I, Miss Fatty Fat Fat Fat, will reward myself for writing this post with a refill of Pepsi from Panera’s soda dispenser. I may even reward myself with a third refill of soda after that. Or maybe I’ll skip the soda (sort of) and head over to the Wendy’s next door for two cheese sandwiches and a Coke. Or maybe I’ll do a mix of both. I may not be a dog, but I am hungry/thirsty and I am well worth a treat once in a while!
Allow me to get serious now. I have a complicated relationship with my body and food. As you may have picked up, I am currently overweight and it has a direct connection with my diet. From day to day I have no idea how I’m going to feel about those extra pounds. Sometimes I will laugh it off and go through the day as bubbly as ever. Other times I will be self-loathing and “know” that I’m a disgusting blob. As of writing this post, I am in a good mood and am only “Miss Fatty Fat Fat Fat” for humor (self-deprecating, but still). Today I am going to enjoy my favorite foods and not worry how Mr. Scale would view me. Sometimes I’m not this confident and would do anything to lose 50 pounds (or whatever it would take to reach a sizling 120 pounds).
Some women have this warped idea that the only way to lose weight is to give up any food that tastes good (because apparently one meal will make you fat or some nonsense like that) including treat food. So ladies, forget a cool glass of soda with your meal. Skip the popcorn at the movies because it’s fat on top of fat. God forbid you buy a chocolate bar at the grocery store for after dinner. If you want to lose weight, you will never have a reward ever again. You don’t want to gain a single pound because you will be a big old failure! Emphasis on “big”.
It is ridiculous, it really is. I know because there was a brief time I tried to limit the treats I ate. No evening snacks, no movie snacks, nothing that was too sugary (for fear that it could be addicting and lead to overeating). I also cut what I ate for dinner in half because it worked for celebrity women so why not me? I hated it. When I gave up on it, I overate much worse than before because of feeling deprived.
At the moment I’m once again struggling with my weight and my diet and I admit to sometimes considering another round of strict “No treats!” Ha, who am I kidding? I love treat foods. The next time you see me, I’ll be drinking a Coke and eating a cheese sandwich from Wendy’s.
I’ll be 25 tomorrow and it’s not going to be any different than today when I’m still 24. There are a hundred ways this can go, but since this is a blog about food struggles and this is a post about food, it only makes sense to discuss how my
bad eating habits aren’t going to change just because I change. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Being an adult is the worst, but the hardest part is eating healthy food. To put it in perspective, if it were up to me, vegetables would be illegal. I’m dead serious.
You’re probably wondering what prompted such vehemence towards vegetables. Well, besides that I’ve always hated vegetables and I will go to my grave swearing that vegetables were invented as torture devices. Think I’m exaggerating? Last night I spent a full hour trying to chew a bite of formerly frozen peas and carrots. Granted, frozen food is rarely as good as fresh food. The exception is corn. There is nothing better than heating up a pack of Green Giant frozen shoepeg white corn. I could live off of that. Otherwise, you have got to be kidding me! Frozen vegetables are like what some evil genius created with the intention of making vegetables even more disgusting. I had this great inner monologue about the horrors of frozen vegetables, but when I remembered just how much I hated vegetables of any sort, I let it go so as not to think about something I hated. It’s too bad because it was a pretty hilarious monologue. You’re probably wondering what became of my frozen peas and carrots. Well, as soon as my mom wasn’t looking, I trashed them. I just could not stomach it.
Want to know the greatest irony of my hatred for vegetables? I do enjoy fresh but cooked spinach. Everyone hates spinach. Well, maybe not everyone, but young people even my age hate spinach. Spinach is scary stuff anyway. Did you know that spinach is one food that is often on the FDA’s food recall list? I love a good cooked spinach. I know that is the worst grammar in the world, but what else do you call a plate of spinach? Like, a collection of spinach? Anyway, spinach can be delightful if cooked the right way. Before I even tolerated vegetables at all, my favorite recipe was “green rice”, which is also probably considered a rice/spinach/cheese casserole. It’s pretty much only good if it has a lot of cheese and a lot of spinach. So yeah, there is that piece of weirdness.
By the way, unlike this picture quote, I do like certain beans. Chili beans are sometimes nice. Don’t get me wrong, I become the most musical person in the world after eating a bowl of chili and, well, that’s anything but nice, but we’re ignoring that pretty important detail.
I went to Olive Garden for lunch today. Sometimes the food is sickening at best, but today my spaghetti, my melted butter, and my parmesan cheese were delightful. I might pay for it later today in messy bodily functions, but it’ll be worth it.
