Food & Fitness

It’s All In Your Head

I love the idea of an icy cold Coke. The commercials really do it for me; the way the liquid splashes into the glass and wraps around the ice cubes. There’s such satisfaction when the drinker quenches their thirst, relishing in the sweetness and smooth, delightfully fizzy taste of Coca Cola. And if they’re drinking from a glass bottle, then that just makes the scene look that much more perfect.

None of my friends that traveled with me in Italy were avidly interested in health (not that they were unhealthy people- they just weren’t consciously trying to be healthy most of the time, which is fine but its not how I am). Every day they wanted pastries and gelati and Coke or Peach Iced Tea, making it a little tricky for me to balance being healthy without being the constant odd one out. When we rented the peddle boat at the beach in Mondello, someone brought on cold Cokes in glass bottles. There was 5 of us altogether, but the boyfriend had explained discreetly to the person buying the Cokes that I don’t drink it so it was only necessary to buy 4. Regardless, when they cracked open the Cokes the idea of it intrigued me the way the commercials do, so I asked for a sip.

That’s all it took: one sip was too much for me. The same sweetness that I once lusted for now just felt as though it were rotting my teeth the second it passed by my lips.

A similar experience happened later on in the trip, when two of the guys I was traveling with finally ignored the protests of Liz and I (she was the only other female on the trip), and marched into McDonalds. As I sat on the hard chair and watched them eat their meals, all I felt was a strange fascination with how very precisely the real thing resembles the plastic versions of hamburgers. It’s eery, how identical each hamburger is to the next. But as a child, I remember always wanting to go to McDonalds.

So much of what we eat is psychological. As children, we see other kids having fun at McDonalds and assume that we’re supposed to want to go there (even if only for the toy that accompanies our processed “meal”). The same works for those Coke commercials: they become associated with a way to relieve thirst, when in reality we all know that chilled water would solve the problem much more efficiently.

I was interested to see the nutrition label stamped across the carton of a Big Mac at the McDonalds we went to in Florence. My friends looked surprised at the astronomical amounts of salt they had consumed in a few swift bites as well as the ridiculously high amount of calories. And all of this information was, of course, brightly colour coded in true McDonalds fashion to be as user-friendly as possible.

As with both of these occasions, I also recently discovered that I no longer enjoy movie theatre popcorn. While at the movies, I could smell the popcorn cooking and delighted in it, but then I began to think about the taste of it- just think about the taste, mind you, not even have any- and I realized that I really don’t care for the taste. It’s too salty, too overly-processed and stale, makes my mouth burn and my stomach hurt after I eat it. Movie theatres are officially safe places for me to go when it comes to not overloading on popcorn!

On the last train ride through Italy, one of the guys jokingly teased Liz that she was unhealthy because of her particular affection for Coke. And her cheerful response, which caused me no end of pondering and reflection, was, “I’m lazy, I’m not unhealthy!”

Anyone else find that a worthy statement to think about?


To give you a few more from the trip!

An appetizer of (fried) fish- mmm whole calamaris:

…and the meal that followed!

All the old stuff (by which I mean, magnificent historical works of architectural art) is really BIG. I didn’t think it was possible for me to look any smaller than I already am!

A fruit vendor at the end of our street in Palermo:

The ridiculous, ridiculous plate of 4-cheese gnocchi in walnut cream sauce. Basically it was like eating a plate of cheese balls. About 3 of these would have been a sufficient side dish, and as you can imagine I was only able to eat about half of the plate before I felt like a cheeseball myself. Gotta love the Italians for their pasta!

Ironically enough, even though I filled up on all these creamy dishes, I lost 2 lbs during my holiday. This confuses me and I’m hoping someone can have an explanation for it. I really don’t understand it. Is it muscle that I lost because I haven’t been doing strength training? Because I don’t think that the amount of walking I did increased that dramatically from usual, and I think I was eating about the same amount as I normally do. Very curious indeed. The same thing happened when I lived in Spain last summer; I ended up somehow losing weight while I was away from home. Clearly, the key to weight loss is going traveling somewhere fantastic like Europe:)


  1. MizFit

    could it be as simple as you ate notbig portions of new dishes and walked a crapload (technical term):?

    and I envy you the coke distaste.
    my downfall is and was hohos (do you remember those?) or that kind of snackcake.
    I had one recently and I still loved the stickysweet.


    glad youre back/loved the pictures.


  2. Susan

    Maybe it was the types of foods you ate as opposed to the amounts (although, as MizFit suggested. it could also be that you ate smaller portions).
    You were probably more active throughout the day too, even though it didn’t feel as intense.

