Food Is Hard, Man

Here’s a post you never asked for


Like most all people in western society, sometimes I get onto these “food kicks” where I amp up my already-not-that-shitty diet and try to be more mindful of what I’m eating.

The first challenge is always deciding which “flavor of crazy” sounds best — there are more diets and plans than I care to keep track of (and you should feel the same.)

You start digging into one diet and it contradicts another diet you follow. You like some elements of this diet, or hate some elements of that one (and all of this is outside of the issue of “willpower” — don’t come at me with that. That ain’t what we’re here for today) and every time I think I’ve found something, I have to bump it up against everything else and why can’t someone just organize this for me already?

Here are my “always” rules:

Totally non-negotiable

Vegetarian

No, Saaandra, I don’t eat fish. Yes, eggs and cheese are okay. (Do you even know what “vegetarian” means?!)

As a total aside, even though I eat both eggs and dairy and we love to group them together, I don’t see them as the same. I love eggs like a crazy person (sometimes eating a dozen a day) and while I like cheese, I’m fully aware that the fat:protein ratio just ain’t all that.

(And DYK there are other terms for both vegetarians who eat eggs but not dairy, and those eat dairy but not eggs, but let’s quit while we’re ahead, shall we??!)

I AIN’T COOKIN SHIT!!!

Seriously, the minute one of these diets starts getting into “Delicious Recipes,” complete with photo albums of glistening glazes and garlic cloves spread about the counter just so, I click out of that shit faster than your Mormon mom tripping onto porn at the public library. I don’t care that it’s only 41 ingredients and only takes half my life. I am not here for it.

Because in case it wasn’t already clear when I mentioned “several things I do not want,” I. Do. Not. Cook.

It’s not that I’m bad at it — any dickhead can read and follow directions on enough “easy peasy” recipes to fill a calendar year.

It’s more a… “better things to do with my time” thing? A “holy shit why do we need 18 ways to heat some cauliflower?!” thing. A “why would I spend all this time fucking with my food and primping it like a poodle when I could just eat it??” thing.

Ain’t nobody got time for this!

I have nothing in common with people who “love cooking.” Every time someone says this to me, I’m already eyes-narrowed and sizing them up, because all I hear is “I have no idea what to do with my day, and I need novel ways to make a basic necessity take as long as humanly possible.” (I’m looking at you, Sandra!)

Even shit like French presses seriously piss me off. I once dated a dude who only had a French press and [the one that goes on the stove] at his place, and my sheer annoyance at having to work a damn farm and mill impatiently about the stove for 22 minutes just to make coffee in the morning was literally near-dealbreaker.

My threshold for “cooking” is heating water for tea or boiling eggs (because I don’t eat them raw — I’m not an animal!) And I have been known to make a decent frittata, but purely as a show of my love for eggs, and only during a strict “courtship” period with a new love interest, after which any mention of “frittata” is received with sworn ignorance of ever having heard of such a thing. (I’m kidding. I make them periodically. And by that I mean once a year.)

Also, I will not “meal prep”

I mean, that should probably go without saying after the above, but it might be worth calling out separately. These people who take selfies with all their carefully-portioned glass containers lined up like little soldiers for the week have a screw loose.

Here are my “often” rules

Unprocessed

I went vegan for approximately 18 minutes (read: 2 weeks) back in my mid 20s, and the only thing that convinced me to give a try it was when I realized “raw vegan” was a thing.

Because the biggest downside of being vegan? (Even worse than having to eat socks and losing all your friends?) All the bad, fake food. Some of it is both bad and fake (see: meat substitutes), and some of it is just bad (the sheer amount of fat and sugar in most vegan products; also, fries are vegan…) But then I heard about raw vegan and was like “oh now this is my jam!”

Pro: no scary star-shaped “chikken” cutlets made out of repurposed Barbie bodies (because for as weird as these people are about processed meats, it’s amazing how fast they wrestle to get their mitts on the vegan equivalent.)

Con: I was traveling as a consultant at the time and literally couldn’t eat anything (even roasted nuts are off-limits), trying to subside on mealy airport apples that had been thoroughly palmed by the general public until I finally lost it.

Real food please!

Not the same as “unproccesed,” because to me “real food” is also about cream over skim milk and eating the damn yolks. (No, Sandra, not all 12 a day (ffs), but 1 or 2? Hells yeah.)

Look, I’m not here to lie to anyone: I definitely eat some processed food from time to time. But given my preference, I freaking love fresh food. Like, I could eat a salad twice a day for the rest of my life and be so happy.

Problem? Most salads you find out in the wild are total garbage. I’m convinced that one of the major reasons most people think they hate salads is because most salads are sad sacks of sorrow, either all-styrofoam or half-wilt, the obvious “check the box” afterthought of a dildo chef / manager.

But good fresh foods are the shit, ride or die.

And thank god someone came up with some clever marketing for this!

So, paleo. Great. Seems simple on the surface, but then you dig in and… apparently no legumes? No black beans, peas or peanuts… No dairy (they didn’t have milk back then? How in the actual… just kidding, I get the logic — don’t @ me with it.)