While I was munching on a garlic breadstick (which was also delightful) I considered that Olive Garden is an extremely polarizing restaurant. You either love it or you bash it online wherever you can. I haven’t ever read a comment about the restaurant stating “There are good and bad points about it” that proceed to offer both the good and the bad. Every balanced article I’ve read about Olive Garden either ends with singing the praises of the restaurant or telling people that if the choice was between eating at Olive Garden or starving to death, they would starve to death with their integrity intact. Yes, I have in fact read comments like that. I laugh at the absurdity of such an exaggeration, but deep down it makes my blood boil. It is perfectly okay to not like Olive Garden. If I didn’t occasionally like the breadsticks and if they didn’t occasionally cook my food so it’s delicious, I would be on the anti-Olive Garden team. I have problems with restaurants that without fail make me hang over the toilet for hours on end. I’ve never gotten food poisoning from Olive Garden, but my endocrine system has officially rated them a thumbs down (so to speak). That said, even if I were the most anti-Olive Garden crusader, I would never judge others who adore Olive Garden. The fact that my endocrine system sucks is my problem to deal with. If their bodies can handle the food and they can’t wait for their weekly dinner at Olive Garden, who am I to judge them?
Turns out, there’s a sizable amount of people who gleefully judge those Olive Garden lovers. They’re like “Why would you go to Olive Garden when there’s a perfectly good family-owned, authentic Italian restaurant across the street?” Never mind that some family-owned, authentic Italian restaurants are expensive. Never mind that some people prefer the flavor of Americanized Italian food over authentic Italian food. Never mind that sometimes there’s no good reason other than people prefer Olive Garden. Oh, the horror! The apocalypse is coming! Quarantine those inhuman creatures!
Yes, I have no patience for food snobbery. Look, I’m not saying that there aren’t problems with Olive Garden that extend beyond my body woes. I hate false advertising (Olive Garden’s “We cook real Italian food!” claims? Yeah right!) and I can make spaghetti at the house for a heck of a lot less money and a lot more flavor. Sometimes I love Olive Garden’s buttery garlic breadsticks and spaghetti regardless. That’s perfectly acceptable. Food snobbery is not.
Whenever I tell people that I’m a vegetarian, I have to add that it’s a 98% vegetarian. I love my chicken-flavored Ramen noodles like nothing in the world (except of course my cats, but they’re thankfully not food)! One of the first foods I was able to eat 100% of after having 24 hours of nightmare food poisoning and major anxiety that caused anorexia was…you guessed it, chicken-flavored Ramen noodles.
The only thing I don’t love about Ramen noodles is that they’re the worst for cooking. If you cook them the way they were intended in a pot of water on the stove, you’re talking about 30 to 40 minutes. Granted, the stove burner that I use for Ramen may be dead and take forever to heat up. Still, there’s an unacceptably long wait and I don’t recommend it. About five years ago I switched from cooking Ramen over the stove to cooking Ramen in an oversized Pyrex measuring cup. This method is hit or miss depending on what size measuring cup you use. I recommend getting a measuring cup that you can put your block of Ramen noodles down in the center and then you only have to fill up the cup to the top of the Ramen noodles. It’s extra nice because when the water boils, it doesn’t spill over the edge of the measuring cup. You can use a slightly smaller measuring cup, but I would advise against it because your Ramen won’t fit in the center so you have to sit it upright and fill the measuring cup with water at least halfway up to your Ramen block. You will absolutely have spillage in your microwave and then you will have to immediately clean it up. Yes, immediately. Do you know how gross it is to clean up that water once it drives on the microwave plate? It could be worse, I guess, but it isn’t ideal.
I’m pleased to share with you all that there’s a new way of heating up your Ramen noodles. It’s rectangle bowl with high edges so that all you have to do is place your Ramen in the center, fill your bowl up to just below the edges, and heat it up. I learned that five minutes is a good time to set your microwave to. The TV commercial is misleading because it says this method, this bowl will cut your microwaving time in half. Not true. It usually takes seven minutes while this guy will do it in five. Even so, imagine what you can do with that extra two minutes! Actually, you might need to wipe up the spilled water on your microwave plate in that two minutes, but it gives you the extra time and that’s kind of cool. In spite of the little inconvenience of having to clean up spillage, I recommend this nifty rectangle bowl. You can buy it directly from the TV phone number or you can search for it in a kitchen store. My dad found ours in a store called The Kitchen Collection. Give it a try! It may not be as flawless as the commercials make it appear, but it genuinely works.
