Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Praise of Vegetables. No, Seriously.

I had a conversation with my mother the other day.  It was about my dinner a few days previous.

"Hey, guess what?" I asked with great anticipation. "The other night, I made chicken fajitas and they actually had MORE peppers and onions than chicken.  And I ATE them.  I didn't pick them out or ANYTHING."  I told my mother this with all the excitement of a four year old who has just tied her shoes for the first time.

It's kind of a big deal.

Many people will blame weight problems on a love of food.  Not me, however.  For years my issue was strictly one in which I hated most foods.  And the ones I did enjoy tended to be rather.. hrm.. how should I put it?

Nutrionally void.

Hot Dogs.  Zoodles.  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Kraft Dinner.  Pizza Pops.

I ate some fruits, mainly bananas, strawberries and grapes.  On occasion.  Maybe.

My mom and I have discussed my eating habits and she admits that she could have been more adamant about not giving into my fussiness.  But in fairness to her, she was raised in a you-are-not-leaving-this-table-until-your-plate-is-clean-young-lady-I-don't-care-if-you-don't-like-it type home and remembered mealtimes being horrible.  So she wanted to spare me all that.

Plus, I was a gagger.

I didn't realize how much my gag reflex must have played into my mom's need to cave until I had kids of my own.  The first time my youngest child gagged on something I was insisting she at least try before declaring it gross, I found it absolutely infuriating and like a light bulb being switched on, my mother's actions made sense to me:

I get it now! It was either make something else, or strangle me!

Really.  I don't know what it is about the sound of kids gagging on food that is so rage-inducing, but wow. 0 to Incredible Hulk before you can say "Finebutyou'renotgettinganythingelsekid"

I'd be lying if I didn't think my lack of nutrition didn't actively contribute to some of my health concerns down the road.  But damn if it isn't hard to eat healthy if all those things deemed healthy make you want to die inside, just a little.  Once I hit high school and beyond, I was well out of my parents authority in regards to my eating habits.  Just so you don't think they didn't EVER try to get good food into me.  They did, but I imagine it wasn't worth the frustration or the possible visits from the Children's Aid Society (see: gagging).

Once I was making all my own food decisions I lived off of what Drew Barrymore once referred to as a 'White Trash Diet'.  Added to the list was any kind of fast food, triple-decker peanut butter sandwiches and Cheeze Whiz and toast.  Dear Gord, Cheeze Whiz.  Is there not a more frightening concoction?  I could go through a loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of processed cheeze - because you know, anything spelled with a 'Z' has GOT to be good for you - in the period of a few days.

No wonder my colon eventually cried 'Enough!' by way of bleeding for months on end.  More on that another day, though.

Not sure when I decided to actually start trying things again, but I believe it was a few months before I really got serious about my weight loss efforts.  I do recall sitting in a mall food court in Toronto with my friend Sammi.  She had a small tray of sushi, while I had my requisite slice of pepperoni pizza.  Somehow, some way Sammi convinced me to try a piece of her sushi.  It was a revelation.

Okay, it was tolerable.  But it was a start.  A few weeks later we went to an all-you-can-eat sushi place closer to home, where I could sample different types of sushi and I fell in love.  I thought to myself.. if I can love sushi, then maybe there are other things I've been missing out on.. other things that I should give a chance.

Slowly, but surely, I've been adding new foods to my repertoire.  I had my first eggs at the tender age of 27.  I'm now in love with egg sandwiches.  Salad is another thing I'm slowly getting used to.  I love a good Caesar, and can handle a lot of other salads.  I learned I love raw spinach.  The green and red peppers in last week's fajitas were a major triumph for me.  So is not picking the tomato chunks out of my spaghetti sauce.

A year or so ago I realized that maybe my picky days were over when a guy I was dating offered to make me dinner.  I warned him of my pickiness, then felt silly when none of the options he presented really sounded that bad.  I guess wasn't as picky as I thought.  (FYI, we ended up having chicken masala that night).

There are still things that I turn my nose up at.. the "brocollis and 'sparegrasses" as my dad likes to put it... but slowly I am learning to embrace the opportunity to try new things.


  1. Congratulations on broadening your food horizons. There's a world of really good healthy food out there. :)

    I've read in several different places that your taste buds change every seven years or so, and with that you will like foods you previously didn't. That happened to me with sauerkraut, pickles and mustard. Used to hate the stuff, but now I can't get enough of it. Weird, huh?

    It's cool that this embracing new foods is exciting for you, because it makes the weight loss a little exciting, too. Right?

    1. I definitely like that it has left me with more options, otherwise trying to 'eat right' would get soooooo boooooring.

  2. Exploring new foods is something I'm currently doing. I get so tired of eating the same thing. Sometimes even finding one new ingredient to add to an old dish can revive the whole thing!

    Like Bea said, changing taste buds happens. So maybe try some things you discarded in the past!

    1. I'm trying a little at a time.. there's still things that I just find completely unappetizing, but a lot of stuff I'm pleasantly surprised at.. or at the very least I can stomach well enough to become accustomed to.

  3. I'm so proud of you for trying all these new things! It's hard to do that when you've not done it for so long, I'm sure. You are a strong woman and I know that you can do anything you put your mind to. We're all gonna do this together and we all have such unique challenges. You will get over this hurdle. I know you will!

    I am not a broccoli person, but if it's in something I find it much more palatable than when it's staring up at me from a plate...naked. Haha! I think so often the smells associated with foods can determine whether or not we like something. I hate the smell of broccoli. Peeeewww! I find it so interesting that sushi is the thing that turned things around. I'm definitely not a sushi lover. It seems so exotic for a Whiz girl. Haha! Regardless...that's awesome!

  4. Ohh.. I went out for sushi last night and ate WAY TOO MUCH. Felt so freakin' full. Then when I went home and tracked it all, I was still (just barely) under my numbers for the day. One of the reasons I love sushi lol.

  5. Sushi is fantastic. Anybody who says otherwise is..well..yeah.

    I'm trying to get over my picky eating habits (mainly to stop wanting everything with cheese and bacon in a bun) and expand my taste bugs. Almonds keep me so full for so long, so I'm glad I picked that up. I find that I need to eat little snacks through the day in order to keep myself level and normal.

    Good for you!

  6. good for you for trying new things and realizing you like them! i admittedly have a few things i refuse to eat and have determined there's just no getting over it.

  7. Sigh. Perhaps you're right. Maybe I *should* go back and try brussel sprouts just one more time before I continue badmouthing them.

  8. Girl, you took me back to my college days. I used to live off Cheeze Whiz. That's probably why my ass was the size of West Virginia.

    1. I refuse to have it in my house, but occasionally when I go to my parents I will have some on toast, then I'm good for a while. Addictive.