Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fruits and Vegetables

This is the tragic and harrowing story of how I ended up eating only fruits and vegetables for fourteen days.

It all started at the BYU Internship Office. I worked as the office coordinator of the Internship Office for a little over three years, and my boss, being the amazingly wonderful woman that she is, avidly fed my love for TV and movies. In my first year, we would tentatively discuss movies we had seen, TV we liked. By year two, we hit our stride and became incredibly familiar with each others' tastes. We talked about everything we were watching--movies, Netflix streaming, the Thursday night comedy line-up. She got me hooked on Damages, she let me borrow multiple seasons of Lost, and she was always ready to have in-depth discussions after each episode of Mad Men and The Bachelor.

When she started recommending documentaries, I was skeptical. It's not that I didn't like documentaries. I liked the idea of liking documentaries. But the thought of actually giving my attention to a documentary for two hours rather than watching, say, six episodes of Friends, or two and a half episodes of Friday Night Lights, or one completely mindless romantic comedy just never seemed to win out in the moment of decision. But, given her track record, I was willing to give her suggestions a chance. The first documentary she recommended was Catfish. I dutifully put it in my Netflix queue and waited for it to arrive. When it came, I wished that it were anything else. Anything. After a long day of school and work, I just wanted to relax. Almost 100% motivated by my need to return the disc in order to expedite the arrival of the next Gossip Girl disc, I watched it that night. I would give it 15 minutes. "I tried that movie you recommended, but it just didn't really hold my interest," I would tell my boss. It started slow. And it took a couple minutes to get in the documentary zone. But then I was hooked. I was hooked because I hadn't seen it before and because, unlike a mindless romantic comedy, I had no idea what to expect. It was fascinating and still entertaining in a lazy kind of way.

I then proceeded to add 87 documentaries to my Netflix queue. I watched popular documentaries like Waiting for Superman, Food Inc., Man on WireThe September IssueHelvetica, and Velentino: The Last Emperor. And I watched completely random documentaries that I had never heard of like Wasteland, King Corn, Tapped, Herb and Dorothy, Between the Folds, Dear Zachary, Mugabe and the White African, Triage, Pressure Cooker, Dive!, Bill Cunningham New YorkThe Lottery, and Objectified. As it turns out, I love watching documentaries. Some are silly, some are beautiful, some are really preachy, some are emotional, and some are informative, but they're all entertaining.

Since leaving BYU and quitting Netflix, my documentary love has waned. I quickly fell back into comfortable patterns of Hulu TV and re-watching Gilmore Girls and 30 Rock. My parents joined Netflix a month ago (fueled by our need to watch season 1 of Downton Abbey), and as I built up their queue, I added some documentaries. Thirteen days ago, I decided to rekindle my love for documentaries, and I clicked on Forks Over Knives. To make a long story short (or, to turn 96 minutes into a few sentences), it ultimately argues that there's a strong correlation between dairy/meat consumption and certain types of cancer, that we're all going to die from preservatives, and that the best approach to a healthy life is to eat mainly fruits and vegetables. You sleep better, it said. You have more energy, it said. Your health problems diminish, it said.

Since I'm convinced I have a severe case of insomnia, and since I've been worried for a while now that my blood system has been completely replaced with Red Vines, I decided to try this out. For fourteen days I would only eat fruits, vegetables, rice, and my mom's homemade granola. I announced this to my parents at dinner. My mom was amused. She tried to remember the last time she had seen me eat either a fruit or a vegetable. I tried to remember too. "I ate that apple that one time. You remember?" I said. This was going to be tough. But now that I had announced my plan to the amusement of my parents, I had to stick with it.

The first day was good. I was motivated and kind of entranced by this new world of fruits and vegetables. Oh, you can get full by eating a ton of vegetables. Strawberries are delicious if you're starving and your other option is lettuce. Anything is palatable if it's blended with berries. These were among some of my finer discoveries. Some discouraging discoveries: it's exhausting to prepare food for every meal, I will always hate the texture of bananas no matter how hungry I am, and I can not stop thinking about delicious food. I think about Twizzlers. I think about fruit snacks. I think about bread (all the time). I think about Arby's curly fries. I think about cheese. I especially think about Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards.

Day one was good. Day two was fine. Day three was bearable. But by day four I was tired. I was tired of granola. Tired of sugar-less smoothies. So tired of tasteless stir fry. I am now on day thirteen.

And honestly, here at day thirteen, I don't know what to think. I maybe sleep a little better. I definitely feel healthier. I feel hungrier. Sometimes I hate the idea of eating another piece of broccoli. And sometimes I love that my limited food selection makes meal choices really easy. Sometimes I feel like I have a lot of energy, like I'm losing weight, and like I've got my life together like a normal adult. And sometimes I feel like I'm about to break and eat five Blizzards and never touch another vegetable again.

But mostly, I'm incredibly curious to see what I do at the end of day fourteen.


Kim said...

You're not a rabbit. Treat yo self.

Ryan said...

Isn't it shocking how tough it is to eat healthy?! On the P90X diet a couple of summers ago, I was like an addict, constantly Jonesing for sugar. I only lasted on the diet for about 45 days. But I bet going through this intensive fruit/vegetable diet will make you more balanced in your diet options going forward. I eat a lot more vegetables post-P90X than I did before because I'm more aware of healthy habits. We should talk insomnia sometime... I think mine is improving, so I might be able to share some ideas.

Renny said...

I feel that my insomnia will never be cured. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit by virtue of the expensiveness of meat.

All I've wanted over the past few days is a cookie. A dark chocolate, chocolate chip cookie.


Josephine said...

Hm. You've hit upon something I've always wondered about: does the feeling healthier make the I'm about to break feeling worth it? I have no will power whatsoever, so I've always thought it wouldn't be worth it because I'd be miserable even if I did feel better. But I obviously haven't tried. Let us know what you do after your fourteen days!

Elisa said...

I ate a slice of chocolate cake while I read this. I'm amazed at your will power.
So what ARE you doing now that day 14 has come and gone?!