(Un)Comfort Food

I’m having a bad day. Not the worst day ever, but it’s Monday and cloudy and I didn’t get any sleep because I was up all night working on a project for work. So, although today is a much needed day off, where I had a long list of things I needed to accomplish, literally zero sleep and stress and grouchiness have replaced motivation with self-pity.

On that long list of things to do was grocery shop. I’m not completely out of food, but all the good stuff is gone and most of the other stuff is wilty (or simply not edible without the aforementioned good stuff). I already had a rice cake with peanut butter, because I didn’t have enough produce for juice, so I didn’t want that again for lunch.

Basically the entire day was a spiral toward take-out comfort food for lunch (and dinner, let’s be real.) My ultimate comfort food also happens to be the most accessible food in the midwestern United States: the pizza. For particularly raucous pity parties I like to order a cheese pizza topped with extra mozzarella.  I mean, I seriously love this stuff. Sometimes when I am tired of salad and feeling blue I stare at this photo that I keep on my phone:

I assume other people do this with pictures of say, pets or loved ones.

Luckily my favorite pizza joint in town delivers straight to my house, with the added bonus of online ordering so I could stay as clear of society as humanly possible. In a fit of guilt I amended my order to the healthy crust option, which is made from whole grains (I think mostly whole wheat). We’ll get to that in a minute.

I was pretty excited about it when it arrived, but immediately upon eating it I noticed three different evolutionary changes in my relationship with my closest ally, cheese pizza.

1. It is not as delicious anymore. I had an exact taste in my sense memory deposit, but for some reason when I bit into this reality, it just did not live up to expectations. I think, honestly, it is a combination of two things: 1. guilt. 2. I’m just not used to eating any of those foods anymore. Maybe I’m just not used to the taste of bread or cheese anymore. Or maybe the pizza place was having an off day? Today’s version did not look as vibrant as the picture above. But really I think that my heart is just not in it anymore.

2. I have a longstanding feud with my respiratory system. I am well known amongst my circle of friends for being sick almost once a month. I get sinus infections like no one’s business, probably 3 or 4 a year. Since my cleanse last month, I have been cautiously optimistic maybe I had alleviated a lot of these problems through my dietary changes. I don’t wake up congested or with a sore throat very often, whereas before this was literally a daily event. Last week my mom told me I didn’t sound like I had a cold on the phone for the first time in like 25 years. But today eating this thick whole wheat bread, my nose started running immediately. It was nuts! It could also have been exhaustion/outdoor allergies, but I think it was the bread.

3. I did not find comfort. I did not find solace in the warm tasty gooeyness of my lunch. Instead I felt even more tired, which I didn’t think possible, and bad about myself because it was a little early in the week for my cheat meal.

I only made it through 2 pieces, though. Which is a great testament to how well my diet is doing. Normally I could get through four or five of those within two commercial breaks. Now I am more conscious of what and when I am eating, and my stomach is just not prepared for a full capacity adventure like half a large pizza anymore.

So now, I have two obstacles: six pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge and a void where my old comfort food standards used to be. I tried the opposite approach at dinner, but my super green veggie smoothie did not really make me feel better either. (Although I did feel like it was a success getting through it!) So now, the important thing for days like today, is to find something that is delicious but will help my stress, not add to it.

Suggestions are welcome, by the way!

– lj

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Healthy recipes and all my thoughts about physical and mental health.

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