It’s not like it came as a surprise.
Vacations are inherently fraught for a healthy eater, especially one coddled in the bosom of New York City’s foodie and health-conscious culture. (We may not be L.A. or San Fran, but we have plenty of displaced citizens from the West Coast who have brought their OCD health tendencies along.)
In NYC, it’s OK to be a conscious carnivore who eats only organic and avoids bread-based foods 90% of the time. (Ouch, I really am that girl.) But once you leave the Island of Everything, choices narrow as fast as a five-lane highway exit onto a unpaved country road. When you leave, you have to pick your food battles.
So, I decided this weekend that during my time in Cape Cod, I would focus on the conscious carnivore aspect of my drive to healthier and more eco-friendly eating. After all, it’s not like I can request my hosts serve only organic food, or even drive me to the grocery store to stock up for myself. And when you’re on vacation, the temptations of bread beckon from every delicious, authentic corner. Lobster rolls, local beer, pulled pork sammiches with a side of corn bread. How could I say no to everything? So conscious carnivore it was.
Once I explained what being a conscious carnivore is to my friend J, whose house we were staying at, he actually was very accommodating. Well, in between making fun of me by asking if I knew where my peach, lobster salad, and corn came from. So cute.
So, yeah, I made a lot of exceptions. Just like I do every time I visit the Cape. But Saturday was either worse than before, or just at a time where by body was even less equipped to handle it.
Another song I love in the genre of floaty French synth, the title of this song means, “The Sand.” It’s an appropriate song for the bittersweet last weekend of summer at the beach, non?
It started with a snack of an english muffin with butter and Stonewall Kitchen jam while I waited for everyone else to get up. Then brunch was ricotta-stuffed French toast. (“Do eggs count?” “Yes.” “You know that French toast has egg on it, right?” “Shut up, I do what I can.” Munch, munch. “This is so good.”)
Lunch was clam chowder and a local beer. More organic beer followed–I had bought my own six pack to avoid drinking Bud Light–until dinner at a famous local joint called Arnold’s. I decided I was full of beer, so after ordering a basket full of fried clams, which came with fries, I added a large soda. That’s right, I filled up a large cup full of diet coke, eight hours after I had gotten in a serious debate about the merits of Bloomberg’s soda proposition with the resident insufferable Republican. (I think it’s genius. The psych major at the table agreed.)
It just seemed appropriate. I was on vacation, at the beach, eating fried items. Why not wash it down with soda?
I could tell I had made a mistake before dinner was even over. I leaned my head on J’s shoulder and mumbled that I shouldn’t have eaten so much. When we got back to the house, I buried myself in a novel so I could forget how bad I felt. I felt like a soda-soaked, deep-fried dead clam.
See, the thing is, I used to have heartburn in college. Heartburn can be brought on by a variety of things, including acidic foods, carb- and sugar-heavy foods, alcohol and laying horizontally after eating. In college, I would go out drinking, fix myself a smorgasbord of food from the sorority table which included cookies, icing and soda, and then pass out horizontally. The next morning I would awake to a sensation that if you’ve never had a heart attack, feels like it could be one. The rest of the day would be spent in front of a Law & Order marathon.
After I graduated and converted to health food, my acid reflux vanished. Bam. Lifestyle changes, FTW. But now it was more than three years later, I had imbibed soda and lots of fried food, and I was very, very unhappy. While everyone amicably chatted around me in the living room, I sank further and further into the couch cushions. I finally excused myself into my bedroom so I could chew two Tums, curl into a fetal position around the intense pain in my abdomen and esophagus, and sleep fitfully until this morning.
Even 10 hours later, my stomach still felt sore, like it had been given an extremely intense workout, which I guess was true. I haven’t had soda in more than a year. And that much fried food and bread and sugar in one day? No wonder my body was screaming at me. “Hellooo, what the hell is this stuff? Where is the real food?”
That is the downside of going healthy. If you are successful at it and you truly change your lifestyle to cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, fried foods, soda, alcohol or whatever else is on your “not healthy” list, when you do give in to temptation and stuff it down your gullet, your body will not know what to do. And you will pay in any number of ways. Luckily I suffered in the most un-embarrassing way possible, but today J talked about his ex who knew she was lactose intolerant and would eat a bunch of pizza, and how unpleasant that was for anyone near her. Ick.
So. Now I know. Fried food and carbs are officially off the list of items I can eat in large amounts. Soda may be completely stricken from my diet, forever.
But I guess that is OK. After all, that’s what I wanted, right?