Amazing things can happen when you spend a week in paradise. The combination of laziness, an abundance of alcohol, and the never-ending availability of poor food choices can lead an otherwise healthy person down a dark path.
At least, this is what happens to me. And as I sit here back at home, writing grocery lists for detox soup and green smoothies, I find myself wondering which of these personas is actually mine. Am I truly a health-conscious person who lives for the purity of whole food or am I just a margarita-drinking wolf forcing myself to live in a lettuce-loving sheep’s clothing?
This has been my lifelong identity crisis. Instinctively, I want nachos and pizza and fresh-baked cookies. Selfishly, I want to fit into my pants. These two realities can’t exist together, which is why the aforementioned food items are rarely available (to me) in our house. So I go into these trips with trepidation, knowing at some point my will power is bound to give out.
I tell myself I will resist the chips and guac, that I will limit myself to one or two desserts. I aspire to commit to my usual morning routine of bulletproof coffee, a cathartic workout, then an egg or some nuts. I fool myself into believing I can stay strong in the face of carbs and salt-laden treasures. Then I see the sausages. And they offer me gluten-free toast. And they bring me two slices even though I asked for one. And the tikka masala comes on a bed of basmati. And there is a melting chocolate dome for dessert. And there are chips. And guac.
Because I’m an over-thinker, I’ve analyzed a few ways I lead myself astray:
1) Denial of tastiness. If I didn’t spend the rest of the year trying to avoid these evil delights, I might not be inclined to gorge on them when they are made so readily and incessantly available. (A subsection to that might be that maybe I’m not supposed to label them as evil.)
2) Denial of basic cause and effect. I have the metabolism of a hibernating bear. If I stray from my largely vegetable/lean protein diet for even one day, all the fat cells in my body blow up like party balloons that won’t deflate for a month.
3) Denial of facts. If the foods I crave are in my vicinity, they will be consumed. This is why I don’t bake gluten-free goodies or cook gluten-free pasta. It’s just easier if the option isn’t there. So maybe we need to go places that don’t understand the word gluten or who employ people like our smarmy Air Canada flight attendant who said, “I don’t even know what gluten is. Look at the menu.” Ironically, chips and guac were the only choice.
(There also exists the possibility that I’ve created an issue with gluten to make it easier to say no to things I crave. I’m pretty sure I consumed gluten several times on this trip—having learned on the last night that the salad dressings and ice cream were both culprits —and all I suffered was an extra inner tube around my waist. Is that a gluten intolerance or a daily diet of tequila and tortillas?)
4) Denial of… something. I know there’s a fourth option here. That is to just enjoy the things I enjoy and get past the desire to be a certain size. I don’t even know where to go with that other than to say adopting such a mindset would likely require electroshock therapy.
Please don’t take this as a complaint about having to suffer through a week in Mexico. Woe is me, right? Besides, I’m the one who got myself into this situation in the first place by requesting a vacation from cooking and a week off dish-duty. This checked those boxes and more. I just wish I had the self-control to enjoy the abundance without diving head first into it.
So even though we’ve returned to winter and reality is setting back in, there is a part of me that’s thankful to be back in the safety of my thoughtfully-stocked kitchen. What better way to end a vacation than to be happy to be home?
The kids are feeling it, too. After a week of grilled cheese, mac & cheese, french fries, sugar-laden slushie drinks and more bacon than one thought possible, their simple stir-fry dinner was met with high praise from one kid and at least a willingness to consume from the other. This is huge for him, especially since there were recognizable vegetables involved.
I think a lot of us get sucked into this dionysian snowball, forsaking all knowledge of health in the name of a jolly good time. At least, this is what I gather from all the people commiserating on my Facebook post about the struggle to put on real pants after a week at the buffet. Thankfully, we have Lycra and long sweaters to get us through to the next bikini season, and the comfort of knowing we aren’t alone.