My own private food desert

Let me be clear that the title of this article is meant to be an exaggeration — by car, I live a very comfortable two or three minutes from a well-stocked grocery store with plenty of produce and a somewhat self-involved organic food section. (I’m down with organic foods, but this place is set up kind of weird, with all the organic stuff by itself between the paper towels and the frozen foods. If you’re looking for something organic, it won’t be by the regular item, it’ll be off by itself in the organic section. Me, I tend to just avoid it.)

No, my own private food desert is my apartment.

Like many people in this fine country of ours, I’m a bit heavier than I ought to be. And, again, without overstating the problem, things of late had been getting worse than better, so there are fewer impulse foods around the house. There is a strategically limited supply of dark chocolate, and cream cheese is strictly rationed. Red meat, already scarce, is gone almost entirely. There’s a solid supply of chicken breasts and ground turkey, but potato and corn chips are persona non grata.

None of these trends are entirely new to the Craig kitchen, but they have definitely become more pronounced.

Which is a good thing, although not, apparently, good enough. Because, you see, while my waistline has stopped expanding, after a good start, it’s stopped shrinking as well.

Before I lose you entirely, let me reaffirm that under no circumstances will this become a diet column. I have no interest in trading tips, debating the perfect diet, or passing any judgment on individual foods other than whether or not it makes me happy to put them in my mouth. (I do have such opinions, but like politics and religion, it is often best to keep such things to one’s self.) In the long run, my goal is to stay the same weight, and one not terribly far from the one I am now.

But I’m not there yet.

So what do I do? Well, largely, I’m going to put a bit more time in at the gym, and I’m going to work to reconcile myself to being just a little hungry all the time until I get there. And that’s the complaint of which I’m most ashamed. Too many people deal with real hunger, and I, emphatically, do not equate my position with theirs. I am, however, finding that I do not deal well with that constant gnawing urge, and I’m looking forward to being done with it.

But there are two cheap tricks that I’m going to try in order to (hopefully) give me that additional push.

First, I’m going to cut liquid calories to an absolute bare minimum. For someone who doesn’t drink water, well, almost ever, I actually do better than you might expect on this front. Most of what I drink on a day-to-day basis is aspartame sweetened powdered tea or lemonade. (Yeah, it’s Crystal Light. And yeah, it’s pink lemonade. What?) However, that Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA has 209 calories per 12 ounces. (The 90 Minute IPA has 294.) And my beer snobbery means that light beers are out of the question, so yeah, beer is kind of out until I reach my goal.

If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

And second, carrots. They’re low in calories, and even better, they’re incredibly satisfying to chew. And for me, at least, when I’m hungry, that’s a huge help. Chewing carrots (or sugar-free gum) at the end of the meal has been a great trick to let my stomach catch up with my mouth. It gives my chompers something to do, and it takes my mind off food.


But the sooner I get there, the sooner I get to have interesting food in my house again.

Gavin Craig is co-editor of The Idler. You can follow him on Twitter at @craiggav.

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