I was in the cereal aisle this morning, half wishing the shelves would swallow me whole and half lost in a mental debate about the amount of fat and sugar in Special K vs Lucky Charms. Two things were weighing on the decision scale of which to take home: Health, and people’s opinion. Both of these, mind you, tie back to my age.
Back when I had just reached the 2-decade milestone, my culinary choices were heavily influenced by the impending reality of graduating college and finally entering the “adult” world. I tried learning about wines to sound interesting at networking events, ate things my kid self probably wouldn’t have touched with a 10-foot pole, and most relevant to this particular conversation, I stopped buying colorful, sugary cereals. Because how could I, an adult, be caught with a box of Trix? Don’t you know those are for kids? Heck, there even came a point where I had not one, not two, but FIVE different varieties of Special K littered around my apartment, which often got mixed up with my roommates’ own set of boxes of adult cereal. But the rest of our diet? A veritable mess of crappy lunches, weekend binges, and midnight snacks.
As mildly terrifying as it is to say out loud, I’m now closer to 30 than I am to 20, and the second half of my decade has been quite different. Whole milk is suddenly 2%, loud parties cast aside in favor of a nightly glass of wine, and fast food was swapped out by cooking at home with friends. Some of us went plant-based. Some vegan. A few stopped drinking sodas, and another stopped drinking altogether. One of us started eating meat regularly for the first time. The thing all these changes had in common was a move towards a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. I guess the day you get heartburn for the first time is a real wake-up call to the fact that you can no longer go out for a burger followed by endless rounds of beer without your body protesting against it. Laterally to all this, I stopped caring much about what people thought of me or my frequently questionable life decisions.
Which then looks a little like this:
I never had the best relationship with food, but I’m doing pretty well these days. I firmly believe in balanced eating, and despise diets with every ounce of my soul. So, back in the cereal aisle, knowing that there isn’t that big a nutritional difference between most of the “adult” cereals and the “kid” cereals, knowing I eat well enough most of the time, and no longer giving a rat’s ass about the lady giving me the side-eye for staring at cereals for over 30 minutes (I could just as easily judge her for watching me watch the cereals), one of two voices in my head finally yelled, “JUST GET ONE IF YOU WANT IT, DAMNIT. YOU DESERVE A LITTLE COLOR AND SWEETNESS IN YOUR LIFE.”
I walked away with a box of Lucky Charms and Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch.