Food Choices: Then and Now

If you are what you eat, then I’m old because I eat Brussels sprouts. And I love every cruciferous bite.

There are various short-cuts for determining whether you, or someone you love, is Of A Certain Age. Presence on social media, familiarity with paperback books, ability to name at least two Taylor Swift exes, an opinion on rent-versus-buy. Lines of demarcation are lurking in every smart phone, website, and bank statement.

Those lines also make an appearance on your grocery list and dinner plate.

Remember when anything excessively crunchy, bitter or gelatinous made you run in the opposite direction of whatever cutlery it was being offered up on? Remember when a solid lunch consisted of peanut butter, a side of Doritos and a diet Coke? Remember when the only fish you liked was red and Swedish?

If you’re nodding your head here, then you, too, are Of A Certain Age. Because all that “remembering when” hearkens back to the days when you ate food simply because it tasted good and you wanted to eat it, potential for bodily toxification notwithstanding. The more unnatural the coloring, the more artificial the flavoring, the better.

But now you’ve crossed over into adulthood, and there’s no going back. Now, not only do you avoid the color Neon Orange in your food, but you embrace all those vegetables that you used to consider forms of punishment. Now, you want your food to have more fiber and less trans fats, more protein and less sugar, more vitamins and less gluten.

If you want to know the warning signs of being a “grown up”, read on. I’ve listed the tell-tale attitude changes about certain foods that confirm whether you, too, need reading glasses and a cat. Just remember, as you read, that it’s all going to be okay.

1. Brussels sprouts.

This single food item may be the easiest way to separate the adults’ table from the kids’ one. Brussels sprouts are mini-cabbages the color of faded broccoli, which is a union of the most horrifying aspects of the produce aisle a kindergartner could identify. Every movie rated PG and under includes a scene where Tommy isn’t allowed to get up from the dinner table until he eats his Brussels sprouts, which Tommy surreptitiously feeds to the unsuspecting dog, who dies when his gag reflex goes on the fritz.

But somewhere around your first graduate degree, you’ll start paying attention when the magazines exclaim over the phyto-chemical compounds overflowing in b.sprouts. You’ll start showing your wild side by ordering sauteed b-routs when you’re out to dinner. And you’ll start marveling at what a little olive oil and sea salt can do to cauliflower’s cousin.

2. Beets.

Beets are hard to prepare and they stain everything a vibrant purple hue. Ask the teenager sitting next to you why this may be so, and he or she will tell you it’s because beets should never be touched, much less eaten. He or she will then roll his or her eyes.

But then you’ll be training for your first marathon, and someone will tell you that you should replace your Gatorade with beet juice. Because it is a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium! You will do it, you will love it, and you will start bee-lining for the beets at the Whole Foods salad bar.

3. Dark Chocolate.

If you give a mouse a piece of dark chocolate, that mouse will leave your house immediately and go look for the happy home that has cookies in the pantry. That’s because mice boast the same dessert palate as humans who are too young to vote. Both species consider dark chocolate to be a cruel (and bitter) joke.

But then you’ll be working late at the office one night and you’ll be tired and bored and depressed about your career prospects and you’ll be dying to indulge in some emotional eating. You’ll catch yourself, though, and remember you only eat things drowning in antioxidants. So you’ll try one square of a Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar, and you’ll weep tears of equal parts joy and relief. Then you’ll eat the entire bar.

4. Green Tea.

Starbucks drinkers who are not yet of legal age buy drinks like mochaccinos and frappuccinos and whipped cream in a cup. Offer them a green tea, and they’ll wonder why you used a juicer to squeeze liquid out of grass.

But some day you’ll decide that you want to take preemptive measures against cancer and heart disease, and you’ll decide there’s no tastier way to do that than with a nice warm cup of steaming lawn cuttings.

5. Coffee.

Those young Starbucks drinkers with the mochaccinos? They like those coffee smoothies because they don’t taste like coffee. They taste like sugar.

But some morning you’ll wake up for the fourth time, having awoken three times already to quiet your newborn and switch the laundry, and you’ll realize that you have two options for doing what biologists call “waking up”: cocaine or coffee. Not being the law-breaking type, you’ll reach for your Keurig and you’ll kiss it. You’ll take the biting black bile that lands in your mug, you’ll breathe it in, and you’ll weep tears of equal parts joy and relief.

6. Leafy Greens.

If you’re of prom-going age, leafy greens are the things that surround the flower part of your corsage. Kale, spinach and other lettuces are the things that get stuck in your braces.

But some day you’ll find yourself struggling to zip your maternity jeans, and you’ll realize your potato-chip-eating days are behind you. You’ll go on Pinterest and see other pinners getting really excited about making “chips” out of kale or spinach leaves. You’ll spend the rest of your life insisting to yourself and anyone else who will listen that it’s an even trade.

7. Miscellaneous.

If you’ve struggled to self-identify at this point, allow me to put a few final options in front of you.

Yogurt: before, it looked like what happens when you sneeze; now, it looks like a bowl of delicious probiotics.

Salmon: before, you thought it was over-sized cat food; now, you think “three thumbs up for omega-3s!”

Oatmeal: before, you associated it with orphanages; now, you associate it with low cholesterol.

Eggs: before, you used eggs to, well, egg people; now, you use eggs for a cheap source of protein.

Water: before, it was for swimming in; now, it’s for drinking…all the time…exclusively…maybe with a lemon.

If you need further assistance determining whether your food proves that you’re an adult, I’d be happy to share further insights over a nice glass of Kombucha or a plate of oysters. Also, let me know if I’ve missed something. I forgot to take my flaxseed supplement so my memory is lagging.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

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