Thursday, August 23, 2007

Meat Meat MEAT!!!

Now that lunch is finished, my sights turn to attempting to make it to dinner without going crazy and eating anyone. Ever since I started exercising regularly, I’ve begun to get full easier but I also get hungry easier. This means that by 5 pm, I’m usually one seriously hungry honky. Typically, I end up having some sort of a snack in the afternoon. Most of the time this snack takes the form of a grapefruit, however if I get home without eating a grapefruit, I often break into my peanut butter stash.

I love peanut butter. It’s hard to describe how awesome it is. I used to eat it with just a spoon, but in the past year, I stepped it up a notch and began to get a spoon of peanut butter and dip it in Cool Whip. It basically makes it an instant dessert, and probably sounds disgusting, but screw you, don’t cast the first stone without having some peanut butter-delight at the Hutmacher house. I’m sure it sounds totally bad for you, but if you read the back of a container of Cool Whip, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s very low in calories, carbs and fat. I have a dangerous sweet tooth and Cool Whip has been my savior. I’ve also started making a dessertish creation that involves strawberries, walnuts and Cool Whip that is pretty amazing, and very healthy.

Technically, between the two zions of guilt, the peanut butter is worse for you than the Cool Whip, much worse actually. All peanut butter has added sugar, which raises the carbs, plus peanuts are about the only nut that actually has sodium (because they’re not really nuts, but legumes duh). Peanut butter is also high in calories and fat (like all nuts), but has a good amount of protein. That’s my one guilty pleasure that I do every day. I’m not saying it’s good, but it is much better than eating ice cream or chocolate or even bread every day.

Other good snacking foods are carrots (very high in potassium and they’ll keep you from going blind), celery and cucumbers (neither extremely flavorful, but they’re good for you). I also eat a lot of cantaloupe (after I destroyed about a dozen of them trying to figure out how to cut the bastards up).

Nuts are also pretty good snacks; however, they should be bought with caution and consumed with a few things in mind. First the bad, nuts are high in calories and fat; they’re actually really high in calories. But the good is that they’re low in carbs, have no sodium and are high in protein. This makes them nearly a meat replacement; except for that damn calorie thing (one cup of walnuts has 775 calories, which is two times higher than ground beef). Either way, when shopping for them always make sure to get raw nuts (unsalted, unflavored, unchocloate-covered, unfun-filled). There is really no reason to add the extra salt to your diet.

I love almonds and cashews for snacking, but cashews are actually pretty high in carbs (for a nut), but they’re awesome and packed with copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and zinc, all of which are important parts of a diet because they combine to form tiny soldiers in your body to fight communism.

Generally, between all that stuff above, I’m able to make it until Scrubs comes on at 6 pm to sit down and have dinner. Breaking down my typical dinner is quite anti-climatic. After all these days and chapters and words and whatnot, I get to the end of the day and I’m sure you’re going to be asking yourself (and me), “is that all the shit I’ma getting mofo?’

Yes it is.

Normally, dinner is the only meal of the day that I eat meat (which you should have been able to deduce by the lack of meat for the other two meals). What kind of meat and how much? Before I answer that, you should know how much I love meat. I love that shit. I mean, I really really really do. My favorite restaurant in the world is called ‘Fogo de Chao’ and it’s basically a Brazilian meat buffet. It costs well over $50 a person and every chance I have to eat there (on the company dime, any company, any dime); I throw down like a gay man at a cornhole festival.

Meat is good and bad. Actually, it’s good and really bad. The good is that meat is packed with protein. Protein is what you use to build up your muscles (if you’re the workin’ out type). It is not a good stain remover.

It is bad because it’s packed with sodium, cholesterol, fat and calories. But, for the love of god, it’s so good. Meat should not be taken in at the level that I do at the Meat Plaza for $50 a seat. However, taken in reasonable amounts, it’s good. Remember, all through this thing, I’ve been breaking it down low-sodium style, and this is where we throw it all away.

That said, on any given night, I do it up semi-proper. I fight all my urges to measure my servings by the pound. To put my dinner on a zoo-like delivery cart. To eat like it’s an hour before getting the gas chamber, and like I said, it’s pretty anti-climatic.

