograde?
  • Have I pooped yet?

That being said, I understand part of being able to see incremental progress, as well as ensuring my results are reflective of complete adherence to the program, I climbed up there.

Ick

However, it is down a bit from a recent 159 so, I’m trying to think positive.

Then it was time for breakfast. About which I have mixed feelings. Sometimes I simply do NOT want to eat right when I get up. Other times I am famished. This particular morning, I wasn’t hungry, but planning to go skiing and knew I needed the fuel; also, I didn’t want to be hungry and have to eat some resort crap later.

I ate some oatmeal with a bit of peanut butter stirred in and logged it as I ate. Having previously used MyFitnessPal to track my meals, I found the interface in the Noom app much easier and more pleasant to use. I was interested to see that PB is considered a “red” food with high caloric density. I had always considered it almost a freebee, so it was helpful to have this called to my attention.

The way the app creates a visual representation of the mix of food choices is really helpful. This, while not including any shaming tone. The information is presented neutrally, but in simple and clear terms. Other apps I have used, in a misguided attempt at building accountability, responded to certain entries with a message that felt like I was being scolded, which of course didn’t compel me to be totally honest or consistent about reporting my habits.

I also found it useful when, after lunch, I saw my running total for the day. It turns out a huge salad with steak, blue cheese, sunflower seeds, and champagne vinagrette will use up like 70% of your daily calorie allowance. Go figure. This allowed me to plan my evening meal accordingly, and not exceed my budget by more than a few calories here and there. 

On the whole it was a good first day. I like interacting with the app, and have set notifications to remind me to eat and log my food. So far, so good.

 

 

I’ve had something weighing on me for a while now.

Literally.

Sometime between the summer of 2017 and the winter of 2018 I quietly packed on about 20lbs

While this is not the most I’ve ever weighed – thank you steroids – the last year represents the longest stretch I’ve been at this weight not due to medical intervention (or lack thereof). I understand intellectually that I look fine, and am close to a healthy weight for my size – 15-20 lbs of tit weight notwithstanding – but carrying an extra 20 lbs over my normal has been both physically uncomfortable and demoralizing.

On top of which, my wedding dress, which fit more or less perfectly when I bought it, now won’t zip up.

Boo.

I knew Noom had a different approach than something like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. While the idea of just eating foods that were delivered straight to my face and disengaging entirely was attractive, I also knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. Though I haven’t traditionally struggled with my weight, my body has changed a lot since menopause, and I can’t rely on it acting the way it has historically.

Noom has scientific backing and a multi-dimensional approach. Both nutritional advice and cognitive behavioral methodology are at work. Not only advice about how and what to eat, but ways to identify – and hopefully circumvent – the triggers for unhealthy eating.

 

 

Additionally, Noom provides one-on-one coaching. It asks questions about what motivates you, what kind of support you prefer, and pairs you with a coach who best fits your style. It even guides you to set a failsafe in case you start to lose steam. For myself, I set an alert so that if I failed to log meals 2 days in a row, I would get a text message reminding me to get back at it. You can choose whatever accountability check feels right, or skip it if you don’t think it would be useful. 

So far, I like the way information is presented, and unlike other plans I’ve tried, it has presented me with new information. In some respects weight loss is common sense. It’s rare for me to encounter insights about strategies I hadn’t already heard about. Noom’s mention of Caloric Density as a concept certainly wasn’t new, but it’s use in terms of the proportion of foods being divided and organized to complete the dietary landscape absolutely was.

The app is easy to use, approachable, and cheeky, which I enjoy. I think Noom is aware that a lot of this information isn’t news to anyone, but chooses to deliver it nevertheless. My feeling is that by presenting a full and comprehensive picture, they hope to create a sense of intellectual engagement with the process of change. It doesn’t insult the intelligence of the user, but neither does it take anything for granted. It’s a difficult balance I feel they achieve beautifully.

I know that a lot of changes in my life have brought me to where I am now – both good and bad – so it makes sense that adapting the way I approach self-care would be necessary as well. I’ve always had a slightly combative relationship with food, and I see this as a way to potentially heal that breech, or at very least, develop a healthier rapport with what might be driving me to make decisions that aren’t in my best interest.

I’m actually pretty excited about what might come of this process for me. I think a lot of the psychology and routine of attending more closely to my actions could apply in other areas of my life where I struggle. Maybe Noom can take on finances, next?

That sounds way more erotic than it actually is…

pie

If you are interested in the recipe for this amazing taste-gasm-o-rama, click on the photo and you’ll be redirected to Les’ website for a step-by-step.

