Fat Fridays: Fast Food

This week I have been thinking about fast food. When I was a kid, growing up in the 80s, our family did not eat out very often. Rarely. I remember going to Mcdonalds for my birthday, because that was a special treat. I think our family treated restaurants as an opportunity to eat food we wouldn’t normally get, like Mexican or Asian food. I do remember an occasional trip to Pizza Hut, but wasn’t a normal thing. A treat. 

I spent eight years of my growing up in Haiti where fast food, at that time, was not an option except in the capital city, and we rarely went there. Then, we moved to bush Alaska for my last two years of high school. Again, there weren’t any of the traditional fast food restaurants. There were mom-and-pop restaurants that served hamburgers and french fries for a hefty price, but I don’t know if I ever ate a hamburger and fries while I lived there, or even a pizza. What we did eat was Chinese food. We ate out a little more, still not a lot, and I always got Mongolian Beef. (I was not an adventurous eater, I found one thing I liked and then stuck with it.) When I went to college in Southern California, I didn’t drive and so I only visited the fast food that was in walking distance, a Taco Bell and a little Chinese Restaurant. I did not have a lot of spending money. Two dollars and some change got me two little tacos at Taco Bell that did not fill me up. But, two dollars and twenty-five cents at the Chinese restaurant got me a huge serving of Fried rice and a huge serving of sweet and sour pork. I went for the Chinese. It became my Friday night treat. After two years of college I spent another year overseas where, again, fast food was not available, or I didn’t have a lot of extra money to be spending on it. 

So, it wasn’t until I was married that fast food even became an option. I remember driving around with my husband one day, and he suggested we stop in at Mcdonalds for some food. And I remember feeling this shock, like, wait, we can just go there whenever we want? At the time I was pregnant with our first, and we were taking birthing classes at the hospital. It became our ritual to stop at Mcdonalds afterwards for cheeseburgers, fries, and my favorite, Hi-C Orange Soda. 

Fast forward to the present day. Fast food has become a convenience. The thing to get if I am in a rush and don’t have time to cook. Or, a way to give a special treat to the kids. We probably gets pizza once a week, and I make occasional runs to Mcdonalds, but not that often. My husband and I go out a couple times a month, our favorite kind of food we look for is Mexican and Thai. Since I started this new diet plan I have been trying to avoid fast food. 

This week I was out, I had plans to stop at a restaurant and get a big salad and sit and enjoy myself. Then, my plans changed, and I needed food quickly. I remembered getting salads at Mcdonalds in the past, so I got in a busy drive-thru lane and waited a really long time. When it was finally my turn to order, I found out that Mcdonalds no longer serves salads. (I guess it’s been a while since I’ve ordered a salad.) I was on the spot, hungry, but not wanting to blow my diet. I ended up getting a regular hamburger (250 calories) and a small fry (220 calories) and a diet coke. I ate, it tasted good, I was full, and I didn’t want any more. Victory! 

Then last night I had to run out with my son to handle a broken phone emergency. My husband was home, it was getting on supper time, so he ordered pizza. I came home, hungry, and there was yummy pizza. I got one slice of pepperoni, ate it, then went and got some tomatoes from the kitchen to finish off the meal. It tasted good, I was full and I didn’t want any more. Victory! 

I am so used to letting my cravings and appetite control what I eat, so this has been a big deal to me to see that I can eat the occasional fast food and keep it within a reasonable amount. Self-control. 

In the past, when I was trying to be healthy, I would just avoid all fast food, no matter what. And eventually, that method would fail. Because fast food is everywhere and it’s a part of our eating culture. And it tastes good and it’s very tempting. I still don’t plan on eating very much fast food, but it’s good to know that this is another situation that I can handle if I have to. 

My Valentines Weekend

I’m going to start this blog with a big shout out to my parents who babysat our kids all weekend and gave Andy and I a kid-free Valentine’s weekend. Yay! We had a stay-cation at home, went walking in one of the Urban Wildernesses here in Knoxville, had some great Thai food, took a long drive in the countryside today and watched several good movies. 

The last several years I have not been much of a movie person. Mostly just watching kid movies with the family. There haven’t been too many movies that could hold my attention. Watching movies with my husband is hard because by the time the kids are asleep, I’m too tired to stay awake for the whole thing. But, this weekend we watched FOUR great movies. We started off with “Greenland”, an apocolyptic movie with Gerard Butler, then watched an old favorite “Return of the King”. The second night we started off with an Amazon production called “Bliss”, which I would call an artsy fartsy kind of movie that fits it’s self-description of MindBending. Then we ended with “Critical Thinking” which tells the story of an inner-city Miami chess team that won a National competition. 

By the end of the second night of movie watching, I was starting to feel a definite acceleration in my heartrate. I started thinking about how fast the earth is spinning in order to make day and night (roughly 1000 mph!!!). And then I thought about how fast the earth is hurtling through space as it makes it’s yearly journey around the sun (67,000 mph!!!!!!). And I thought about how tenuous our humanity and civilization is. All of the movies showed how quick we are to turn to chaos and violence when we feel threatened or when we feel like nobody is keeping us accountable. And it felt like there was no safe haven here on this spinning ball we call home. I could feel my anxiety rising. 

