I have a confession to make. Like all of us, I have some guilty pleasures. They include, but are not limited to: Comfort shopping (similar to comfort eating, but with a far greater likelihood of upsetting your parents); satirical animation à la "Family Guy"; and white chocolate. Recently, however, a new pleasure has entered the mix. All right, I'll say it. Fast food breakfasts are becoming the death of me - figuratively, and also perhaps literally, considering their fat content.
For my first two years at the University I was diligent. Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, and as a first year I would often get up a little earlier to eat some dining hall oatmeal and do some reading. As a fancy second year in my own apartment, I got up to make oatmeal, sometimes even going crazy and taking yogurt and a piece of fruit with me before I left for the day. I hate skipping breakfast. It gets your metabolism going, and I am as cranky as a two-year-old without naptime if I don't get some nutrients before noon. It's sad, I know.
My third year, this year, I happened upon something wonderful. Oatmeal is perhaps my favorite breakfast food, and it now seems possible to find oatmeal outside of my kitchen. Apparently it is no longer the breakfast choice of grannies and babies. It is even served at drive-through restaurants! I was in a rush on my way to an early practice one Saturday morning and had no time to make breakfast. Practicing on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster, and combined with my childlike intolerance for hunger, it could mean World War III on the basketball court. So I stopped at one of the infamous fast food places and ordered oatmeal. And my, was that oatmeal delicious.
I soon found myself stopping to get this oatmeal whenever an excuse arose. Before school, I would sneak off to sample some early morning snacks, leaving my car in the parking garage for hours during class. Coming back to parking fees seemed a small price to pay for the convenience of something so delicious.
After having to pay an exorbitant amount for parking one morning, I realized it may have been time to stop. Well, at least on weekdays. Not only was I paying for parking when there was a perfectly good bus system available to me, but I was also paying for breakfasts which I could no longer excuse as cheap or healthy. The oatmeal began turning into greasy, tasty breakfast sandwiches which would sit in my stomach like rocks - delicious rocks, but rocks nonetheless.
But there are still weekends when I find myself stopping for a breakfast sandwich, or oatmeal, or an iced coffee. I had to curb my unhealthy breakfast habit, though, for financial and health reasons.
You'd be surprised how a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich a day (coupled with oatmeal and probably that iced coffee) can disrupt the flow of things. And by disrupt the flow of things, I mean make me feel heavier and sleepier than a baby rhino. I've returned to my kitchen to make myself an actual breakfast which wasn't prepared in five minutes or less. Yes, it is far less convenient. And yes, there is some secret ingredient in fast food oatmeal I have yet to discover which makes it addictive and tasty. But somehow, the sense of accomplishment of beating my fast food addiction is better than all of those benefits.
Simone's column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.