Monday, February 28, 2011

A Carnivore’s Guide to Cardiology: The Strangest Side Effect of All

September 28, 2010 was a momentous occasion: For dinner I had a slice of buffalo chicken pizza with real blue cheese. 

A mere seven months before; the only momentous thing about this would have been that it was only ONE piece.   However, the real big deal of this date is when I stepped on the scale in the morning, for the first time since junior high, a number lower than 180 stared up at me, hence the pizza reward.   (I also bought myself a Gremlins action figure; although since I bought action figures the year I was at my maximum: over 230, this is probably more of an addiction than a reward.)

On top of all that, my total cholesterol is now fifty points lower than my bad cholesterol used to be, and I’m feeling great, just hungry. (But then, I was always hungry, change there.) 

The reason for these startling changes is rooted in what can only be defined as a miracle:
I am, startlingly, able to eat vegetables.

This probably sounds insane (and you're probably used to that from me) but things spiraled rapidly along a path I never dreamed I’d follow.

My antagonistic relationship with vegetables is pretty well established, going all the way back to frequent, exceedingly long, ageda inducing meals when I was little.  Finally, at around age three, my father gave up saying, “He’s learning, he’s growing, he’s healthy, let him eat what he wants.”

I had tried eating vegetables multiple times since childhood.  After my daughter was born, I would force myself to taste them to try to entice her. As recently as a mere month prior to my wakeup call when she "forgot" she liked broccoli, they were inedible.  In almost all of those occasions, I couldn't even get myself to swallow the plants, as they tasted so bad I ended up spitting them out.

My wife grinds up spinach and carrots in some of her dishes, which converts them into spices.  While that wasn't a problem, I could never eat them whole.  Aside from my dinner including a basic lettuce and tomato salad, no change initially manifested.

Shortly after the procedure, I accidentally and completely unintentionally ate some whole sautéed spinach when we were on vacation. (I was not actively sticking leaves in my mouth. It stuck to my salmon and I didn't see it.) I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did I eat what was in my plate, but ordered and ate it again the next time we were there. Currently my nightly salads are at least half spinach.  Little did I know, the insidious changes would continue. 

Later on I tried some of my daughter's broccoli and ate two pieces. Having not been slain by the formerly evil plant, I ended up eating all the broccoli that came as my side dish a couple days later.  The floodgates opened and I tried, and amazingly ate, asparagus, green beans, and even the boiled and pathetic looking carrots and cauliflower from the Diner. 

I’m pretty sure it isn't just willpower or psychological, as when I see flora on my plate, it still doesn't look like food.

However after some research I think I got it...

Given (1): I am suddenly able to eat vegetables now.
Given (2): Medications can affect your taste buds.
Given (3): For most people, the side effect is that things taste worse.

I was still puzzled till it hit me.  Most people with their taste for things affected by medication complain that the food becomes "bland and tasteless".

However, "bland and tasteless" is still a significant step up from
 "Dear God, what the heck is that in my mouth!"
which was the previous vegetable reaction.

The freakish eating habits continued.  At a department lunch I had a giant plate of Broccoli Rabe.  It quickly reached the point where I have no idea what I like.  Although it may be only half due to the medication, and half due to the fact that if you sauté it in olive oil and garlic, I could eat dirt.  (God must like Italians..."Thou shalt not eat pizza for it will clog thy arteries...BUT ENJOY THE GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND RED WINE!!!")

The benefits of these changed eating habits were staggeringly obvious.  I’m thinking it’s a good sign when the cardiologist spends half the appointment asking you for diet tips.
Perhaps, vegetables aren’t as evil as I previously believed, go figure.

Taking a lunch break from visiting a show at the Javitz center, the weirdness crested to an unprecedented level, where it remains. 

I had a grilled chicken salad for lunch with honey mustard: a fat free flavor I didn’t even know existed…Not the weird part.

The salad was full of tomatoes, carrots and mushrooms and I ate it all…Not the weird part.

This was a “make your own salad” so I picked those ingredients…Not the weird part.

I was very disappointed that I had to use lettuce as they were out of spinach…Not the weird part.

I regretted not adding broccoli. …Not the weird part.

The weird part:  This whole thing happened within site and smell of New York pizza, AND I STILL ATE AND ENJOYED THE SALAD.

I’m voluntarily eating fungus now…my diet has dropped multiple phyla at this point.  Hell, I used to not be able to eat anything that TOUCHED a cooked pepper, now I’m grilling them myself and scarfing them down whole.

First Cookie Monster ate Brussel Sprouts and now this...can Armageddon be far behind?


Linda said...

What I find most amusing about your sudden vegetable conversion is the fact that you probably had an oversensitivity to bitter tastes before. Which means you had the taste buds of.....a little kid.

Why am I not surprised....

Unknown said...

You inspire me to want to eat more vegetables!!! LOL.

Anonymous said...

mmmm that sounds good! You always appreciate things more if you cant have them whenever you want... now if they only could make gluten free buffalo chicken pizza....taste good.... alas

Jeff McGinley said...

It's kind of spooky, considering how much my tastes echoed Cookie Monster's for years, that I can inspire anyone to eat healthy now.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to my side of the green patch. Vegetables are our friends. lol