Thursday, February 4, 2016

PBJ Everyday

I hate lunch. I take that back. I love lunch. I love lunch when I'm at home on a snowy day wearing my favorite charcoal grey socks and eating tomato sauce. I love lunch when I'm with my parents in the North End on a Saturday afternoon and the meal lasts 90 minutes. I love lunch on my birthday by myself at the Four Seasons eating a big Bristol Burger with a big glass of Pinot Noir while I make big plans for my new year. I love lunch. I HATE lunch during the work week.

I actually hated lunch during the school week, too. I was fortunate as a child to have a mother who sent me to elementary school everyday with enough food to nourish me for six hours. Unfortunately I'd arrive home REALLY hungry because I thought that food was gross and refused to eat it, so she'd make me an actual steak and an actual baked potato for my after-school snack. I'm a brat. And my mother is a saint.

In high school I'd get a cheese and pickles sub everyday made by a gentleman in the North Quincy High School cafeteria who looked exactly like Steven Spielberg. I'd then sit at the table and eat only the pickles and a few pieces of the cheese. I hated lunch. Have I mentioned that?

I know I should stop my whining and behave like a responsible person who understands that there are bigger problems in the world and who brings a lunch comprised of greens and lean protein to work everyday in one of those adorable insulated lunch bags. I know there are thousands of articles on Mind Body Green and Buzzfeed and Pop Sugar telling me what a "snap" it is to do this. I know there's an Instagram hashtag #notadesklunch that I should look to for inspiration. I've asked friends, one of whom is an actual nutritionist, for advice. I just hate it all. You can't bring things in Tupperware anymore because everyone will yell at you that plastic BAD for you and you need to carry things in glass. I don't want to carry glass. I have 80 pounds of crap to cart around most days and glass is too heavy (#bodypumpinstructor.) I can't do frozen lunches because they all taste exactly the same and that's weird. Also, everyone who yells about plastic being BAD for you will also yell about frozen lunches having too much sodium in them.

Buy lunch everyday? Tried it. I said, "Screw it. This is stressing me out too much. I'll just buy lunch and cut back on spending in other areas." Nope. I have a gluten allergy. This means I can't "run out and grab a sandwich." I have to wait in line for 25 minutes at smug Sweetgreen, eat lunch at 11am in order to get one of the 8 slices of gluten free pizza made per day at the cafe in my office building's lobby, go to Boloco which (I don't get this at all) is actually really expensive and not good, or walk to the kebab cart in Copley Square and get a Greek salad which is DELICIOUS but so bad for you. (Sorry, Francisco. I miss you.)

I've tried to do just snacks for lunch. I love snacks. Why not? Yogurt and fruit. Yeah. Let's be healthy. Nope. Gross. Boring. Awful. And the image of yogurt sitting in an office fridge with my initials written on it in Sharpie... can't.

Hummus. A tub of hummus that I'll eat all week. Yes. Hummus is the answer. No. No, it's not. Why? I eat the entire container (no matter how big it is) on Monday and then I'm out of luck.

I KNOW. I'll bring a couple avocados, an onion, a bell pepper, a bag of cilantro, a lime, my Trader Joe's Sea Salt grinder, a pack of corn tortillas, and my citrus squeezer to work and just MAKE fresh guacamole everyday! No, Ann. Stop. Are you going to keep a molcajete and a cart on wheels in your cubicle, too? Enough.

I can picture my poor ex-boyfriend standing in my kitchen on Sunday nights after 10pm feverishly dividing cooked quinoa and beets and parsley and other lovely ingredients up amongst six Pyrex containers because he insisted that we bring and not buy lunch during the work day. I was onboard with it, but they had to be REALLY good lunches. (And I wonder why I'm single.) (And all of those Pyrex containers are still in my office.) (And we broke up a year and a half ago.)

I wish I could just not have lunch at all. I wish I could just make myself not hungry midday and not stop working and not think about it and just keep moving. Save my feelings for breakfast and dinner.

Turns out I CAN.

The answer came to me while teaching the aforementioned BodyPump class. I was leading my class through five minutes and 20 seconds of lunges to this songPeanut Butter Jelly by Galantis. While practically blacked out from the fatigue in my right quadricep, I threw my instructor self on cueing cruise control for two counts of eight, daydreamed about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and felt literally nothing. No feelings. None. I felt neutral. I rarely feel that way. I either LOVE something (Bristol Burger) or HATE it (Sharpie Yogurt.) There's no middle ground with me about anything - food, people, jobs, shampoo, clothing, weather, presidential candidates, books, everything. Whatever it is, I am in love with it or it's dead to me.

For some reason, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an outlier - a neutral, no-feelings, hunger elimination device that I can rely on everyday. I don't hate it. I don't love it. It's inexpensive. It's gluten free, thanks to Udi's bread. It keeps me full for several hours. It takes 2 minutes to throw together at my desk and eat while I'm working. Its ingredients don't really go bad. If I have a week where I unexpectedly have meetings and lunch is provided or I'm out of the office for some reason, I won't be stuck with a bag of kale or quarter pound of sliced deli turkey in danger of rotting in my fridge to repurpose into a dinner I don't have the time or desire to make. I can just use the PB&J next week. It's void of all feelings, deadlines, stress, and pricey-ness. I don't need to wash it or chop it. It doesn't require a glass container. Or a plastic one.

I'm four days into my PBJ Everyday eating plan. It's so easy and relaxing and stress free I want to flop on the floor like a rag doll. In a good way. It's the biggest, most delicious check on the list I can imagine. It feels like I've had a cold for 20 years and my ear finally popped. I'm in heaven.

I take that back. I'm not in heaven. I'm just not hungry.

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