Maybe I Should Stop Buying Cheese?

22 Jun

The majority of the things my mother taught me about nutrition were wrong.


It was the mid 80’s as I sat on a hideous yellow couch in our living room in Los Angeles.  I unfolded the small personal tv dinner table by its legs in front of me while I waited for food to come.  On the plate was my mother’s first attempt at healthy food.  It contained beets.

“Eat it all!” she pleaded, “finish your beets!!”

I sensed frustration in her voice but I also felt that I was gagging on the beets.  Something was calamitous to the palate existed in the purple slime.  As I shoved the beets away I could hear my mother sigh.  Before the beets my mother had tried to feed me the following foods.

  • Quesadillas.  A simple store bought tortilla with melted white cheese inside.
  • Tortillas with cheese on them and beans and covered in ketchup.
  • Chilaquiles. Fried tortillas stuffed with cheese and covered in tomato sauce and sour cream
  • English Tea cookies with coffee
  • McDonald’s Happy Meals!

The last one was my favorite.  I made sure that every Friday we went to McDonalds and I’d eat a cheeseburger with fries and a soda (when Super Mario Bros 3 went out we went to McDonalds at a higher frequency because I had to collect all the Mario 3 toys.  Mission Accomplished)!

I was around 10  maybe and my weight hovered a little over 180 pounds.  My mother became concerned and attempted to force beets on me.

But it was too late.  My senses had been finely tuned to the sinful joys of junk.  When I was 7 I remember sneaking into the kitchen to scoop up a spoonful of sugar and used it to get hyper in the most delightful way.   There was a strong disconnect between what I ingested and how that affected my body.  I knew I was fat because I didn’t exercise (I couldn’t, we lived in front of a crack house) but I couldn’t get it into my fat head that the food I was eating was killing me.

A mild case of athleticism saw me through my teen years. I was motivated by the notion that I would remain a virgin if I remained fat.  Lots of trips to the Dance Dance Revolution machine saw to it that I unlocked THAT achievement.  Athleticism was enough to see me through my teens, but then I got older.


When I became to New York I knew that my taste in food sucked.  My world consisted of tortillas and melted cheese, this is all I knew, and it is what I practiced in the kitchen at my home away from home.

I was at the grocery store when I decided to buy tuna.

“Fish was always good for you,” I thought to myself. “Mom always wanted me to have fish.”

No, turns out tuna in large amounts contains mercury.  Mercury is poison.

Tuna tasted so good but I reneged.  “Fine, no tuna.  Let’s try giving up caffeine and drinking smoothies instead!”

Turns out that–despite what my teachers told me at school--caffeine isn’t THAT bad for you when taken in moderation, and smoothies using all natural fruit can be too sugary according to a coworker who has no authority on anything.

I’ve taken to eaten sushi as reward food.  Imagine that?  Some people have a slice of pizza, others get a meaty burger.  Moi? I treat myself to some sushi.  I then see this:

Now I know it was fake, but now I have so much doubt to what food is good and what isn’t that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn tomorrow that sucking down cockroach shit is part of a balanced breakfast.

Who knew something so seemingly simple as food could be so confusing.  If you give me your first and last name I can tell you where you live, but I had a hard time just BREATHING while running without reading quite a few articles…

And it all makes me question how much of a fucked up education I received.  I don’t blame my mother for her choices in feeding me but I do wonder how much is innately known about food and how much we’re just pretending to know.

Edit:  Required reading!


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