 

Here in Muskegon with Mike and Les, we’ve spent some time lamenting about how much we miss food in Portland. Though, I have to admit, being fed by Mrs. Naramore, I don’t miss much. Yesterday she whipped up what were inarguably the best pancakes I’ve had in my life. They were light, fluffy, delicate, and strongly reminiscent of donuts.

While sitting in a post-donut/pancake bliss I started wandering around in a culinary cloud talking about all the other things that could be delicious, in theory. Somehow, perhaps inevitably, we came around to the subject of pie.

Me: You know what would be good? Make an apple pie… throw some bacon on top. Weave it through a crust lattice.

She: Ooooh. That would  be good. It might not be easy to execute. Putting it inside would make more sense. Add some bourbon to the mixture, too.

Me: And then, maybe like some pecans in there.

She: I think the bite of a walnut would be better. Hold up better in the mixture too.

Me: How about, when you plate it… some blue cheese with it?

She: Fuck it. We are making this pie.

And so we did.

My spastic food based imagination + her unparalleled cooking smarts and flawless execution = Amazing taste-gasm-o-rama. Today talking about pie again, some more, we ended up coming up with the idea of a coconut creme pie with a pear compote. Clearly, we are a devestating team. Our Pie Empire is just waiting to rise up and smite all pretenders.

It is sometimes the case that after you imagine something for a very long time, when you finally experience the reality it far exceeds everything you had hoped for. Having dinner at the Columbia Gorge Hotel was not one of those times.

Simon Benson, of Benson Bubbler fame, built this hotel on the site of an old shipping lodge once used by the sailors moving freight upriver. When he started construction he envisioned a place decidedly up market of its former incarnation, and commissioned the art deco mediterranean style hotel. Its grandure was famous enough to attract Hollywood types during the golden age seeking a secluded getaway nestled in the majestic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge.

The drive was absolutely beautiful on a hot summer evening. The setting for the hotel is similarly spectacular. Perched on a cliff in Hood River it commands a vista unrivaled. My companion and I arrived near sunset and it was the ideal time of day to enjoy the light playing on the butter colored stucco. The grounds are lush and beautifully landscaped with native trees and plants. The lawn and garden area seem ideally suited for an intimate romantic wedding.

The hotel still retains much of its original glamour. Sadly this glamour is covered with a patina of exhaustion. To be fair, it is the off-season so the hotel was nearly deserted, and it might be that they make a slightly less valiant effort of polish the silver on account of it. After a brief wander around the grounds we made for the restaurant, which had virtually no patrons, and were seated on the terrace which afforded us a lovely view of the river and a pleasant breeze.

Unfortunately that is the sum of anything positive I can say about the experience. The service was terrible bordering on ridiculousness. Our server told us midmeal that he was the bartender and thus couldn’t answer basic questions about the menu, and didn’t know what the special was. He also forgot to bring me the glass of wine I ordered until I reminded him, didn’t ask if we wanted soup or salad but assumed salad and when this was pointed out brought the soup in addition unasked for. Between that, the omnipresent yellow jackets, and the pile of used dishes he opted to stack behind us rather than clear away I was quite unimpressed..

And then the food. Mine was merely unremarkable. A Cobb Salad isn’t exactly rocket science, so I’m not giving that much credit for failing to ruin it. Though I will say the dressing was vaguely cloying. The calamari was tolerable, at best. However, my dinner companion’s entree was downright vile. Good fish properly prepared has a delicate overtone of the sea; this tasted like the underside of the harbor dock.

On the whole, I am pleased that I made the effort to go, but it was almost entirely for the sake of going, rather than any part of the experience being worthwhile. The spectacle of the setting is hard to compete with, but much like the Lodge at Multnomah Falls, I feel this is an example of lazy proprietorship; relying on the natural beauty of the surroundings to counter an unremarkable menu, poorly executed.

Thumbs Down.

Till you go to the doctor and have bloodwork done. But that is a matter for another post…

What I refer to here, rather is the situation in which I find myself, some 130 miles south of where I have spent the bulk of my life, young and recently aging. I have spoken more than once of the privilege  of being a Portland native. I took pride in having spent my life there, of knowing what it was like before the descent of Hipster Blight. One thing I heard consistently, from transplants, was how excellent the food was, and how spoiled I had been by my lifelong access to it.

While I could agree that indeed, most of the restaurants in town had at least one decent thing on the menu, and from time to time my mind and mouth would be blown away by something I encountered, I didn’t imagine that to be all that unusual.

And then, I moved to Eugene.

I thought, originally, how different could the culinary options be, really? It’s a liberal, prosperous college town flooded with vegans and Portland ex-pats. Surely the 2 1/2 hour drive wouldn’t have thwarted a southern migration of decent eateries?

How wrong I was. 

I have been consistently disappointed with the fare I’ve come across in town. Turtles, which is very close to both work and home, and has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive has disappointed me repeatedly. I keep hoping I’ll find something tolerable on the menu since it is so convenient, but they have managed to fail at items I consider nearly unfuckupable; chicken strips? Seriously? How can you screw up chicken strips?? Chicken+breading+deep fry=delicious! Also of note, the grilled cheese sandwich. This is my go-to default can’t-go-wrong option when I’m unsure about a menu. But somehow theirs goes wrong; oh how wrong it goes. Worse than either of these are the nachos. As a lover of all things Nach (including, but not by any means limited to: tot-chos) I am personally offended at the hideous use of alfredo sauce in the dish under any circumstances. By all means apply liquid cheese, but for the love of all that is decent, not alfredo.

The Sixth Street Grill had won me over at first, with its small plate offerings which are generally tasty and reasonably priced, but they betrayed me profoundly by removing the best offering from their menu after I had only been able to have it twice. The Olympus was a grilled turkey sandwich with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives on a toasted ciabatta with a jalapeno cream cheese spread. It was fucking fantastic. Now it’s gone, and all I can do is lament its loss and fail to find anything in the place that compares favorably.

The Beer Stein actually has totally decent food, and coupled with that, they offer a fantastic beer selection. They also always have a mead offering, which makes me pretty happy. The last time I was there I had the Father Guido Sarducci which is thinly sliced turkey, honey ham, pepperoni, red onion, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, olive tapenade and provolone on a toasted hoagie roll. It tasted pretty amazing. However the boyfriend has vetoed any further consumption of the sandwich based on the “vile, repulsive, and persistent” nature of my breath once said sandwich was had.

The only place in town that has fed me something I consider equal to my spoiled rotten Portland expectations is a little place right around the corner from my new office called the Agate Alley Laboratory. The place is just adorable as all get out with it’s laboratory chic schtick. The chemical formulas for Chocolate, Cinnamon, and several other goodies are stenciled on the wall. The periodic table is emblazoned against the side wall of the bar. Beakers and flasks everywhere. Aside from that, though, the offerings are amazing. My Moscow Mule was made with genuine ginger ale and a heavy handed pour. The food is locally sourced, lovingly crafted, deliciously realized. So. Fucking. Good.

 

 

So, I was happy to find it, even if it is a bit above range for more than an every so often treat, it’s reassuringly extant at any rate.

Nothing, however, will make me stop missing the taquitos at Pepinos. Covered in the salsa that made me realize I had completely reversed my position on cilantro. Or the Muu Muu burger, crammed onto a crusty roll right along with the fries and that magic crack-sauce. Or the Salted Carmel Ice cream from Fifty-Fifty which I am not kidding you I have fervid passionate dreams about.  And by no means the Squashed from Tin Shed; butternut squash ravioli drenched in creamy mushroom sauce and covered in parmesan. Oh, god. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Eugene has a great deal to recommend it. It is beautiful and friendly and a lovely place to live. I am genuinely much happier than I have ever been before. Yet I long for Portland in this one unexpected inexorable way. When I come to town I think first of who I will see, but only moments before I think about where I will eat.

 

 

i come from a family of inveterate drug doers.

seriously. my mother and i are not currently speaking because she hotboxed my kid.

i am the only person in my immediate family who does not have a substance abuse problem. except that i kinda do… in the form of taco bell. and wendy’s. and burger king. and jack in the box. oh, mother-of-god jack in the box.

i am a fast food addict.

left to my worst, i will have it 7-10 times a week. i dont like to eat in company, and so the drive thru has a particular appeal. no one sees me feed myself in this fashion. and there is ranch, and taco sauce, and mustard. it usually gets down the front of me…

but i am trying to reform.

not least becuase it is so very bad for me. i am getting old now and this behavior reminds me of that forcefully. no more can i glibly consume a mexican pizza (no tomatoes, no ground beef) without consequence. neither can i down bacon cheddar potato wedges without ill effect. no, i must now be made to pay for these pleasures, and i am simply not strong enough to withstand the punishment.

so i have sworn off fast food. it’s really for the best.


and yet, i yearn. in much the way any junkie might. i think about what good times i am missing, alone in my car, post-drive thru. the pleasure of that jr bacon cheeseburger hitting my gullet. the flush when the chalupa hits home. (nevermind the flush that happens later when the chalupa really hits home)

today, it was tacos. i really wanted them. really. they are deep fried and awful, yet utterly irresistible. Jack, how i curse your round head, pointy hat, amusing commercials, and vilely delicious culinary marvels. plus also an oreo cookie shake.

