the anti-diet


another small break from the multi-course essay (which i hope you've been enjoying - or at least not hating).

we're at that fickle time of the year when food seems to break up into two main categories: what we look forward to eating at holiday meals and what we regret we ate (or ate too much of!) at holiday meals. and, as the days trickling down the hourglass to the new year, the horrible question starts rearing it's ugly head: "what's you new year's resolution?" jt asked me this very question a few weeks ago, and while i can't give you the exact same response, i'll give you something close:

i don't do new year's resolutions. i like new year's too much (actually, it's my favorite holiday of the year) to want to ruin it with resolutions. new year's is one of the rare holidays out of the year that isn't religiously or politically affiliated, that you can pick if you want to spend it with friends or family - or a mixture of both! or alone! - and no one will be offended. it's a champagne holiday. it's an eat m&m's until you get sick holiday. it's a stay up all night for no reason at all holiday. and, you don't have to buy anyone presents or write thank you cards. it's holiday that has no wrong way and no expected way to celebrate. why ruin it by guilting tripping yourself?

new year's resolutions are a good idea on the paper. and if you live your life like a book-keeper, they're easy rules to follow to hopefully "improve" yourself. realistically, i, and i expect most of you reading this, are human. we're temperamental. to use the amazing word from above again - we're fickle. we say things we don't mean. we cheat, even when the only person we're cheating is ourselves. and we give up. when we see that huge plate before us first at thanksgiving and then at the insert-religious-holiday-here, we promise ourselves we'll eat healthy and go to the gym more after the holidays - i.e. after new year's. we lie.

oh, maybe we'll hit the treadmill a little bit more in january, have a salad or two (coated in a heavy, caloric dressing!) instead of something fried. but when it becomes a resolution, when that fated word stamps it's ink onto the new year's champagne glasses and plastic plates, most of us secretly know that we're lying to ourselves. and isn't that untruth the bitterest sweet of the year? knowing that last year we tried and failed and, in a terrible cycle, it'll probably happen again? 2010 is doomed before we even step on the scale to see how much damage 2009 has done.

so i don't bother with that. why ruin my good time by holding myself up to unrealistic standards? you don't hold me to those standards, so why should i? and why should you, for that matter? celebrations should be enjoyable and food should be fun. so, i'm not even waiting for the new year to give my anti-diet a whirl.

there's something decadent about the name "anti-diet." if i was a big chocolate or sweets person, i would probably imagine chocolate melting down the sides of a fresh eclair. but i'm not. so i don't. but it's a good visual. and it screams non-conformity (though, if you all join onto this bandwagon, i'll have to retract that statement). it's like, if food loved you back, that's be the anti-diet. it's so much more relaxed and less rigid than "diet." "anti-diet" and "diet" are the good cop/bad cop team of food choices.

contrary to what you might think, the anti-diet isn't simply an excuse to eat whatever the hell you want and sit on your bum all day surrounded by candy wrappers. so, how does it work? the anti-diet is a game. a few weeks ago i hosted a beer crawl/scavenger hunt. besides being a lot of fun, it gave me an idea of how to stop kicking myself for not always eating my greens or for sometimes having an extra drink or two than i originally intended.

my anti-diet is a food scavenger hunt. i made a small list for myself (in my phone, because i am that kind of person) of foods i like and want to eat more of that, regrettably, because i make bad choices, i don't always have too often. and i thought about the foods i eat way too much, whether out of convenience, boredom, or sheer availability. and because i like the foods i do, the foods that ended on the list made sense. (sorry, not chocolate eclairs.) the goal of the list isn't to follow it, but to get me to think and be creative. and not eat pizza four nights out of the week - and i could so easily eat pizza that often.

so, keeping very lightly to the list, i'm thinking these things now when i consider my next meal:

  • seafood, at least once a week
  • potatoes no more than three times (meals) a week (i love french fries way too much...)
  • avocado, at least once a week
  • tomatoes on toast with olive oil and cilantro more often (my favorite breakfast that i never seem to have)
  • a la carte when possible (how often are we not that hungry, but the side dishes come out and away we go?)
  • seafood or less (vegetarian) before six when possible (i like mark bittman of the ny time's idea of vegan before six diet, but that's just not me)
  • pizza no more than twice a week
  • when possible, greens
  • when possible, water (i'm very good at forgetting water in favor of flavors)
  • when possible, limit the diet soda (see above)
  • try for non-white breads
  • if you're full, you're full. don't eat.
  • if you're hungry, you may really be dehydrated. try some water first. but if you're hungry, you're hungry. don't starve yourself.

none of these things are set in stone. none of them are resolutions. no where in my list do i say "sm- you must eat this! you can't eat that!" everything is just there to remind me of what i like, where i would someday like to go with my eating habits, and that's all. if i have pizza three nights in a week, that's okay. if i make my tomatoes on toast with white bread, i'm not going to die (and i often do make them with white bread when i make them, because that's what's around). and since i've been playing this game for a while now, i've already had sushi more than i normally do (which makes me happy!), i've had some tasty grilled zucchini, and my mother and i tried out a recipe for latkes with lox and green onions in them (so i got my potatoes and my seafood... :).

so, this new year's i'm going to have plenty of champagne, maybe some m&m's, but no resolutions. and if wherever i celebrate my new years has them, i may have something with avocado in it...


so, whether or not you care about any of this, what's your anti-resolution?