I am not a super-healthy person. Anyone who has seen the collection of boxed pasta and ramen noodles in my cupboard would concur, but I do think about what I eat, and try to do my best. It was challenging last year with three jobs, full-time school, and the occasional internship, but now I’ve got no excuse for not trying. Plus, now that I’m taking running more seriously, I’m realizing just how sluggish these “bad for me” convenience foods make me, so I’m pushing those out of my diet in favor of stuff that spoils faster, and makes me faster.
I used to have a really hard time finding food to eat when I was out of the house because of my vegetarianism. I spent many a night at a restaurant eating just french fries or mozzarella sticks because there was nothing else on the menu that didn’t have meat in it, and because I used to be afraid of vegetables. I rarely complained, just dealt with the fact that I made the choice to not eat meat, and these are the consequences. Prior to that, I was a picky eater living in a town with two restaurants–I’m used to limited selection. Now it seems like there are a lot more options for people like me, but a whole new set of problems.
Jewish Friend always talks about the “clean plate club” of which she is not a member. Her parents are enthusiastic eaters, and she has always been more dainty. They would encourage her to join them in the clean plate club, but she had no interest. “You’re a member of the clean plate club,” she told me recently, “I bet your parents never got on your case about not finishing your food.”
The problem, in my case, is that I was not a member of the clean plate club growing up–there was no such club in my family, we all fed ourselves. I typically finished my whole can of SpaghettiO’s, or half bag of Lipton Rice and Sauce, but not because someone told me to, just because that was enough to fill me up. I ate until I was full, then stopped. It wasn’t until I started earning my own money, and paying for my own food while out at a restaurant that I joined the clean plate club. I want to get my money’s worth, and though I often do take home leftovers, I also nibble and nibble until there’s not much left. This was fine when portion sizes were smaller, but now when a typical entree lasts me three days–it’s become a problem and a nuisance.
On my recent trip to the Virgin Islands, I had to be at the airport at 7am. I really don’t eat breakfast even though I know you’re supposed to, because I’m not hungry in the morning. I haven’t been moving, therefore, just don’t have an appetite until around 10am. Since I was traveling and didn’t know for sure when or what my next meal would be, I decided to see what TF Green International Airport had to offer me in the way of a small, light breakfast.
Options include Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, assorted dinner places, and the Wolfgang Puck kiosk. I love Dunkin Donuts, but had already had two large coffees at home, and the thought of a wake-up wrap or hash browns curdled my stomach, so I decided to see what overpriced horrors Wolfgang had to sell me. Most of the offerings were lunch/dinner stuff, but there was a cold case of salads and fruits, and a delicious-looking yogurt parfait.
Once I got closer, I realized that this yogurt parfait was in a 16oz cup. 16oz– one full pint, 1/2 a quart–that’s a whole lot of yogurt parfait. According to MIT, the standard size for a serving of yogurt is one cup, which is half of this giant yogurt that I was staring at. The typical single-serving yogurt cup that I bring to work is 1/2 a cup. Is it because it’s “healthy” that it comes in such a giant size? Is it just because the real expense is packaging and Wolfgang, and everyone else, wants to make their money back? Do people really want to eat this much yogurt in one sitting?
I stood there staring at it for far longer than I should have, because I was really in the throes of a quandary. Not knowing for sure when my next meal might be (accounting for delays, possibly running to meet my connection, refusing to overpay for terrible plane food, etc.) and knowing that as soon as I reached my final destination I would immediately start drinking heavily–I needed to eat something. I could buy it and throw half of it away (which I hate to do), I could force the whole thing into my stomach and feel sick rattling around on the plane.
I pictured myself choking down a warmish glass of yogurt, and did not feel good about it, so I turned to walk away and noticed a basket of what was sure to be overpriced bananas. Bananas are filling and come in a reasonable package size, so I chose that instead.
“$1.17.” the clerk told me. Then she mumbled something as I was fishing around for change.
“I’m sorry?” I said.
“I said why don’t you help yourself to another one, these are pretty small.”