Why Eating Healthy Sucks

Lest you think my eating/cooking experiences are all fancy or all classy, let me tell you about where I ate lunch yesterday, and a sad, sad consequence of eating healthy.

Gatti's, it's not you, it's me.

My family and I joined some friends for lunch at Gatti’s Pizza in Round Rock (Gatti-Town, to be specific) after the service we attended at my mom’s church.

Now, my family literally grew up on Gatti’s. It was a local chain founded and based in Austin. We’d go to celebrate birthdays, after our swim meets, when we wanted to watch a big football game (we didn’t have cable), or just on a weeknight when my dad come home early. I have three siblings, and we all loved the pizza and pastas. Gatti’s was a treat that never lost its sway. Heck, even my parents liked it.

The pizza is decent – medium crust, a spicy-sweet sauce, with a nicely-browned cheese mix. They made normal variations like sausage, pepperoni and supreme. They had a couple dessert pizzas, like Dutch Apple Treat and cinnamon sticks. The pastas were good too; they had spaghetti with meat and marinara sauce that you could ladle on yourself (woohoo!), and mac & cheese at some locations.

I’m certain that Gatti’s biggest draw to our palates was that it was an all-you-can-eat buffet. We affectionately called it “Fatty’s” for the feeling we had after eating there. We hated the drive home after eating Gatti’s, because the car’s movement on the down hills hurt our stomachs.

Back in the day, though, before I knew or cared that overeating was bad for your body, I liked Gatti’s.

Enter healthy eating. I got serious about taking care of my body in high school, when I wanted to become a better runner. I started to learn about food as fuel, and that eating the right types of food could make you perform and feel better. I mean, not like its a new concept, I’d just never applied it to myself before. Out with the Fritos and Pop Tarts, in with the whole grains and vegetables!

With all its benefits, of course I’m not sorry I started eating better… but it did have a few drawbacks.

The biggest drawback to healthy eating is that unhealthy/low-quality food doesn’t taste as good anymore :( This is fine for most of the time. It’s nice not to be tempted to eat fast food, ever.

But then you find yourself facing a meal at Gatti’s, or some other place you used to love, and it’s gross.

I ended up eating a few slices of pizza, as well as some decent salad bar vegetables (cucumber, bell pepper, red cabbage). The pizza wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t good, and afterward my stomach hurt. Eating healthy/cooking takes all the fun out of eating bad, even the foods you used to enjoy.

I still love pizza, but Gatti’s just isn’t quality enough for me to be like “yay! We’re going to Gatti’s!” Healthy eating, AKA: say goodbye to a piece of your past!

The good thing about my lunch was that the fun of eating a meal with old friends hadn’t changed. I got to spend time with some friends from high school who still go to that church, and we had a great time catching up. We talked about the stuff we did in high school, just stupid stuff because we had so much free time. I felt like a part of me got to wake up again, because of the memories.

Food and eating was and still is really important to me. It’s more than just sustenance. But life is bigger than our experiences in it with food. Ultimately, no matter where I dine, going with people I love is the best part.

Ahh, that's better. Homeslice Pizza in Austin!

But a huge, fresh, salty, hand-crafted pizza pie doesn’t hurt.


8 thoughts on “Why Eating Healthy Sucks

  1. beabee

    How dare you malign Mr. Gatti’s. Just kidding. For me, the food was still about what it had always been, which is so delicious. But with my recent experience of the consequences of being overweight and the physical, emotional, and social toll it takes on you, it was really hard to watch extremely overweight people load up their plates with the food that will eventually kill them. It’s like if there was a restaurant that was pro-anorexia, where low calorie, small portion foods were served and it was encouraged to not even finish them, where it was okay and accepted to have these disordered eating behaviors, there would be such an outcry against that restaurant and how it was harming people. But buffets encourage and celebrate being just as mentally sick and unhealthy. Golden Corral’s slogan is actually “Help Yourself to Happiness”. Help yourself to diabetes, heart attacks, and cancer!

