A DAY AS OLD ME
***I actually wrote this a few months ago, so it's a bit dated in terms of where I'm currently at, but the gist of it remains the same... enjoy!!!
So I eat pretty cleanly. I follow my 90/10 rule - 90% Nutritarian and 10% whatever the fuck I want - though I’m still a pescatarian so I’m not going to suddenly scarf down a steak. That thing would probably make me vomit within minutes of eating it. Not because I find the idea of meat disgusting - I’m pro choice, yo! But because if I ever have a sauce or a soup and the motherfucker who made it lied to me and put beef stock in it I CAN GODDAMN TELL within minutes of eating it. That stuff is so harsh on a stomach that is not used to heavy animal proteins that it just churns and makes me feel goddawful and it becomes hot mud on the way out. Don’t do that shit to vegetarians - even if you don’t align with their beliefs it wreaks havoc on their assholes. Be nice to their assholes.
So my wife and daughter took off for the weekend to our farm to do farm shit, but we had to stay behind for my son’s Opening Day of baseball. And so, obviously, it became an official #BoysWeekend which means we wanted to treat it up! Which always feels like revisiting my old ways, and my son and I came up with a plan super fast which included pancakes for breakfast and pizza and ice cream at some other point. We were going to have a Special Day! For the old me this would not have been a Special Saturday. This would have just been a Saturday, and a pretty run-of-the-mill one at that. In my old days I just gave zero fucks about what I put into me. If you put a cookie or a donut in front of me, I was going to eat it - I didn’t care where it was from. Now while I firmly believe that it’s okay for 10% of my eating to be CRAP food - I now believe that if I’m going to eat crap it’s going to be THE BEST CRAP. Top shelf junk. So I don’t want a donut from the fucking grocery store that’s dry as shit, or even from Tim Horton’s (no offence to them their apple fritter is still on point - and I was a Boston Cream kid through and through), because now I only want a donut from a place like Glory Hole Donuts in Toronto. Is it an over-priced bougie-hipster donut? Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe. But one bite and you know that the quality of ingredients is significantly higher. It’s worth my calories (kinda).
So our first trip to treat land was my son’s request to have “gluten pancakes”. My wife and daughter have a gluten-intolerance so when it comes to home baking we all pretty much just eat what everyone else can eat - but on these rare occasions when they’re away my son wants to eat “like normal people”, which I guess means eating gluten. So I wanted to give into him as this is a special weekend, but I’m all about whole grains so I told him that “gluten pancakes” are cool knowing I’d make a healthyish whole-wheat pancake. Cut to this morning when I realize that we have a pantry STOCKED TO THE TITS with every gluten-free type flour you can imagine, but not a fucking ounce of whole wheat flour. JUST WHITE (cause, you know, I wasn’t always the healthy skinny fuck that I am now). So I had to suck it up and make what I consider an unhealthy pancake (who the fuck am I kidding anyway - the word ‘cake’ is in the title). But my trick with pancakes is to nuke some frozen berries and use them and their juices on top for eating with either zero or very little maple syrup. Maple syrup is our sweetener of choice for all things, including baking, because it’s still full of some good stuff (antioxidants and nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium #FuckingFoodNerd) along side of the bad (it’s still sugar). And we get THE BEST maple syrup (remember the mantra: EAT ONLY TOP SHELF CRAP). It comes from a place called Forbes Wild Foods and it’s their #3 Dark and once you have it nothing else will satisfy you. We buy a 4L jug and it lasts us a long time (they sell it in 1L jars, but the 4L price makes it so you practically get 4L for the price of 3 - good deal!)
So the pancakes were good. But nothing that made me think “Man, white flour IS tastier…” My wife makes amazing gluten-free vegan pancakes that don’t taste gluten-free (you know what the fuck I’m talking about - and the recipe for those is right here). But somehow these ones were around the same amount of calories so it didn’t burn my ass too much to eat ‘em - plus I loaded on the fruit and got my berry fix for the day.
