I’ve never really been one for “healthy” eating. I don’t sit around with a bag of Doritos or down whole cartons of ice cream, but I’ve never eaten a balanced diet. I don’t care for many vegetables, and my only relationship with fruit is juice and the occasional smoothie. In fact, if tomatoes hadn’t made it into the fruit category, I would never consume fruit of any kind that actually requires chewing.
Recently, however, my mom had been giving me little snippets of information from the new “SuperFoods” movement, and I think I've officially been sucked in. It’s basically a list of 14 foods, each with several “sidekicks”, that are labeled as “super” based on nutritional benefits and disease prevention. The thing about this diet is that it isn’t exclusionary, but inclusionary ( I don’t think that’s a word, but just go with it). No one is telling me to eat bunless hamburgers or that my margarine will give me cancer. Rather than reminding me what a horrible person I am for continuing to eat french fries, it tells me what’s good and what to add to my diet. A lot of them are things that I actually like and I can make a more concerted effort to include in meals, like tomatoes, blueberries, nuts, and yes- dark chocolate. Things like spinach and beans I’ll have to be more creative with. And then there’s broccoli. I’d rather eat my foot that one floret of that nastiness, so I won’t be getting any of broccoli’s superpowers any time soon.
So yesterday, with my new SuperFoods book, I ventured into Henry’s, the local healthy-hippie type store. I felt like a pagan in church. I didn’t know what I was doing or where anything was. I just wanted to slip in the back and try to blend in. As I passed other shoppers, paranoia began to set in. Was everyone staring at me? What is she doing here? It felt as though they could see right through my skin and into my clogged arteries. I grabbed a cart, tried to look as healthy as I could, and began walking each aisle. I started with crackers. I needed whole grains. I came upon a sample station for multi-grain crackers that had all these little specks and seeds on them- the kind of stuff my hamster used to eat. They looked pretty healthy to me, and they actually tasted good too, so I grabbed a box and put it in the basket. I picked up a box of cereal bars for the kids, read the ingredients, and, finding I could pronounce every one of them, added two boxes to my cart. I found some good yogurt, a box of soy milk, and a bag of snap peas. It wasn’t until the cereal aisle that I began to get suspicious of my multi-grain crackers. All of these cereals touted different grainage- whole grain, multi-grain, oat and grain- and after a minute of investigation I realized that many grains are actually only partial grains masquerading as whole grains. I checked the first ingredient on my crackers and sure enough: Enriched wheat flour. I don’t know what enriched means, I but I know that it’s a bad, bad thing, so I made my way back to the cracker aisle and exchanged them for the real deal.
Once I was sure I had exceeded my intended budget, I headed for the checkout. I wasn’t sure what to expect here either. Would they check my I.D.? My cholesterol level? The checkout lady smiled and greeted me as I approached the register. To my relief, she rang up my groceries and I was on my way without anyone taking my blood pressure or inquiring how many servings of green leafy vegetables I had eaten that day. I returned home with my groceries and a sense of triumph. I could feel the Free Radicals cringing as I emptied my bags of SuperFoods into the refrigerator. Nothing could discourage me now!
Nothing, that is, except possibly my two-year-old.
Later that night Bethany climbed on my back and wanted me to crawl around the house and give her a ride. As we lumbered down the hallway she declared with delight, “I’m riding a whale!”
I’m never eating again.