OR, WHY ALCOHOL MAY BE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN YOU THINK, EVEN DURING HAPPY HOUR.
It’s amazing how quickly our bodies develop new tastes and adjust to new habits. I’ve only been living Paleo for 3 months, and already I’ve changed my plans for our holiday menus. Three months ago my plan was to “take a break” on Thanksgiving and Christmas and enjoy the many foods of my past. But any “Friends” fan can tell you that a break is never a good idea. And here I am, only three months in, and I don’t even feel the need to go back to stuffing and apple pie. For one thing, I’ve realized that I never really LOVED stuffing that much anyway. And apple pie should be pretty easy to recreate. Apples are so sweet on their own, you don’t need to add all that sugar. And I can definitely recreate the crust using some almond flour. Yes, this Paleo thing is getting easier and easier by the day.
However, I’m still not all the way there. I recently took a trip to Santa Barbara to visit family. While it was definitely much easier for me to stay on track and not deviate from Paleo on this trip than it was on my last trip to California in July, I did have a bit of a stumble. On our first night there we decided (well, really there was no question) to enjoy some delicious Mexican food that can only be found in Southern California. Before we arrived at the restaurant I had already made the decision that I would order a Margarita. But not your standard sugary Mexican restaurant margarita. A Paleo friendly margarita. A NorCal Margarita to be exact. Yes, even though alcohol technically is NOT Paleo, I can’t think of any modern day caveman who doesn’t occasionally indulge. Robb Wolf is the father of the NorCal Margarita (thank you Robb, and God bless you), Mark Sisson enjoys red wine, and even the squeaky clean Hartwigs indulged in some wine during a recent trip to wine country (I mean really, when in Rome, right?). We are just more selective about the alcohol we choose to consume. No s’mores martinis for us. Those are more sugar than alcohol. Tequila is a great choice because it doesn’t raise your blood sugar like other alcohols do. Which brings us back to our lovely Mexican restaurant. As I said, the commitment to a NorCal Margarita had already been made. No morning after guilt for me, thank you very much. This was not a slip, or a cheat. Well, almost. I should have ordered first. But I didn’t. My lovely sister-in-law sitting to my right went first. “I’ll have a margarita” she instructed the waiter. And before I knew it, the words came flying out of my mouth (cue the slow motion warp): “I’ll have one too”. NO! Wait! That was supposed to go like this: ‘I’ll have a NorCal Margarita. That’s tequila, lots of lime juice and a splash of club soda’. But it didn’t.
I graciously accepted my Neolithic Margarita and decided I would free myself of any guilt. I reminded myself of the 80/20 rule and the fact that I was on vacation. It went down smooth. By the time we ordered dinner I was “in my happy place”. Not buzzed, just relaxed. I did a good job with my food choices, grilled shrimp. But I also ordered another ‘rita. The second one came and with the first sip I noticed that it was a bit stronger than the first one. By the time my glass was empty I had gone from “happy” to, well, I’ll just say it. Shit-faced. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t dancing on the table. I still had all my clothes on. And I don’t think I was slurring my words. But I rarely get past happy (even pre-cavegirl), and I really never get past buzzed. This was well beyond buzzed. I know, only two margaritas. But I’m tellin’ you, that second one was STRONG! It would’ve been just a little bad if the night had ended here. But it didn’t. The dessert menu came. In any circle, I typically wear the “Dessert Queen” badge so naturally I hogged the menu. Everyone else at the table (except for those that had yet to pass through puberty) practiced standard dessert etiquette: “I’ll just have a little bite of yours, I don’t need to see the menu”. “the fuck you will!” is what went through my head. What came out of my mouth however was “Oh, I can’t decide. We’ll have the Creme Brulee, Chocolate Torte, and the Spiced Apple Cake”.
When the desserts came, the other adults at the table held up their end of the bargain. Like civilized human beings, they each had one bite of each dessert. My offspring and I however, must have looked like a pack of wolves fighting over a scrap of meat. Devouring every last crumb and scraping up sauce with our fingers. I realize I may sound like a college girl the morning after, proclaiming “the alcohol made me do it.” But I assure you, THE ALCOHOL MADE ME DO IT!
Several hours later, I awoke after going to bed way too early for being on vacation. It hit me. I was sober and had horrible cotton mouth, as well as the realization to what I had done. Not just to my body, but my poor children’s bodies. I didn’t even make them pay a pebble for their binge.
This is exactly what Dallas and Melissa talk about in It Starts With Food when they say “when you are under the influence, you are more likely to make bad decisions [with food]“. They’re right. A mere two margaritas and I totally lost control. Now, I’m not saying that if I had ordered a NorCal Margarita instead of a regular one I wouldn’t have scarfed down three desserts, but it was the first bad decision that led to more bad decisions.
I’m not sure what I can do next time to make better decisions. Have my husband order for me?? No, I should be able to behave like a responsible adult, and make decisions for myself. Maybe this is just part of the process. Maybe this will get easier too, just like the rest of it has. I do have to keep reminding myself that it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. As long as I continue to get better then I am doing alright. In the meantime however, this is a good reminder that a drink may be more than just a drink. It may be two or three drinks, and then a table full of chronic-disease-causing foods.