By Christopher Cudworth
Those of us who run and ride or do triathlons know that eating healthy is important to good training and performance. That’s what we like to tell ourselves anyway.
So we make healthy eating choices whenever we can. And buy food that fuels our bodies and feeds our minds.
Then we leave the food we have so carefully chosen in the refrigerator for days, weeks, even months where it rots and stinks and festers until we numbly grow aware of its presence, stare at the box or bag that now registers in our present conscience and think, sometimes aloud, “Hey, that’s my food. I better throw it away.”
Remembering to eat healthy, or not
We’ve all done it. Those blueberries in the company fridge? They look okay but in reality if you open the lid on the plastic box in which they’re encased and actually take a look, you will notice they are actually now petrified blueberries, suitable for display in a museum.
And oh, that chicken you bought separate to put on your over-lettuced salad? Well, it’s been there 5 weeks now. Suddenly you notice that the chicken, though long dead and cooked and tossed in a plastic tray, has begun to look like it is ready to move again. Zombie Chicken. Throw it away too.
Not so perfectly good food
And look at the grease seeping through the brown bag with the Buffalo Chicken Wrap lurking inside! Those grease spots are from the French fries you did not order but which once filled the entire bag. That’s what you get for ordering a simple sandwich from Frankie’s Deli where the Big Guys Who Work Construction all eat. They don’t care about healthy food. Not if those fries are any indication. But at least you threw them all away, or most of them. After all, you cannot entirely avoid French fries if they are within 15 feet of your mouth. You may have a marathon or Ironman to do in two days and have spent months preparing for the event. Who cares? These are French Fries we’re talking about!
When someone drops French fries in front of you there is no way to resist. The hell with all those 20-milers and painful “bricks” you’ve completed. These are French Fries we’re talking about people! It won’t hurt to eat just a couple. Or a few. Or a handful. And well, the bag’s almost empty, might as well finish it up.
So we try for the most part to eat healthy. Then life and poor memory comes along to confuse your health-oriented ego. You forget things in the fridge. Eat things that are perhaps past their expiration date. But most “real” food doesn’t have printed expiration dates.You have to make your own judgments. Like bananas. You can tell when they’re shot by the spots. And apples. Wrinkles give them away. Peaches. Don’t touch ’em if they squish. Raspberries and strawberries? That fuzz is a big giveaway. Toss them in the trash.
Paying the price
Hopefully you never have to pay the ultimate price of trying to eat healthy when the food is too old. Food poisoning is no fun. I can personally attest to that. You may not trust me for any other advice on running, riding or triathlons, but you can trust me on one thing. Barfing 27 times in one night and losing 7 pounds when you only weighed 140lbs at the time on a six-foot frame is absolutely no fun.
Tossing your cookies is hard
Go easy on your conscience and accept that once in a while you’re going to forget to eat the food you put in the fridge for another day. That day has come and gone folks. Time to accept facts and move on, lest you eat something bad and have to move something else a little quicker than you like. As in the full trots. Heaving till you’re dry. Tossing your cookies.
But have you actually ever really tried to throw out a bag of cookies? It’s really hard. We have more bags of stale cookies in our cupboards than Fort Knox has gold. I’m pretty sure a couple of those bags have moved with me ever since I was a kid growing up in Eastern Pennsylvania 40 years ago. They didn’t print expiration dates back then. That’s how I know. But some night when I’m really hungry and should know better I’ll reach in that bag and pull out a Ginger Snap that should be in the Smithsonian and actually eat it, perhaps by dunking it in a glass of Ginger Ale to give it that little zingy taste of carbonation that goes so well with the ginger. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, and stale Ginger Snaps are great for dunking.
You’re trying to eat healthy and it’s hard to remember that all on its own. Don’t put too much pressure on your brain by trying to remember if that crap in the fridge is yours or someone else’s to dispose. Give it two more days and give it the heave-ho, lest you heave and ho some other way that you would rather avoid.