I have a healthy relationship with food. I’m neither too thin nor too fat. I eat only when I’m hungry and try not to snack between meals. I believe I am what I eat. I eat this and not that. I heed the media medics. The wrong foods can cause brain shrinkage and heaven knows I need every cell I can hang on to. I’m a believer. I drank the Kool-Aid. Oops! I mean the green tea.
I spend an inordinate amount of time in the supermarket reading labels. I’ve even purchased a pair of extra-strong reading glasses so I can see the fine print. Gone are the days when I would speed-shop through a super store and in less than an hour, purchase a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four. Five, if you include the dog.
I sometimes think about the damage my reckless shopping habits might have caused my young family. In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder if my son might have gotten into Harvard had I not let him eat all those Spaghetti-Os. But no point looking back.
Now, as a consumer educated to the perils that lurk on the food store shelves, I devote an entire morning to food shopping for just my husband and myself. And the dogs, but that’s a story for another day. (The available quantity of holistic dog foods is enough to make one roll over!)
Simple purchases are no longer simple and often require visits to not one, but several different stores. Take, for example, ketchup. Ketchup! What could be more basic in one’s kitchen than a bottle of ketchup? Aha! That was before we knew the potential evils of high fructose corn syrup, one of its key ingredients. Even after I explained the risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, my husband was not happy with the suggestion that he try mustard on his hamburger. Locating organic ketchup saved the Sunday barbecue.
In the produce section, I look for super foods. I pay attention to country of origin. I have even memorized the list of the “Dirty Dozen,” which instructs me which fruits and vegetables must have an organic label. (I keep a cheat sheet in my wallet in the event of a senior moment.) I’m currently working on memorizing the “Clean 15” list so that I can save money by not needing to buy organic, and at the same time learn which foods will not necessarily ruin my sex life.
I buy only organic meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Free range animals that have led a happy antibiotic free life, scratching contently in the dirt for their feed, or lazily munching grass in a pastoral field. I prefer to picture them that way before they sacrificed themselves to my dinner table.
By the time I’m ready for the check-out line, my shopping cart is brimming with super foods. Once again, I can pass the inspection of the food police. Or can I?
If you dig below the surface, underneath the kale, blueberries, pomegranates, wild salmon, and avocado, right down to the bottom of the cart, you will find my secret addiction. That which I cannot live without, and stubbornly refuse to yield. There, under the blanket of anti-oxidants, lies the plastic container of Cool Whip!
I haven’t failed to read the label. Cool Whip might well be the epitome of a chemically engineered food. (Can I even call it a food when its only nutritionally valuable ingredient is water?) Whatever it is, it is my addiction. My guilty pleasure.
Cool Whip has its virtues. It is less fattening than whipped cream, and twice as sensual. Its soft, white, creamy texture evokes thoughts of running naked through a field of cannoli. And the flavor? High fructose corn syrup never tasted so good!
I love Cool Whip on ice cream or frozen yogurt. I love Cool Whip on berries and tell myself that the healing powers of these little fruit will counteract the chemicals. A banana dipped in Cool Whip? Yum! I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
I eat Cool Whip with cookies and with pretzels, its sweet taste beautifully complimenting the salt. It makes a great topping for puddings and goes well with chocolate. (Better make that dark chocolate. It’s healthier.)
Cool Whip goes well with cakes and pies. And ultimately, I think Cool Whip is delicious all alone, as I swipe my tongue caressingly along the remains on a teaspoon.
I have to admit that my habit has been a bit embarrassing. I keep the Cool Whip hidden in the back of the refrigerator, behind a large container of organic milk. Up until now, no one but my family knew about my addiction. And bless them, they have been very tolerant, only occasionally reminding me that I was eating poison.
It’s true that my Cool Whip cravings are a violation of my commitment to healthy eating. I’ve thought about giving it up. If I go cold turkey today, I wonder how many years that will add to my life? Can the media doctors tell me? I think I’ll text Dr. Nancy Snyderman and put it to her. But until I get a definitive response, pass me that white stuff, please!
Always enjoy reading your latest column. And they always hit close to home. I think you are ready for syndication. Jane