Why is it that people in offices feel the need to stock the kitchen with donuts and cinnamon buns, and host lunches with greasy burritos that make me feel sick after eating? Is it really someone’s birthday again?
And if I don’t eat the cake, they egg me on. “Ooh, you know you want some,” they plead. Really, they just want me to eat the junk food so they don’t have to feel the post-sugar high guilt alone.
Fine, I say. But the stupid cake never tastes as good as it looks, and I immediately regret the decision. Regret makes me visualize the sugar circulating through my body, inflaming the cells and initiating a slow death. I shiver, vowing to stay strong next time. Am I the only person who cares to eat healthy?
Then I come home, excited for a detox dinner of kale and sweet potatoes, my signature healthy meal. The plan elicits a grimace from my husband, who wishes I would cook a rib-eye like all the other women in his family do. “Couldn’t you have told me earlier you were going to eat kale for dinner?” he asks. “I would have gotten food on the way home from work.”
Somehow, in each of these scenarios, I end up the villain, the silly, impractical person who thinks about whether a meal came from the earth or a factory. Living in Arizona, where cowboys and cattle still rule, people view a plant-based diet as quaint. “What do you eat?” people wonder. Umm, plants?
Healthy eating has always been important to me. Then, three years ago, I developed breast cancer, so taking care of my body elevated to top priority. Green smoothies, kale, and a diet based on unprocessed foods represented one way to stay healthy. Food became medicine in addition to fuel.
As time passed, and the memory of illness faded, tastier, less healthy delicacies appeared in my diet. Ice cream on the weekends. Granola with brown rice syrup. Coffee sweetened with — gasp! — sugar.
During my illness and the immediate aftermath, I worked in a small-town newsroom and enjoyed returning home daily for a nutritious lunch. Later, I began working for a consulting firm where one of the perks, if you could call it that, included cabinets fully stocked with cookies and snack mixes. Well-intentioned colleagues would occasionally bestow even more calorie-ridden confections on the countertops — sending out an email claiming credit and of course, inviting us all to indulge.
I’d hold out for an hour or two, maybe even until after lunch, before sneaking into the kitchen to sample. Do you know how good a cookie tastes with hot afternoon tea?
As my waistline expanded, so did concerns over my health. I berated myself and wished for others’ support. Where has my discipline gone? Why does nobody else care?
Finally, I quit the office job to freelance. The change allowed time for cooking nutritious lunches and juicing green vegetables for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Recently, my husband and I drove to Texas to visit his sister. For dinner the first night, they ate steak kabobs and potatoes with cheese. I ate kale and sweet potatoes. I smiled sweetly while they wondered aloud about the vegetables, my husband grimacing at the mere thought of the bitter taste on his tongue and his sister bravely trying the combo.
They don’t explicitly judge me for eating healthy, but I feel guilty nonetheless, unreasonable for considering nutrition content when planning meals. They’re healthy and they don’t eat kale. So, why bother?
Eating green makes me feel like an outsider. One more thing I do considered different and difficult. But just as I’m tired of being the buzz kill when making dinner plans, asking if the menu includes anything nutritious, I’m tired of everyone else not caring.
When we arrived home from Texas, I made veggie enchiladas for dinner. Emboldened, I chopped more kale than usual into the mix. My husband marveled how the sauce and cheese camouflaged the green’s bitterness. Coming from someone who once grilled me a tri-tip for dinner — and only a tri-tip, without even potatoes — this marks progress. We meet halfway.
And these days, I know. When my notorious healthy dinner dish appears on the night’s menu, an afternoon text message warning goes out. Because when it comes to healthy eating, I’m on my own.
- “Oh! I like kale!” (enlightenednourishment.com)
- Taste test: Kale, the super veggie (being808.com)
- I’d Rather Be Eating (lefatquack.wordpress.com)
- Food Yoga – Winter Pesto (oneikasyogalife.com)
- Kale Smoothie (mariateresaandreacchi.wordpress.com)
- Think Inside the Lunchbox (plumorganics.com)
- Kale Chips! (ladyrhe.wordpress.com)
- The Winter Meal Plan Is Released! [Buy Here] (simplyrealhealthblog.com)
- Kale Tuna Salad (hommenotebook.wordpress.com)
- One-Pot Wonders: Lemon Chicken and Rice With Kale (seriouseats.com)