Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ignorance Is Yum

Yesterday I parked in a crowded 7-11 parking lot.  I'd finished all the water in my Sigg bottle and I thought I was going to die of thirst because I'm dramatic like that.  I was on my way to snag a SmartWater, which I like because of the neato bottle and because I've fooled myself into thinking it tastes better than other water.  As I got out of my car, I heard someone whistle.  I turned to see two paint-splattered guys in a paint-splattered truck.  One of them said, "Red is your color."  These were my thoughts:

1) I'm not wearing red.
2) Oh, he means my car.
3) Is that a Double Big Gulp that dude has?
4) I want a Double Big Gulp.
5) I want 2 Double Big Gulps.
6) And some chips.
7) I wonder if they have ROLOS!

I went inside and bought my SmartWater, which I actually kind-of felt bad for buying because of the energy it takes to recycle plastic bottles and because of chemicals and whatnot.  I walked out to my red car with just the water, no chips or Gulps or candy or fried meat wrapped in more meat.  No fun.  I drove to my next errand, jealous of those dudes because they were sipping high fructose corn syrup chemical concoctions without any guilt or worry.

I do that a lot.  I'm envious of the fat guy in the diner eating a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate milkshake.  I'm jealous of the teenager at the movie theatre washing down her Sour Patch Kids with a gigantic Diet Coke.  I want to trade places with pretty much everyone nowadays.  But I can't.  I know too much.

There's no turning back.

I was diagnosed with a chronic illness some years ago and I've always been super sensitive to foods, chemicals, drugs and other things in this world.  Particles.  I'm sensitive to mother frakking particles.  I've been on allergy pills since age three.  I was on allergy shots until an allergic reaction to a maintenance shot almost killed me.  So, yeah, I'm one of those people.

A few years ago, all of my lovely health issues had left me feeling helpless.  Because of my drug reactivity, I wasn't hip to being treated with pills or shots.  I felt that the only thing I could control was what I ate.  I read too many books and watched too many films on the subject of diet because knowledge is power, right?  I went vegetarian, then gluten-free, then organic.  I tried dairy-free and sugar-free.  The final result has ended with me as an Ovo-lacto Pescatarian who eats fish on average twice a month, dairy twice a week and almost entirely organic.

Another result is that I'm crazy.

I cannot just eat.  When you ask me where I want to do lunch, I'm not going off cravings alone.  There is a constant negotiation going on in my brain.  I'm wondering if the produce has been sprayed with pesticides and if the mint you offered me has aspartame.  I need to know about the acid levels of the salad dressing.  I'm off my rocker.  And, although my blood work and my energy levels agree that I'm the healthiest I've ever been, I still want the bad stuff.  When you pop the tab on that Diet Caffeine-Free Pepsi, I want to slap it out of your hands and shake you and  also to steal it from you and guzzle it as fast as I can.  Sometimes I wish I didn't know what was in food so I could have a hot dog or some tater tots.  But, I can't.  And I have a hard time shutting up about it.

Recently, at a family event, I filled my plate with food from the massive spread.  The woman next to me remarked on how healthy my plate was.  I had to stop myself from pointing out that there was a sizable pile of noodles on my plate and that non whole grain noodles have no nutritional value.  My plate was full of salad, sushi and green beans but to me it was one big cheat.  Aware of how crazy I would sound if I admitted that I was concerned about the healthiness of my plate, I smiled at her and shrugged.  Then, I said I was saving room for dessert.

I try to chill out sometimes.  I really do.  When my brother-in-law offered me a Red Vine in a movie theater, I ate it.  But, I thought about it the rest of the day.  I know there is a balance.  I want the bad stuff but I can't eat it without freaking out.  It makes me angry at our government and our food suppliers that I, personally, should be put in this position.  It is all about me, government and food supplier peeps.  Fix this shit because I can't change!  I'm a product of my upbringing!  I was raised Texas, on Sonic burgers and chicken fried steak.  On Chick Fil A and canned cream corn and Hostess Fruit Pies and Winchell's Donuts and Domino's Pizza.  On jello salad.  I want it. Why can't I have it sans chemicals and scary things?  Why can't I eat these things in moderation without fear of obesity or cancer or diabetes?

I dunno.

I know I have food issues. But, I'm not going to blame Michael Pollen. I'm grateful to know where my food comes from and to be able to make informed choices.  So, please bear with me.  And, please excuse me when I'm staring you down in the restaurant.  I'm not stalking you, I'm stalking your pancakes and bacon.  Ignore the drool.  Carry on.

*photo by dioramasky.