90 Days in the Leafy Green Forest

kale_n_chard_1

Day 39. The leafy greens are beginning to accept me.

I am a carnivore, which is why I devote many of these posts to the grilling arts. I have never been a fan of fruits and vegetables, but I am on a mission to make them my friend. I made a decision to spend the first 90 days of this calendar year trying to develop better eating habits. I just turned 46, which is arguably at the far end of “middle-age,” and I knew it would be wise to make some dietary changes as I tumble towards “old.”

Weight loss was one of my goals for this 90-day program. I am not at the extreme end of the Body Mass Index, but I definitely have room for improvement. More to the point, I was running out of room in the waistband of my pants. I loathe the idea of buying bigger clothes, so I decided to lose a few pounds and, hopefully, develop some better eating habits.

The three-month plan is simple: less sugar, less fat, and more fiber. The reduction in sugar is achieved primarily through the elimination of alcohol and most desserts, and less fat means less cheese. I am a lover of all three, so this has been a somewhat grueling 39 days. The bigger challenge, however, has been the increased fiber part of the program.

More fiber means acquiring a taste for flora. My previous experience with taste acquisition is associated with things like coffee, whisky, and heavily hopped beer. While my first impression of each of those delicacies was not positive, I persevered, and we’ve developed meaningful relationships over the years. Acquiring a taste for fruits and vegetables – particularly of the leafy, green, healthy variety – has been more challenging.

The nutritionists say I should get 3 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit each day. I did the math and determined that I needed to eat more than none, which was my approximate daily intake. As a result, I have been eating more vegetation in the last few weeks than I have before in my entire life, not counting fermented barley and hops.

I’m growing accustomed to the vegetal tastes and textures such that I no longer dread them. In fact, I sometimes find them to be tasty and satisfying. I do not yet relish the thought of a salad or a bowl of sliced fruit, but they are becoming a habit, akin to running and other exercise. I rarely get excited about a workout, but it is something I do almost every day. It’s part of my daily routine, and I am happy for having done it. There are benefits to exercise and vegetable consumption. Albeit those benefits are subtler than the effects of coffee and alcohol.

Yesterday, the scale registered the lowest weight I’ve posted for the last two years. To commemorate the accomplishment, I opted to ruin it by eating pizza and chips for lunch and enjoying a decadent chocolate and peanut butter brownie for dessert. I am nothing if not fallible. However, I bounced back this morning and drank a smoothie made of kale, spinach, chard, mixed berries, and unfiltered apple cider. Two months ago, I would have sneered at the very idea and, instead, eaten cereal or buttered toast or both. But this morning, the smoothie tasted pretty good. It was no India Pale Ale, but it was satisfying, and beer for breakfast would be problematic in many ways.

51 days to go. My 90-day program will end March 31st, which is just about the time grilling season starts. I wonder how barbecued kale would taste.

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