I watch quite a bit of Dateline on NBC. I’ve seen the stories of men and women who lead double lives. There’s the doting wife and mother by day/ KGB spy killer by night. Or sometimes it’s the scam artist who’s got two families in different cities, and neither set of wife and kids has any idea about the existence of the other. I’ve always wondered how they can live with themselves. How can they represent one thing part of the time, and something completely contradictory part of the time? Then I realized, “That’s me!” I, too, am living a double life! Let me explain…
Every Sunday, I do my grocery shopping and spend an hour or two prepping healthy meals for the week. I rinse, measure, and carefully pack 1 cup of fresh berries into ziplock bags to freeze for breakfast smoothies. I wash, spin dry, and de-stem fresh spinach for the smoothies. I chop fresh veggies and neatly measure into 5 reusable bowls for lunchtime salads. Each afternoon at work, I am observed unpacking whatever healthy lunch I’ve prepared and adding final touches: slicing avocado halves into the salad bowl, shaking a tiny container to combine hand-measured amounts of olive oil and vinegar to dress my veggies, refilling my ever-present camelback water bottle with nothing but H2O. To everyone with whom I work, I am the epitome of healthy eating. At least 3 times a week, I hear things like, “You’re so good!” or, “I wish I could just eat a salad for lunch like you do.” I usually smile, make a comment about how good my salad actually tastes, and perhaps make a thinly veiled joke about my weekend transgressions. The fact is that these well-meaning coworkers have no idea just how different my habits become from Friday night through Sunday night.
Monday—Friday afternoon it’s actually super easy to eat what I’ve made for the week. My salads are not small. They have plenty of protein to keep me satisfied, and the truth is that I actually really like salads. The problem is that my produce only stays fresh for 5 days—maximum. By Friday evening, I’m fresh out of veggies and am left to my gluttonous whims until I go back to the grocery store Sunday afternoon. In New York City, that often means I have 4 vodka sodas at happy hour, with chicken fingers and fries, stop for a slice of pizza on the way home and eat a fistful of Hershey’s kisses before bed. Saturdays I look forward to walking to the bagel shop across the street from my apartment and indulging in a giant doughy fresh bagel with any variety of full-fat cream cheese flavors heaped atop both halves. Lunch might involve a walk to my favorite falafel cart, followed by dinner ordered in from an Indian or Chinese restaurant and double-digit tab from a pay-by-the-ounce fro-yo shop in the neighborhood. OMG Nutella crunch!! Sunday looks almost identical. As such, it is not uncommon for me to gain 5 pounds between the time I leave the office on Friday and the time I walk back in on Monday morning. And when I pass over the bagels in the kitchen at work provided by my company on Monday morning, I shudder with guilt and shame as my coworkers marvel out loud about how much restraint I have. Can’t you see my ankles, puffy and swollen from the MSG soaked egg roll? Can you tell the button of my pants is digging into my abdomen? I’ve had more carbs in the past 48 hours than marathon runners require the entire week of the big race.
I can blame my yo-yo diet on the shelf life of healthy foods, or the fact that I simply do not have time in my busy schedule to meal-prep for all 7 days a week. I know, however, that I am the only one to blame. I love greasy foods, decadent desserts, gooey melted cheese and in LARGE QUANTITIES. I know I’m living a double life, and I can’t take credit for the discipline my co-workers praise and envy. The reality is that I eat super healthy on weekdays because it’s easy, as long as I’ve put the time in on Sundays, and it gives me the wiggle room (I usually drop 5 pounds from Monday to Friday) to eat till my heart’s content on the weekends! Some people love weekends for sleeping in, seeing their loved ones, and avoiding the morning commute. I love them for those reasons too but also because I get to indulge in all of the foods that make me happy. So, don’t read too much into it. Today’s salad is tomorrow’s pene a la vodka. I’m no better than you. In fact, I’m probably much much worse!
Try my healthy quinoa & veggie “fried rice:”
1 can low sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 bag raw cole slaw mix
1 cup frozen peas and carrots mixed
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 chopped green onions
Salt & pepper to taste
Splash of soy sauce
Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the quinoa is not sticking to the bottom. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan and add the full bag of cole slaw mix and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir to coat, cover over medium heat and let the cabbage soften. Once cabbage is tender (approx. 10 minutes), add the frozen peas and carrots. When all of the liquid has absorbed into the quinoa and the outer layer has started to separate, add the quinoa to the pan with the veggies. Beat 2-3 raw eggs in a separate bowl. Push the veggies & quinoa to one side of the pan and add the beaten eggs. Fold and scramble the eggs into the mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste and either a splash of soy sauce or oyster sauce for flavor. Sprinkle chopped green onions over top to serve. Makes 4 servings. ~440 calories per serving.