Monday, January 10, 2011

The Breakfast Thing

Disclaimer:  no, I'm not a doctor.  So don't take my word as gospel and then sue me if it isn't to your liking.  You'd get nothing out of it, even if you did sue me for everything I'm worth, except for a cat.

The breakfast thing.

We've all heard this twenty thousand times over, especially if we're women.  Eat breakfast.  Every day.  Include lots of lean protein.  Otherwise, you will be sluggish all day and you will get fat.  Eating a healthy breakfast may contribute to losing weight.  Thank you, every magazine for women ever created.  Thank you, government-regulated health mandates.  Thanks.  Yeah.

This is a problem.  Honestly.  I have watched dozens of commercials for things like really sugary kids' cereal, saying that they're "part of a healthy breakfast" or "contain nutrients for a healthy breakfast" or heaven knows what.  Or that commercial for Nutella that's on TV right now--that Nutella helps a busy mom make her kids eat in the morning.

Nutella on white bread toast.  Yes.  That is the perfect thing to feed your kids, because it's not as though they'll have a sugar crash later or anything, or be so ridiculously hyper that you'll find yourself in a situation where teachers and doctors will be recommending ADD drugs.  Or sugary cereal!  Make them eat something!  Anything!  Just throw factory-manipulated, hard-to-absorb vitamins and minerals over the sugar on that cereal and it's better than nothing!  It is!  It is!  Just eat your breakfast!

Don't get me wrong; I adore Nutella, possibly more than any chocolate easily available in Georgia.  I eat it with an espresso spoon sometimes.  But you've got to admit that this "breakfast" rule that allows companies to push their sugary, processed product as mandatory for the health of children is pretty screwed up.  Just look at those waffles!  In what universe is that healthy, ever, never mind appropriate to set the nutritional tone for your entire day?   Ew.  Seriously.  Ew.

(Not to mention all the overprocessed white flour, sugar, and antibiotic-laden dairy it includes, anyway.)

Me?  I don't eat breakfast.

Sacrilege?  Yes, probably.  But, see, here's the catch.  I don't want to.  Moreover, I don't need to.

On vacation, or on weekends, I usually don't eat till between twelve and two in the afternoon.  On average, when I don't have to get up early, I wake up around eight or so.  So that's four to six hours of me not putting food in my body, and yet--and yet--I am not, nor have ever been, overweight.  And except for one class for which I showed up one minute late one time too many, I've had straight As in graduate school.

Which means that, contrary to the usual "wisdom", I don't feel deprived when skipping breakfast.  At all.  I drink a lot of green tea in the winter to warm up, and cool down with straight water in the summer. Maybe, if the grapefruit on the counter are calling to me (as they are now), I'll juice one or two of them into a wine glass.  Occasionally, about once a month or so, a cup of Greek coffee.  It's all I need.  If I had the money, I'd juice every morning.  But I wouldn't eat.

And, no, I'm not anorexic, for potential skeptics out there.  Not at all.  Check out the blog's recipe history:  what I post is mostly vegan and mostly low-fat, but there's a lot of it.  Those recipes, especially the ones that say "serves 4-6", are ones I make in bulk and just for myself.  Really.

You see, if I eat breakfast in the morning, it's like a trigger that turns on my appetite.  I want to eat more during the day.  If I have a bowl of blueberries and almond milk, I suddenly want lunch much earlier than usual.  Then an afternoon snack.  Then dinner.  Then something else before bed.  Suddenly, even if everything I eat is healthy, I've eaten way, way more than I feel comfortable with, and I go to bed feeling miserably overstuffed.

And, yes, I do realize that what I just outlined is what most American nutritionists would recommend as a healthy lifestyle.  But they'd also recommend treadmills or weight training, which, frankly, are too boring for me to deal with.  30 daily minutes of yoga I can do.  Jogging on a piece of plastic and metal and trying not to kill myself from boredom and the thought "IS IT OVER YET?!?!?", no.  And I danced for six years; you can't tell me that I had no energy because I didn't eat breakfast.  Especially one that has FRIES in it, for heaven's sake!

I think we eat too much.  I honestly do.  I think we are being bombarded from all sides with information telling us to eat too much.  Three meals a day?  Five small meals?  Really?

I just don't see the need to keep something in my stomach at all times.  You feel better, lighter (no matter what you weigh), when your give your poor body a break once in a while.  And I honestly believe that, for some people, the addition of food in the morning makes you feel inclined to eat more during the day.  Why would you want to take in more food if you haven't even eliminated most of what you ate the day before?  Why load yourself down like that?  You're not a Mack truck, for heaven's sake.

I know a lot of people who just don't eat breakfast, either because they don't want to, because it makes them feel queasy, or because they don't have time.  And it's not the death threat that very aggressive marketing wants you to think it is.  It's a wee bit liberating, actually.

I'm 5'5".  Never in my life have I weighed over 135 lbs and my usual waist size is 25".  You cannot tell me that not eating breakfast will make you gain weight.  It's absolutely untrue.  Eating too much of the wrong foods will make you gain weight; that's all.  As a matter of fact, I weigh more and I'm more unfocused when I do eat breakfast, because I'm too busy thinking about what I'll eat next.

Isn't your body something more than a food processing machine?  Let it be, occasionally, and give it a break.  When your energy isn't devoted to breaking down food, maybe you'll be able to use more of that energy.  Just maybe.

Think about it.  And look at the picture of that pretty parfait:  it looks lovely, small, and I'd have it around 1 PM.  Without the sugary granola, and with Greek yogurt and a small drizzle of honey or agave.  And every blackberry and raspberry would be a kiss of heaven.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Melodic, Snowy Procrastination

The snow is coming down in a constant feathery drift outside, and I sit here in front of my blog, guiltily thinking "I have so many unposted but written blogs!  What is wrong with me?!"

The answer, of course, is that I am dreading Photoshop, because of the millions of pictures I have to edit.  Seriously.  I did some awesome cooking over the holidays, you guys--a beautiful recipe for mussels in a tomato-cream sauce is just begging to be posted.

But, until I can use tomorrow's snow day to properly waste my time, recipes will be up...later.

Still, I wanted to share something not entirely unamusing.

I was recently browsing through a lovely, warmhearted detox community of which I'm a member, and one of the journal entries was a question--what's your theme song?

Well!  I answered this question, after a lot of googling, and after deciding that I didn't have one.  However, I did realize that there are a few songs that will never, never, never grow old for me and most of which are so embarrassing that I have got to share them, because it makes me a wee bit happy to portray myself as somebody at whom people can laugh.  (With love!  Seriously.  With love.)

So.  What, exactly, are the songs that make my heart sing?

1.  "Venomous Poison" by Alice Cooper.

I offer no apologies.  But you should probably know that I first came across this song in high school, while I was irrevocably addicted to reading and writing Harry Potter fanfiction, and that someone had set this song to a video montage of Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape giving each other seriously dramatic, mournful looks, combined with a lot of sweeping out of the room with a lot of billowing cloak action.  So I cannot take this song seriously.  But it makes me giggle.

Also, I should not ever, ever venture into clubs that play this song.  I made the mistake of doing this in Britain, and the very tall, thin, and extremely spotty boy dancing with me did not deserve being faced with a dance partner who burst into laughter and nearly fell backwards into the cage dancers because this song came on.

2.  "Too Sexy For My Shirt" by Right Said Fred.

This, I feel compelled to admit, is also from my Harry Potter fangirl days.  I think it's from 2003.  Someone called Sherbet Lemon made a fanvideo of Kenneth Branagh prancing around to this song and I love it.  Yes, the clips repeat a lot, probably because of the repetitive lyrics, but the horrified expressions of disgust the boys wear in the middle of the video makes up for it.

I am never going to be too sexy for this song.  Or too dignified.  Not ever.

3.  "Taylor, The Latte Boy" sung by Kristin Chenoweth.

Or me, either in the shower or while dancing around the living room holding a Starbucks coffee cup.  Or not.  Or all the time.  All the time.  Except, naturally, in public.  I am so ashamed, you guys, but I sing this one more often than anything else.  And I grew up in a household flanked by opera, symphonies, ballet, and two professional classical musicians as my parents, and a few more as grandparents.

Taylor, the latte boy.  I love him, I love him, I love him.

4.  "Sweet Georgia Smile" by Johnny Rodgers.

Honestly, I think this is the sweetest song ever written.

'Cause I'll keep you smiling as time takes its toll,
Kissing your lips when they're tender and old;
And when day becomes night and the night becomes cold,
You'll never notice, 'cause I'll still be holding you...

I melt.  Every time.

5.  "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.

Yes, partly because I was dealing with aftermath of a cheating boyfriend when this one came out.  Mostly, though, it reminds me of an awesome opera singer who was being fitted for one of her costumes up in Chautauqua, NY, when her phone went off with this as her ringtone, and it was magical; all the girls felt magically bonded and magically happier.  Magically.  Without even one Louisville slugger.

6.  "Who Knew" by Pink.

Lost love and all that.  I know that this isn't what she originally wrote the song about, but I don't really care.  Music means so many different things to different people.  Although a couple of men have made the "U + Ur Hand" chorus ring loud and clear in my head on several occasions.  Loud and clear.

(Loudly and clearly, the grammatical bluestocking inside me insists.)

7.  "Toxic" by Britney Spears.

See, this was hugely popular my senior year of high school, right when my class was taking our IB exams.  We had to go off campus for these, because of an IB rule about everyone being required to sit two meters apart from everyone else, and no classrooms in our high school were big enough.  So we'd wait in the Wesleyan College parking lot, in the warm April sun, blasting "Toxic" from a friend's Jeep and dancing like crazy people right before going in to get our butts kicked by IB English for three hours.

And you know what?  It worked.

My pretty IB diploma is hanging over my fireplace in my room at home.  I actually think it means more to me than my undergraduate diploma.

Which songs make your heart sing?