Saturday, December 04, 2010

Feeling Restless

Ugh. This is the virus that will not die. Besides the fact that I have no energy, I'm starting to feel a little stir crazy, and want to get out of the house and enjoy the too-numerous-to-count holiday activities going on this weekend. At least I can take comfort in the fact that 95% of my shopping is done, and everything that needs to be shipped out is wrapped, boxed, and ready to go out first thing Monday.

Since I've had a lot of time on my hands, I finally got a chance to read the copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma that I checked out of the library weeks ago, that has been gathering dust on my kitchen counter ever since. In its own way, it also made me feel stir crazy, in the sense that I wanted to run right out and have my stomach pumped of the just-ate-for-dinner-corn-antibiotic-and-who-knows-what-else-fed-hamburger I'd had for dinner. Along with the mysteriously pink yogurt I'd had for breakfast, the highly-processed taquitos at lunch, and the coffee flavored shot of corn syrup and artifical sweetners I chased it all down with.

I'm not going to recount the book here. If you're interested, read it (and digest it) for yourself.

Any regular readers of my blog know that I spend a fair amount of time 1) waxing poetic about the glories of good food and 2) pissing and moaning about my ongoing battle of the bulge. They also know that I recently came to the (sad) conclusion that this old grey mare ain't what she used to be, and the metabolism of my youth has set out for parts unknown. As she has quite the head start on me, I'm going to be doing a lot of running (figuratively and literally) to catch up to her. And in the meantime, my 2010 diet isn't doing me any favors.

Cases in point:

1) I drink almost nothing except for diet soda, and when I do drink water, tea, or coffee, it's sweetened with splenda. I rarely drink milk or juice, or any liquid with any calories, but I am starting to think about all the chemicals I am (needlessly) consuming, not to mention what all this acid is going to do to my teeth.

I'll admit that I have struggled mightily drinking any water since moving away from Western North Carolina. I could drink the water in Ohio and South Carolina, although it never tasted particularly good to me the way water from home tasted. But I CAN NOT gag down the water in New York--the only time I tried, I came very close to throwing up. Our pipes are old, the city pipes are older, and there's so much iron and rust in the water it tastes like (I imagine) drinking blood would.

But I am obviously going to have to start buying bottled water and gagging it down in the interest of health, because I'm pretty sure that the number of chemicals I'm consuming that I know about (and that's a fair bit) would be dwarfed by the chemicals I'm consuming that I don't know about.

2) I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.

And this is utterly stupid because they are my favorite foods. Somewhere in the five million times I did Weight Watchers and Atkins, I came away with the sense that fruits weren't a good thing for me to eat (All that naural sugar! The horror!), and pretty much eliminated them from my diet, even though I love them and get so much pleasure from eating them. And merely out of habit because Tom is a very picky eater, I find myself rotating through the fve boring vegetables he likes to eat instead of buying a wider variety that I like and cooking them for the rest of us (because, aside from green beans, my boys will eat anything).

As soon as the ground thaws his spring, I am planting the mother of a garden. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, green beans, squash, lettuce, potatoes, and fresh herbs. I am going to hit all the local farm stands and orchards, and can real, wholesome, unprocessed fruits ad vegetables and get out of this nutritional rut I'm in.

3) My attitude has always been "organic, schmorganic" and "processessed, schmossessed" (bet you can't say that three times fast :-P).

I grew up around farms and farmers. We bought produce at the farmer's market, off the back of a pick up truck, from an old leathery man in overalls. When people started making a big fuss about agri-business and pesticides and antibiotics in the food and all that stuf that made food cheaper, I didn't see the problem. But about a month ago, I had a really interesting conversation with Sam.

He's suddenly become obsessed with knowing which foods will make him "big and strong" and has started realizing that there are good foods and bad foods. Every time we serve him a food, he asks us, "Will this make me big and strong?" Imagine the internal existentialist crisis when you realize your answer is a resounding, "Not really."

He was wanting to go to McDonalds and asking if the food there would make him big and strong. Would the chicken nuggets make him big and strong? Not really. Too processed. Too fried. The french fries? A fried, salty starch? Definetely not. The apples? Yes. They'd make him big and strong.

You could see the wheels start to turn in his head. Will the chicken at home make me big and strong? Yes. Will the potatoes at home make me big and strong? (He knows potatoes make french fries.) Yes. Will the apples at home make me big and strong? Yes.

The wheels turn a little more.

But why is the chicken at McDonalds bad mommy? You said chicken makes me big and strong...

So I attempt, at a four year old level, to explain the difference between real chicken and a chicken nugget. And I said something along the lines of, "Chicken costs a lot of pennies. People go to McDonalds because the chicken there doesn't cost a lot of pennies." And then, as parents are apt to do, I started improvising a fantastical story to explain something I couldn't possibly explain otherwise. "McDonalds has a special machine that takes all the exepensive parts of the chicken out, so that all that's left is the make-you-little-and-sick chicken. You have to pay a lot of pennies to buy big and strong food."

And then no sooner were the words out of my mouth when it hit me. I wasn't making anything up! In fact, truer words had never been spoken!

I've been thinking about this exchange a lot lately, since Sam's enthusiasm for big and strong food is still going strong. I want to set a good example for him--get my weight under control and spend money on a better quality, rather than quantity, of food.

We rely too much on processed foods around here, and as the mom, the burden falls on me to get my act together and set a better example for the boys. Tonight at dinner, I served them orange slices and mixed vegatables. A first for me. I have never served my boys a fruit at dinner, and I have never (I'm ashamed to admit) served my boys a sliced orange before today (I have served them a wide variety of other fruit-strawberries, berries, canned mandarin oranges, clementines, melons, grapes, pineapples, etc. so don't freak completely out).

It's all about breaking old (and bad) habits and making some new (and better) ones...

1 comment:

  1. what a great sense of resolution! i try to feed my kids foods that will make them big and strong, but certain other people around here who shall remain nameless prefer to buy junk when they are at the store and like to give the toddler chocolate cake and chocolate milk for breakfast which goes against my main rule i always had instituted for the chocolate or other sugar crap for breakfast.

    for instance. so i hear ya. on water, i've always been a big water drinker, and yes, very minerally up yonder. but we've got other minerally stuff going on here. it took me a while to get used to the water here, and i filter it, but i can drink it fine now.


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