There’s a Tear in my Gruyere

I cried in the grocery store yesterday. Full-on meltdown. I was standing in the “Nature’s Market” section of Kroger; you know the one where they throw all of the people who like to attempt healthy eating a bone? A gold plated bone. Unfortunately, this is the best option I have here in Oxford, Mississippi. I am at the end of a rope and the only way back up is going to cost me. I have forged a very unhealthy relationship with food that I am trying to break up to no avail.

Reese’s cup turns to Oreo and says “He can’t give up on us. Not after the many years of happiness and stress related binges. Remember in ’03 when he ate a King Size me and two sleeves of you? Let’s go get Ben & Jerry and hide in his bushes.”

The past few months have been enveloped in research. I have read so many blogs, copied so many recipes, and bought so many juicers. Well, just one juicer. I thought “I am going to lose 100 pounds in a month! My teeth are going to be whiter! My knees will only pop once when I get off the toilet!” Of course, during these months I had many “last” meals. I had my last triple cheeseburger. My last two orders of large waffle fries. My last half empty peanut butter jar mixed with Nesquik (Yes, one dessert barren household led to that concoction).  I had told my friends about my hopeful endeavor, because the only recreational activity here is eating and so I thought I would try to avoid later questions. The aspect of becoming a vegetarian in the South is like telling them I’d rather read than hunt. Wait, how do I even have any friends? I got a couple of weird comments: “We need meat!” “The Bible says you’re an idiot” and my favorite “What are you, gay?” But I was steeled in my resolve.

Fast forward a month or two and my wife and I are in the car outside of Kroger. I had printed off a few recipes I wanted to try as well as several “juice” recipes. I had decided to try and drink a green juice for breakfast at least five days a week. She was dutifully adding the ingredients to the list while I watched the wind blow through the leaves of the median trees.

I thought a lot about why I was doing this and what it would mean for my health and the future of my family. Then I started humming “Jesus Paid it All” because hymns from Sunday’s service always get stuck in my head. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Back to reality-my wife had finished the list and we were ready to go into the store. I was giddy, and almost started skipping.

I have been building this up for a while now and we were waiting until the right time (when we had “enough” money) to start on our new journey. My five year plan was to start a garden and hopefully have enough vegetables from that garden to offset the grocery store cost of my new eating regimen (I refuse to use the word diet, because people try to use that word as a weapon. The minute they see you eating a fry, etc. you’ll hear “I thought you were on a DIET” or “Way to DIET”. Therefore the word has a negative association for me). As we walked in the door we noticed there were NO carts in the foyer. And I mean none. There was an Asian soccer mom standing there shaking her head like the apocalypse had come and she was left behind. In hindsight, I should have taken this as foreshadowing. Instead I be-bopped outside and found a cart. The produce section is right as you walk in the door. I was so excited to pick out my vegetables! “We have to buy organic,” I told my wife, “that’s what the blogs say.” I went to the organic produce section (a somewhat “seedy” side of the grocery store. The light was a little dim and the automatic sprinklers seem to stay on a little longer over there) and found Romaine lettuce.

According to the recipe I was following I needed a whole head of Romaine for one breakfast’s worth of juice. The organic Romaine is almost $3 a head! I regained my composure and looked around for some other ingredients needed-ginger root ($5.69 a pound), beets ($3 for two), and dates (apparently don’t exist in Mississippi but they would probably be $20 a pound).

 My pretext was crashing around me. I started to realize that there was no way I could realistically afford the nutritional lifestyle I wanted to live. I was freaking out at this point, but my wife remained composed. “What do you want to do honey?”

“Let me see the @#%$ list!” I am not proud of it, but I did curse at my wife at this point. I looked down at the list and saw that she had written items on the list but not the specific quantities needed for the individual recipes. Obviously her way makes sense, but I am slightly OCD and it ramps up when I’m pissed.

“How am I supposed to know what to get if you don’t have the amounts we need written down here!”

“I just thought…”

“Whatever” I said as I threw the list down and walked away. This is not fair, I thought. I have been building this experience up in my mind for so long that to see it slipping away now was not something I was prepared to handle. It appeared as if nothing I wanted was going to work out. I continued to walk around the store searching for some respite, some small ingredient that I needed that would be affordable. This search concluded in the “Nature’s Market” section I previously alluded to.

