Friday, March 4, 2011

good eater

I was wondering recently about what makes someone a "good" eater. I guess by that, I mean someone who is health conscious and will happily opt for vegetables over something fatty as opposed to someone who eats mostly fast food and will only order a salad because they're "supposed to" and will eat the whole thing with a grimace on their face. As I said before, there's no such thing as a "perfect" eater because there is always someone out there who eats better than you. Can I put more "quotation" marks in this post? Let's see if I can!

What I usually hear from people who think that healthy eating is a punishment is that that's how they grew up. I get that, because that's how I grew up too. Just to give my mom some credit, that's not how she wanted me to grow up eating. She would always tell me that she bought whole wheat bread when I was little, then we moved to Chicago to live with my grandma and she only liked white bread, so suddenly nothing but Wonderbread would do for me. Between my mom and my grandma, we always had a home cooked meal and ate together as a family. It wasn't their fault I was a super picky eater who would only eat chicken with a side of dessert.

I didn't eat much better in college either...I drank pop instead of water, ate fast food and thought fries were a vegetable. That was when I started branching out, though. I started trying ethnic food and discovered that it was delicious. My best friend and I would go to coffeehouses when we wanted to be fancier than Dennys, and that's when I tried hummus and veggie burgers and they didn't kill me. In fact, I wanted more. I may have even dipped the occasional carrot stick into the hummus when I ran out of pita bread.

Around that time is also when I lost my sweet tooth. Or rather my sweet tooth turned against me. I used to love chocolate, and would hit up vending machines for candy bars and eat more dessert than dinner. Then my teeth became very cavity, just one tooth in my mouth is completely intolerant of biting into anything sugary. Suddenly sugar = pain to me, and that cured my addiction pretty quick. I still eat sweet stuff, but in small doses, and I can barely choke down a whole cookie.

My eating habits did a 180 when I moved out of my parents house. I bought all my old stand bys of pop and chips and white bread, but I wasn't even consuming much of it because I was hardly ever home. It was a really cold winter that year and I didn't want a cold glass of pop, I wanted tea. I didn't want to waste my money on stuff I wasn't eating, and I didn't know how to cook yet, so I would buy tea and soup and yogurt. My roommate was vegetarian and from her I learned about things like rice milk and whole grain bread and stir fry.

Trench wasn't a much better eater than I was. He and his brothers grew up with the most plain palette ever, even more so than me. His mom didn't like cooking that much and didn't want to have fights about dinner, so they all grew up eating mac n cheese and applesauce. Trench's palette expanded when he spent a college semester in Asia and learned to love Asian food. He could do a pretty decent stir fry, but before moving in with me he pretty much lived on Ramen. We learned how to cook together and he took off with it. I can cook, but he's definitely the chef.

After losing my sweet tooth, I became a big fan of savory food. I haven't kicked all of my bad eating habits. If I really let myself loose, I'd probably still buy things like Cheetos and nachos with the bright orange microwavable cheese. I keep that at bay by not buying them, and instead snacking on corn chips with hummus or salsa or guacamole. My Achilles heel now is bar food. As much as I want to be all, "I eat so well, everyone should eat like me, la la la", it all gets undone when I'm at a bar, drinking beer and munching on fries. Oh tater tots with cheese, why are you so good after midnight with booze? This wouldn't be a big deal if it was an occasional thing, but Trench and I get together with various friends for food and drink at least two or three times a week. So I'm currently cutting out beer and fries at bars (hey, it's better than cutting out going to bars, at least in my opinion). We'll see how long that lasts. Now if you excuse me, I'm going to make a smoothie with almond milk, frozen cherries and spinach, and it's going to be delicious.

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