I have been home from Ecuador almost two months now. I am ashamed to admit that I have managed to gain 25 pounds since I got back. I have eaten at all of my favorite restaurants, indulged in malt and barley beverages and almost got thrown out of di’lishi because I slipped into a sugar-induced craze and went to town at the toppings bar after devouring 20-plus ounces of frozen yogurt. Luckily Marlo had me escorted out instead of calling Asheboro’s finest or I might have found myself incarcerated on top of everything else.
Because I had lost weight in Ecuador, I bought some new clothes when I first got home – they don’t fit any longer so I either need to buy new and bigger clothes or jump back on the “lifestyle modification” wagon. The latter seems like a more reasonable solution and probably more cost effective, too. As I write this, I am on day 4 of my new eating and exercise program and I am not enjoying apples and kale nearly as much as a caramel and chocolate coated dish of frozen yogurt covered in tasty morsels of candy goodness. Unfortunately, this also means I will not be spending as much time at Four Saints Brewing Company which I am certain they are grateful for even though it will be a noticeable dip in revenue. It really sucks that the things that are to be consumed in moderation taste so good and “healthy” food tastes like cardboard. If a person wanted to become an instant billionaire, they’d figure out how to make spinach taste like Linguini Alfredo.
During the last month I discovered one of the main reasons people here in the United States have a difficult time not gaining weight: portion size. One meal here is comparable to four meals in Ecuador. And, because we have all been indoctrinated to eat everything on our plates (remember the lectures about the starving kids in Ethiopia), we feel bad when we leave perfectly good food to waste. Sure you can take leftovers to go, but it is only a matter of time before your refrigerator becomes a vast wasteland of Styrofoam boxes filled with mystery leftovers. My refrigerator is currently jam packed with leftovers in Tupperware and “to go” boxes that once contained remnants of delicious meals but, out of neglect, have been transmogrified into science experiments or worse. Neither Sherry nor I care to look inside any of these containers to see what is growing. It is scary enough that the dog stands in front of the refrigerator and growls. Besides, we’ve rationalized Styrofoam is really bad for the environment – best to leave it in the refrigerator to decompose.
One of the other reasons folks are gaining so much weight in the United States is because there is high fructose corn syrup (which is sold to food companies in huge barrels clearly marked toxic and handled by people wearing hazmat suits) in just about everything. Once it is added to our food supply it is given appetite appealing names like pixie dust, euphoria inducing nectar, happiness crystals and joy jelly just to name a few. Who doesn’t want to eat something containing pixie dust? But really, there are something like 56 different names for sugar that don’t sound so bad and even a little healthy like beet sugar – beets are supposed to be good for you so how can beet sugar be bad? My favorite though has to be evaporated cane juice…could you possibly be more ambiguous. It was once cane juice, but it evaporated which means it doesn’t exist any longer, so why bother putting it on the ingredients list in the first place? There is high fructose corn syrup and sugar in just about everything, but the food industry has done a great job hiding it with misnomers like “all natural,” “lightly sweetened,” and “a good source of fiber.” What the labels should say is “contains no real food whatsoever – eat at your own risk.”
All this aside, I am smart enough to know that drinking copious amounts of beer and eating enough chicken wings to feed a small country isn’t good for me. I also know five scoops of ice cream in one sitting may be considered as gluttonous by some. I blame it on being an emotional eater – ice cream makes me happy. The truth is, I really like to eat and deal with the consequences (or not) as needed. The problem with this approach is apparently there are some pretty serious health issues that I need to be concerned about. Because of this, I now find myself eating salads, fruits and other stuff that is “good for you” and spending large blocks of time at the YMCA on the exercise bike. I only wish it wasn’t so much harder to take the pounds off as it was to put them on.