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.