Choices on the menu blur together in a mangled mess of carbohydrates, deep-fried goodness and sweet not-so-nothingness. Fish and chips! Chicken pot pie! Macaroni and cheese! French fries! Sweet potato fries! Beef dip and homemade burgers!
What am I going to eat?
Of course, I should eat the chef’s salad (not the Caesar salad) or the chicken wrap. Yes, the chicken wrap. It’ll be sort of good, not wildly interesting, but it’s fairly healthy. Maybe I’ll get French fries, no, sweet potato fries instead of the side salad. Yum, fries. I love fries. No, I should get the salad. Caesar salad might be tastier than a boring chef salad. I want the Caesar salad, but I should get the chef's salad. But what about the fish and chips? Deep fried battered fish and French fries. I can't make that at home. No, no, no, I should get the chicken wrap with the chef's salad. Yes, I’m going to do it. I’d rather eat the fish and chips, but I’m going to make the healthy choice.
“Yes, I’ll have the fish and chips,” I say to the waiter.
"Why didn't I order the wrap?" I say to myself.
Going to a restaurant and making a healthy choice has always been difficult for me. Most entrees and appetizers are “bad” foods prepared in the unhealthiest manner: deep friend and battered, oiled and fried, sugary and baked. Plus, there is the sheer amount of food and social pressure (directly and indirect) encouraging me to eat.
As you can imagine, the prospect of going out for the night always invokes a variety of thoughts: have fun, but eat something healthy; live a little, eat something bad for you; that looks delicious, I want to eat that too; that looks healthy, I should eat that salad instead.
A year ago, it was a sure bet that despite the best intentions and nutritional knowledge, I would always order an entrée (sometimes healthy, sometimes not) with French fries. I would pass over choices that did not include French fries as a side option. So I was a little worried as to what would happen when I met up with a group of friends for dinner and drinks at an Irish pub in Cabbagetown.
My plan for the evening was to order a pop and something light to eat. The menu was full of high-fat, big-portioned pub food. My final two choices came down to a half-order of the chef's salad with chicken and the chicken caesar wrap with a chef's salad. In the end, I decided to order the wrap with the chef's salad.
I considered both the caesar salad and the french fries as my side, but I picked the chef's salad because it was the healthier choice. I know that the other choices such as fish and chips or the macaroni and cheese would have been tastier, but for once in my life, I didn't feel like I'm missing out or wishing that I was thin enough to eat something more fattening. For once, I'm happy with the decision I made, which happened to be the healthy choice.
I talked to my therapist shortly after my trip to Newfoundland and she told me that changing my brain and thinking takes practice. I agree. A month and a half ago, I was still choosing french fries over a side salad. Yesterday, I easily picked the chef's salad instead.
And a completely foreign thought popped into my head: am I actually starting to crave vegetables?