Sunday, June 17, 2012

Transitioning meals

My new favorite soup for lunch: Spicy curried squash soup from Frank's RedHot. Seriously awesome!

All right, so I know firsthand how challenging it is to have a healthy diet. It seems the more I delve into studies and theories about nutrition, the more persistently I'm revealed that I've been doing it all wrong. Despite my diligent efforts to eat simply, to eat salads, to cut down on wine and coffee, there's always some new diet du jour, some new "detox" plan that suggests I'm still not doing enough, and that my diet should be further disciplined.

I like to look at restrictions as challenges. This is not always easy, though. I will admit that food is a significant comforting factor for me and the prospect of not being allowed (or rather, denying myself) my favorite foods after a long day's work is somewhat daunting. I associate foods with memories, so familiar tastes and smells for me have a healing quality. I could be sipping Turkish coffee out of a small espresso cup, and it could be raining outside, or my mind could be mired by work affairs, but I close my eyes and for a moment I'm no longer there. I've been teleported to a small sitting room in Bucharest, where my grandma is manhandling the buttons of the remote and my grandpa is reading the paper. And that sip of coffee can rescue a moment, however hopeless. When I'm teleported back, I'm peaceful.

So you see how it would be a real sacrifice for me to give up such symbolic foods. But I think that a serious diet, one that is meant to be embraced as a lifestyle rather than a brief detox program, must be forgiving. We have to allow ourselves the occasional slip in order to keep motivated and to stay on track. Indulgences offer so much more value and satisfaction if they become occasional treats. That is how I feel about chocolate, for instance. I remember a time, not too long ago, when I'd devour an entire Nutella jar in one go, right before the horrified eyes of my college roommates. There was no limit. These days I only go for dark chocolate, and only have a square or two as dessert. Not only is my stomach grateful, but I cherish a small bite much more.

I've bought a book that proposes a rather stringent diet plan. It doesn't advertise itself as a diet, but a "solution." So, a way to improve and maintain. A way to live. And because I want to give it a shot, over the past week I've tried to test out the principles of this nutritional plan to see how scary they are. The conclusion: not that scary. Certainly not if I can allow myself the occasional treat. Here are a few things I've prepared last week in preparation to engage in the Beauty Detox Solution.

First rule of the Beauty Detox Solution: Fruit should only be consumed on an empty stomach. For breakfast, watermelon, banana and grapes.

Snack: Avocado, cheese and tomatoes wrap on brown rice tortilla. This makes a great quick meal. Mash the avocado with a little salt.

Dinner: Omelet with basil, green beans, tomatoes and green bell peppers.

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