I was eating a healthy breakfast this morning (1 serving cereal, 1 banana, 1 cup 1% milk) and looking for something to read, because even in my own house I feel like a loser eating alone without looking smugly aloof reading something of apparent importance. I picked up the only magazine-looking thing on the table: THE P90X NUTRITION BOOK. (Imagine my chagrin at the realization it was NOT a three-months-old US Weekly or the new Title 9 catalog, the only other two magazine-looking things ever around my apartment. Come to think of it — whatever happened to all my back issues of The New Yorker?)
Now, I’ve read a lot of diets. I can’t even, in good faith, type that I’ve “tried” these diets because I’ve never been much of a dieter. I am interested in them, you know, what-all they entail and what they purport to do. I’ve just never been too keen on adhering to any of them.
Anyway, like most diets that I’ve read, this one advocates “food journaling,” based on widely accepted grounds that it is entirely possible, nay preferable, to “bore yourself thin.” Honestly I believe food forces you OFF whatever diet you are on just to have something interesting to write about. I mean, it can’t always be “protein servings, water, steamed veggies, steamed chicken, steamed fish, water, water, almost-had-white-rice-but-dutifully-chose-brown-instead, water, and more water.” Writing about what you eat has a unique dullness to it, right? It seems the only thing more dull than actually eating that way is forcing yourself to write about eating that way. You’ve simply GOT to cheat to keep it interesting. (Relax, I’m only talking about dieting here, folks.) On the upside of food journalling, I suppose there’s the promise of approximately eight pounds lost instantaneously the moment your head explodes out of sheer overwhelming boredom.
But what caught my attention about the P90X approach to food journalling was the open invitation to write not just about what you eat, but also about how you feel more generally. The P90X contention is that you will be surprised at how often bad moods follow bad foods.
Hm. I got to thinking. (sniff, is that smoke?)
This week (and last week, and part of the week before) have been made up of pretty crazy, down-to-the-wire, come-early/stay-late days and I have been in a pretty terrible funk. I have been chalking it up to being over-worked and under-paid. But while I was fishing through my frosted bran flakes this morning for the last few raisins it hit me. When I feel this way, I default to eating habits that would make that guy from Supersize Me blush.
Why, though? I mean, WHY? I asked myself, and answered back:
- Duh, I deserve to eat whatever I want when I work like this.
- There just aren’t enough hours in the day to shop right, cook right, portion right, eat right, live right, and still be a person anyone actually wants to know.
- This salary won’t stretch far enough for organic baby greens, but it will stretch just far enough to buy out the entire dollar menu.
But what I’m starting to realize is that eating SO terribly isn’t really a treat, or a loophole, or a gimme, or a pressure-valve for work stress.
In fact, eating worse has got me feeling worse.