Monday, August 2, 2010

What to do?

After years on my own, at 25 I moved back home for a few tumultuous months. Going from years by myself to a house chock full of my larger-than-life mother, step-father and two teenaged brothers was about enough to send anyone over the edge. Factor in studying for the bar exam and it's amazing I survived. I had two reprieves; the gym (I still swear that summer I was in the best shape of my live) and tormenting my mother.

By this stage, I had begun to think about what was in my food and had made a conscious decision to avoid various additives and general ickies. I would haughtily read labels and profess my refusal to eat a wide variety of meals my mother prepared for the family. I was so much more enlightened than her, right?

I recently thought about this because I just spent some time with Western Mom and Dad. Western One's parents are fantastic - a sort of wholesome, nurturing, parental environment that really is foreign to me. Plus I'm the family newbie. So the last thing I want to do is be rude and offend such wonderful people, but my heart nearly skipped two beats when Western Mom presented an pink popcorn cake laced with jelly beans for dessert our first evening in Wyoming. I literally thought..."holy shit." Thankfully, I was able to avoid this particular confection, although I couldn't resist the peanut butter rice krispie treats with chocolate frosting. So now I'm a total hypocrite - I scoffed at one over-processed monstrosity and devoured another. When we had a picnic in the mountains, I held my breath as a made a sandwich with pre-packaged deli meat. I simply couldn't bring myself to say that I rarely eat deli meat generally, and certainly not the stuff that is extra-packed with preservatives and sits in a grocery case for weeks.

So here's the issue. When one is striving to eat a particular way (yet, admittedly falters now and again) how do you avoid particular food products (and I really mean "food products") in a social or family setting without being offensive? If I were trying to maintain or lose weight, I feel like I might have an acceptable reason to refuse particular items or be more discerning. But when that is not an obvious motivation, when I simply want to stick to an approach I feel good about, do I just come off as rude or picky by avoiding the vittles so lovingly presented to me? While it was fun to torture my own mother with my righteousness, it's a different story with someone else's. In this particular case I acknowledged that 12 days on the road was going to destroy any resolve I had anyway, so I just let it all go for a brief interlude, but will admit I didn't feel great about that approach.