In one delicious swirling realization, my brain has delivered itself of a hearty "Ta HELL with this crap." Ta hell with it indeed, Brainy. Hell in its eternal burning longing for what it cannot have may help itself to this particular steaming load of crap with my goodwill.
This particular pile of crap began to coalesce more than two years ago when a scale hit me in the face with reality. I was quite overweight, and I didn't wear it well. So I did what any woman would do: I went out to TGI Friday's and had one last sumptuous meal, and then checked myself in to my local Weight Watchers.
The walls of any dedicated Weight Watchers location will be lined with boxes of expensive food-like substances. Many of the products will pretend to be chocolate, pretzels, cake, or iced tea, but will in fact be pale immitations of the aforementioned. Most of the food is laced with preservatives, textures and flavors are simulated with chemicals, and all of it will join Twinkies in mocking us hundreds of years from now when we're all corpses and they're all still "fresh" and edible. You can be assured that if you eat the boxed food, you will know how many calories, grams of fat and grams of fiber you are consuming.
However Weight Watchers, unlike other diet programs, doesn't actually advocate that you live on their boxed food-like products. I heard my leader telling a woman, "We usually say 'don't eat more than two of our complete meals in a week.' Frozen dinners are so full of salt and preservatives, so you can actually do more harm than good if you eat too much of that." I blinked. That was brutally frank, I thought. My leader will occasionally advocate a certain Weight Watchers product, but she will also advocate the products of other companies, certain local restaurants, and certain fruits and vegetables. During meetings, we share ideas on how to fool ourselves into thinking we're feasting on rare delights, but in reality we're putting fake crap down our throats, and in reality, our leader doesn't want us to do that.
So here I sit, after more than two rather unsuccessful years of trying to rid myself of all these unwanted pounds, and I have made a "ta hell with that crap" decision: I'm going to stop eating pretend food and eat real food.
So, when I was at the store tonight I didn't get another loaf of lite oatmeal bread. I bought whole wheat flour and a packet of yeast and I've just punched down the dough for the first time. I bought mascarpone cheese instead of Philly Fat-free and a bag of white nectarines, and a small bag of 60% cacao squares to enjoy one at a time. This morning I made guacamole which was mostly tomato and red pepper with one avocado holding it all together, and a bruschetta mixture that had real olive oil and real basil to provide it with seasoning and a reason for being. I have the makings for a week of eating such as I have not enjoyed for a long -- way too long -- time.
I've watched as several of these "scientific" diets have been exploded one after another. The Atkins diet will kill your kidneys slowly, and the low-fat diets leave you fatter and infertile. Vegetarianism becomes worse for your health and the environment as you choose processed packaged foods for convenience and fail to support the smaller farms that raise meat in a responsible way. The glycemic index diets don't really make you lose weight any faster than any other sensible diets and don't do much more for your health than any other sensible diets. Slowly but surely, the smart people doing the research pull us back around to the same inevitable conclusion.
Our mothers were right. Eat your oatmeal or your eggs for breakfast, for you'll need fuel for a long day ahead. Don't forget your own lunch, you've got a little sandwich, some fruit, and some nice regular milk. You can have a small treat after you've had your dinner. A little bit is okay, but enough is enough. Eat your vegetables. Have an apple if you're hungry around three. Go call a friend and play outside.
When we questioned the wisdom of our grandmothers, the women who had raised generations of healthy children on fresh food in moderate quantities separated by periods of vigorous activity, we floundered. Food tasted worse, and made us heavy and tired. We forgot how to feed ourselves and trusted to people who felt more concern for profit than for our good health and pleasure.
So, ta hell with that. I want real food, dammit. Fresh baked bread carries with it the extra benefit of all the exercize you get kneading the dough. Full-fat cream cheese satisfies you after a small portion. Sustainably raised vegetables pack a flavor punch that must be experienced to be understood, and create good lives for small farmers who feel a committment to the true plant, and not to the engineered herbiage designed more for making it to market unscathed than for anything else. Real food will wither and die if you don't eat it. You have to commit to a certain lifestyle to enjoy real food.
And here's hoping that committing to that lifestyle will get me the results I want, and which eating fake food couldn't get me in more than two years of trying. Anyway, I'll enjoy being heavy more if I can eat tasty food, rather than getting fat on pretend crap. And I'm going to call my friends and go play outside.