i have constrained myself thus; i must sit down in any restaurant at which i want to dine. and since the concept of eating at tacobelljackintheboxwendysburgerville is totally odious, i have not yet succumbed. and i laugh just as heartily as the next at the absurdity of this stricture, but it is apparently necessary.

and so, on day 18, i longed for tacos.

have i mentioned, i also like to shop? more on that later…

i barely recognize myself lately; but i think it’s mostly a good thing.

i have always been somewhat glib about my strange relationship with food. i have characterized is at combative in the past, and it really seemed apt at the time. it still occasionally does, but lately i’ve been trying harder to make peace.

previously shudder inducing; now considered edible!

previously shudder inducing; now considered edible!

a few weeks ago i was sitting at the bar in a local eatery looking at the menu and contemplating my options. typically, in almost every dish there was at least one ingredient i did not wish to enter my mouth. this is because i have a fairly long list of food items i do not much care for. and one of them is tomatoes. which, it turns out, lots of other people actually like. while i am not certain i will ever understand this fact from anything more than an intellectual standpoint, i do recognize that since so many people like them a) they may, in fact have some redeeming qualities (even though i have yet to discover them) and b) they are present in lots and lots of things i want to eat.

i have handled this in the past by ordering in a vaguely “When Harry Met Sally” sort of way:

“i’d like the bacon mushroom bbq swiss burger with no tomato or mushrooms. and could i get cheddar instead of swiss? and mustard for my fries rather than ketchup?”

and yes, i DO like the taste of spit, thanks very much.

recently however, i’ve decided to revise my attitude toward food. i do not want to see it as my enemy. i do not want to see a meal as a gauntlet of nasty unwanted items to be plucked out and disposed of.

so.

i have started eating stuff anyway. things i would normally have NEVER eaten. tomatoes only being the most prominent item on the list, there are many more indeed:

  • avocados: slimy yet flavored as i would expect earwax to taste
  • cilantro: mmmm soapy!
  • beets: why yes, i do love “vegetables” that look like dayglo innards
  • garbanzo beans: in hummus, they are yummus. otherwise gro-ess
  • mushrooms: fungus. nasty. only meant for recreational consumption. not budging on this one.

so now, my new approach is to simply order whatever i am getting with the ingredient list in tact. then, i put it in my mouth. if i do not immediately throw up or die, i chew and swallow. turns out, this is not nearly as hard as i expected it to be. i havent died once so far!

this also extends to other sorts of food related hang ups. for example, i have long had the tendency to not eat leftovers. i cant explain why this is exactly, but i just find the concept of reheating food rather odious. an exboyfriend of mine used to INSIST i take home doggy bags from restaurants (i have a small appetite and can almost never finish a portion the size a typical restaurant delivers) so as not to make the chef/waitstaff/maitre de/parking attendant feel bad about themselves in case they saw my leavings as a condemnation of their fare. he would insist upon this knowing FULL WELL that i was going to throw the food away as soon as i got home, or after letting it take up space in my fridge for a few days more. because i simply could not bring myself to eat something a second time around.

and yet, tonight, i made myself a meal that was comprised ENTIRELY of food items from last week. and it was tasty. and i did not throw up or die. this, is progress.

the funny thing is, that for the first time in my life there is no one pressuring me to make these changes. it has been a sore point in almost every relationship i have ever been in, my pickyness. and now, when everyone who matters seems to be pretty okay with my weird relationship with food, i look at the people i most admire, and they are not the least bit picky about their food. they eat with relish and enjoy what is set before them. it is more that i wish to follow their example than that i am being prodded to grow up and stop being such a brat about what i eat.

thinking about this made me contemplate more fully the role of acceptance in relationships. i like to think of myself as a pretty forgiving person. i judge people certainly, i see faults, but i in no way expect or desire them to change. i feel like i should be able to take people as they come, appreciate who and how they are, and love them nevertheless.

and yet, it is a truly rare thing to have. i know i am not always perfect at this, but i think i am pretty damn good about it overall. and, not to be unduly immodest, but i consider myself to be better at it than a lot of the people in my life who have loved me. much of the love i have received in the past was expressly conditional; dependent upon my willingness to change, fix, and improve myself.

but somehow, at this stage, i can say that i have love in my life that is profoundly unconditional. that is based on that kind of comprehensive acceptance. it is not that anyone is fooled about me; it is not that they fail to see my frailties and shortcomings, but rather that they are seen, and accepted, and loved in their own right as a part of the whole of myself.

and this, beautifully, is what helps me feel free to change in the ways that i like. to become more who i am, and who i want to be.

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