Put That Back, It’s Not Healthy Eating: Resolute Efforts

Thanks to a fellow shopper, we’re both better at healthy eating

Not long ago, I was at the grocery store and had artfully maneuvered my full cart of goods into one of the open checkout lanes.  I’ve given up expecting to find a lane open or moving fast.  That is just not my lot in life.  Rather, I taunt fate by choosing the longest line possible with the hope of Murphy’s Law self-destructing in front of me and an associate manager pulling me aside, beckoning me to come down to a newly opened lane; a fresh, smiling store clerk eagerly awaiting my loot on her conveyor belt and a young bagger warming up at the end of the row for what he must have thought would be a marathon bagging experience.

 healthy eatingThat doesn’t always happen.  Instead, I often find myself behind a customer who had not one, but two shopping carts full of grocery items.  I’m much more patient than I used to be.  I don’t roll my eyes, sigh heavily or summon up my best angry glare.  I’ve actually managed to do quite a bit of self-improvement while I wait my turn.  I’ve penned the words to a new Country song (and didn’t use the words ‘Chevy’, ‘girlfriend’, ‘horse’, or ‘whiskey’ one time), learned Latin, and happily waved up towards all of the security cameras in the ceiling.   I can abide a lot in the checkout line except one thing: advise.

On this particular sunny Saturday afternoon, I was going through my waiting routine when the gentleman in front of me turned around and surveyed the items I was putting on the conveyor belt.  I suddenly felt a little nervous, like the principal had just walked into one of my high school classroom during a test.  Everyone suddenly sits up a little straighter and becomes very focused on what they are doing.  Was this a test?  Did I have enough vegetables piled up?  Oh my, how did those Pop Tarts get in my cart?  Bran flakes…for the love of…where is the box of bran flakes?

“You know,” he began.  “They say a good rule of thumb for healthy eating is to have an equal amount of fruits, vegetables, breads and protein in your cart when you are ready to check out.”

Was he looking at my five bags of different types of potato chips?  Wait!  Who was the ‘they’ to whom he was referring?

They say that buying whole wheat bread without the words ‘caramel coloring’ in the ingredients listing is better than other types of bread, like that fluffy white bread junk.”

I looked back into my partially empty cart.  I had two loaves of ‘fluffy white bread junk’ sitting on top of a box of Velveeta cheese.  I didn’t see what the big deal was; the label did say ‘bread’ didn’t it?

But he wasn’t done yet.  “They say that fruits have a lot of sugar in them that can convert into unburned calories and settle in your gut.”

I looked down at my protruding stomach, and the small bag of golden delicious apples I had resting on it.  I gracefully slid the bag of apples off of my stomach and onto the conveyor belt and kept unloading my cart, unhindered by my own health police officer in front of me.

As his brussel sprouts, beets and tofu patties were scanned by the clerk and carefully  placed into the man’s biodegradable shopping bag made out of hemp and his own hair.

Aha!  He had a container of soy ice milk for dessert. “You know,” I gently retorted, “they say that soy milk becomes a carcinogen at temperatures below freezing and can cause cancer.”   That was a complete fabrication.  But it felt really good.  At first he looked somewhat shocked; then, in a show of mournful resignation, he asked the clerk to remove it from his bill and the bagger handling his groceries to take the item back to the health food section.  He threw me one last, desperate glance, and then trundled out with his bags.

I quickly got the checkout clerk’s attention.  “Would you mind letting me have that soy ice milk?”

I can now check one item from my New Year’s resolution list: Try to eat healthier.

Michael Larson
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