Posted: April 04, 2013
Chef Laura: Life in the “fast” lane
Time to reconsider your relationship with foodBy Laura Cook Newman
What would you do with an extra three hours in your day?
This is free time to do whatever you want: play competitive ping pong, perfect your Irish Brogue, or get swept away in a Calgon bubble bath while reading a Harlequin Romance novel. You get to choose how you want to spend those “extra” 180 minutes. Is there anything missing from that list? I mean besides “walk your dog” (in Colorado this is a mandatory activity)?
Well, there is a catch.
What you may have noticed is that curiously Chef Laura made no mention of “go out for Sushi” or “eat an ice cream cone.” Why? Well I’m advocating that you fast*. As in abstain from eating…for 24 hours…no food. Do you think you can do it?
I do this “experiment” every year. Spring is the perfect time. Yes, there’s the rebirth/change in season aspect, but really it’s just practical. After Peter Cottontail has hopped on down the bunny trail, there are no major food-focused holidays in the pipeline. (Sorry, Arbor Day).
For one day, just don’t eat. It sounds simple because it is. During the fast you save a bunch of time (approximately three glorious hours) not being consumed by the act of consuming. You get to rethink your relationship with food.
During the fast consider this: Are you a habitual eater? Is food mere sustenance, or are there emotional and social factors at play? Do you eat food because you crave flavors and textures, rather than need the nutrients it provides? How much money do you spend on food and beverages daily – inside and outside of the home?
Here’s the plan:
Pick the right day – Big presentation at work? Meeting Johnny’s principal to discuss a few “issues”? First date with Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome? No fast for you! You’ll know when “conditions are perfect”. It’s business time.
Wake up – Drink water instead of coffee. That’s not a typo. Do some light exercise. Remember, today is not the day to bench-press your weight, take an advanced Zumba class, or go for your 20-mile run in preparation for the Colfax Marathon. Time banked = 10 minutes
Breakfast – Nope. Time banked = 15 minutes
Drive to Work - Roll up your windows to block any hunger-triggering aromas. Do not pass a Starbucks. Granted, this will probably add 10 miles to your DTC commute, but trust me – the smell of roasting coffee on a fast day is a recipe for disaster. Time banked = - 15 (avoiding the green Siren requires some tricky maneuvering in the Mile High City)
Mid Morning – Think about coffee…a lot. Get mad at Chef Laura. Curse her name. Tell yourself this experiment is pointless. Shadowbox the air, landing each punch on my stupid, smiling face. Drink water. Sulk.
Lunch –Your growling stomach will remind you that a falafel is not in your future. You will longingly look at billboards of King Kong-sized juicy burgers. Flipping through magazines is torture as your fingertips graze glossy photo-shopped images of golden casseroles. Time banked = 45 minutes
Mid Day – You catch yourself absentmindedly humming a tune from Oliver Twist. To distract yourself, chug a glass of H2O, followed by a trip to the bathroom. Repeat. Your kidneys are ecstatic and your bladder is full. Ironically, your tummy is…pissed.
Drive Home – Listen to Pandora, or your MP3 player, or those round, shiny things. Do not listen to the radio. If you do not heed my warning, instead of enjoying the soothing sounds of the Dropkick Murphys, you are destined to hear Applebee’s ear worm “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood!” And when the thought of Applebee’s sounds tempting, you know desperation is setting in.
Errands – No need to head to King Soopers. Don’t even rationalize “But I should return that ‘Red Box’ video.” Time banked = 45 minutes
Dinner – You guessed it. No food again. You know what else that means? No prep work, no setting the table and no busting suds. Post on FB that you are “Frackin’ Starving!!” Wait for the “likes” to appear. Ask yourself if your friends are being sympathetic, or if they’re enjoying your pain. Time banked = 65 minutes
Evening unwind - Watch TV? Forget it. Are there always this many commercials for Papa John’s? Yes. Yes, there are. Take up knitting, color by numbers, or organize your sock drawer (again). Whatever you need to do to keep your hands busy and your body out of the cucina!
Dessert - Just when you’re considering gorging on stale jelly beans, a flip switches in your brain. This signal travels to your GI system and reassures it that, like Gloria Gaynor, you will survive. Believe it or not, you’re actually feeling pretty good. You realize you don’t need food…for today. Time banked = 15 minutes
Bedtime – You made it! Your stomach has surrendered to your “experiment” and has quieted down for the night. Pat yourself on the back and reflect on your frugal food-less day. Then await the psychedelic dreams of swimming in an ocean of espresso dotted with foamed milky whitecaps.
*Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. So please take my advice with a grain of…oh, never mind.
Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at www.ThreeHotsAndaCot.net