    OR, like you said, it takes going to Europe to get rid of unwanted pounds! πŸ™‚

  3. the Bag Lady

    If it takes going to Europe to lose weight, count me in!!

    Great post – love the photos. And, even though I know that plain water will quench thirst better, I still like a Coke. It’s the real thing. (or are you too young for that?)

    (I’m old enough to remember the song: “I’d like to buy the world a Coke…..” – you’ll have to ask your parents!)

  4. dadivastreet

    I am a Pepsi person. At one time there was nothing like a iced cold 16oz for breakfast. I'm much better now & won't settle for the Diet Pepsi (although, when I do want a diet soda, I prefer Coke). May have a Pepsi when I drop 40lbs. The pix were great! Love Italian food! Welcome back!

  5. Bronwyn

    I have thought about this too,
    TO me its cos…
    the breakfast/lunch/dinner table is a lot futher away. Even if you get a cab to the town, you still walk a bit more
    Higher quality food = you eat less (more fat is more satisfying)
    Things like washing machines are also futher away, as it “the car” or the bus

    New foods and flavours – this is why some dieters get stuck in a rut – they need more to get the same effect of “tastiness”

    Too busy seeing the scenery/socialising – you eat slower and thus less (as you realise you are full earlier in the meal)
    You have to pay for food each time you eat – you prolong the eating time (maybe, for me anyway)

  6. Sagan Morrow

    MizFit- I really did think that the portions were the same size- but you might be right about that. And even though I have coke distaste I don’t have Safeway cookies and cake distaste (I don’t think I’ve ever had a hoho. Or even know what that is. But it makes me think of Swiss rolls, which I lovelovelove).

    Running Knitter- I have such a special place in my heart for popcorn. I sure missed it the past couple weeks!

    Susan- yes, clearly Europe is the answer! πŸ™‚ That’s very cool if it IS the exercise and I didn’t notice. Especially because I waaay prefer walking to high intensity stuff.

    Bag Lady- am off to question the parents:) Wouldn’t it be great if doctors started prescribing going to Europe as the solution to the weight problems in our society?

    Dadivastreet- thanks! I couldn’t tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke for the longest time. I always preferred Coke because I liked the label better, to be honest! And their ads make it more appealing, I think.

    Bronwyn- thanks for reading and thanks for your insight! Definitely some things to think about.

  7. JavaChick

    Coke – I confess I can’t give it up completely. I don’t drink it often, mind you, but I still enjoy it when I do.

    McDonalds – haven’t eaten a McDonalds meal in…many, many years, probably a good 15 years at least. Don’t miss it. My Dad says that way back when, McDonald’s food actually did taste good…Not so these days.

    Popcorn – would rather have fresh made popcorn at home. I agree with you – stale, over-salted popcorn is just not that tasty.

    As for the weight loss, I agree – it may be that you were not eating as much as you thought you were, and you were active every day. It’s really hard to say.

  8. Dr. J

    Ha Ha!! I always lose a little weight on holiday also! I think it’s all the excitement of the travel, the newness, and all the fun!

    As a little kid in upstate New York, in the hot days of summer, not much matched those icy cold cream sodas in a glass bottle. I had to put my arm up to the elbow into the store’s ice chest to search for one mixed in with the other kinds. I still drink diet cream soda, what can I say πŸ™‚

  9. Dee

    I think it’s probably because you were always on the go.

    I’m not consciously healthy, but it’s become a consequence of my cooking. Sounds weird, let me explain. I make my own ketchup, jams, ice creams, breads because it’s fun to play and as a result we don’t consume much preservatives.

    I grew up drinking water; Soda wasn’t an Asian concept THEN. However Chocolate will do me in every time πŸ™

  10. Sagan Morrow

    Javachick- I think its so interesting how our tastes grow and change like that, and how some things are fairly easy to give up yet other things, for one reason or another, we just plain cannot!

    Mark- congrats! That’s a really tough one to overcome.

    Dr. J- hm, does that mean we should have lots of excitement and fun all the time? Maybe it would make us healthier! I’m game:)

    Dee- chocolate does it for me too:) And I love that the healthy part came as a consequence of your love for cooking- you’re totally my hero for making all those things all the time!

  11. WeightingGame

    those are some serious shrimp!

    I love drinking Coca Light when travelling abroad (not that I'm abroad SO often!) I think it's a bit sweeter than Diet Coke, which I don't drink too often (I'm more of a Diet A&W or Diet Sierra Mist girl). And yes, that pop/fizz noise of opening the can is damn addictive!

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