I don’t have much of a food recap for you today. I forgot to weigh-in on Tuesday (probably due to my Sunday weigh-in for #215by219…threw me off my game) and honestly haven’t eaten consistently for the last couple of days, although I have eaten “well.” I bet I gain weight this week for the first time in a while. It happens. The point of this post has to do with my use of quotation marks above…how we eat and what it means to eat “well” in a real world setting.
Most health nuts, trainers, and bloggers (guilty) will wax eloquent about how easy, cheap, and satisfying it is to eat healthy all the time. Sometimes thats true, sometimes its not. Cooking doesn’t have to be rocket science, although there are molecular gastronomy nuts like Richard Blais (with whom I share a birthday…which is awesome) that do some crazy stuff with food. A simple saute, a steam, some roasting, a grill, and you’re good to go. As long as you can buy lots of whatever is on sale, the cheap part isn’t that hard. If you’re picky like I am, it becomes more complicated. I don’t care if eggplant is 3 cents a pound–I hate eggplant. Not going to happen. And you can certainly make yourself full and pleased when you find your palate and the correct combination of ingredients. If I add a splash of soy and honey to pretty much anything, I’m a happy camper. Same goes with sriracha, or cayenne pepper, or a fresh diced chile. If you don’t believe me, in college I made a jalapeno marmalade designed to go on vanilla ice cream…it was delicious.
Where we have problems is that, in all honesty, unless you’re super organized/motivated/affluent/all of the above, you will occasionally screw up. And then we suffer the consequences. For instance, I love vegetables. I eat them whenever I can, and if I’m cooking for myself, it usually ends up vegetarian. Now, I don’t hate meat, so don’t get all uppity on me. I’m a Texan; cows are food, not friends. But when I crave a burger, I’ve got a choice to make: something like Whataburger (I LOVE Whataburger) or make it at home/get a higher quality burger like Five Guys. When I crumble to the god of convenience and get Whataburger, guess what happens to my stomach? Mmhmm…bad times. For everyone. Amazingly, when I eat a real burger, that doesn’t happen. Another example: my mom is lactose intolerant. When she eats crappy processed cheese, she gets sick. Ice cream, milk products, you name it, it attacks her. But when she eats real cheese (minimally processed, as pure as can be) she’s fine. It can’t be a coincidence…our bodies are designed to utilize REAL food, not the stuff usually thrown our way at restaurants (and increasingly, grocery stores. I just read an article about Pringles that made me regret most of my childhood).
Today for breakfast I had two Eggo waffles and two tablespoons of Jif peanut butter. Shockingly, I felt funny all morning (although it was “whole grain” Eggos and “natural” Jif) and couldn’t figure out why. It felt like I had eaten a lead weight. On the other side, I had sushi for dinner followed by a Bonnie Ruth’s cupcake. Three and a half sushi rolls (“well” does not, unfortunately, place limits on quantity. Whoops.) and a chocolate peanut butter cupcake…all natural ingredients (really natural, not Jif “natural”) with almost no processing. And I feel great! It’s the same effect as when people go gluten-free. Unless you have a real medical reason to avoid gluten, usually its not the gluten that’s getting you in trouble…its the fact we find gluten in over-sweetened, over-processed foods like cookies, breads, and the like. Dropping gluten increases, by default, your consumption of better food.
I urge you all, know what you’re eating. You don’t have to trade cupcakes for kale, but make them yourself instead of buying Ding-Dongs. You don’t even need to eat kale; if you hate it, don’t choke it down. Just think a little bit, and go from there. As Mark Bittman says in his latest NYTimes piece, “two-thirds of all potatoes are processed, though most of these go into the ubiquitous French fry, once an occasional pleasure and now a threat to national health.” That isn’t the p0tato’s fault! It’s ours! (Read the entire thing…its pretty enlightening.)
I’m proud to work at a restaurant that uses as many fresh ingredients as possible, and to do catering alongside a friend in Jordan Swim who recognizes the value in local produce and quality ingredients (seriously…he picked less than an ounce of sweetened condensed milk out of a recipe the other day. The fact it was a terrible recipe to start with is inconsequential.) I hope to continue eating “well” as long as I live…and I hope you do the same.