The next part of the plan was to go to Opening Day for baseball. We would then go for a big-ass walk to an awesome ice cream place and then a big-ass walk to an awesome pizza place and then a big-ass walk home. Because I believe in BALANCE. Normally if I know I’m going to eat poorly I will start the day with a killer HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training - look it up if you don’t know what it is - you burn a shit ton of calories in a short period of time - and you can see how to get started with it right here - #EfficientForPeopleWhoHateWorkouts). I’d burn 600 calories in 30 minutes and know that I could do whatever the hell I wanted food wise for the rest of the day (#Balance). But I’m still recovering from a surgery and I can’t do heavy workouts like that right now, so I told my son that we can eat all this stuff today - BUT we have to walk everywhere we go - which in total will be about two hours on our feet round trip - which according to my nerdy app on my phone balances out to the 500 calories of burning I try to do every day. And then this happened:
So we still wanted to stick to the treat plan - and I said that was cool but we’re hoofing it in the rain - and to my utter delight the little monkey was 100% cool with it. The round trip was an expected 7.4km walk. Baller.
So first he needed a haircut. I'm only including this 'cause it's weird that suddenly his hair changes in the photos...
He's cute, right?
And then we went on our way!
Our usual pizza go-to these days is Pizzaria Libretto - there’s a few in Toronto but we hit up the one on the Danforth. The main reason being (other than it being tasty AF) is that it’s got a killer gluten-free dough and vegan coconut cheese - so my wife can eat it. Being married to someone whose stomach has demanded she become a gluten-free vegan certainly limits our dining options if we don’t just want to be shitty and make her eat salad and fries everywhere we go. HOWEVER - because today it was just my son - we wanted to go to a place I haven’t been to in YEARS. I place I used to hit up back in my days when I paid zero-fucking-attention to what I smashed into my face. Also on the Danforth - it’s Danforth Pizza House.
This place used to be a proper hole-in-the-wall. I remember a dusty bodega looking place with a sweet old man and an ancient cash register. The pizza was never quite in a circle, it was always a little bit burnt on the bottom - and it had a layer of cheese that seemed unfathomable (and delicious). It’s been totally renovated since - but they still have the cash register - and while it’s certainly more aesthetically inviting - the pizza has that same amazing homemade quality (though the people who’ve taken it over seem to have figured out the circle problem that plagued the old feller). So we decided to share a small (8 slice) w/ tomatoes, onions, pineapple, and green olives.
So again, I pretty much avoid white flour at all times now - and maybe once a week I’ll have a little bit of cheese. And the amount of cheese on this thing is no joke. This pizza was delicious and set off all the bells and whistles you want. I pre-decided that I’d eat half of it. Old me would have easily eaten 3/4 or the entire thing. I listened to my body and as I finished the 3rd slice I wasn’t getting warning bells so I took the smallest remaining slice and smashed it. I didn’t eat my crusts though. In the old days that was a cardinal sin. I came from the generation wherein they debuted the “stuffed crust pizza” and you ate that AND DIPPED IN A SPICY CHEESE SAUCE ON TOP OF IT - a thing my son found fascinating (and jealous of). These crusts were ‘just fine’ so I left ‘em on the platter. My son left behind two of his slices to take home and we headed off on our next adventure; ice cream.
Look, ice cream is NOT good for you. It’s fat and sugar plain and simple. So if I’m going to eat it it’s got to be the BEST, and as far as I’m concerned one of the best in the city is Ed’s Real Scoop. We live in reasonable walking distance to the one in Leslieville (there’s at least 4 locations in the greater Toronto area). What’s great about Ed’s products is that it’s all handmade premium ice cream. They’ve had over 150 flavours in steady rotation over the years so you never quite know what they’ll have - but we’ve never ever been disappointed. Their ice cream is smooth and PACKED with flavour - it doesn’t just taste like cream with a hint of flavour - in fact the cream content feels pretty low and so I’ve decided to convince myself it’s on the lower calorie scale as far as ice cream is concerned. They also have dairy free options too for those whom that matters to.
But not only did we get ice cream - we went all out and got sundaes - which we’ve never gotten from this place. It’s one of those awesome places that lets you have two flavours in one scoop so I got Blueberry Pie and Venetian Coffee Almond Fudge with hot fudge topping and homemade whipped cream and walnuts as my “treaty topping” (I hadn’t had my serving of nuts yet today and this made me feel like it was a tiny bit healthy).
