Kate is letting us pick our own word this week, and normally I would rise to that creative challenge and throw out a word on whim, but I am tired and weary and ready for Christmas break to start, and I have no energy to think of my own. So, I googled “Random Word Generator,” clicked a few links, and I got the word “omnivore.”
Food consumption at my house has always been “a thing.” Let’s briefly start when I was growing up. We had multiple types of breakfast cereal – all the best sugary kinds, and no generic brands, either – and any roadtrips we took meant a packed cooler bag for the car, filled with plenty of options. I am not sure where this plentiful attitude came from, or if, many lives ago, my parents starved to death and so were using this life to make sure that never happened to them again.
Either way, what I eat, why I eat it, how much I eat of it has always been a “thing” for me. A few years ago, I cut out sugar as an experiment. Actually, I would never take on such a drastic move on my own – it was a dare. I had returned to running, training for my first half marathon, and was not seeing the improvement in my times that I wanted. My coach asked me to start recording what I ate. He was appalled. In fact, his exact words (or thereabouts) were, “You eat like a NARP. Do you want to be a NARP?”
I wasn’t sure what this meant, but it did not seem like something I should want to be, so I shook my head vigorously and said I would do whatever he told me to do to avoid being a NARP. (Turns out, that means Non-Athletic Regular Person.)
He told me to cut sugar. I laughed. I have had a bowl of ice cream every night since I was maybe 10. (Okay, so maybe I was eating like a NARP…but a life without ice cream is no life for me.) He said cutting sugar would improve my time. I told him I did not believe him. (I am SOOO COACHABLE!) He said I should try it for a month and I would see. I said I would do it to prove him wrong. (I drew the line at cutting out fruit, and my coach acquiesced on this point.)
This conversation occurred at the tail end of August. September brings hectic back to school time and both of my kids’ birthdays, so choosing to make a drastic dietary change for this month was an added challenge.
But I did it. I love a challenge. (FYI: They do make vegan ice cream, and it is actually quite tasty.)
And my coach was right. Damn him.
What I noticed rather quickly – maybe after a week – was how my “I AM HUNGRY AND I MUST EAT 5 MINUTES AGO!” feelings were gone. And, yes, my running times improved.
Because I was cutting out sugar, I started to read labels to make sure I wasn’t eating sugar inadvertently. I learned that sugar is in EVERYTHING. Bread? Sugar. Ketchup? Sugar. Milk? Sugar.
The more I read, the more sources I was pointed to for further food info. And it was depressing. I figured that to avoid sugar, it would be easier to go vegan, so I did.
But remember the prompt? Omnivore was the prompt. I’m getting to it.
When I went vegan, my daughter in particular wanted to know why I wasn’t eating milk or consuming dairy. I was fascinated and freaked by what I was learning about not only how animals were treated, but also how unhealthy the animals we can eat often are. So I shared what I was learning. Her eyes got huge. She told me that she didn’t think she would give up dairy, but she would never eat another animal again.
Fast forward a few months to after my half marathon. I did keep up my no sugar rule for the race and stuck pretty faithfully to it post-race, though I wasn’t as militant. To be honest, I thought going vegan would make me feel AWESOME.
It did not. And it’s hard to keep doing something if it’s more of a pain than a benefit. Still, I was practicing vegetarianism with relative ease.
And then came my son’s diabetes diagnosis. The hospitalization was short, but not so short we weren’t relegated to whatever was available on the bottom level of Children’s Hospital. And as those with diabetes experience know, you need to know the carb counts of food for insulin dosing.
For me, this was the hardest part of having a newly diagnosed son. It’s simple math, yes, but when it’s new to you, getting the blood sugar reading, figuring out the correction and then adding it to the carb ratio just added another element of stress to meal time, which was already kind of crazy because my daughter was still a militant vegetarian, my son and husband leaned more toward the carnivore side, and I was the omnivore in the middle. (What a GREAT memoir title! DON’T steal that…I am gonna use it someday!)
We’re now two years out from that stressful meal time scenario, and my daughter remains committed to a vegetarian lifestyle, having never eaten meat since I scared her with my tales of cows. She will not even eat a dish that meat has touched (i.e., a pizza that is half cheese and half pepperoni is definitely out!). I admire her commitment, though it means the rest of us also eat mostly vegetarian, as it is a little ridiculous to cook two versions of a family meal.
I continue to read about food and what we (should) eat, why we (should) eat it, and how much we (should) eat. I remain the omnivore in the middle.