Sunday, May 24, 2009

A New Bite: I Ate a Hamburger and Fries

I ate a hamburger and fries this week--a real, honest-to-goodness, I-went-through-the-drive-thru-and-ate-way-too-much kind of burger and fries. 

The allergy-diet met its first challenge on the wheat and dairy spectrum. And I have survived. 

But before we get to all of that let me just begin with I've been out of commission and in bed for most of a week. Yuck and super yuck. Now that I'm blogging again I feel like I'm back up and raring to go. I don't plan time for blogging, but I get a certain itch when I haven't been blogging for a few days. So, I'm back!

The eating while I was sick went like this: don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, I'm hungry, don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, I'm really hungry, too tired to eat, now I'm really hungry, don't know what to eat, don't want to take the effort to make something, and now I'm REALLY REALLY hungry, drink some water, eat a handful of almonds, now I'm officially so hungry my insides are melting together because of the heat of my hunger, eat some more almonds, then an apple, hunger abates, sleep some more, wow is it really 9PM at night? no wonder, I'm so hungry, don't eat, too tired to eat, don't know what to make, what food could I buy? nothing sounds good, plus I would have to drive, deciding hurts my brain, oh, yes, I'm so hungry now the paint starts to look appealing, what can I make? cut an onion, sautee in grapeseed oil, poach two eggs, drink some water, now onions and eggs, hmmm, so good, oh, my word, I'm eating an entire onion out of choice! I've turned into my Grandmother, I don't care at least I'm full, it feels so good to be full, what it is 11PM? I'm so tired, must sleep, belly full, life good, feeling better, food is good. 

Yes, that was how each day proceeded. I would sleep, wake up hungry, sleep some more, wake up again, try to sleep and then fight my hunger the rest of the day because I just didn't want to make anything. Finally, sometime in the evening I would throw together some food because I was just so famished. Most often it was eggs or apples or almonds or a turkey burger and fried onions. Seriously, am I my Grandmother? This woman used to wax poetic about the wonders of the onion. She ate onions as often as possible and usually raw. I spent most of my life completely bewildered by this adoration of such a lowly vegetable until last year when I discovered Vidalia onions or sweet onions. Oh. My. Goodness. So yummy, so sweet, and so tantalizing. 

After a week of sleeping and eating onions, I needed to get out. Literally. So, I decided on a run to the grocery store to restock the cupboards. 

My eating over the last week was not spectacular: very few greens, not a lot of fruit, no regular meals, but let's be real here. I wasn't consuming crackers and cookies and cheese fries and soda and potato chips. I was eating whole, real food. I was a little shocked when Thursday rolled around to realize that for a week of not wanting to cook, I was still eating at least decent food. 

I think that scared me. 

I've had such a deeply ingrained mentality about the morality of food--that's a "good" food and that's a "bad" food--that I've had to be very aware of that habit. It is a habit that leads me down the road of disordered eating and aligning my self-worth with the kind of food that I'm eating. Like "Since I only ate broccoli and carrots and chicken today, I'm a good girl." Or "I was so bad I ate TWO pieces of chocolate cake tonight." That is kind of disordered thinking that leads millions of American women to hate themselves and their bodies. For me, it leads me down a road of obsession and compulsion about "being good" and "eating perfectly."

This new way of eating--the allergy-free diet--has forced me out of that habit of thinking this way because what I'm thinking about now is "How will this food help my body?" or "Will this food hurt my body?" and then I watch closely for reactions to foods. 

So, to suddenly find myself staring at a week where I was not in top form and still eating decently made me wonder if my body was suddenly inhabited by aliens. Or if I had had a brain transplant. Or if the world was about to end. Because when I'm hungry, I eat. And when I'm emotionally unhappy, I eat. And when I'm not feeling well, I eat whatever I want because why make myself suffer? 

Which is why I freaked out. 

I had spent a whole week feeling miserable--emotionally and physically---and I had not even attempted to binge or gorge or somehow deal with my emotional fallout by eating. And I just didn't. I hadn't even considered it. I had just eaten what was on hand and all of it was real, whole food. 

So, I did my little freak out and decided it was time. Time to buy a burger and fries and be okay with it emotionally and see if my body could handle it allergy-wise. 

Don't ask me what my logic was here just know that it sounded good at the time. 

So, when I finally made it out of the house that weekend, I drove over to a local burger place and order a double cheeseburger with extra sauce and wild fries. 

And then I took a big fat bite. 

I'm not gonna lie. Those first few bites were great--the salty and the sweet and the hot burger and the cold pickle and the cheesy cheese. Yum. I savored each bite. 

But really as I was eating it, I was feeling some disappointment. It didn't seem to be as good as I remembered. It didn't seem to hit all the right notes for me. It seemed somehow to be sadly lacking. It wasn't unbelievably great. 

But I kept eating because come one, it was gooooood. 

Bite after bite and one mouthful to the next I enjoyed the hot, salty gooeyness of it. And then I just kept going, going, going. And I started to feel a bit fatigued, a tiny bit bloated and definitely overwhelmed. 

I was overwhelmed by the salt, the sugar, the chemically something of the food. It just suddenly all became too much for me. Too, too much. For all of that wanting and hunger and wishing, the food just didn't live up to all of my expectations. I could have made a better one. 

At least that was my first response. A tad prideful, a bit much, but I've become so accustomed to really, really good food lately that I realized as I was eating this chemical-laden, pre-packaged, warmed-over burger that I could have made a more tantalizing and likely healthier burger if I had just made it at home. 

And my only response to that is that the worst part of this allergy-free diet is I'm turning into a bit of a food snob. 

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