    I sound really judgmental of people who overeat. I assure you, I am not. I even think it’s okay to eat too much every now and then. It mainly makes me sad that “every now and then” has clearly become too frequent and is now a problem, but people/our society/the food industry won’t address it, and continue engaging in behaviors that are harming us.

    1. catewestenhover Post author

      Beabea, you are so insightful. I didn’t even get into the “fat people eat at Gatti’s” as a reason I don’t like it, but it does mar the experience somewhat.

      The idea of a pro-anorexia restaurant is kind of funny, but mostly because it’s so ridiculous. That’s a point I hadn’t thought of that frames harmful eating (too much or too little) in a whole new way.

  2. Ruthann Hager

    This was a great post! I couldn’t agree more. Developing a taste for healthy food really does ruin unhealthy food even if it’s attached to fond memories.

    1. catewestenhover Post author

      Thank you Ruthann, I bet you have lots of experience with your efforts at not eating sugar. I remember you said after going off of it, going back on was weird. Are you still doing that, or was it just an experiment? I have a sweet tooth so I don’t know if I could ever do that! I’m sure it’d be healthier though :)

  3. sweatykid

    Ahh; agree with so many pieces of this post. Sometimes I miss my days of healthy eating ignorance… the days when a can of orange soda and a pack of Gushers were appropriate and satisfying as an afterschool snack. I’m pretty sure if I tried to pull that now, I’d be laying on the floor suffering from massive sugar convulsions. Though heck, I bet Gushers still taste good. Maybe?

    And yes, a huge, fresh, salty handcrafted pizza pie is a GREAT thing.

    1. catewestenhover Post author

      I’m not gonna lie, Gushers are still tasty. And so are a myriad of other sweets I still eat. Usually I don’t feel gross afterward; the whole meals of processed/fatty/fake foods are what do me in.

  4. runharrietrun

    Oh yeah, I’ve had the same experience re: eating healthy and no longer enjoying junk food. Stuff like chips, cookies, soda, anything processed, it just doesn’t taste good anymore. And it shouldn’t! That stuff is nasty! Food should not come from a factory. (That said, I have nothing against a good, thin-crust neapolitan pizza!)

    Beabee makes a great (and funny) point about the anorectic’s restaurant. I agree, the American indulgence in food excess as some indicator of “the good life” is just as disordered. I’ve been to those “all you can eat for $5” buffets (I think one chain was called Country Kitchen Buffet or something) and the food isn’t even good. It was like, mashed potatoes from those flakes-in-a-box and mystery meat and canned vegetables. You can cook all that yourself for a fraction of the price! But if you are basically inhaling it without really thinking about it, you don’t notice that what you are eating actually sucks. It’s kind of a metaphor for the American condition as a whole: Consume consume consume, don’t stop, go to the mall, what are you doing not spending money? Go go go! If too many people stop to question what they are doing and come to the realization that the food tastes bland and the new mega TV/heated pool/McMansion/SUV *aren’t* actually making them happy…the system collapses.

    Ok, that sounded dire and like the rantings of someone who spends a lot of time in a tinfoil hat :) But I swear I have a point there somewhere. Has anyone else read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan? He makes a similar point about fast food from Mcdonald’s etc. He says something like “the more you concentrate on how it tastes, the less it tastes.” It’s meant to be “comfort food” but it’s actually something else, I think he calls it “a signifier of comfort food”. You’re not meant to think about it, you’re meant to just consume it and call yourself satisfied because you did.

    Ok I am stopping now :) Thanks for the post Cate!

    1. catewestenhover Post author

      Totally understandable “rant,” and I like your metaphor about our consumption lifestyles. I’m taking an advertising course at school this semester, and my teacher’s writing a book about materialism/unhappiness. He’s concluded that more stuff does not make you more happy. Not the first person to think so, but I’m sure he has some more unique points. Anyway, I should bring up the thing about buffets with him, to hear what he’d say.

      I think we can all conclude from these comments:
      1. Buffets are bad, bad places.
      2. [Some] Pizza is still good, haha


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