About ten years ago, my diet consisted mostly of deep-fried mozzarella sticks and fettucine alfredo.
The mozzarella sticks were by far my favorite food, and I was a true connoisseur. I ordered them at every restaurant and had an elaborate rating system I used to keep track of which place had the best ones.
Other than the occasional cream puff (which I could eat by the 92-pack in a single sitting), I wasn’t a big sweets eater. I often suggested ordering another round of mozzarella sticks in lieu of dessert with our coffee and after-dinner drink.
Basically, if something came out of the deep-fryer, it was on the menu.
Needless to say, I was overweight, lethargic, and miserable.
That changed dramatically after I got divorced from my fellow fried-foods addict of a husband and started cooking for myself and learning more about healthier options. Forty-some pounds and several years later, I now lead a very different life.
I eat out less, I cook all the time, and I mainly find myself craving healthy foods, like raw veggies dipped in hummus, instead of the deep-fried appetizer sampler at the local chain restaurant.
That’s all good news.
The bad news, I discovered recently, is that my body has changed along with my attitude. Though I’m a firm believer in letting yourself indulge in the occasional cream puff or order of mozzarella sticks, I do so only rarely—and my body, I’ve learned, isn’t thrilled when I do.
This past week, for example, I had a nice lunch out with my mom. We enjoyed some wine, split an appetizer of fried green beans, had a (not so great) key lime pie for dessert, and shared some very greasy onion rings.
That last item, I believe, was the culprit.
It’s been a long time since I had an onion ring—the non-frozen kind, the kind still dripping with oil straight from the fryer. I admit, it tasted AMAZING going in. But within a few hours, I was feeling anything but.
By dinnertime, my stomach was churning, I couldn’t stop belching (and trust me, those onion rings were NOT as tasty the second time around), and I had a headache that felt like someone was tightening a steel band around my forehead.
To give you an idea of just how bad I felt, I did NOT eat dinner. Me? Skipping a meal? I assure you, it NEVER happens. This girl likes to EAT.
As I sat there that evening, mindlessly staring at Netflix because I felt too lousy to do anything else, I realized something: I had felt this way before.
Back when I was still married, when every Saturday’s lunch was the fried mozzarella and chicken finger platter at TGI Friday’s and every Sunday included chicken parmesan from Olive Garden, I had that feeling—headache, nausea, sour stomach—ALL THE TIME.
The thing is, back then, I had no idea that that feeling wasn’t normal. I thought it was just “how you felt” after a meal. It never occurred to me that food could make you feel better, not worse, that it could be fuel, not just entertainment.
I just never knew.
My, how things have changed.
I’ve become accustomed to NOT feeling sick after eating. I’ve grown used to feeling just as energetic AFTER a big meal as BEFORE.
Feeling good has become my new normal.
And, though they won’t be back on the menu for a long, LONG time, I’m grateful to those greasy onion rings for showing me just how far I’ve come.