Eating Good is Hard

I always was the kind of guy who would say, “I’ll eat what I want and enjoy life! It’s too short anyway! I’d rather die younger and have enjoyed life than die old but have been miserable.”

Workmans Lunch

My regular lunch

So I ate bacon and eggs and McDonalds. French fries, potato chips, and Mountain Dew. Nachos with everything on them, burgers with everything on them, and pizza with everything on it. And hey, I do physical labor for my job, so I’ve never gotten chubby from it all.

But then I had my daughters. And suddenly I wanted to live long enough to watch them graduate college and walk down the aisle (either or both, whatever makes them happy).

I try to eat better, but man, it’s hard. I love when my wife cooks for our family, it’s great and I know it’s better for me than McDonalds. But for lunch during the day? Or the times when she’s at school so can’t cook? I always turn to fast food. I don’t know how to cook and Burger King is so damn good!

Now that I’m not working night shifts anymore, it’s a little easier to eat better. But it’s still hard. I used to make fun of overweight people when I was younger, but I just can’t anymore. It’s hard to eat good, especially when you work full time (and when grownups make fun of people, it’s sh**ty).

Any other blue collar dudes or chicks out there got any ideas on how to eat better?


Comments

Eating Good is Hard — 11 Comments

  1. Having kids changes everything, doesn’t it? After I had my daughters, I started to care even more about my well-being, particularly when they were very young and really needed me. They were my biggest motivation when I quit smoking many years ago. Eating healthy when you eat out can be really tough, especially if you’re eating in fast food restaurants. I’d suggest checking out their nutrition menu online and selecting a few items that are the healthiest (lower fat, lower sodium, etc). That way, you’ll know in advance what you want to order. Fast food places don’t have the best food, but every one of them has at least a couple of choices that aren’t too bad. Your family needs you; be good to yourself, so you can be around for them.
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    • Right on, man, right on. My daughters made me want to quit smoking too. They really do change everything! Taking some time to check out those nutrition menu things isn’t a bad idea. I probably would only need to do it once, and then try and remember what some of the better things are.

  2. It’s too bad pasties aren’t generally available in this country. That’s a kind of meat pie with the pastry wrapped around the stuffing in such a way that a man can hold onto the edge while scarfing down the meat and veggies inside. It was miner’s food — something you could carry into the mines and eat with a minimum of fuss. If the guy’s hands were dirty, he could toss out the rim of crust he used to hold the pasty while eating.

    Burros and burritos are the modern equivalent. Look for burros with more meat and fewer beans (fattening!!!), and try to find restaurants that serve burros with a side salad or with shredded lettuce stuffed inside. And don’t eat the darn things deep-fried!

    Another rough equivalent to the pasty is the wrap-style sandwich. Same rule applies: try to find wraps with some veggies included. Voila! Instant balanced meal, especially if it has real meat (as opposed to highly processed “lunch meats”).

    As for breakfasts? Yuch! At breakfast time the typical American restaurant is a vast desert enclosed in four walls. Friend of mine orders a big bowl of fruit for breakfast. Another gets these yogurt/fruit things tricked out to look like ice cream sundaes. I don’t suppose a fried or poached egg on an English muffin is too poisonous. Or bagels, maybe? Breakfast burrito? (Except chorizo’s not very good for you…)
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    • That meat pie thing sounds AWESOME!! I wonder if my wife would cook a bunch up for me? Too bad places don’t sell them. Burritos and stuff are good too, but the ones you get at Taco Bell probably aren’t very good.

  3. You mean tips besides “learn to cook?” 😉

    Fast food as it is prepared in most of this country is something you really need to avoid. Yeah, that’s hard if you need to pick up lunch every day and are on a tight budget, but there are options. The formula to follow is: eat mostly vegetables for lunch and add in some protein and fat so it sticks with you. If you don’t want to pack a lunch every day, go to the grocery store for your lunch. Most of them have salad bars these days where you can load up on different types of veggies and beans, then add some hard cooked egg, cheese, or chicken strips for the protein/fat part. Use the oil and vinegar for a dressing instead of dousing the salad in ranch or thousand island dressing.

    FAM advises avoiding beans, but I think she means the refried beans you find at burrito places which are full of lard or shortening. Canned beans are something you could include in your lunches every day, and they don’t require “cooking.” They do require a bit of prep to jazz them up, but maybe you can make time for that. Bean salads are quick and easy to prepare, and bean soups aren’t far behind. Hummus is super easy to eat for lunch, too. If you want to make a quick sandwich try getting some wrap bread, spread it with hummus, fill it with chopped veggies, and roll it up.

    Actually, soup is a good thing to eat at lunch, too. Just avoid the ones that are creamy or cheesy as much as possible. Prepared soups can often have a lot of sodium in them, so best not to eat them at every lunch.

    Now, how do you pack a lunch when you don’t have access to refrigerator? Well, there are those ice packs you can re-freeze over and over again and place in your lunch bag. For hot soups brought from home there is the old-fashioned thermos. (Yes, they’re still around. I just bought one last month.) Or…shhhh…if you’re packing bean salads, hummus wraps, hard cooked eggs, and hard cheese cubes like cheddar you can get away with leaving the bag in a shady, cool-ish spot and not refrigerating at all. Don’t try this if you’re packing anything with meat in it like traditional sandwiches or salad with chicken or tuna, and don’t leave your lunch in a hot car packed in full sun.

    Some of my favorite foods to bring while traveling (and with no refrigeration) are great for lunches: unpeeled hard cooked eggs, whole apples, whole nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts), carrot sticks, celery sticks, and snow peas. None of this is the type of stuff we usually think of construction guys eating, but it’s time to break out of the mold, right?
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    • Yep, that’s what I mean, besides learning to cook, haha. Well you gave a lot of options here. It all means I have to plan a little bit, which is the tough part. It would be really cool to have a thermos like I used to when I was a kid! I’d need an adult-sized now though.

  4. Invest in a decent soup thermos and a slow cooker. Find recipes for chili and stew. Find a variety. Make a large pot of stew or chili and feed the family one meal from it, put one serving aside for lunch the next day and freeze the remaining in individual servings for later. Thaw and nuke as needed! Since you will work it off include a big old hung of crusty Italian bread to dip into your chili or stew. Because you do manual labor the list of “healthy” foods is a little bit longer….especially if those foods come from your own kitchen!

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