Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Extra Steps

It's getting a little easier to eat my own packed lunch now. Last weekend, Sylvain and I worked on making the perfect pizza and Sunday night we came up with a pretty good one, then we modified it on Monday night for pizza number two and...voila! I had two great leftover lunches in a row! We also bought some really good mustard, which made a surprising difference, especially on Chicken Nugget day when I had to remind myself that my ham and cheese sandwich was even better than usual. I was really good about making a Salad every day - the Kroger bag of romaine lettuce hearts lasted exactly five days and made five great salads! Yum!

Now that I'm on a roll with the lunches, I thought I'd mention a couple things that happened this to boost my health, however small they may be. First of all, the copy machines at my school have been moved from around the corner to the complete opposite side of the building. My first two trips to the new copy room were filled with moans and complaints, but on my third or fourth trip I realized that this big move will probably result in at least a couple hundred more steps a day, which is acutally a good thing. So, I concentrated on the extra step idea when I went to park my car for my night class on Tuesday. I decided to park on a street where there is usally a free spot, even if I have to circle around the block a time or two, just so that I can have a wee bit of a hike to the classroom building. It was the best idea ever! I had such a nice walk through campus, in particular a part of campus on which I haven't set foot in years! It was a very nostalgic stroll, especially with my new ipod blasting all of my favorite college dorm-day tunes.

As for school, I'm holding my own. I had to avoid the teacher's lounge like the plague today because there were brownies, cookies, donuts AND bagels! Yipes! I made the mistake of putting my pineapple and cottage cheese in the lounge fridge so I had to walk past all the goodies to get to my snack. That won't happen again! It was dangerous. All in all I had a pretty good week as far as school food is concerned!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I've been cafeteria free for over a week now! Last week I ate downstairs every day with my students and watched them pack away the carbs and calories, but it wasn't all bad. We ended up having some very good conversations about sugar, calories, fat grams, etc. Turns out kids are really interested in that stuff! Hooray!

My sandwiches and leftovers have sufficed for lunch each day and I even turned down a donut last Friday morning from another teacher. I saw that as a small success, but it was trumped by the chocolate I ate for a snack that afternoon. (Someone gave it to me as a gift and I just couldn't throw it away! It sat in my desk drawer until I was so hungry I had to eat it.)

Today was another tiny triumph. It was the first day they served taco nachos for lunch in the cafeteria. I know I've said before that chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers were my weakness, but I was wrong. Those are easy to ignore because, even though they smell good, when you look at them you remember why they're bad for you. But the taco nachos not only smell good, they LOOK good, with all that cheese oozing over the top and the crispy tater tots right next door. Yipes! I had to get out of there! I don't think a teacher has ever dropped her kids off for lunch so fast. I didn't even wait for them to sit down before I bolted upstairs and out of the line of fire. It was a close one!

So, the cafeteria boycott is going well. Lots of other teachers are working on the same thing, which is good. I eat lunch with six other ladies and we try to support each other. Yesterday one of us showed up with cafeteria food and we all harrassed her for it. I decided that if she walked in today with taco nachos I would politely ask her to eat that lunch elsewhere! (Not really, but I'd joke about it.) I'm worried that later in the year we won't all be as gung-ho in our collaborative quest and I might be left in the cold. That's fine, though. I think, for now, I should try my best to be the last teacher to give in to the lure of cafeteria cuisine!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14th, Day Two

Well, I have officially started my yearly battle with school and work food. I am a fourth grade teacher and this week I began my fourth year at my elementary school. My stepmother once said "When it comes to bringing unhealthy food to work, teachers and nurses are the worst!" Not only do I have to pry myself away from the donuts and muffins that appeared in the lounge yesterday to welcome back the teachers (thanks, PTA, for trying to make me fat), but I also have to walk my class to the cafeteria every day at 12:30 and shut off the sensors in my brain that think crispy crinkle fries and low grade USDA beef are appetizing! Trust me, it truly is a daily nutrition battle.

Last year I had two school lunches that I always, and I mean ALWAYS, fell for. That would be the chicken nuggets and the cheeseburgers. What's so amazing is that I KNOW these things are bad for me! I KNOW that the meat used to feed American school children is barely meat at all and that there are enough calories on the average school child's plate to last a 175 pound man all day. But by the time 12:30 rolls around, when my stomach is rumbling nearly six hours after my bowl of breakfast cereal, something in my brain says, "It's okay! People eat this stuff all the time."

Well, this year I've decided to resist the temptation from the get go. I try this every year, but I think this year it'll work, because I've chosen to write about my daily struggles, regardless of who, out there in the vast Internet kingdom, decides to read it. I have this philosophy that if I can keep myself away from the food in the cafeteria and the food in the teacher's lounge, I will somehow be a healthier, happier, person. One of my fellow teachers (who used to eat school lunch every day) said that once she stopped eating school food for two weeks, she lost five pounds! Now, I've been eating a somewhat healthy diet over the summer and I'm not looking for huge weight loss (a few pounds here and there would be nice, right?), I'm just hoping to stay away from the food that can kill me.

So far I've managed to trek through the cafeteria jungle as it served up some chicken strips (new on the menu this year) and cheeseburgers! My first two days arrived with my biggest temptations and I'm proud to say, I've overcome! I enjoyed my ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with carrots and dressing alongside my trusty diet coke while I watched my students scarf down those crispy fries. Success! I've also walked INTO the teachers lounge, browsed the food available, and actually WALKED OUT after deciding that I had better food at home. Hooray! I can only hope that the next few days, weeks, and months are as successful.