Nodakademic is a late-20s woman living, working, and writing a dissertation in North Dakota (which is kind of like a foreign country to most people, if you think about it). She’s also Mrs. Mary Jane on Weddingbee. She takes one heck of a daily multivitamin.
I’m a person who really wants to care about her health and her appearance. Therefore, like many other men and women in the U.S., I have often been heard making proclamations such as “We need to eat healthier!” and “We are going to cook at home more and eat out less!” And in fact, my husband (online, I call him Mr. Nodakademic) and I have actually made some good strides in that direction, from time to time. But as far as a long term, permanent change? Hasn’t happened, and it’s mostly my fault.
Now obviously, a husband and wife should each be invested in healthy eating. But wouldn’t a lot of ladies agree with me that it’s often the wife who needs to ‘gently coax’ (or drag, kicking and screaming) the husband in to a slightly healthier way of eating? This has been my experience, made a little bit more difficult by the issue that my
husband is very, very picky about food. [LINK:http://www.nodakademic.com/2010/02/on-having-husband-who-doesnt-like-food.html] (To be general, but mostly accurate: he doesn’t like cooked vegetables, things that are mixed with other things, most breads, pastas, rice, types of potatoes, casseroles, soups… I could go on for a while, but I’ll spare you.) But throughout our 3.5 years of living together, I have found a pretty decent variety of things we do both enjoy eating. I believe almost all of them are–at the very least–healthier than take-out.
Lately though, I’ve been having this little issue with my time and stress levels. Anyone who follows my blog knows that there are two main things sucking up my waking hours at the moment. I work a ‘normal,’ 40-hours-a-week job–that’s thing #1. Thing #2 is my dissertation. I’ve been chasing my doctorate for about 3 years now, and am trying to nail down a December graduation. And I uh…well…I might have slacked off just a little bit too much this summer. So I’m now on a serious crunch. I’ve given up pretty much everything I actually enjoy doing. This makes for a sad, boring me, but it forces me to tackle my writing. (Cooking is one of those things I enjoy doing, by the way.)
Though not in quite the crunch I am at the moment, Mr. Nodakademic is also in hot pursuit of a Ph.D. and cooking is *not* one of those things he enjoys doing. Asking him to cook is equivalent to asking him to order the pizza. I’m not saying he can’t cook–he can. But he would rather someone else do it. In particular, someone at a place ending in ‘Hut’ or ‘Wok’ or ‘& Grill.’ That’s how Mr. N was finding his sustenance when I first met him; he’d been doing it that way for years. So, we’ve established that neither of us has time to cook, and Mr. N doesn’t really want to. What does that leave us?
A mashup of takeout boxes, leftover pizza and junk food. It’s easy. It’s satisfying. It’s available. Tons of well-meaning people would surely respond to me by saying that healthy food is more satisfying, just as available, and easy too. That I should cast off the shackles of MSG and high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fat. And those people are right…except for the parts about healthy food being satisfying, available, and fast/easy for me.
I’ll start with ‘satisfying,’ since it’s the most biased thing I said. I can tell myself 10,000 times that I’d be more satisfied if I skipped the candy bar and got a manicure. But at the end of the day I’ll have nice nails AND chocolate in my teeth because my ‘self’ doesn’t appreciate being lied to. Ditto with healthy meals. Today I tried to have yogurt and carrots for lunch. Which is… Meh. But it’s healthy! So eating that *and then* Doritos dipped in microwaved cheese-product–because I totally felt ripped off after finishing that boring-ass carrots+yogurt cup lunch–is still healthy, right?
Availability. I live in the smack dab middle of the US, waaaaay up north. They say Chicago is a northern, midwestern city. And it certainly is. But travel about 750 miles northwest, and you’ll find us in North Dakota. My friends in Chicago lament about their poor produce selection in the winter, and that’s a major metropolitan area. I can’t say I shed a tear for them while I’m trying to find a peach that doesn’t have too many soft-brownish-black areas, or an apple without visible freezer burn. I don’t like most vegetables served raw. Mr. N doesn’t like most vegetables served cooked. And he also doesn’t like things mixed together (so if you were going to say “salad!”…). Let’s not even talk about preserves, the thought of which make either of us ready to hurl. Fun times with availability, taste and preference.
How about the speed and ease? Pretty sure spooning some Nutella out of the jar and in to my mouth is easier than having to cut up that dumb old carrot. Yeah… I know that’s a weak argument. I also rarely read labels on anything. I just throw it in my cart and get out of the store as quickly as I can (after paying, of course). Along these same lines, it’s much easier to keep non-perishables (which are usually not-so-good-for-you things) fresh. I don’t go to the store very often. I don’t have time. I use my lunch hours from work working my my dissertation, usually. After work, I come home and–guess what!–more
dissertation. And the weekends… I don’t go to the store on the weekends. I work on my dissertation. Meanwhile, the head of cauliflower (which I could swear I just) bought has turned a funny shade of greenish tan and started to stink to high heaven. Whoops. You have no idea how much food I throw out. It’s terribly sad. Note: you never have to throw out a twinkie. They don’t expire. 😉
Have I mentioned that I’m almost 30 years old and I still lack any sort of “I need to eat something healthy” physical-sickness-funk-type of feeling? I don’t know what that’d be like, but I guess a lot of people I know tend to gravitate toward healthier dishes after a few days of heavy junk-food consumption. Not me. Mexican yesterday? Chinese buffet tonight? Drive-thru burgers tomorrow? Bring it. With a side (or main course?) of ice cream and a couple of shots of whiskey. I know this kind of eating can do me (us) nothing but harm. So this whole “We need to eat healthier” thing is most definitely true, and the reasons I’ve given for avoiding it are transparent and nothing but excuses. But I haven’t the time, the energy, or the brain power to deal with it right now. I’ve made the choice to back off on this self-improvement and let it slide (along with house chores, home improvements, social obligations and pretty much everything else) because I know I only have a limited amount of dissertating left. I watch my portion sizes, but that’s where the dissertation diet rules end.