Lessons from the Universe: Picky Eating

I’ve turned into a voluntary picky eater.  (You might think that all picky eaters are voluntary, but you’d be wrong.  My friend wrote a whole book about it.  The upshot is that picky eaters should be pitied and not disdained or reviled because they can’t help it.)  I don’t like raw celery or cilantro, which makes me want to open my mouth and refund all the cilantro-polluted food in it, but other than that, I love food, and I love to eat.  Because of this, before I read Stephanie’s book, I didn’t have a lot of patience or sympathy for picky eaters.  In fact, one time I was throwing a dinner party, and for a variety of reasons, people started dropping out, and the only guests left who were still coming were the pickiest eaters of my friends.  I canceled the dinner party.  I’m not proud of this.  Now, the universe has taught me a lesson by denying entire classes of food to me.

I went for a physical last year in November, probably my first one in a decade (sorry for the additional parenthetical, but before you get on me about my health, I do go for my women’s

health checkup every year without fail).  They took blood to check for the usual things, and since I’d lost 15 pounds in the previous six months by restricting calories and swimming four times a week, I wasn’t all that worried.  In fact, I was feeling pretty smug.  Pride definitely goeth before a fall for me, because the doctor’s office called with the results.  The nurse told me that my triglycerides and blood sugar were well out of the normal range, which qualified me for the diagnosis of pre-diabetes.  The nurse said I needed to stop eating bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, and dessert.

Did I mention that I love food?  The diagnosis and the cure sounded drastic and dramatically overblown, even made up.  I tried to explain that the day before the blood test had been the day that Katy and I started the first round of our Pepperidge Farm cookie tasting, and that I’d eaten tamales and goldfish crackers and pizza for my other meals.  Undaunted, the nurse repeated, “No bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, or dessert.”  In full-on argumentative mode, I asked her what exactly “pre-diabetes” is.  She told me that if I continued to eat the way I’d been eating, I’d have full-blown, Type II diabetes in five years.  Time stopped, and in my mind what I heard was, “We’ll be amputating your feet in five years.”

And so I stopped eating bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, and dessert.  I ate one cheat item a week, because I am not a superhero.  And in February, the results showed that my triglycerides were normal, and that while my blood sugar was a little on the high side, it was still in the normal range.  The nurse said, “Keep up the good work.”  That’s when the penny dropped for me – restricting all these foods isn’t temporary.  It’s permanent.

I skipped the blood test in May (I’m supposed to go every three months) because visiting family and job changes consumed my time.  I finally got retested a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn’t good news.  My cheat item morphed into a cheat meal, then into a couple of cheat meals.  You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to science.  My blood sugar levels have inched up.

I feel like an utter failure.  Intellectually, I know that this is an extreme and unproductive reaction.  It would be better to acknowledge the past, learn from my mistakes, and be more thoughtful about what I put in my mouth going forward.  But I think about how hard my friends have worked to help me stay on the right path, and I feel guilty for making work for them and letting them down.  I also think about how the right path doesn’t include ice cream or bread with butter but is lined with people claiming that spaghetti squash is just like pasta (those people are WRONG).  Even with help, it doesn’t seem like I’m going to win this war, especially since all I want is to turn to chocolate for comfort.

I’m finding this health situation to be one of many lessons with which the universe has conked me on the head to be more understanding and kind as I get older.  I think the lesson here is not just to be more understanding and kind to picky eaters; it’s to be more understanding and kind to myself, which is a much, much harder lesson to learn.

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1 Response to Lessons from the Universe: Picky Eating

  1. Pingback: Gluttony: Sinful and (Almost) Sinless Versions | Travel, Food, and Life

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