Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Burger Girl Eats a Salad

My sweetie and I started a diet a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, I’d made plans to take a couple of younger family members to see a photography exhibit—at a local bakery. It was only going to be there for eight weeks, so we had limited time to see it.

Somehow, the two things did not connect in my head.

The diet was in the “health/eating” box inside my brain, and the photography exhibit expedition was in the “family/relationships/fun/schedule” box.

When I realized what I’d done, I wasn’t about to cancel my plans. I figured I’d just get coffee and let them pick out some yummy little treat.

Well, we ended up going around lunchtime. I had not eaten lunch ahead of time. Can you say, “disaster in the making”?

I looked at the yummies in the case, not daring to let my eyes linger too long on any of them. Then I looked at the menu.

Sandwiches . . . not on the diet. (Not at this point, anyway.)

Salads . . . hmmm . . . salads.

I read the descriptions of salads on the chalkboard. I read them again. There was one that sounded yummy and was (mostly) on my diet! I ordered it.

Twenty or so years earlier, I had sat at an outdoor table at a cafĂ© in a suburb of Phoenix, having lunch with two of my colleagues from the bookstore. They both ordered salads and something noncaloric to drink like iced tea or diet soda. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries and a Dr. Pepper. I remember thinking, This is why they are both thin, and I’m fat. (Well, that plus the fact that they both worked out and I didn’t.) I didn’t want to be fat. But I did want the bacon cheeseburger. I wanted protein. Salt. Flavor. I was hungry! Stressed! I needed energy!

This paradox went on in my mind for years. I knew my choices were not taking me where I wanted to go. But I wasn’t ready to change. I always thought, I need to eat healthier. But today I want the burger.

Now here I was in a bakery at lunchtime, sitting at a table with two companions who were eating meat-laden sandwiches on crusty artisanal bread and a third companion who was industriously scraping the chocolate off her sugar cookie with her teeth. (Yes, she’s little and quite adorable, and no, that wasn’t the only thing she ate for lunch.)

I ate my beautiful, crunchy, green, tangy salad with chicken on it. I drank my latte. I did not feel deprived.

I did not feel deprived.

The earth tilted slightly on its axis. Hell may not have actually frozen over, but some of the minor demons did have to scrape frost off their windshields. Somewhere deep inside my brain, something shifted.

The diet is not going perfectly. I have stumbled a few times. There is a long way to go. But last Friday, this burger girl ate a salad for lunch. It was delicious. And it was enough.