Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Recipe Swap: Yeah, Right

The folks sponsoring the May Day Weight Loss Challenge are now also sponsoring a Wednesday low-fat recipe swap. Although I used to be a really good cook, I've pretty much quit, and I have no recipes to swap. Years ago, I cooked elaborate vegetarian meals and I didn't mind the effort that it took. Now, it's an effort to reheat a microwavable meal.

Back in the day, I made my own bread from scratch (without a bread machine), shopped at the local organic produce market, and experimented with a variety of cooking styles and techniques. Then I graduated from college. Then I moved 600 miles to be with the guy I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Then I started a temporary job. Then I started a permanent job that required two hours of commuting each day.

I'd come home exhausted between 6:00 and 6:30 every night. My man, who had to teach night classes at 7:00, would gripe and complain that he wasn't getting the elaborate vegetarian meals I used to make. The cooking I had done before took a lot of time, and despite all his arguments to the contrary, I couldn't whip something together in 15 minutes before he went to class. Meanwhile, Mr. Man would arrive home between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Would it have been so hard for him to cook? (Oh, yeah, I forgot, that's supposed to be exclusively the female's job.)

After we went our separate ways, my job situation had changed, and I ended up relying heavily on pre-prepared frozen foods. Although I had the time to cook, I was desperately broke, and I discovered that buying el cheapo frozen dinners cost less than cooking fancy vegetarian meals from scratch. Besides, I was living alone and the thought of spending time in the kitchen to cook for one person just seemed like too much effort.

When my current SO and I got together, I abandoned the kitchen entirely. I was working way too much overtime and was back to spending two hours each day in the car. I just didn't care what I ate, because it was just another thing to think about. We were both commuting. I would drive, and SO would sleep, and when we got home, I would collapse on the couch until dinner. I was exhausted, all the time.

If I had a personal chef, who knew how to make healthy and nutritious meals, I probably never would have gotten fat. It's hard to make good food choices when you are exhausted and you just don't care what's on your plate. Every night I would come home bone tired, knowing that I was going to have to do the same thing the next day. All I wanted to do was to eat something, anything, and then go to bed.

These days, we are trying to make healthier food choices, but we still rely heavily on frozen dinners and easy-to-make convenience foods like pasta. We do make an effort to eat as much fresh produce as we can manage, but beyond that it's just too much effort. We have too many other things to do like managing our business, and schlepping The Kid to her various activities. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the ubiquitous homework monster, too.

I wonder if the U.S. obesity epidemic has less to do about food and more to do about the general unhappiness and high stress levels that are so pervasive in our country. Some interesting statistics:
Now I certainly don't want to over-simplify the root causes here, but it's certainly something to make me wonder. How many people do you know who eat when they are unhappy?

1 comment:

Lady T said...

i know several and happen to be one of those people myself.

i totally believe your first point...i too am currently working a job i hate...i have no choice..there is rent to be paid and the job market is less than stellar here in my area (although i do have an internal interview with my own agency in a few moments-like the agency, hate the job) and when i get home i am tired...drained...and just want to crash on the couch. it is not heartening to know that i have to repeat the process 5 days a week.

but i just started taking an amped up B vitamin today...hopefully that will turn my energy around...that and eating better.