Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trying New Things -- Or, Eating Healthier

Things change very slowly, sometimes.

To be honest, my diet and eating habits are poor. I'm a secretive, inverted person by nature, and that translates into the way I eat: I furtively grab whatever is on the kitchen shelves, whatever is ready to eat and doesn't involve asking about how to cook it.

A double rainbow outside my home.

My typical day, in fact, ends up something like this: school mornings, skip breakfast. My stomach begins bubbling with hunger by about 2nd period (on even days; on odd days, that's 3rd period). My lunch consists of two items grabbed that morning, usually a small bag of chips (Doritos or Lays) and cookies or something. Both are usually processed foods.

Wait until I get home, and by then (while not super-hungry), I browse my kitchen. More chips. Chicken nuggets and french fries, sprayed with too much butter spray and cooked in a microwave oven. Butter popcorn.

In fact, the only meal I eat that isn't processed is supper, and I don't eat that every night. My dad cooks supper himself -- chicken or roast beef, with rice or potatoes. Last night it was spaghetti. Depending on what's cooking, I might choose to skip it altogether.

But lately, I've tried to change. My stomach protests the lack of fiber, the lack of nutrients and proteins. We're learning macromolecules and the digestive system in AP (Advanced Placement, or college-level) Biology, and I take the idea from our project on testing foods to fit a particular diet. We chose the Paleo diet, and tested chips and cookies for proteins and carbohydrates.

To do those tests, you need to crush the food with water in a mortar and pestle. And man, does chocolate chip cookie look nasty when liquefied.

The workspace above Mom's computer, which I'm using now.
 And, if I'm going to keep being honest, it has part to do with my friend. I eat lunch with her every school day. She eats things like seaweed, unbuttered popcorn, apples. Healthy stuff. While I eat Doritos and Oreos.

My diet has been a thing of shame for me. It's not that I'm fond of wrecking my body; I know processed foods are bad for me, I learned that stupid Food Pyramid in elementary school. But after a lifetime of bad diet, I haven't any courage or energy.

While of course, I'm not a scientist, I do establish a correlation between my diet and my lack of energy, my lack of will, my lack of discipline. If I cannot even reach the minimum number servings of fruits and vegetables every day, how can I keep myself to doing homework? TO being on top of my writing? To exercise at least once a week?

The change has culminated over the past few weeks. I drink more fruit juice and less sweet tea. I've been avoiding soda and milk for years, but now I've made an effort to cut out milk more effectively, in the foods I eat. We went to Wal-Mart over the weekend, and I took a deep breath and asked for apples, for gluten-free granola bars, and for oatmeal, as well as bottles of water. 

Today, I dither. It's Thanksgiving Break; I have the day off from school, as well as tomorrow and Friday, and I know I should attempt breakfast. A decently healthy one. It's after noon before I try, though.

Today, I asked my sister to help me make an omelet. Something that I've always been told is healthy, since it's of eggs, and that I assume is more healthy than chips, at least. She showed me how to mix the eggs with oregano leaves and a tiny amount of salt, how to wait for it to look somewhat like an egg pancake before I flip it over and add cheese (still a dairy product, but it's one of the only omelet toppings I know), then fold it in half.

You could say my cats are inspiration, as well.

I take a glass of juice -- 100% cranberry-blueberry-blackberry juice -- and sit down to try a bite. It tastes different. Sort of rubbery and chewy in my mouth. Bland, with a hint of that boiled-egg taste that I somewhat remember from a childhood with hard boiled eggs on weekend mornings. My stomach begins a slow burn, as if now that I've so abruptly decided on healthy, it wants to purge the processed food immediately. I'm almost afraid to use the bathroom, because I know that stomachache will only get worse, and so I stay and eat a few more bites. I take sips of juice after every bite. The juice tastes weird, like artificial blueberry flavoring mixed with just a little bit of other-juice (I've never had cranberries or blackberries to know the taste). But at least it has the consistency of normal juice. The texture of the eggs in my mouth is so foreign.

Especially Za-Zoo, who steals anyone's food.
Is it one of those things where, if I eat it often enough, I'll acquire the taste? With sweet tea, I gagged it down every morning for two weeks before I grew to like the taste. Is that how it'll be with omelet? I just need to eat it more? Or do I truly not like the taste, and no matter how much I eat it, it will be too bland and rubbery for me to like it?

Those are the sorts of thoughts that run through my mind. My eating habits seem to take over my life sometimes, worrying about why I can't make myself eat healthy, or why healthy stuff has so many acquired tastes, and that always-insidious voice that tells me that, like every other time in my life, I will simply turn back to junk food within a few days. This is not a permanent change; I cannot keep anything up; I am too weak, too undisciplined to make a real change.

Sometimes, I wish my thoughts revolved around something else. Like my writing. Or school. Or some boyfriend/girlfriend. Something normal, that normal teenagers do. Normal teenagers tweet casually about what they eat for breakfast. I try to avoid letting anyone see me eat at all.

Even writing about it here is a stretch out of my comfort zone. I worry you'll post mean comments; I worry you won't post comments at all, truly uncaring about any of this. I mean, if you don't care, is it because I'm not communicating effectively, is my writing shoddy, or perhaps you'll think this really is my strange way of casually tweeting what I had for breakfast? My hands shake thinking about what other people about my eating. But I'm sick of staying silent, of furtively taking bites of ready-made food, and swallowing it because it looks like an unbreakable pattern from childhood.

So, I told you. Perhaps I shouldn't publicize the fact that despite my skinniness, I really am of poor diet. Perhaps I should be shamed into eating healthier. But perhaps I need to tell it to make it real.

Sincerely speaking,
JDM -- a girl who loves thinking words and hates thinking food.

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