We are now well into the re-launch of Operation Feel Good, the plan my siblings and I have to get fit. My very first day, I made two rookie mistakes. Yes, the very first day. I left the house in the morning without a water bottle and I left the house without a proper lunch plan.
A water bottle shouldn’t be a hurdle, but part of the problem is I can’t bring myself to buy bottled water. I can fill a bottle from my tap at home after all. Forgetting a water bottle, I could, of course, go without anything to drink, but that’s not where my mind goes. The devil on my shoulder tells me that if I’m going to add to the landfill, why not dive all the way in and get a soda. Once I set up the decision as a choice between water and a soda, the bad choices start to rack up.
I’ve never done well when faced with two options. On a family trip when I was a little kid, my younger brother and sister and I were allowed to go through a buffet line by ourselves.
“Pancakes or waffles?” the server asked.
“Pancakes,” I responded.
“Bacon or Sausage?”
“Scrambled eggs or omelet?”
“Oh. Um, scrambled eggs.”
“Danish or bagel?”
You see where this is going. Never dawned on me to say neither. (And all I really wanted was the cherry Danish.) Decades later, I finally learned I can add a third option, the option to say no.
So on Day One, at least, I was strong, strong enough to add a third option.
The second mistake, not having a plan, should have been easier to overcome than it was. Portland’s food carts offer tons of options that fit any diet. However, by the time I took a break for lunch, I was starving. There’s a reason you don’t go grocery shopping while hungry. All I could see was fried chicken. Being Day One of OFG, I didn’t really deserve fried chicken. Operation Feel Good is for the long haul, so fried chicken isn’t out forever, just not in the first eight waking hours of OFG.
Okay, I’m not telling the full story.
I had zero will power. I was heading to one of my favorite carts for fried chicken, but the line was long. So applying my Voodoo rule, I kept walking.
A falafel sandwich is my go-to sandwich when I’m trying to break some of my worse food habits. It isn’t necessarily low calorie, but it gets me to eat vegetables and stops the sugar cravings. Give me a hamburger and I will indignantly rip the lettuce and tomato off. Give me a falafel sandwich and suddenly a salad in my sandwich seems right.
Walking away from the fried chicken, I finally remembered a post on Food Carts Portland about a new cart that has a lebneh sandwich. Lebneh (or labneh) is a cheese from the Middle East, Lebanon in particular, that is made from yogurt. The lebneh sandwich from Pita Express was perfect for Day One of OFG: it got me to eat some fresh vegetables, the portion was right, and the calorie count didn’t break the bank. OFG isn’t about denial, but about eating healthier first, treats later.
I’ve been back to the Pita Express to try their falafel sandwich. I was a little nervous as I’ve had a few disappointing falafels in Portland. Luckily, with the help of Food Carts Portland and Willamette Week, I’ve found a couple of good places – Wolf & Bear and Cedo’s. Luckily, I can add Pita Express to my list of go-to carts. Their falafel is freshly made and even more importantly, tasty.
Day One of OFG was saved.
(Day Four in the candy aisle of a gas station was a low point.)