Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16, a brief divergence

It's very early in the morning on Monday, March 16. I'm waiting for the vet's office to open at 8 because Bella is having a hard time passing an egg. A vet bill is going to cut hard into the finances this month, but it's the obligation you take on when you have pets. You do what you have to do. We used to have an emergency reserve for that sort of thing, but it was wiped out last year by a 1200 vet bill for avian gastric yeast in three of the birds.  The bill would've been much higher, but instead of boarding the birds, I drove them across town to the vet twice a day for their medicine. Two of them survived, one never recovered, and eventually we had her euthanized, because more medicine would only have prolonged the pain. You do what you have to do. 

That's not really what I got on to talk about, though. I owe the journal a post for this weekend, which was full of good food, and that will come later. While I've been waiting for the vet to open, I watched the documentary Super Size Me. I know it's old, but I never got around to seeing it till it showed up in the Watch Instantly queue in Netflix. It made me think a lot about how I eat and have eaten. I agree to a certain extent with the premise of the film, that fast food makes you fat. But I think they didn't go far enough. It's not just fast food. Cheap food makes you fat. The less money you spend on your menu, the further away you get from anything that could be considered healthy. I didn't just get off Weight Watchers because it cost forty dollars a month, though that was certainly one reason. I got off the program because I knew that I couldn't eat according to the healthy plan guidelines and still eat for cheap. 

I'm fairly proud of what I've done with the menu this past few months. I have drastically cut waste in the household, both in and out of the kitchen. We're eating a variety of foods, and we're spending a lot less money. But we are not really eating healthy. Most of our meals are one item. When I say we ate pulled pork, we ate pulled pork. I made a side dish once this past week, and it was potatoes to go with the chicken breasts, so that they would stretch into sandwiches for the next day. Side dishes drive up the cost of a meal. I buy apples almost every week, and we eat those, and sometimes bananas. Bananas go bad pretty fast, so sometimes they end up as banana bread. That's the fruit we get. I buy potatoes, onions, garlic, and sometimes baby carrots, and those are our fresh vegetables. I'm not entirely sure whether garlic is a vegetable, but it's not a fruit and it's in the produce section. We eat lots of pasta, lots of rice, lots of bread, and lots of poultry. Ham and pork make appearances when the price is low, though I do try and trim the fat. Beef has been on the menu twice in two months, once as pot roast and once as sausage. All of these things are versatile, and more importantly, all of them are cheap. 

I think that's the point that the documentary skated towards and missed in the end. At the end of the 30-day McDonald's diet, Morgan Spurlock's girlfriend puts him on a "detox diet" which she describes as being full of organic, nutritionally dense vegetables. That sounds great! I'd love to put more of that into my diet, lots of healthy greens, lots of squashes, plenty of fresh fruits. I can't afford it. I can buy one small acorn squash,or two full boxes of pasta. A pound of peaches, or two pounds of ground turkey. A bag of non-iceberg salad, or three bags of rice. When we went to the wellness movie night, I was far more excited to see veggie-packed taco dip and a fresh fruit  platter than I would've been to see a dozen pizzas. And you know, I couldn't afford to eat every meal at McDonalds, but I could come a lot closer than to affording to hit all the bars on the food pyramid every day. Last month we had fast food Chinese once, and Taco Bell once. No McDonalds. And yet I'm still having trouble holding my weight to where it was when I quit Weight Watchers. Shock! Surprise! 

But what does it mean? I know I need to find a way to get more fruits and vegetables into the next plan. I need to find a way to work in side dishes such that I can stretch one-meal entrees to two, and two-meal entrees to three. If I can do that, maybe the cost will balance out. And maybe with more veggies, even canned or frozen ones, I'll start having more energy. I had a lot of energy for awhile, but now even doing 15 minutes of exercise gets me down. It's worth a shot, certainly. And maybe when I get my container garden growing, that will help too. I'm really excited about that. I've even got my plants picked out, assuming that Bella is mostly okay. Cross fingers! 

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