And then I had to take a deep breath. And I had to re-center my imagination. Instead imagine myself  held in the hands of a mighty God. Sheltered. Safe. The universe in all it’s magnificence and awe simply the craftsmanship of our God. The people whose crazy behavior makes me so nervous, his workmanship too. God is heavily invested in them and I can trust in His sovereignty. God is heavily invested in me and I can trust in his plan for my life. 

This morning during our sermon at church (which we got to listen to remotely while we took our drive) our pastor touched on the Peace that God gives us. A peace that is not dependent on circumstances, but instead allows us to go through the storms and chaos calmly and with confidence. It’s a peace that will carry us through giant meteors hitting the earth, war, illusions, violence, the confusion of our world. 

This Valentine’s Day as we focus on love, I am once again thankful for the Love of Jesus and the peace that he gives. Our closest family members, our spouses, our children…they are not capable of giving us the never-ending, always enduring, never wavering love that we need to live our lives in peace. And while I am Very Very Very thankful for my husband and my children and my parents and all our extended family who love me so well, I know with certainty that their love can’t save me, can’t carry me through every storm, can’t give me the peace that I crave. 

And so I cling even tighter to the promise that Jesus Loves Me…the Bible Tells Me So… And as we rest in his love and his peace we are better able to love our spouses and children and parents and all the people around us.

Happy Valentines to you all. As we spin through space on this dangerous planet, may we live in perfect peace, resting in the love of our God and sharing that love with those around us. 

Fat Fridays: Week 17 Navigating Birthdays and Restaurants

Hi all. How’s everyone’s week been? Mine has been busy. Our family has three birthdays within 8 days of each other and then Easter is also right in the middle of that. Plus, the weather has definitely warmed up and so I have had to do the seasonal clothes-switch-over. Throw in choir practices for our church’s Easter program and my son’s theater performance and I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon. April is one of our busiest months. It’s always like that. With my son graduating high school next month, May is also going to be really busy.

So, what does all this have to do with diet. Well, I would say one of the challenges I have been facing is how to keep on track when you don’t have a lot of time to devote to food-prep, and also how to deal with events like birthdays and eating out. My daughter wanted pizza and cake for her birthday. I love pizza. Her birthday was on a Friday and Friday Night Pizza is a pretty standard treat around here. I knew that the pizza was going to be a really big temptation for me. So, before it came, I ate a big meal of vegetables and beans and plantains. Filled myself up. And then I gave myself permission ahead of time to have some pizza crust. (I am one of those weird ones who thinks the crust is the best part of the pizza. It works well in my family since most of them don’t like the crust. Kind of a symbiotic relationship.) Right now my diet is vegan and grain-free. But I don’t plan on staying grain-free. I’m going through a three month course of pills to try and reduce the candida in my system and get my digestive tract back in shape, I do plan on eventually eating small amounts of whole-grains every day. So, I don’t feel too bad about cheating with grain.

The plan worked well. I ate a pizza crust and then realized that actually, it didn’t give me that rush of “feel good” that I used to get from eating my favorite foods. It actually made me feel a bit yucky and I didn’t feel tempted to eat any more. Yay.

In the past week I also have eaten out twice. I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my girl friends, a place we regularly visit, and I came prepared! You know that in Mexican restaurants they always place this giant bowl of fresh hot chips and salsa in front of you. And you sit there and munch and talk and munch and talk and it’s only hours later that you realize you’ve eaten an amazing amount of chips and salsa. This time I came with a bag of plantain chips and I planned ahead what vegan food I would order. It worked pretty well, though I’ll admit that at the very end of the evening, I did grab a couple chips. Cause they were just sitting there. Looking really good. Again, it was grain, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.

Then my husband and I went out with another couple to a Thai restaurant. I chose the restaurant because I knew that I could get a good vegan meal at a Thai restaurant. I decided ahead of time that I was going to eat rice with the meal, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating or caving in on the spot. I got Prik Poa Pork, without the pork, and it was amazing! I foresee eating a lot of Thai food in the future as their menu has an option to substitute vegetables for any meat. And I love Thai food anyway. 🙂

I guess the biggest lesson I’m learning is to think ahead. When I know I’m going to be in a different setting than my own kitchen, I can plan which foods I’m going to allow myself to eat and which ones are definitely a NO. Bring alternative food when necessary. Fill up ahead of time so I’m not as tempted to cheat. I think these are lifelong skills that are going to prove to be very beneficial to me.

Ok. Exercise update. I got on the elliptical three times this week. Yay me. I would like it to be more like five times a week, but it’s good progress. (And this blogging accountability thing really worked! I was like, there is NO WAY I’m going to tell everyone that I didn’t exercise again, so I just did it!)

Goals for the week: Somehow navigate the Easter Candy thing and Easter Dinner. NO SUGAR! I will not give in! Keep exercising. Stick to the diet.

 

Have a good week everyone!