I’m going on a diet!

October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

di·et
a : food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b : habitual nourishment
c : the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight <going on a diet>
I recently met this person who put himself on a restrictive diet to gain muscle mass and lose weight. His optimal diet is ultra-low-fat, low-carb and high-protein, so he eats primarily tuna fish, green beans and mustard. He said that there are more things that he could eat, but these were things that he could get pre-packaged and most cheaply. We met at a pub one night when we went with mutual friends to get drinks and snacks. He ordered an enormous salad and substituted turkey and fat-free dressing for the chicken, cheese, bacon, egg and ranch that came with it. He also ordered a Diet Pepsi because he quit drinking alcohol when he began his diet. So in all, the composition of his meal was iceberg lettuce, turkey breast, fat-free dressing and diet soda.

The ingredients of Diet Pepsi: Carbonated Water, Caramel Color, Aspartame, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Caffeine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors.

The ingredients of Kraft Fat-Free Creamy Italian Dressing: Water, Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Sugar, Dijon Mustard, Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Water, White Wine, Spice, Whey, Honey, Contains less than 2% of Salt, Modified Food Starch, Dried Sour Cream, Cultured Cream, Skim Milk, Onion Juice, Garlic Juice, Prepared Mustard, Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Dried Onions, Salt, Potato Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Phosphoric Acid, Artificial Color, Mustard Flour, With Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Disodium Edta As Preservatives, Vitamin E Acetate, Sulfiting Agents.

I got sweet potato fries and an Anchor Steam.

It’s always hard for me to judge healthiness because for myself, I just define eating healthily as eating without regrets, and the items on my list of guilt-foods are placed there with a sort of arbitrary set of guidelines. I don’t usually buy juice because I imagine that I’m drinking the essence of ten times the fruit that I could eat, and I don’t want to take more essence than I deserve. I feel good drinking fresh-squeezed orange juice from my neighbors trees, though, because the juiced oranges go into the compost and nobody can eat that many oranges except for little micro-organisms and then I would have to smell fermenting orange juice in the yard every time I pass by on my bike. Plus, I don’t feel regret for micro-organisms that could have been. I feel bad when I eat a cookie from a package because I am sad that the cookie was baked with nobody in particular in mind. But I could happily eat a thousand cookies that my friends bake. My mom is Chinese so she doesn’t bake. I feel bad when I drink any kind of soda because it gives me a million cavities. I really like any vegetable, and I like it even more when they are fresh and I like it the most when I know who grew it. Sometimes I like to eat fruit, but most often I don’t. I don’t really know why. Plus, I will eat almost anything that somebody else cooks for me. My friend Genie said that my rules for healthiness work for my own eating habits because I already like to eat healthy foods, but other people need more rigid structures because they like to eat only processed foods.

I just started a job at a food co-op. The woman I trained with today, Michelle, is about 40 years old. Her daughter is my age, and they are both unemployed right now because they both lost their jobs in the last couple years because of lay-offs and hard economic times. She likes to dance, watch football games and loves chocolate. Michelle is going to be a cashier, and I’m going to be a barista. We were talking while we were waiting for the orientation began, she told me that she was diagnosed with diabetes, but was on a diet and exercise regime to lose weight and get her blood sugar under control. I kind of expected her diet to be a trendy one that included a lot of fake sugar and low-calorie processed food, but she said that since she moved to the neighborhood a few years ago and joined the co-op, her idea of a healthy diet changed from that to one that was more based on whole, unprocessed foods and natural supplements. Michelle said that she started to get into buying things at the co-op instead of at Giant Eagle because everybody at the co-op said hi to her and remembered her and cared about her. She said that she figured since all of these people were so caring and happy and friendly, they must be “on to something good” with organic food.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here except that I hope that people find love in their food.

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