Pro: finally having others rallied behind my personal disdain for corn and potato. (Those two poseurs are by far my least favorite “vegetables.”)

Cons: being the kind of person “doing paleo.” Go sit with the gluten-free fucks and vegans and think about what you’ve done.

Dude, that’s a lot of sugar…

Nobody should be eating that much sugar. Sugar should be called out — even the kind from fruit. (Do you guys realize how much sugar is in a single apple?? If not, look that shit up. I’ll wait.)

Paleo allows for honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, and coconut. Does anybody mention that these are all sugar? Not to mention fruit! My god, people! You all need bumpers on the bowling lane!

There’s plenty out there to read on sugar detoxes if you’re interested. Lots of mom blogs, but some legit ones too. In short: sugar is bad. It’s not even sort of bad, it’s always bad. There’s no nutritional value and, unlike fat, it can’t even aid the body in any way. It’s addictive, it causes all kinds of health problems, and part of the reason fat was made out to be the bad guy was because sugar had louder lobbyists.

Keto, technically. Great.

Pro: dat low-shuhgs lyf.

Con: keto breath is real. (Source: I dated someone who periodically did keto and it was pure roadkill within two feet of his face each time.) Also, the meat thing. Because, see requirement numero uno: I don’t eat it.

And that’s pretty much where I am for right now

No meat, no cooking, no processed shit, no legumes (?!), low sugar. Keeping booze to a minimum, passing on cookies, and only having a serious, for-real ugly-eat binge on a salad with dried cranberries like once in the last week. (Good on me, right?!)

I’m eating a ton of almonds (ideally raw, but I’ll take roasted), largely because they are widely available — i.e., every Starbucks has some.

And here’s where else I’m at right now…

Everything is sweet

The almonds are sweet. The dried cranberries I inhaled smelled sweet in passing for sure. The idea of beer sounds like drinking straight up syrup. And some greens taste “buttery.”

Coffee, however, is more fucking delicious than ever.

WATER OMG!

Nobody tells you (yes they do) that you will get insanely thirsty when you eliminate sugar (including or even limited to alcohol) from your diet.

I don’t drink alcohol for the first part of every year, and one of the biggest parts of that experience is how insanely thirsty I become.

Same with any kind of sugar, apparently. I am stupid thirsty. Like “pound an entire bottle of water and immediately feel like I want to down another” thirsty. Every day.

Also, cigarettes smell amazing (?)

I don’t smoke. I mean, I’ve smoked before, but I haven’t smoked for years, and even then it was that “social” bullshit so many of us do for funsies, at two different periods:

  • Once between sophomore and junior year of college, spanning from late spring (when I was also dating this hippie dude who was mediocre at both guitar and poetry but excellent at spending too much money on stupid shit, and went on to be a pro ski bum) to that fall, when I was studying abroad.
  • And another during the summer I got my first bike. (Damn. I should write about that summer I got my first bike…)

I definitely bought a pack or two of my own on occasion during those times, but I also carried them so irregularly that I had to buy a new pack and lighter any time I wanted to smoke one, so by the time I got over the smoking thing like three months later, I had like 27 lighters in my junk drawer. (Boyfriend at the time found them and was like, “can’t we throw some of these away?!” And I was like “not really, son — they all work.” But then we did anyway. Because we live in the western world, as I noted, and we do shit like that.)

Anyway, it’s been years since I’ve smoked — or even wanted to! And yet here I am as recently as today, for no discernible reason, cozying up to smokers outside buildings and striking up friendly conversation, busying myself with being positioned downwind and standing as close as possible without triggering “stranger danger” alarms.

Now, full confession: I like the smell of cigarette smoke, especially on a good summer afternoon. The reason for this is because my first experience with the smell was standing in line for rides at the amusement park, where my brother and I had season passes (and thus were, to my recollection, devout weekly park-goers.) I guess you could smoke in line (which seems crazy, right?) and now I associate the smell with that childhood bliss.

Oh, and what do “cigarettes” have to do with food? I don’t know — you tell me, bud! But the craving strikes a similar feeling as food.

Our relationship with food is fascinating

It’s amazing how infrequently I’m actually hungry when I go for something — “I’m here,” or “well, if everyone else is ordering” or everybody’s favorite go-to, the emotional eating “fuck you, crackers, get in my face!”

And maybe I’m the one with the screw loose, but I just don’t want to make food into this big that we love making it into. I don’t want to “love food.” I don’t want to poodle it up. I want to make it boring AF, because when it is, I can discern between actually wanting it and amusing myself with it.

It’s part of the reason I prefer “bad” coffee over fancy, “better-tasting” shit. I don’t want to ruin my palate for boring coffee. I don’t want to chase. I just want my coffee and I want to move on.

It’s become a game, if I’m being totally honest, breaking down appetite and desire; understanding what’s real — heyo! — and what’s not; understanding what I really want to eat.

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