Did it taste good? Well yeah - it’s fat and sugar. But you know what? I kind of feel like, with the exception of the walnuts, all that others stuff totally got in the way and took away from really being able to enjoy the flavours of the ice cream. It just tasted... sweet. The sundae overpowered the flavours and I was left kind of disappointed. I thought all that extra stuff on it would be fun to eat, and it wasn’t. It’s bonkers to me that I’m starting to far prefer the food that my wife and I make at home to most of the things we eat out at restaurants. There’s a handful of places we love - whose food we couldn’t copy or improve upon, but for the last few months since I’ve really shifted over to the nutritarian lifestyle and I’m eating so cleanly I never realized how foreign it would feel not to. I still want sweet things - but I want ones that taste like food, not sugar. Give me a giant fruit salad over a slice of cake any day (I still want pie though - BUT I WANT GOOD GODDAMN PIE. Seriously - send me your pie recommendations...) The balance of flavours I’ve found in the deserts that fit into the nutritarian style seems to have the perfect balance for me now that I seem to have cleansed myself of my old way of eating. And yet, there’s a draw to go back to some of those old haunts and cravings and go-to treats. Why is that? It’s almost like I get really excited about the idea of eating them because I don’t have them very often anymore - and there’s something about the build-up and anticipation for it - for allowing myself to have this treat and by the time I have it it’s sort of anti-climatic. It’s like when you haven’t seen your family for a long time and you’re excited to see them - but then an hour in it’s like… oh right… these idiots… (I’m totally kidding - I love those idiots!)
Here’s the sad-ass truth of it all: Ultimately, these kinds of foods just don’t knock my socks off anymore and it’s taken me some time to really fully accept that. I get more out of the thrill leading up to eating them than I actually do eating them. Which almost makes me question how long I’ll even bother trying to chase these old food memories. It’s sort of like when you go back to your home town, or visit your old school, or see someone you used to date. It’s nice to check-in - but you don’t want to live there, or go back there, really. It’s almost like it doesn’t feel right anymore, it doesn’t fit, and you’re trying really hard to relive the glory days… but you don’t know why... nostalgia is fucking weird that way. I’ve fully moved on from my old way of eating. I know I have. But there’s there’s something inside of me that refuses to fully let go - like I’ll lose a part of myself. Food and memory have such heavy associations and a lot of those memories of those treats are memories of amazing time with friends or my family and I guess part of me fears walking away from those foods entirely because it’s like abandoning a part of my past. But I’ve done this before. I became a pescatarian about... twelve years ago, just after I got married. Coming from a small town I would have told you that pescatarian was a made up word when I was a teenager. But even then, twelve years ago, I had friends I would go out with for ‘wings and beer’, and I felt like I was betraying those friends by doing it. And going home to visit my family, who lovingly slaves over these meaty dishes that made up so many fond childhood memories - I now had to tell them I no longer wanted those meals, and I always found that hard - like I was telling them I didn’t want them... I know now that it’s not true. I got over that, and I’ll get over this. Because the people that truly love me understand that my new choices aren’t an affront to them. That we will make new memories surrounded by my new choices. We have phases in our lives and closing doors is difficult. I’m constantly surprised by how many of these epiphanies I still have along this journey...
And now, at it’s the end of our day full of walks and treats, we’re winding down getting ready for a movie night - and my body is craving something... after all that processed flour and unhealthy fats and sugars it wants the taste of real food. And the thing I’m craving after all of this is a left-over bowl of our Taco Soup and I throw some delicious mushrooms into it.
And I grab an apple. And I know that this food will not disappoint me. Isn’t that fucking insane after all the delicious treaty stuff I had today!?
In the end, it wasn’t a day as old me. Old me would have eaten the way I did and loved it and never had a second thought, they wouldn’t have made sure they walked 8.6km while they were doing it. They would have drove, or taken transit. And the next day they’d do it all again. They wouldn’t for a second thought about balance or about any of the things I’ve mentioned above. And that that’s the difference. I’m not who I was, and that’s okay. I also haven’t lost the parts of me that make me who I am - and fuck anyone who thinks I have.