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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balancing Act

I am a bit of an extremist.  I don't know if it goes hand in hand with the whole addictive personality thing or if it's just the way God wired me, but I tend to have an all or nothing approach to life.  I'm either not exercising at all (like now) or running five miles a day.  My fridge is either full of highly processed, fatty, sugary fare or it's a super-food fest...everything in sight is green or orange, organic or whole-grain.  I used to be something of a fashionista and now we're all lucky if I've shaved my legs.  Sad but true.

At the time I am writing this, I am in the midst of a pendulum swing.  It's going in a good direction.  I've been eating better lately.  I went to the Farmer's Market for the first time in a long time last Saturday.  I went to a talk on nutrition hosted by my kids' pediatrician and got motivated about veggies.  I am reading "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano and am getting a little hyped up about finally shedding the last of my baby weight.  It's an excellent, extremely readable and entertaining non-diet diet book for those of you interested in something along those lines.  I am starting to feel the desire to get moving again in an exercise-y kind of way and determining that running around after my preschoolers just isn't going to cut it.

All of that being said, I am going to shoot for balance this time.  Not only is is apparently the French way (and I am nothing if not a Francophile) but I'm pretty sure it's the right way too.  I have already virtually cut refined sugar out of my diet (hooray!) so the piece of pie I indulged in at a friend's house last weekend seemed like what it was:  a tasty and indulgent treat.  I refuse to have a fridge full of aspartame (y'all know that stuff is poison, right?) but I don't need any Kool-Aid in there either.  I'm going to give myself permission to buy good food.  Really good food.

Because I have been lazy lately.  I've been using poverty as an excuse.  I read an article the other day that said the Southern poor are top-ranking when it comes to obesity.  I thought, "Well, duh!"  Fattening food is cheap.  If you are unemployed and trying to feed a family, it seems to make a lot more sense to get the chicken nuggets that are breaded with trans-fat and unidentifiable preservative stuff.  They cost about $6 for a month's worth and they will, indeed, last that long (f not until next summer).  The good for you, all natural, breaded chicken nuggets that are able to list all of their ingredients in plain English are sitting right next to their fattening friends in the freezer case.  They, however, cost $6 for one meal's worth.  When you are poor, and I have spent the majority of my married life living barely above or just below that line, you don't think you have a choice.

Despite which people judge you if you buy the good stuff.  Once when we were on food stamps I stopped at Whole Foods to grab myself lunch.  I bought a chef-prepared salad.  It was around five dollars and some change.  When I whipped out my Lone Star card, the man behind me in line gave a spontaneous lecture on how food stamps should not be accepted in "stores like this."  Seriously?  So if you have hit a rough patch,  experience a lay off, etc you should not even be allowed to shop in places that offer a variety of healthy, organic food.  No health for you!  Get your poor butt to WalMart where you belong!  And while I think most people would not feel comfortable actually voicing their opinions as he did, I imagine the majority of those in line felt the same way.  Conversely, if I had been "where I belonged" buying a nice preservative and sodium stocked Hormel microwaveable meal, also five dollars and some change, nobody would have said a word.  In our country, health is for the privileged.  Let the masses eat (Little Debbie) cake!

It has occurred to me that despite the fact that there is some truth to all of this, it is also an excuse.  Because I don't really need to buy frozen chicken nuggets of either variety.  I could buy some chicken breasts, eggs, and bread crumbs and make my own.  Per unit it is probably the same price as the cheap nuggets and nutritionally it is probably better than the expensive ones.  It know it's going to taste better.  And, seriously, it's not that labor intensive.  My kids aren't asking for a souffle for lunch... and they wouldn't eat one even if I made it.  Lately for breakfast I have been scrambling myself some eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese.  None of those are expensive ingredients and, I've got to tell you, it beats the heck out of Honey Nut Cheerios.

So I'm on a mission and I invite any of you to join me.  I'm going to be a foodie on a budget.  I'm going to start cooking.  Really cooking.  Real food.  And while I may not be able to afford all the grass-fed, organic stuff I can eat, I can afford fresh green beans and artisanal bread.  If I don't buy a Marie Callender's pie, I can afford Greek yogurt.  I'm going to take my own motherly advice and "make good choices."  I'm going to be both healthy and happy.  C'est magnifique!

1 comment:

  1. I just purchased an e-book called "Real Food on a Real Budget" that I think will compliment you mission here. I'll e-mail it to you.

    I'm such a Francophile, too, Abby. We'll have to take a trip to Paris together one day!

    On another note, don't think that because I don't comment on each post that I don't read, laugh and weep over them. Beautiful soul.

    Love you my Abby, Aunt Pam