Something hit me while I was eating my salad tonight. But first, the background.
I have not been very hungry at all the past few days. It's amazing how once the sugar and junk get out of my system, I don't really crave anything or feel hungry except for at certain times of the month. It's nice. I look at the clock, go "oh I should eat," and sort of shrug and grab whatever is easiest, a shake, a bar, whatever. But I do really look forward to dinner every night.
Today I went shopping because I wanted to have lots of crisp, fresh, tasty salad ingredients on hand for meals. I got all the delicious-looking veggies I wanted, and a chunk of roasted turkey breast to slice on top. I even got a new salad dressing that looked good.
I was so happy chopping up my baby cucumbers, ripe red tomatoes, and firm button mushrooms. I was almost humming as I measured out a cup of mixed greens and a cup of tender arugula and tossed them into a mixing bowl. I popped a small yellow tomato into my mouth as I placed a few on my beautiful, colorful salad, and my mouth was watering as I weighed out and sliced my moist cold turkey breast. I opened the dressing and measured my 2 Tbsp onto the salad. I licked the spoon, and boy was it good! I poured a tall glass of ice water and sat down to enjoy my feast.
Only, it didn't seem like a feast, I couldn't figure out what was going on in my head for the first few minutes. It tasted fresh and good. The greens were wonderful and the tomatoes sweet. Everything was just fine. Except, I felt almost like I didn't want to eat it. Oh I was hungry by then, but I just had this blah experience with the salad, and then I had a moment of clarity.
It was not "satisfying" in the same way, say, a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes is satisfying. Of course I feel so much better after eating a salad than I do after eating a fatty crappy meal, but still, something is missing in the mouthfeel and experience of a salad. It has something to do with the way a carby fatty super-salty meal makes me feel indulged and happy and almost high. I sort of go into a stupor when I eat something like fried chicken. It puts me into this state of OMG YUM that I just can't seem to get with a salad unless I add a lot of extras like cheese, more dressing, bacon, and some kind of sugar/carb load like croutons or dried fruits. Then, yeah. Yum. But when I eat a simple veg-and-protein salad with moderate dressing, it tastes good, but it is not an *experience.* I don't even know if this makes sense to you.
It is similar when I eat a protein bar or a "sugar free fat free" treat. It might taste good but it is not the experience. A slice of plain wheat bread can taste great but somehow it is not the same as eating half a loaf of hot white bread with butter. You know?
And the other part of it is the texture. I could never get into the texture of raw vegetables and salads. As an adult I learned to enjoy them, but as a kid I dumped on so much dressing and cheese that the texture was hidden, and as a morbidly obese adult I did the same, plus I ate several soft white buttered rolls with any salad I ate. Then it could become an experience. I strongly prefer creamy stuff (as in fatty) and crispy stuff (as in deep fried, not as in celery!)
As I got halfway through my salad I felt a bit of resentment. I thought about how "other people" get to eat fast food, and fried stuff, and pizza whenever they want. (I know that's not really true, but I think it sometimes). I thought about how even though the salad tasted good, I would gladly trade it for a burger and fries right then. And I got a bit annoyed because sometimes, this whole thing just stops making sense and I drive home from errands after seeing 90% of people in the store buying chips and ice cream and then seeing the long lines of people at fast food drive thrus, and I think, dammit, this sucks! Why isn't EVERYONE fat? Why can't I just go back to when I used to be one of them, buying and eating what I pleased?
And then I remember being so morbidly obese I could barely walk. I remember how I could not go down to enjoy the beach with my family the month before I started this blog... how my husband had to drop me off at the handicapped access point and then drive back to the regular parking area with the kids and walk to meet me. I remember being in pain and tired and, frankly, miserable. And how that greasy fried chicken was becoming my only source of pleasure in life.
I have so many more sources of pleasure in life now. I can walk and move and play and work. I am free. I don't need "the experience" of FOOD in order to have pleasure in my life. And I so do not want to ever, ever go back to that place I was four years ago. Not for all the fried chicken in the world.
So I eat my salads, I enjoy them just fine, they taste good. And then I get my real pleasure... my "experience"... in LIFE.
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