Thursday, September 18, 2008

The trouble with eating.

I like eating. I like eating more than I'm supposed to like eating, apparently. Or at least I like doing it more often and with more abandon than is healthy. My slightly overweight physique has been a testament to this for a full score now. (And in case you're wondering, that's 20 years.)

So how is it, then, that I am so baffled by the concept of eating meals? Like, several of them? Every day? Try as I might, it's something I've just never been able to wrap my life around.

Breakfast.

Breakfast? Breakfast is the easiest. I nailed that one years ago. First there's good coffee, lightened rather significantly with Silk creamer - and while I hate the fact that Silk is owned by Dean Foods, I don't think taking away my $2.50 a week (and making my coffee taste like crap in the process) is really going to make a dent in their profits.

Once the black stuff is down or at least made, I can tackle the actual food portion. This too is easy. I'm a cereal girl. I've managed to find several brands that are very low in sugar, made with whole grains, are predominately not wheat and rather are made with oats, rye, rice, and a million other edible grains which we as Americans seem to like to ignore. I eat my cereal with Blue Diamond unsweetened almond milk - stuff of the gods, I tell you. I'll get crazy and slice up a banana in there, or when I feel fancy it'll be strawberries or blueberries. When it's cold, I'm a sucker for the Bob's Red Mill various hot grain foods - they're all a little bit like grits or oatmeal or porridge. Sprinkled with a little sugar and a lot of cinnamon, they're heaven when it's icy out.

So, breakfast? Done and done.

Lunch.

Here's when stuff gets tricky. Very rarely can I make a good decision about lunch. I want it to be easy, like breakfast - "every day for lunch I eat X". Soup? A sandwich? But, but, but. I don't feel like I should be eating the same thing every day for lunch. It seems that there should be variety. Partly for nutritional reasons, and partly because I'm afraid I'll get bored otherwise.

Honestly, I think what kills me here is the paradox of choice. Even with all of my qualifiers - vegan, whole grain, organic, involving fruit and / or vegetables - there are still so many options that I just become baffled. This is compounded by the fact that we don't really keep groceries in the house, and I don't like spending a lot of money on food every day. So... basically I don't want to buy food, I guess. Which is of course dumb. (If you can't grow it, and you don't want to dumpster dive for it, you kinda have to buy it so far as I can tell.) See, if we buy produce or bread, it inevitably goes bad before we can eat it all. And I HATE throwing away food. But I don't want to subsist on things that come out of cans and boxes.

It just seems like so much damn work. Eating, every day, multiple times a day. And not only that, but being hyper-conscious of what you're eating - being at least somewhat aware of calories and fat and sugar content, working fresh fruit and vegetables in there, eating a variety of grains despite our wheat-obsessed culture - there's so much to remember, to consider, to weigh. I feel like if I don't sit down the night before and plan it all out, on paper, I'll have no chance of arriving at any sort of balance.

So naturally I've tried planning it all out on paper. It works for a minute, though work is definitely the right word for it. But then laziness (or sometimes just extreme busyness) sets in, and I go spiraling back off into what feels like totally uncontrolled eating. I'll go too long in the day without getting down to a real meal, and then I'll just nibble on whatever's in reach. It often amounts to way more calories than an actual meal would, but it doesn't feel like I've really eaten at all. Major bummer.

Dinner.

Lunch, all over again. What to eat, and how much, and is it enough nutrition and is it too many calories and is it well balanced enough with what I ate yesterday? Screw it, I'll just eat this entire box of crackers... I can really drive myself crazy. But not crazy enough to, say, just saute some kale.

* * *

So what's the verdict here? I either need to cough up the money to eat salads at the health food stores every day, which would be an interesting feat since I'm still unemployed. Or I need to stop being so damn lazy, clean my kitchen, and start cooking again.

The silly part is that I like cooking. And I'm good at it. It just gets to be too much, doing it every day, day after day, with the heat and the dishes and the need for groceries. So I should make large quantities and have leftovers right? But no, I get squeamish about leftovers. I can eat them once, but definitely not twice. And with maximum two people eating... And then, to spend an hour or more cooking a meal that will be over in 10 minutes seems so wastefully time-consuming. But wait, didn't I just say that I'm unemployed? Couldn't this be something that I spend time on? Well... yeah... I guess. But what happens when I get a job, which hopefully will be any minute? Right back down the spiral.

In the greater scheme of things, this is a pretty ridiculous problem to have. And yet, I think many many people have it. Yes, it all comes back to our corporate, overly complicated food environment...

Anyway, have to run. Gotta do something for lunch.

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