Sautéed Garlic Butter Mushrooms Over Spaghetti
- One 12 ounce box of mushrooms (button works best)
- Olive oil (no specific measurement)
- Two tablespoons of butter
- Garlic powder (to taste)
- Seasoning blend (to taste)
- One pound of spaghetti (or vermicelli, angel hair, linguini…)
How to Make It:
- Get out a pan for your mushrooms. Set it on the stove but don’t turn on the heat.
- Get out a pot for your spaghetti. Pour in your water and turn the heat to the middle to start heating it up.
- While the water for your spaghetti is coming to a boil, wash and chop up your mushrooms. Drop your freshly-cut mushrooms into the pan.
- Turn on the heat for your pan.
- Coat and cover your chopped mushrooms with just enough olive oil to sautee them.
- Sprinkle garlic powder and seasoning blend over your mushroom/olive oil mix for immediate flavor.
- Wait until your mushroom/olive oil mix begins to sizzle. When the mushrooms begin to sizzle, cut your butter stick and drop it into the mix. Be sure to stir it together.
- This step is optional. If you want more garlic powder or seasoning blend, feel free to stir more of that into your sizzling mix.
- You are definitely going to have to watch your pot of spaghetti and your pan of sautéed garlic butter mushrooms the entire time. Stir both, one at a time, frequently.
- When your spaghetti is finished cooking and your sautéed garlic butter mushrooms are thoroughly cooked, layer spaghetti, half of the garlic butter mushrooms, spaghetti again, and the other half of the garlic butter mushrooms. Mix your layers together with a spoon.
- Happy eating!
When I make sautéed garlic butter mushroom sauce, I’m not a huge fan of the mushrooms but I make up for what I lack with grated parmesan cheese. The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily customize it after you have your base sautéed garlic butter mushroom sauce.
One of these days, caffeine will kill me. I always thought it would be some raw meat with some contaminants in it, but honestly I think it’ll be caffeine. By caffeine, I specifically mean your Pepsi/Coke type of caffeine. Coffee is disgusting! I probably shouldn’t say that too loud because coffee is kind of normal for all college students on up and apparently it’s un-American to think coffee is disgusting. I digress, sort of. I’ll skip the coffee but give me Pepsi/Coke 24/7 and I’m a happy cat! The thing is, I can feel my Pepsi/Coke warping my internals. I should mention that my stomach is the worst. Actually, it’s probably my stupid gut, but whatever. At some point, everything turns into nausea-inducing butterflies in my stomach. Caffeine does not help this. Unfortunately, there’s some science to back it up. Eventually I might go into that in depth, but since I’m not a science fan right now I really don’t care. Just bear in mind that there is evidence for how caffeine is bad for those with anxiety nausea to begin with, a stomach that is never happy no matter what, and a heavy Pepsi/Coke habit that can’t be tamed. I know the last part is true because I’ve tried and failed on multiple occasions.
Pepsi/Coke is more than my favorite drink. As I said above, I can’t tame it even if I wanted to. I crave it. I bet I’ve suffered withdrawal symptoms from not having it in a few days. Is it possible for a person to have massive nausea whether they drink Pepsi/Coke or whether they try to cut back or cut it out completely? I have no idea what the science says about that, but I’m 100% sure you can. Yeah, I just can’t win! Here’s the biggest problem: My comfort food when I’m cramping badly (for reasons we will not go into right now) is Pepsi/Coke. Some women like chocolate, but I like Pepsi/Coke. I’ve never understood the chocolate thing because chocolate is another thing my stomach just can’t do. I swear if I eat M&Ms one too many times, I will have a bad night of regurgitation even if nothing could’ve provoked it. One of these days I’ll share my struggle with M&Ms, but that’s a different point for a different post. What you need to take from this rambly post is that I always feel better (mentally anyway) when I have a nice large cup of Pepsi/Coke.
I still think Pepsi/Coke is going to kill me. Let me explain what I mean when I say I can feel it warping my internals. Imagine that you’ve overstuffed yourself on a holiday where there’s large amounts of food at every meal. Thanksgiving, anyone? You know the feeling when you’re so stuffed you either have to unbuckle your belt or your pants, or otherwise it’s not going to be a pretty sight? It’s that stuffed, bloated, constricted feeling except you don’t have the side benefit of having just enjoyed a nice meal. In addition, it feels a lot like someone is squeezing your organs every ten minutes for five minutes at a time. Sometimes running to the bathroom to rid yourself doesn’t do it. I honestly believe that if there’s any more of this screwy constricting going on, my internals are going to pop and I’ll be dead!
