'Healthy' is in the Eye of the Beholder
Friday, December 07, 2012
We don't venture into the city very often, so any trip to London is still considered a treat; something not all city dwellers would agree with, especially around the holidays. Last night, Soho and Leicester were all abustle with pre-holiday crowds milling about in the streets and spilling out from every restaurant, cafe and pub. With so many delicious foods on offer, I felt like country mouse out in the scary bright lights for the first time.
See, at home I have things under control. Nothing in the house to tempt me or trip me up. Also, I know the offerings of every restaurant in our 5-mile vicinity. In the rare case I'm out and hunger strikes, I'm prepared without an emergency apple, nuts or boiled egg.
Last night, light years after lunch, I was wondering around the streets of London with hubby, stomachs rumbling and getting more desperate with every minute we didn't find something to eat. I had nothing to tide us over in my handbag - not even a trusty water bottle. And of course it started to rain.
You already know where this tale of woe is headed, right?
With all the plentiful and varied foods at our fingertips, it should have been a breeze to pick one. London isn't remotely like our suburb with its repetitive chain restaurants and family establishments reliant on carb-heavy foods. This was a real opportunity to *sink our teeth into something new. A pastime we used to relish in previous days.
So what did we choose? A falafel joint that on the surface looked the picture of goodness - lots of bright green walls and happy photos of healthy, lean people tucking into fresh salady-type stuff and crisp falafel balls.
You are probably thinking, but falafel sandwiches and salad ARE healthy, Kallie. Be grateful you didn't throw yourself head first into a greasy burger with fries or a Paul's French bakery for a half-dozen chocolate croissants.
Don't think I didn't consider it and just as hastily dismissed it. Steady onward, pretending I didn't see the bakeries and chocolate shops out of the corner of my eye, as I blindly led the way to our healthy destination.
Perhaps I'm being a tad overdramatic, but to a person who has struggled to abstain from wheat and grain products, a pita bread, any bread really, is like kryptonite. It certainly hit my *stomach with that level of impact.
I stopped chewing long enough to step out of my body for a moment to observe my symptoms (both physiological, emotional and imaginary), noting how quickly the after-effects of my culinary choices took to manifest themselves and how long they lasted. Like unwanted guests, the itching and bloated stomach (I'll spare you the more colourful symptoms) were the first to arrive to the party; while the emotional reactions (guilt and remorse) took a little longer to depart.
As most of you know, eating properly is a complicated head game. There is so much to *digest. You slowly, slowly learn to recognise foods that are truly beneficial to your body and which cause the most stress. But just when you think you have it cracked, an opportunity presents itself and you either surprise yourself by evidencing what you've learned, or disappoint yourself by reverting back to old behaviours.
A few weeks back, I mentioned that butter was one of those foods that I could not get my head around. I was so used to perceiving it and everything else in the saturated fats family as damaging, even though I've never suffered from it or felt ill afterward. Quite the contrary.
That's indoctrination for you. Years of lies, ignorance and misinformation have a way of seeping into your brain, derailing cool logic. Those old ideas cling too. They cling ferociously to your thought patterns and emerge during moments of weakness, like frenemies needing validation. That's partially what caused the slip up last night - walking zombie-like into a place I associated as relatively healthy, to emerge feeling anything but.
On the train home, with my equally bloated hubby, we gently chided one another for not being able to stop the other from indulging. Falafel pitas weren't the worst choice we could have made by a long shot. Still, one man's health food is another (wo)man's kryptonite.
Despite my slip-up, these lessons, painful as they are, are necessary to reinforce and safeguard newly budding habits. It's easy to think that a little treat now and then won't hurt. But a treat is not really a treat if you 1. don't enjoy it. 2. suffer moments after indulging. 3. feel terribly guilty and silly afterward.
Talk about your bellyaching!
*Excuse the puns, I'm in a punny mood.