Unfortunately, shopping for affordable food in this section of Kroger is like shopping for affordable electronics in Skymall. My wife cautiously approaches me with a cart full of groceries. My goodness I love this woman, while I was stomping around the store like a child she had finished the shopping. I looked at her and immediately my feeling of love for her and my disappointment from losing my food fantasy collided and I started crying. “I just…” I started not knowing how to finish.

“I know honey, I’m frustrated too. What do you want to do?”

“%$&# this, let’s get a pizza.” She obliged. We went home and had a long talk over pizza. Pizza that didn’t fulfill me, didn’t take away the disappointment, didn’t make me happy. My very collected wife (she’s like a Vulcan!) explained that we can pull this off. We just have to plan better. I realized that I probably shouldn’t have hit her with all of these recipes in the Kroger parking lot. My emotional reaction to the situation had been a tad dramatic. Of course, there were other options. There is a farmer’s market I can go to for produce and there are ways that I can eat healthier (perhaps no emotional pizza?) and not go into the red. It was just the combination of disappointments at that moment in the grocery store that sent me over the edge. I felt like it was never going to work and I was never going to be better. The man was getting me down. That man being me, of course. Thanks to my dear wife I realized there is still hope. There is still a twinge of pain whenever I hear the word “Kroger”, but thanks to my wife (and the many other beautiful people in my family that encourage me) there is still HOPE.


5 responses

  1. There is always hope and realizing that you want to make a lifestyle change is the first, and usually biggest, step.

    There are a couple of things that have really helped me in my journey to healthy eating (besides having gallbladder surgery and having food attack my insides). First, I realized that I needed to look at food as fuel for my body. That’s its purpose, its only purpose. Second, body fuel doesn’t have to taste awful. You can make delicious healthy food if you just spend a little time educating yourself.

    As for shopping organically, sure, organic food may be better for you, but from what I’ve read and heard from the “experts,” you don’t have to lay out the big money for anything that you can wash (such as Romaine). The items you might want to splurge on are things such as apples where you eat the skins. However, I either peel my apples or wash the skins well. I don’t worry about buying non-organic produce. You just have to make the best choice you can within your budget.

    I love the humor in the blog (just as I love your humor in general). I hope writing about your journey helps you and I know it will inspire others as well. Always remember that your family loves and supports you in whatever you do.

  2. No matter what anyone tells you; food and the need to overeat is a drug as bad as any. It will steal your health and ruin your life; slowly but surely. But you will not be arrested for buying too much food and fast food places and fat rich food will continue to be sold on every corner without anyone being against the law. I have told very few that I’m juicing or trying to lose weight but when I do break down and tell someone outside the family it comes back to haunt me just like you described. So I keep it to myself. However for you and to let you know it can be done. I have lost 50 pounds and done it by juicing and eating vegetables. Since the middle of July I have ate meat only once or twice and I’m still alive. I feel better than I have in a long time. Yes all this is great; but I’m so worried I will go back to my old life style and eat and gain it all back that I do not celebrate at all. I keep saying if I can get down to this weight or that weight then maybe II will be safe. But the fact is I will never be safe; I will always have to watch over my shoulder for the old me and his old habits of eating to fill a need and not my body. People will offer me something to eat and say; it’s only one or it’s a special occasion and I will refuse only to make them mad. But they don’t understand; one leads to a thousand for an over eater. I had a bad weekend (last weekend) and ate stuff I should not have; it gave me no satisfaction. I tried to remember that when I juiced the next day. I feel better now; I feel better. But I’m just one pizza away from the old me so I keep on looking for the new me; he is out there and someday I will find him. And someday you too will find little Evan; I just know it! And together we will camp out and hike the trails and enjoy the wind in the trees.
    BTW: don’t let those prices scare you; I spend around $50.00 per week for just me to juice and eat veggies on the weekend. I spent for more than that on buying a pizza here and a burger there and still going to Kroger and spending $60.00 plus every week.

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