What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I'm not what you might call a "great" eater. I'm lazy as fuck, for one, and I mostly can't taste food, so I usually don't bother spending hours on a meal I'm just going to cover in sriracha sauce.
I also enjoy routine and get stressed out by making a lot of big choices at the end of a long day, so when it comes down to it, I'll often reduce my eating process to favor nutrients over taste.
Thus, eating for pleasure is always kind of a novelty for me. I don't know if it's a vegan thing or what, but a team of crafty woodland creatures could probably switch out my couscous for a pile of tree bark and I probably wouldn't notice so long as it had adequate Vitamin A.
You know that soylent almost-food story that's been going around, about the food substitute that sprung from an extreme dislike of actually putting things in one's mouth? I would replace half my diet with that shit in a heartbeat.
All that said, when I do find food that I like the taste of, I get so excited that I will hunch over it like a goblin-creature and eat it until I become physically ill. Last year, for example, I ate an entire loaf of rosemary garlic bread in a sitting and accidentally threw it up on the walk home, because I am essentially a toddler / Golden retriever hybrid with zero impulse control when it comes to things I find delicious. Lord help me if I ever start eating cheese again, because I suspect the results will not be pretty.
I'd estimate that at the end of the day, my diet consists approximately of 30% mooched work snacks and 70% congealed unsaturated fat covered with hot sauce, along with a couple of bunches of kale thrown in here and there. For, you know, the roughage.
The worst part is that I really do try my best to eat a so-called "healthy" diet. I even get weirdly guilty about it, though not enough to actually, say, spend more than 10 minutes heating something over an open flame before I toss it in my maw.
Like a lot of people, though, my definition of "healthy" tends to shift based on the day. Sometimes, it's actually "How many fruits or vegetables did I eat today?" and sometimes it skews more toward the "How many calories can I guesstimate having ingested and burned up, and how will this affect my emotions from here on out?"
If I'm feeling particularly emotionally iffy, I'll end up spending a lot of mental energy trying to justify what I ate. As a result, the things I try to convince myself are actually "healthy" when they are most likely rotting me from the inside include:
-All-Natural Foods: I know, I know. I'm a sheep-person. I can't go into Whole Foods anymore because I have zero dollars and I am way too easily swayed by "organic" and "all-natural" box copy, even though I know it is largely arbitrary horseshit.
-Foods That Are Vegan: I think a lot of people labor under the misconception that veg-heads are wall-eyed lettuce-eating waifs, but for me the built-in life-restriction means that I tend to whirl through vegan dinners and desserts, Tasmanian devil-esque, before staggering out to weep and tip over. There's a can of frosting in the fridge that I've dug into several times this week in search of dessert, and I've been known to hork down sleeves of Oreos just because I fool myself into thinking that "No animal products" equals "Good for me."
Don't get me started on things like vegan macaroni and cheese, which I will eat by the plateful and which I continue to be convinced is essentially crafted from carrots and sunshine (spoiler: it is mostly wheat and chemicals).
-Foods With A Single Vegetable Present: I, like many an American would-be octogenarian, tend to regard "some" vegetables as balancing out "everything else" in a meal, even when that meal is "a 16-egg omelet." This is the primary reason why I tend to view going to delis as a healthy option, including any time when I ask my sandwich artist to cram 12 falafel nuggets onto one footlong sawdust bun.
It's also, I think, why so many people were genuinely startled to find out that sushi is actually pretty calorie-heavy. "But it's so unsatisfying!" they thought. "So many vegetables!" Joke's on you, y'all, you've been eating the carbohydrate equivalent of celery wrapped in a sourdough bun. Maybe just eat that instead?
-Foods With A Single Vitamin Present: When I asked the editors' list which foods they tricked themselves with, Julieanne responded, "Anything with Omega-3s, like a 12" Subway tuna salad sandwich." I myself am prone to eating entire bags of black licorice, ostensibly for the "iron" content. You know what else has iron, Conway? Spinach. Jesus Christ.
-Foods with No Calories: C'mon, you guys. We know Diet Coke isn't good for us. We can choose to do with that information what we will, but we know.
-Foods That Are Not Solid: OK, so I wasn't exactly shocked when my Mountain Dew diet left me feeling bloated and shaky for a few days, but I grew up in the 90s, when liquid diets were really hitting their stride in terms of "Oprah Carting Around a Fat-Wagon." Thus, my idiot hindbrain may always secretly believe that drinking nothing but soup / orange juice / ginger ale (Madeline's contribution) will result in some temporary-but-noticeable weight loss. Fact: it usually does not. Fact: do you know how much refined sugar there is in most of those things? Fact: It is a lot.
-Foods That Are Not Food: "It's not drinking my calories if it's a whiskey ginger instead of a beer, right?"
I wish I could say that I was going to try to stop half-assedly fooling myself in this way, but let's be real: next week I will almost certainly be eating a burrito in a sitting and raving to a passerby about its "complete protein." A little sad, I know, but there it is.
Kate is Tweeting about eating (okay, hardly ever): @katchatters