Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Veggies Don’t Bite

Vegetables and I have a very strange relationship--carrots especially. My parents never did a very good job of force feeding fruits and vegetables (of course, I never made it an easy job to force anything so I can't blame them) and as a result I've grown up to be an especially picky eater who literally has to shove any vegetable, excluding the simple canned variety of corn and green beans, down her own throat. I only have one very old and vague memory of actually choosing a carrot as a snack and it was when my brother and I were much, much younger. We were building a snowman in the backyard and we ran back into the house for the finishing touch--a carrot for a nose--only we grabbed three carrots from the vegetable drawer; one to complete the snowman, and one for each of us to eat. My memory of eating raw vegetables abruptly ends there, some 20 or so odd years ago.

I asked our family doctor at my last check up if it was a safe and practical idea to force vegetables on myself in the hopes that one day I would actually enjoy them again. Her response was comical and helped me realize how silly my fear of edible plants was--she cocked her head to the side, the edges of her mouth visibly straining to keep from smiling too much to not leave me feeling too ashamed for asking, and she said, "Katie, I can tell you, in my own professional opinion, it is not going to be harmful to you, in any way, to eat more vegetables."

So, with my doctor's blessing, I have faithfully packed 18 baby carrots (two servings) in my lunch every day for the past 3 months. The only problem is I don't always eat them. I find myself eating around them instead. I'll dig through my lunch sack for an apple, or tuna sandwich, or yogurt, pushing the carrots further down each time until around 5:00 when I reach in for the last time and come away with only a bag of vegetables. I swear it's a psychological problem, because all I have to do is get over the hurdle of eating the first 2 carrots and then I remember, "Oh yeah! I really like these!" and the other 16 are gone within minutes. So, in theory, my plan worked, I really do like them, but the habit of not initially cringing is proving to be hard to break.

I did it again today. I spent my last hour at work staring at a ziplock bag of carrot sticks wishing they were Cheetos--one of the most tasty yet nasty of my old food addictions. The whole time I was trying to reason with myself, explaining to myself that I needed the fiber, I needed the vitamins, I needed the vegetables to complete my food pyramid for the day, but it was looking like another day that they would go uneaten. But eventually I broke down--I must have gotten hungry enough--and ate the first 2 carrots fifteen minutes before it was time for me to leave. I spent half the drive home munching on carrots and singing along to music until eventually I reached my hand in the bag and came back with nothing. The carrot sticks were gone, and I was disappointed.

Yesterday, I told my little sister that she shouldn't feed her son Cheetos, and I still think it's sound advice, but I also think it came out a bit too harsh, so Kristin, if you're reading this, I am proof of why you shouldn't feed your son Cheetos, so that one day when he's an adult trying to lose a few pounds or just looking to be as healthy as he can be, he's not staring at a bag of cancer-fighting carrot sticks and wishing they were fried corn meal sprayed with a powered cheese of unknown origins.

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