Yesterday I did something I hadn’t done in a really long time. I stopped at a fast food restaurant. The day, quite frankly, spiraled out of control and any attempt to maintain my regular meal plan went out the window. It wasn’t any major calamity, it was just a billion little things that leave you washed up at the end of the day breathless and feeling like you were hit by a truck when no truck was actually in evidence.
While I will survive, clearly, the experience was interesting.
While my baby and I have gone out to restaurants since beginning our journey into health, most of our meals are made at home. We are a bit selective of the places we go, predominantly because of his avoidance of salt more than any diet plan on my part or food snobbery. For the most part fast food restaurants have fallen by the wayside, at least for me because they are too convenient.
Picking up a little something every now and again isn’t a bad thing. Although reading the calories listed on my favorite foods almost made my heart stop. The problem is that for me it is too easy a habit to slide into. A once a month treat or an every other month one can quickly spiral into once or twice a week. And that is a lot of calories to burn off.
So I avoid them, or have until yesterday and the spiral of doom.
Once I justified the visit, I felt my mouth watering and my tastebuds cheering in anticipation. My baby, who was by my side in this endeavor, having survived his own day of doom was ready to through salt to the wind, and not just because it spilled and he was banishing the devil by tossing a pinch over his shoulder.
We went through the drive thru and arrived moments later at home. The nearest cluster is a block from our house. I have to drive across town for the gym but I can get to six fast food joints in under five minutes.
Told you it was convienient.
Once home, we each began to eat.
Funny thing is, it didn’t taste the same. The meat was dry, which was quite a feat given how much sauce was slathered on it. The lettuce tasteless and stringy. The bun was certainly nothing to write home about. I washed it down with my soft drink and my mouth felt sticky afterwards. The drink tasted better than the burger, but it did leave me feeling sticky.
The fries were utterly delicious.
They were crispy, salty, hot, strips of golden fried potato heaven.
While the rest was a bit of a disappointment, those fries were worth consuming regardless of the calories.
Admittedly, a little while later my fingers were swollen and I was guzzling water like a camel too long between oasis pit stops. It was still worth it.
But being me, I had to analyze things.
The burger quite frankly hadn’t changed much. My weakness at fast food places tends to be the fried chicken sandwiches, but I couldn’t justify the calories when faced with the drive thru board. Whoever made them just went sauce happy last night.
As sauces are one way to bulk up calories in a home cooked meal, I’ve taken to portioning out only as much as I need to get the flavor without blowing my calorie count. I’ve actually been amazed by how little that actually is to be honest. even with salad dressing. I’ve started putting it in a little bowl on the side (measuring the portion size of course, and then I dip my fork in it before stabbing the salad. The dressing gets on each bite and I rarely use the entire portion size. I also don’t have soggy over saturated lettuce at the bottom of the bowl when I am done. Limiting the sauce also helps me taste the other ingredients and better balance flavors.
The drink was the biggest surprise as I always think of fountain drinks as refreshing. Perhaps if the weather was hot and I was very sweaty, it would have been. Last night was cold and rainy and I was more annoyed with the soggy than suffering the sweaty.
In addition, I looked at my typical beverage choices as they stand now. My two main beverages are coffee in the mornings and water. The first cup of coffee is doctored with two tablespoons of Italian Sweet Cream Creamer. When the cup gets to the halfway point I refill it from the pot but don’t ever add any more creamer. I only use the two tablespoons at the start.
The water for the most part comes via my Soda Stream. Well technically tap to Soda Stream. I find the carbonated water easier to consume and therefore I drink more of it. occasionally I will add some lemon or lime juice. I have one water bottle with the center column designed to hold fruit wedges and occasionally I fill it with either lemons or limes, sometimes both depending on what we have in the fridge, but mostly I drink the plain carbonated water.
My recent indulgence has actually been the HINT water in Blackberry. It smells more intense than it tastes, but there is a tiny hint of sweetness. It is an indulgence more for the fact that it comes in a disposable bottle more than for any calories I consume while drinking it. Luckily one of my neighbors is an art teacher at a local elementary school so my HINT bottles are in the collection destined to become bird feeders. I didn’t ask for details but felt better about the bottles afterwards.
I regret nothing about the fries.
It also made me feel better in an odd way. If they fries were affecting me that much then it means I really have managed to cut out a lot of salt from our home diet, which was by order of my darling dearest’s doctor.
So go me.
Oddly enough, while it seems my tastes have changed, I can still see myself slipping back into the fast food convenience trap. The fries are bait, or the gateway drug if you prefer. I could see me saying, ‘I’ll just go for the fries as a treat’. I could see the treat becoming more frequent and then expanding into other items until my tastes once again changed and the fast food menu was once again filled with lip smacking deliciousness.
I know tastes change, but I always associated it with growing older and losing childhood food cravings. It never occurred to me that it was something I controlled by my actions. They say it takes four weeks I believe for a new habit to replace the old and become routine. I think it might take longer for old food habits to be replaced and new tastes to take root. but it turns out they do take root.
Tastes can change and to some extent, I can control that change. Personally, I find that very encouraging.
It almost makes the bad day worth it.
And I still regret nothing about the fries.