My dinner usually consists of some sort of meat item grilled on the George Foreman grill. A chicken breast, a couple hamburger patties, or a pork chop (in Houston, it’s actually called ‘poke’, but that’s beside the matter). I then top this divine meat with some cheese and some sort of condiment.

Remember, cheese is high in fat and calories, so don’t D-up on it too much (do as I say, not as I do) and most condiments are high in carbs and calories. I usually use a little BBQ sauce, some salsa or ketchup, and nearly always Tabasco or pickled jalapeƱos. I used to put some sour cream on, but it’s got so much fat and calories that I ended up ditching it completely and switching to regular cheese. The key to condimentating your food is to go light, which is tough to do sometimes.

I’ve tried to learn health aspects of the thousands of different meats and everyone keeps raving about how healthy fish is for you, but it doesn’t matter, I still hate the shit and can’t cook it to save my life. I’m sure that there are pages and pages of research on red meat vs. white meat and why eat fish instead of ribeyes, but everything I’ve seen, by just reading the labels basically says that the only significant difference between the meats is the amount of fat. Chicken and fish are low in fat; red meats are higher in fat. Everything else is still there in varying amounts and as far as I’m concerned, I can stick to chicken and leaner beef and be done with it.

Most people like to have more than a one-course meal for dinner, and I can understand that, even though I usually don’t do it myself (see: living the single life). If I get crazy and decide to build a side dish, I usually go with either a small salad or some frozen veggies with a bit of salt or pepper.

One common misconception about frozen stuff: freezing them hurts their nutrition. That misconception is total bullshit. Freezing something does nothing to the nutritional value of a food. Now, everything else you do to it can affect the nutritional value (how you cook it, dehydrating it, what you put on it, where you eat it…. Nah, just kidding), but freezing or eating frozen foods doesn’t effect the nutritional value. Just remember, if you’re buying frozen foods, read the label to make sure that the item doesn’t have anything added (salt and sugar are the most common things).

That’s about it. Its 7:00 pm, Scrubs is over and I’ve finished scrubbing the Foreman and ignoring the dishes. Usually sometime around 8:30, I hit the snacks, which usually means a little more of some of the stuff I mentioned earlier in this chapter.

A couple random thoughts about the end of the day. I’ve learned that it’s ok to go to bed without being full, or even a little hungry. I’ve learned not to eat anything an hour before going to bed, like swimming (‘learned’ it is different than being able to do it all the time). I never weigh myself at night, only in the mornings. I’ve learned to drink a ton of water in the evenings. I probably drink 3-6 bottles of water through out the evening hours. It re-hydrates me and keeps me fullerish, though I periodically have to wake up in the middle of the night to avoid wetting the bed. I’ve nearly completely given up soda, and when I do drink some, I get the 0-0-0 stuff (no calories, carbs or sodium), things like Diet Coke or Diet Hansens or even that cheap bottled crap that costs like $0.75 for a liter with weird flavorings like Orange-Mango or Elderberry-Bacon, just keep in mind they are NOT water substitutes.

We’ve now journeyed through a ‘typical’ day of my diet and I can understand that there is probably massive riot-like confusion for anyone who has tried to follow this garble for the past week, so what I’m going to do is write up one more chapter and try to provide a easier to read summary and maybe one chapter on how I worked exercise into my life.

All in all, I’m eating healthier and smarter. All it took was one year away from my friends and my family, one year of living in a hot-humid city, one year of long-distance relationship that crested and broke before it could find its stride, one year of confusion and regret, one year of looking in mirrors and trying to recognize the person in front of me. Time and idleness are the devil and for once, I may have accidentally done something positive with it.

I hate it, but it’s that same hate that keeps me inspired to do better, to exercise, to keep stepping on the scale only to be disappointed, to write poems that will never see the light of day, to carry around the extra weight of regret that doesn’t go away no matter how hard you work or how much you sweat. It’s a necessary hate and it’s become my companion, if I ever see you, just ask and I’ll introduce you.

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