Wednesday, November 01, 2006
mama likes candy
Oh yes she do.
When mama was a lil' bitty gal, she had this thing for a sticky sweet treat called Now and Laters -- "Eat some now, save some for later." Every school day warranted a stop at Brown's Carry Out to stock up on mama's favorite flavor -- grape. In fact, every day, regardless of school attendance, was cause for such an occasion, because mama never did do the thing about saving some for later. When it came to candy, it was all about The Now. Sometimes now was late at night and mama would pop one of those beloved little sugar squares into her mouth, burrow it between her back teeth and jaw, and suckle off to sleep. That was, of course, when she still had back teeth.
Ah, the good old days.
Some part of me hasn't fully accepted that they're over. I'm a grown-up in most aspects of my life, but there's always something lost in growing up, always something left behind, which leads to a certain amount of resistance. One way that my resistance has manifested itself is in the way that I eat.
Many years back, I went to a holistic therapist. My goal was to stop obsessing over my ex-boyfriend and, to tell the truth, I didn't even know the therapist was holistic. I went for my first visit, talked about the guy ad nauseam, and waited for her to tell me what to do. Instead, she looked at me and asked how I'd been eating. Again, this was a long time ago, before many of us had the understanding (whether we exercise it or not) of food that we have now. So when she asked about my diet, I matter-of-factly answered, "I eat pretty good. Mostly sweets, cake and stuff, pretty good." Her response was to send me off to the health food store for chromium and a consultation with the owner, who suggested I sink my teeth into The Yeast Connection, which I did. The Yeast Connection proffers a high-protein solution to controlling yeast, which is related to sugar cravings. Once you've stopped jonesing, you get to eat yourself some carbs, so it's a reasonable program. I followed it, took my chromium, learned all I could about whole and organic foods (which weren't affordably or easily come by then, unlike now when we have Organic Rice Krispies -- can you believe such madness?) and gained a wealth of knowledge about the right way to eat. I lost weight, which I didn't know I needed to do until I'd done it, gained a passel of clarity, and went about my business, sugar-free.
My therapist was happy, I was happy, and so I figured it was time to move on. Enter film school, New York City, and my lover and nemesis, Columbia Bagels.
It's a short jaunt from an everything bagel and its accompanist, cream cheese, to a donut. If you're not fastidious, you can easily pick up one when you're reaching for the other -- the cream cheese turns into a cold glass of milk; the salt, onions and seeds morph into candy sprinkles and soon you're over the edge.
My sugar-free life became my sugary life, just like it always had been.
But once you know something, it's impossible to go back to the way you were before you knew it, and as I resumed my old eating habits, I realized how terribly unsuited they were to my well-being. Still, the downhill slide lasted years, with a few trembling attempts at climbing back up thrown in for good measure.
What I didn't know then that I'm glad I know now is that my food choices had more to do with trying to return to a time when it wasn't necessary to be responsible in every little thing I did than with convenience or the hustle of life in the big city.
When I really get to feeling over-scheduled, overloaded, and kicked in the ass by life, I eat like I'm 9 years-old. Before I copied off Natalie and did the maple syrup diet a few weeks ago, my typical food day looked like this:
Breakfast (if I bothered)
- Zen Bakery cinnamon roll + cream cheese (the nutrition label nudges toward eating 1/2 the roll, but I've never been much good at that)
- a boiled egg or two
- water or orange juice (often my last water of the day)
- Tuna salad sandwich (from the food truck that stops by my job in the mornings)
- Free pizza (usually the run-off from some admissions event at school)
- Well, now here's where the trouble would really begin. I'd get home from work, usually around 2:30, and find myself obsessed with the fact that I live up the block from Ralph's. I hate Ralph's. Krogers' fancy-pants offspring. Overpriced, obnoxiously short-staffed, and a mecca of junk food. Absolutely the place to go when you're heading for a bender.
I'd skip down to Ralph's and pick up dinner. I'd maybe buy a roasted chicken and a container of potato salad to disguise my real raison d'etre: vinegar and salt potato chips and Haagen Dazs dark chocolate ice cream bars. And Hansen's Not Really Natural soda, because a girl gets thirsty after all that salt and sugar.
What would happen once I'd get my "food" home is kind of a blur, but I do have visions of myself tearing into those chips and sucking on those ice cream bars like there was no tomorrow. The chicken and potato salad were often relegated to the back of the fridge while I ate my treats for dinner.
But the Ralph's thing would only occur if I hadn't already stopped at Trader's by the time I reached home. There, I'd pick up a couple bags of their ridiculously orgasmic Hawaiian salt and vinegar or barbecue flavored kettle chips and a plank of milk chocolate with raisins and nuts. Yummers.
When I eat this stuff, I don't stop until I can see daylight through the bottom of the bag. This doesn't leave much room for veggies, I must say.
Post maple syrup diet, I've gotten what I aimed for in doing it -- fewer cravings and, more importantly, control over my emotional eating. (Though I like the diet, I'm not pointing anyone toward ten days of maple syrup and lemons. I've used other methods to get where I am now in the past and they all worked to some degree.) Today I am eating like a bona fide adult, which is good.
To keep myself on track, once a week I'll post a picture of a particularly responsible meal that I am preparing to consume. Sometimes it'll be stuff I make myself, other times, wise restaurant choices.
There won't be any pictures of Now and Laters.
I've led this post with today's Good Eat. A bit of organic hummus and some healthy goodness to go along with it. Had it for lunch. Yummers, indeed.