Eating healthy ain't no picnic

Living is easy. Living healthy is difficult. Living the way I am now is almost impossible.

This is a protest, basically. Two months ago, a conversation in the Zavala household went something like this:

Female: "Hey, let's go eight weeks without sugar and white flour."

Male: (Working diligently on an important story, possibly sweating) "Uh maybe, let's talk about that later."

Female: "And we should throw in caffeine, too."

Male: (typing madly, checking his watch) "Sorry "¦ I can't really "¦"

Female: "Oh, and TV. And movies."

Male: "What?!?"

Much debate followed and ultimately a deal was struck. So here I am, basically living on tuna fish, agave nectar and an assortment of plants from my back yard.

This madness has been going on for four weeks and is supposed to continue through the end of the month, but I'm not sure I'll cross the finish line. The TV/movies part I can handle (thanks to the internet). But, no sugar? No white flower? Seriously, it's pretty much impossible to find anything worth eating that does not have one of those two ingredients? Take a trip to virtually any supermarket in the U.S., close your eyes and throw a rock over your shoulder. Now run, because there's a pretty good chance you just hit a fat guy purchasing something with sugar in it.

The caffeine ban isn't a walk in the park, either, thanks to zoning laws that apparently require a coffee stand every 25 feet. I pass — no joke — nine stands on my way in to work every morning. There are two Dutch Bros. within four blocks of my home, and another less than 100 yards from the Tidings back door. Toss a rock out your car window, and there's a good chance you'll hit that fat guy again, holding a mocha with two pumps of chocolate.

I know there are plenty of people out there who practice such a diet, have done so for years and believe that their meals are every bit as tasty as the gut-busting abominations concocted by the average soda-swilling, hot dog-inhaling American. But those people have lost touch with reality. They're like 10-year-old boy at the beach who doesn't realize the ocean is freezing because his feet are numb. Nobody will ever be able to convince me that a veggie burger on whole wheat is better than a Whopper. If that were true, hospitals everywhere would go out of business, 24-hour gyms would close over night and the U.S. would be overrun by cows.

I believe I can make it through the end of the month, but it won't be easy. Every day is more difficult than the one before. Worse, this experiment isn't changing my opinion of my former eating habits. Quite the contrary. It's reinforcing every bad habit I've ever had. If food and pleasure weren't hopelessly intertwined before, they are now. For example, just last weekend I discovered that camping without s'mores is completely pointless.

The healthy living isn't helping the home life either. My wife and I are watching each other like hawks. I arrived home late the other day and she accused me of sneaking a coffee. I told her I was with another woman. She was relieved.

Joe Zavala is the sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at or 482-3456 x224.

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