“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”. “Order the BBQ beef piled high and smothered with three different cheeses. It comes topped with MVP bacon and “only” two golden onion rings. Get the side of mac and cheese (it’s only five ounces!) and steal a few french fries, a couple forkfuls of smashed red skin potatoes, and that Applewood smoked chicken breast (again with cheddar and bacon) here and there from the kids. Whoops! Don’t forget the pulled pork baked beans or the buffalo chicken wings”. Two of these quotes would have served me well. One is what I went with.
After carefully monitoring what I’ve been eating, picking healthy choices at meals and getting creative with fresh takes on classics, today we had a cheat meal. It should have been glorious. I should be sitting here haughtily content, sleepy but satisfied.
Daily, you can find me in the kitchen, as if in a haze, my hands making the same motions. Knives are pulled from the block with a satisfactory scrape. Cutting boards are shuffled out of cupboards and land sturdy on the granite island where I food prep. Chopping, washing, slicing, and assembling. A skillet comes out, sizzling to life with chopped garlic and shallots. The grill hisses to attention ready for oiled vegetables or chicken breasts. Fresh fruit, veggie omelets, salads, lean protein, repeat. It has been monotonous and even bland, but it has been working.
Tonight was going to be the night of the cheat meal. We deserved this, didn’t we? We had been good for so long and how bad could one night be? One meal?! We weren’t taking the whole day off, right? There wouldn’t be beer involved. Or donuts. So really, this would be, almost BENEFICIAL to us in the long run. To keep us on track of course. Jiminy Cricket himself would have been no match for this smooth talking criminal.
We ordered it all and sat down with electric anticipation. Brown boxes from Louis Vuitton could not have enticed me more than the white Styrofoam clamshells that I knew without looking held orange buffalo sauced crispy chicken wings. That is how serious this was.
We dug in and that first bite was incredible. Crispy battered sweet Vidalia onion rings, against sharp melted cheddar and sweet, smoky barbeque sauce complemented the tender beef all in one mouthful. The second bite, in all honesty, was just as satisfying. Somewhere around the eighth I was rethinking my order.
There are things in life that seem so good in theory. We WANT them. We work so hard, we DESERVE them. But then the strangest thing happens, we get them and sometimes very shortly after we realize that it wasn’t right for us. Yes, tonight, this relayed to food, but it works in so many other scenarios; the thing we can’t quite afford, the relationship that tugs at your heart with just a few unmistakable red flags, the $9.99 September issue of Vogue (I haven’t bought it, but Kendall Jenner beckons to me from every check-out counter I find myself in).
I heaved myself up from the dinner table tonight not sated but stuffed. It felt bad and all too familiar. Being overly full can be considered to be a benchmark of success to some and served a helpful purpose when food was scarce or the terrain was too dangerous to go hunting for it. But that is not where I am in my life and I need to acknowledge that.
From here I go the way I know for sure that I should; back on track. I am counting my lessons learned and they are piling up quickly. Thinking about all the food that tastes delicious but makes me feel bad is one thing, experiencing it is quite another. The challenge is to realize when something is too much and then turn on my heel and leave it there. Sometimes that starts with not packaging up the leftovers for tomorrow. Baby steps, folks.