When I was in fourth grade, my teacher inquired about the class's favorite foods. Competitive and anxious to please even at the age of nine, I replied that my favorite food was "fruit salad." Really what I wanted to say was "pizza," like all of my classmates, but fruit salad was the healthy, correct choice, meant to impress my teacher. I like fruit salad, certainly, but was lying through my teeth.
Many years later, I struggle with the healthy, correct choice, as so many of us do. It is especially difficult post-partum as I try to shift my eating habits back to normal and feel the daily pinch of a few extra pounds as I attempt to fit into things that clearly I am no longer built for.
This is a frustrating occurrence, largely because so many of the unhealthy, incorrect choices are the ones that I dearly love to eat. I think a lot of people live in fear of their food, for one reason or another. We fear calories, preservatives, trans-fat, sodium, pesticides and carbohydrates. We fear what certain foods will do to us, so we change our eating habits for the better. We make more responsible choices.
And to be honest, the thought of that makes me a little miserable. I like vegetables and fruits and lean meats, just as much as the next person, but I also like fried chicken and hollandaise sauce and Pop-Tarts. My great fear of food is imbalance, so my menu is largely about moderation. But I started wondering, what if I had one day where I could throw all my food-fears out the window and make the worst choices possible and eat whatever tasted good? It's almost too naughty to consider.
I would start with a huge breakfast: eggs over easy, American fries with cheese, a buttered English muffin, homemade spicy sausage, and a fat cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting. Around ten-thirty, I would eat a chocolate eclair, and drink several cups of black coffee. For lunch, I would consume a heaping plate of pasta drowning in a red pepper cream sauce, a garlicky piece of foccacia bread, and at least three Cokes. For a late-afternoon snack, I might just sit down with a bowl of guacamole and eat it with a spoon. And for dinner, a crab cake with a nice aioli, a rack of lamb, buttery mashed potatoes with gravy, asparagus with a bearnaise sauce, and a creme brulee. Before bed, three scoops of cookies and cream ice cream, with a drizzle of Hershey's syrup.
My arteries hurt just a little, even thinking about it. There are very good reasons for making responsible food choices, but the devil inside me sometimes fights hard against healthy. And occasionally, he wins. I press on, however, and stick to my plan of moderation, dreaming about a red pepper cream sauce while eating my turkey sandwich for lunch.