Written by Christa O’Brien
I did everything right. I made a list. I stayed away from the packaged food aisles. I ate before I shopped. I even went to the farmer’s market FIRST so that I could get as many local items as possible. But yet, once I spied the bag it was all over. Game over.
I was derailed. By a tortilla chip.
I stopped buying potato chips when I learned that polyunsaturated fats can degrade into trans fats and free radicals when heated to high temperatures. Since our government subsidizes such oils, they are by far the cheapest oils for commercial companies to use to fry. Since I haven’t found a company frying chips in coconut oil, beef tallow or lard, I have just stopped buying them. We only really ate chips during lunch on the weekend anyway. They were always a treat. Now we have a salad or a homemade soup with our sandwiches for lunch. That is far more nutritious anyhow.
Last weekend I took both Things to the grocery store and farmer’s market to give DH the morning off. I don’t know if my weakness came from having both kids with me or something else, but when I walked by a display of store made tortilla chips it was all over. This was no Tostitos corn mash commercial chip; Fairway had taken the time to actually take corn tortillas and fry them. The chips were thick and sprinkled with what looked like kosher salt. Likely an over processed salt. The label indicated that these golden triangles had been fried in vegetable oil, which is code for soybean oil. As I have done more digging I have realized that because corn oil can be turned into ethanol, it is no longer profitable to sell that as food. So the next logical conclusion then is that ethanol would be a great solution to our domestic oil problem, right? Wrong. I have learned that it takes as much, if not more fossil fuels to MAKE ethanol, Think about it, the machinery that is used to make ethanol has to be powered by something… Nevertheless, ethanol is considered a “solution” of sorts and is subsequently a huge source of profits to corn processors (not corn farmers), thanks to government regulations and subsidies. So don’t expect it in your veggie oil ever again, probably.
Add to all this the bleached over
And then there was a moment of weakness.
I bought the chips because I had a particularly good batch of leftover farmer’s market turkey chili back at the house. How good would these politically problematic chips on my sustainably made chili be? Is anyone catching all the irony here?
Well they were delicious. They were thick and salty and crunchy. My mouth is watering even weeks later describing it. The Things had some too. And you should have seen them. They acted like they had hit the jackpot! I think Thing 2 has had less than 15 chips in his short life. And it has been so long since I kept chips in the house that Thing 1 had forgotten than we ever did. It has been long enough now that even DH doesn’t whine for them any longer. But believe you me, everyone enjoyed my moment of weakness.
It’d be great if that was where the story ended. If that was the whole story, it probably wouldn’t be blogworthy. I broke down and fell off the wagon. Big Whoop. Well, it isn’t the whole story. That first day we all enjoyed A FEW chips at lunch. Then later, thinking no one was looking I snuck some more! Worse, I got caught. Because he saw me eating chips in between meals, Thing 1 asked for some. I couldn’t be a hypocrite so I had to share. So now here I was eating a food I didn’t approve of, feeding it to my kids, and now gorging on it. And then again after dinner when the kids were in bed I snuck some more. What am I? A closet chip-a-holic?
I couldn’t be a hypocrite so I had to share. So now here I was eating a food I didn’t approve of, feeding it to my kids, and now gorging on it.
We ate a few more on Sunday. And fortunately I didn’t think about them again until Tuesday night. After dinner that night I was feeling munchy again and my thoughts turned to the nefarious chips. I went to the pantry looking for that half-full bag of chips but to my amazement, there were only 6 chips left!! What? I hadn’t eaten any of them in two days! I hadn’t used them with any meals for the kids. I later discovered that the babysitter had! For two days it is likely that my kids were eating conventionally processed chips with lunch but also as a snack. Awesome right?
It was one bag of chips. It was an itch that I had to scratch. Sometimes you gotta scratch. But what I’ve become more concerned over in the end was my inability to regulate my eating of the chips. They were there and they were talking to me, pleading with me, begging me to eat them. Moderation? *Fail* People in general have issues sticking with moderation. Which is why I get frustrated when anyone says that any food should be eaten in moderation. What does that mean? Is moderation eating such a food once a month? Once a week? Once a day? Moderation likely means
So I have a neat checklist to banish temptation. People love lists, and I imagine kidHaven readers are no different. If you have trouble with “moderation” in food related manners, here are some guidelines that have worked for me.
- Eat more at home. I have much trouble controlling my choices when I am at a restaurant. I pretty much choose whatever item comes covered in cream.
- Eat a healthy meal before going to the grocery store. Feeling both full and good about what you have just eaten will help you make better choices when you are at the point of sale.
- Make a list. Duh.
- Stick to the list. Double duh.
- Don’t waste time crying over a transgression. You will need to eat again in 4-5 hours (or maybe less). Focus on doing better next time rather than beating yourself up over a bad choice.
- If you make it from scratch, even ‘bad for you food’ is not as bad as most prepared versions. But that goes back to the first point—Eat more at home.
- Enjoy your food. Good food fills us up and makes us whole. Enjoy it. Life is too short.
May you control your food cravings and me mine!
Christa O’Brien lives in New York City with her husband and her two very energentic little boys. She believes in real traditional foods, living without modern processed foods and cooking with kids. In addition to working full time she blogs about cooking and eating real food at The Table of Promise: One Family’s Search for a Better Meal.