The grocery store is a different place when you’re on a diet. The first time in can be a bit shocking. I wasn’t at all prepared.
It’s amazing how many things in the store are off-limits. And, maybe it’s because I’ve never really looked before, but the diet-friendly items seem much harder to find than their lovely fat- and sugar-filled counterparts.
I spent a good 45 minutes wandering up and down the aisles - my old friends, baguette and 30% M.F. cheese calling to me like sirens all the way - searching for foods that satisfy the requirements of the diet. Oh, by the way, if anyone can suggest a decent low-fat cheddar, please share.
The checkout however, was where I faced my biggest challenge. It's where the diet became my reality. I must have cycled through every neurotic emotion possible during the 5 minutes I stood in line.
First, as I watched my health food inching towards the cashier, all I could think of was how it was so obviously diet food: 4 heads of lettuce, 6 red peppers, cherry tomatoes, low-fat mayo, low-fat margarine, low-fat cold cuts, chicken breasts, and sugar-free Jello (as my treat). Bleh.
Then panic set in. What was I thinking? I'm an eater. My friends know me for my love of food. It's my identity. What am I without cheese? Without burgers? Yes, I'll be skinny but no one will recognize me?
Here comes the crazy part (as if that last bit weren't nutty enough), I never used to worry what people thought when I'd stand at the checkout with a baguette, some cheesy dip, and a bag of brownies but there I was buying healthy foods and suddenly, gasp! I cared what other shoppers might think. How's that for backwards?
Thank goodness the grocery store neurosis was a one-time deal. I don't get that panicky feeling anymore but I do go in prepared. I break down my menus ahead of time and go in with a plan. I avoid the temptation aisles, and focus on finding the best-tasting versions of the things I can eat. I've even found a few ways to cut costs:
- Make Jello in small reusable travel containers rather than buying pre-packaged. Total prep time is only about as long as it takes for the kettle to boil.
- Buy a low-fat cooked ham and cut off pieces as needed for salads, lettuce wraps and for breakfast (instead of Canadian bacon).
- Keep a list of sanctioned veggies in your wallet. If an item is out of season it will cost more, replace it with something in season.