Did you ever get stuck in a food rut?
I’m currently in the midst of a rut that involves Ak-Mak whole wheat sesame crackers (if you’ve never tried them, go buy a box immediately) and crunchy salted peanut butter. With my two sons grown up and gone for the moment (one is currently on a safari in Tanzania , the other in college), crackers and crunchy peanut butter have become my go-to foods — easy on the prep and satisfying without a lot of carbs.
This isn’t my first rut — I’ve had my flings with eggs and good bacon, tuna and rye bread, smoked salmon and Persian cucumbers. I have a theory about these times that connects them to the constant pressure of eating well with type 2 diabetes. Limiting your choices — long recognized as a demonstrated method to lose weight — can make life easier. If I don’t bring home the Cherry Garcia ice cream, it won’t go into my mouth. Eating the same menu day after day can be boring, but it is also ‘safe’.
Several years ago, I attended a diabetes workshop on how to eat with type 2. I remember the educator telling us how you should question yourself closely every time before eating to see what you truly craved. She had us run through a list — crunchy, salty, sweet, soft, tangy, bitter, etc. Only when you had determined precisely what you wanted to put in your mouth, she said, should you actually start to chew.
Everyone in the room — myself included — freaked out at her words. We knew exactly what we felt like eating and they were all things that we could not eat: Cocoa Rice Krispies, Snickers bars and Dunkin’ Donuts. A pile of greasy fries. Egg creams. Milkshakes. Cinnamon buns. You get the idea. Wide eyed, she asked why we had ruled these foods out of our diet and the answer was easy — they made us fat and they made our sugars go haywire. But the lecturer stood her ground, saying that she bet if we ate a few M & M’s now and again or even a bowl of Cocoa Rice Krispies, the damage would not be so great. And that furthermore, eating a small Snickers now and then or an Oreo or two might prevent us from binging out some night and eating ten small snickers or twenty-five Oreos.
Thus, was born a new way of eating food. I still have my doubts about her approach, but having followed it for so many years, Oreos and Snickers have lost their hold on me. Once, I could down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s in a sitting, but now, I don’t really have the desire. A single cookie, a bite of chocolate satisfies my sweet tooth most of the time.
But I digress; at the moment I’m caught in a rut. I stand before my refrigerator. I ask myself what I want to eat. And up bubbles the answer – crunchy salted peanut butter and Ak-Mak crackers. I know I should mix it up, throw in some cheese or meat or carrots, but for the moment it’s all I want. It’s protein, it’s carb and it’s all that’s in my mind. I trust that eventually — in a day or two, say — I’ll return to eating other things. Already, I have my eye on a bowl of bright orange clementines perching on the kitchen table.
But as for now, I’m stuck.