What’s a woman to do? I value my life but I can’t imagine living without my Pepsi/Coke. Thoughts?
I have a love/hate relationship with broccoli. You know how broccoli is one of those vegetables that parents have to fight with their young offspring over eating? I’ve always liked broccoli, at least when it’s cooked soft and cut into florets. It’s unusual because I still fight with my folks over eating vegetables, but I’m okay with broccoli. On the other hand, right now I question the safety of broccoli. Eating out and ordering broccoli is always a risk. If the broccoli wasn’t contaminated at the farm it was grown at or in the factory it was packaged in, it can still be contaminated by a careless chef with poor bathroom hygiene. I will not go into further details, but I’m sure we all know where I’m going with this. In recent months, even eating broccoli that I’ve cooked at the house has been a struggle. I am not a cook, for starters. I either overcook it to the point it’s basically green mush or I undercook it to where I refuse to touch it. At least when I undercook it, I can, in theory, pull myself together and cook it a little longer. Recently all my broccoli attempts have been fails in one way or another, and that’s enough to put me off of it at home. It seems like I just can’t win.
Today I had an experience with broccoli at a certain chain family restaurant that has a predominantly red with yellow lettering logo that made me wonder if broccoli is contaminated right at its farm. Disclaimer: I felt sick at least an hour before going to this restaurant. I didn’t yak anything up thankfully, but I felt a little jumbled inside. It didn’t help that earlier in the morning while I was taking my shower, I hacked up a glob of mucous and hurt my ribs while trying to clear it. I could very well just be having a bad allergy-with-nausea day. However, I did not trust this broccoli at all. It was undercooked (though the menu description promised me that it would be steamed) and it looked a little sad. Presumably there are different types of broccoli that vary in shades of green, but this broccoli just looked sickly green. It tasted wrong as well. It’s hard for me to explain the flavor, but it wasn’t that usual crisp taste that I like about broccoli. I couldn’t even eat the entire head of broccoli, it was so wrong.
My super paranoid mind likes to tell me that every food I eat is going to make me sick. Food anxiety is the worst! Sometimes though I feel like maybe there’s a point. Being vigilant about food has helped humans survive since forever. It’s true that you can’t prevent every food sickness, but maybe there’s an evolutionary reason we avoid the things that taste wrong. Could it possibly be that broccoli from a certain farm/cluster of farms is contaminated and the FDA (an organization whose food recall page I actively check in on because I trust them to have the most up-to-date knowledge) doesn’t know about it?
Would you consider things relating to beverages as food? I do. Did you know that there was one point when I was struggling with food-related anxiety and major emetophobia so badly that I couldn’t eat a decent meal? I could, however, drink beverages. There was one week when I lived off of smoeothies. More recently, in the past three weeks, I have been a phlegm monster. I wanted nothing more than to munch on pasta, pasta, pasta as comfort food, but I felt so “Blah!” that *grits teeth* the thought of food, even my favorite food, turned my stomach and made me hack up phlegm. My comfort “food” ended up being soda. I lived on soda and water and more soda. As such, I think beverages count as a type of food.
I have recently (we’ll say within the last two months) discovered the joys of carrying a water bottle with me to college. I met my first favorite water bottle at Target during their Halloween aisle feature. It was dark gray and had a plastic skull-shaped design cut inside the bottle. Needless to say, although it was the coolest thing I had seen (I love skulls, okay?) it wasn’t particularly functional for holding any sort of liquid. That’s fine if you only want a small amount to drink, but imagine having to go six to eight hours without a significant break. You might want a water bottle that holds more liquid. I know I do. I mean, the last thing I need is to be pushing myself through a draining day of learning and come to find out, I drank all my soda (see the theme?) during my first class of the day! Something will have to change! Since I won’t give up my soda, the obvious solution is to find a more cooperative water bottle. Last evening I discovered a delightful new water bottle that I absolutely must tell you all about.
The company behind this awesomeness is Cool Gear. They happen to be the company that made my skull water bottle and my new snowflake water. This awesome water bottle is shaped like a large aluminum can of soda complete with a “tab” on the lid. It’s not actually a tab; all you have to do is slide a raised plastic handle left to open and right to close the “tab” opening. My specific water bottle has a sparkly medium blue background with pretty white snowflakes scattered around. If you go to Belk or Belk.com to check out their selection, this style of water bottle comes in Christmas/winter themes. I hope they’ll keep this style and come out with other seasonal themes.
