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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Viceless Day 8: Dinner Out, the Ultimate Challenge

Saturday, you sweet beast. If I had a free day, it would be Saturday. The one day my man and I have off together. The day we both try not to work and apply ourselves to feeling young and free while we still are untethered in most ways. No baby. No house. We've been known to drink mid-day. Baily's in coffee with a big cheesy breakfast isn't an unheard of occurrence. So I feel a little lost with my new restrictions.

This day is shouting, "Relax!" I'm not quite sure of how to yet. Still, we have a fun lazy morning. I actually sneak in some work which is against the rules but seems impossible to avoid these days. Then off for a bike ride and hike. We end up down by the river and my mind races over my to-do list. A never ending flow  of wedding and work. I practice my meditation but wine bottles float down my stream of consciousness. So be it. We must sometimes sacrifice what we want in a moment for what we want long term. Must build a website. Must work on clarifying my marketing. Inhale 3, exhale 5. I catch snippets of peace and repeat my mantra, "I am happy. I am free. I am as God created me."

Wine continues to haunt me as a get ready for a dinner out with friends and my man. I'm technically having a great day but there still seems to be these empty gaps where my vices have been. What am I supposed to do to relax and feel luxurious?

Dinner out at Osteria. So far, eating at home has been fine. Healthy food is delicious and flavorful. I always forget this until I go on a health kick. These three months though are supposed to be about living my normal life with some small changes in habits and consumption. I don't want to prove I can be a healthy hermit, so out for some 2 for 1 entrees from the Italian restaurant Osteria. Hindsight, maybe an Italian restaurant wasn't the best choice for my big night out. I figured I'd just eat a salad and some meat and veggies in whatever form they were offered. I've also heard rumors of gluten free pasta that might be an option. Not gonna lie. Pasta sounds delicious.

My server at Osteria was very friendly and super willing to help me find an option to suit my new dietary needs. Unfortunately, the pasta was out because of dairy. My only option was a $30 chicken breast, served with wild rice and a small amount of a tasty beet sauce. Normally, the dish is hen and also includes caramelized carrots. Tonight, they were out of the hen and I had to forgo the carrots due to sugar. I work at a restaurant with an $18 half chicken on the menu so being left with this overpriced option is a bummer. The dish is cooked to perfection but disappointingly simple, obviously by my own restrictions.

I'm surprised with the rise of food intolerance's for dairy and gluten and the popularization of diets such as Paleo that this was my only option. Don't get me wrong. Osteria has no obligation to cater to my dietary needs. I choose where I go and do believe I should just order off the menu. It's an eye-opener though that my options with this lifestyle are going to be so limited. I also need to perfect my ordering. How to be technically fussy without being an asshole? That is a challenge I haven't mastered yet. Currently I just become meek and grateful for whatever I'm given.

This fear of socially ostracizing myself with my dietary choices has always been a battle for me. If someone makes something for me, I'll eat it. I don't like being picky and hard to please so I make myself the gracious guest and companion by eating anything. What if this habit isn't serving my greatest good. I read article after article about the negative effects of gluten, dairy and sugar.  An example being this article: Foods To Avoid If You Want To Be Happy. I feel my mood shift with my gluten and sugar intake. I know dairy gives me morning phlegm and I've been supposed to give it up since my days as an actor when my voice teacher pinned it as detriment to my voice. I've done cleanses and proved that I feel better without these vices but I go back because I don't want to be an inconvenience at a dinner party or restaurant.

To top it all off, at 29, I just got lab tests back that say I have slightly elevated cholesterol. Holy F. They recommend fiber pills and when I ask about dietary changes the nurse seems to brush it off as an impossibility. "Oh, the usual. Less sugar and junk," she says. I know I've gotta change.

Wine is the most missed element of dinner. Since 17 I've tasted wine and identified tasting notes. I want to inhale the nose and search out the earthiness of the Italian wine that the others drink. I miss toasting to the beauty of life. I've been known to raise my glass 4-7 times throughout a meal to cheers the greatness of this or that. I know it's a lot of toasting but each is like a prayer of gratitude that ups the mood of the meal.

Without a big showy dinner or wine and with salad instead of the shared lobster risotto that is the shared appetizer for the rest of my party, I still laugh and have a great time in fun company.

Desert time. I order mint tea. The tiny, bird like women who come into the restaurant I work at often order mint tea. They've always been a source of wonder to me. I envy their ballet dancer arms as they lift a mug to their mouth instead of a spoonful of cream. Everyone at my table orders a tiny ice cream cookie sandwich. My mouth waters. I douse it with mint tea.

The dessert arrives and my fiancé makes sexual, guttural noises as he eats his bit of sweetness. This isn't cruelty. He always makes these noises as he eats. The cruelty is when he mocks my tea and holds the cookie up to my mouth close enough to smell. "Try it. Take a bite. You can spit it out," he taunts. "No," I squeak back. The absolute ridiculousness of the situation hits me and I laugh. If you read this thinking that these diet changes and giving up my vices is a stupid project, feel good knowing the person I live with tells me the same thing everyday.

I do notice that by the end of dinner everyone else is droopy eyed and slightly slumped. No one drank much but they seem to be edging in on a food coma. I'm bright-eyed and light feeling. I'm also entirely guilt free.

We go home and I finally get the sweet relief of watching TV. My man has a cocktail as we watch.

I wake the next morning still feeling light. My man has a hangover. "I'm an idiot," he says. HA! I just smile to myself.

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