I used this water bottle at my local Panera to see how it worked as a soda bottle and I’m pleasantly impressed though I have to tell you where it may have problems. First thing first, keep in mind that although this is a decent-sized water bottle in height, it is thin and not particularly good for piling ice and soda together because then the ice will overpower the soda. I learned this the hard way yesterday. Second, if you’re going to use ice, you’ll have to hold the bottle directly under the ice dispenser or else ice will spill out everywhere. Sorry Panera employees! I don’t maliciously spill ice everywhere! Third, I have to warn you that although there’s more space for liquid with this water bottle, it isn’t going to last all day for you. Yes, we all have the option of conserving how much we drink. However, I bought this water bottle thinking that I’d be able to fill it with liquid that could last for six hours. Not even close! Problems aside, there are definitely reasons you should buy a water bottle like this. The first reason is purely superficial, that these are lovely water bottles. If you want function then these aren’t the water bottles for you, but if your major concern is that you don’t want to carry around a tacky-looking bottle, you won’t have to worry with these designs. The second reason I highly recommend these is that they are ridiculously easy to clean. You only have to unscrew the lid and open the tab and then you can easily wash both lid and bottle. Finally, have you ever had problems with keeping your leftover liquid firmly inside your water bottle? Because the tab is easy to close and forms a solid seal, you don’t have to worry about your drink splashing everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I’m carrying my water bottle and liquid comes squirting out the top and into the lid! You’ve got to be kidding me! Not a problem with this delightful water bottle (unless you don’t seal the tab firmly, and that’s nothing to do with the water bottle).
I used to think I knew nothing about food. You know how some people are culinary masters and live, breathe, and dream food? I’ve never quite understood that. To me, food was something that you eat. I knew there were technical terms for cooking, baking, and all that good stuff. I couldn’t tell you the difference between any of it. I was actually going to use some of the terminology, but I couldn’t even think of any of the words. I wondered why bookstores sold thousands of recipe books that all had variations of the same dishes. Like, isn’t one enough? Cooking-based entertainment? What in the world? I certainly had no idea why TV cooking competition shows like Top Chef (possibly defunct) and Master Chef were so popular where the food was concerned. The drama of it, yeah, I totally got. Don’t even ask me about shows like Cake Boss and related fare! I appreciated the website Cake Fails because I could see myself creating the majority of the really, really bad cake fails and my mind was always blown when there were images devoted to lovely, intricate cakes. People do that? Flash forward to the present day, as in right now as I write this introduction piece. I still can’t tell you about the technical business of food. I’m not hardwired in kitchen creativity and honestly that doesn’t bother me.
However, after a negative experience with food poisoning three or so years ago in which there was massive, um, offloading, I decided I needed to know something about food for safety purposes. I have become the type of person who relies on the FDA Food Recall website if I eat something that doesn’t taste quite right. I enjoy reading the website Food Safety News to learn about country-wide food recalls and general food politics. Did you know that even something as simple as the quality of the food we eat has political implications? I guess deep down I knew that there had to be some organization watching over food to make sure it was safe for consumption, but I didn’t know it was an official organization. I do now, like I said above concerning the FDA. While it’s not the same as loving the art of food, knowing the safety of food matters a lot to me.
Being so careful (obsessively so, you might say) about food safety has forced me to become a once-a-week cook. I actually like going out to eat in part because I am a lazy butt and would rather someone else deal with food preparations and clean-up duties, but there are so many risks involved. If I’m the cook, at least I know that my cooking practices are safe. I’ve developed my own little recipes (trust me, they are little; I hate food that requires all sorts of ingredients and hours in the kitchen) and sometimes like searching online for new ideas. The key word is “sometimes”. I am not an adventurous eater. I’m also not the most stellar chef, for reasons that I discussed in my opening paragraph. Cooking has the health and safety benefits that I feel are necessary, but I don’t exactly love it.
All this leads me to what Food: The Never-Ending Struggle is meant to be. Since the thought of food occupies a bunch of my thoughts for both good and bad reasons, I thought it would be interesting to blog it out. Sometimes I’ll write about food safety news because I feel like if my reporting can prevent others from getting infected food, it’ll be totally worth it. Sometimes I’ll write about recipes and include beautiful pictures (well, “beautiful” given that camera work isn’t a strong point either) so that anyone who is interested in trying has a guide. Sometimes I’ll write about food anxieties that creep up, not to scare anyone else but because they’re highly related to food and writing about these things is an excellent release. I look forward to taking you all on this journey!