That Seductive Salt

I’m writing this with a fuzzy head, rumbling tummy, and uncomfortable taste of regret. I had a terrible night of un-rest, and, naturally, that stern finger of responsibility is pointing directly at me. Hello, Stern Finger of Responsibility!

The situation:
Dave and I decided to go out to dinner in our neighborhood, to Polvo’s, a popular Tex-Mex joint about a 1/2-mile stroll away from our front door.

The rationale:
1. It was a gorgeous summer night… one of those evenings that makes me think Austin weather is a quirk of personality, rather than character flaw. Yes, it was almost 100 degrees F, but a light breeze was blowing, and there were plenty of shady spots along our path.

2. I’d personally cooked almost every meal we’d eaten since Saturday night (that’s 12 meals and, roughly, 10 snacks) plus the bonus food for the Sunday photo shoot. I craved a break from the kitchen.

3. We were feeling chipper. Tuesday Dave had a bad day, and Wednesday I had a bad day. But last night, we both felt good, so we wanted to visit with each other… to just sit and talk and eat and enjoy being together.

4. We had a list of Important, But Fun Things to talk about: cookbook planning, our trip to LA in August, our Sunday photo shoot this week.

The dinner:
The first sign that, perhaps, things were not to go as planned was the chaotic atmosphere at the restaurant. Groups of college girls gulped margaritas. Their shrill voices wrestled with each other and ricocheted off the pink walls, competing with the blare of mariachi music, the metallic clang of cutlery bouncing off the tile floor, and the harried voice of the hostess trying to seat Thursday night party people. (Thursday is the new Friday!)

When the waiter arrived with our giant glasses of ice water and a basket of chips, he ASKED US if we wanted chips before setting them on the table. I felt my brain form the word “no” and prepared my head to shake itself side-to-side, but somehow heard myself say “yes” and saw the room bob up and down as I nodded my head. There’s the chip basket on the table, and look! there’s my hand reaching into it.

(One small glimmer of hope in this otherwise unattractive tale is that unlike past experiences, I did not snarf the entire basket – but I did eat more than a few. Oh, corn tortilla chips! You are my kryptonite.)

The aftermath:
I sometimes indulge in tortilla chips at Saturday brunch, and they’ve never affected my sleep. But dang! Last night, I had trouble falling asleep at 10:00 – my usual, uneventful, welcome bedtime. Then I woke up at 2:30 a.m. with a growling stomach and thoughts racing around the idea track in my head. I used to have that experience all the time before I changed my diet. I’d write entire articles in my head, sing songs from beginning to end inside my noggin, plan a detailed to-do list… that kind of thing. It sounds vaguely useful but it’s not because there’s no rest involved. It’s just manic, dashing thoughts that repeat themselves until I give up on sleep and do something else. I read for about 90 minutes, until I felt sleepy. Then I realized that a 6:30 a.m., big-time aerobic workout was not going to be a good idea so I cancelled my slot in my class and wandered back to bed. I finally fell into fitful sleep around 4:00… until my alarm rang at 5:55 because in my corn-addled state, I forgot to flip the switch to off.

So I’m awake. Unrested. Puffy. Muddled. Workout-less. Hungry for real food. And wondering how many times I’ll repeat this particularly lame exercise before I remember that eating poison-food isn’t really fun anymore. I don’t feel food guilt, and I’m not falling into the “I’m so fat, and I’ll never be lean” pit of despair, but damn! this morning would be way better if I’d just eaten my beef fajitas without the chip intro.

The lesson:
Don’t eat corn tortilla chips at dinner time.


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  • Patty says:

    I’m with you Mel. I can say no to candy, cake, cookies all day long but chips are usually my downfall. Hope you can get some rest and feel better soon. I like to sip on homemade broth with some lemon or lime juice on days like this.

    Also, wanted to see if you know Kelly at She’s a graphic designer and I know you are lookin’ for one!

  • Oh girl! I did the horrible workout! It was turrible. I missed you! You help keep me going.

    I’m sorry your weren’t feeling well. Salty carby things get me everytime. I need to get back in the game now that I’m feeling better and start eating right. I will see you next week!

  • Lydia says:

    I used to feel sorry for myself that I can’t eat non-paleo without risking some serious health complications. Now I think I’m kinda lucky.

    My CRAZY WILD INDULGENCES are along the lines of a handful of cashews with dried cranberries or the occasional bit of high quality dark chocolate. I get to enjoy my binges/cheats/whatever you wanna call them and I never suffer ill effects. So yeah. I guess I’m lucky. =)

    • Mel says:

      The thing is, I need to start thinking of these “minor” reactions of mine as pretty major. Does it make sense to trade a good night’s sleep, a workout, and an energetic day for a few handfuls of corn chips?! I don’t think so.

      • Lydia says:

        I agree, the loss of a good night’s sleep had better be for a more entertaining reason than a bag of chips. =D

        And yeah, the loss of a day of feeling good is definitely not a minor thing. At all.

  • Alix says:

    I went to a friend’s after my oly class last night and he fixed homemade nachos with homemade black beans with pork. I had the intent to just have a few. Of course, I went buck wild, since I didn’t have the good sense to eat at home after Oly before going to his house.

    Needless to say, my stomach has been rebelling against me all day today. I’ve visited the toilet 4x and I’m not sure when it will stop. All the fish oil in the world couldn’t help me now.

    I hate how much I love tex-mex.

  • Jos says:

    I feel your biggest weakness is salty crispy carby like chips. Hope you feel better!

  • Luke says:

    It may have been the polyunsaturated vegetable oil or partially hydrated vegetable oil they were fried in that caused the symptoms more than the corn itself.

  • Vern says:

    I’m glad to hear someone else also has a tortilla chip weakness! It’s my biggest weakness.

  • Craig says:

    Hilarious that you posted this today. I just got back from a lunch where we decided not to go to Polvo’s specifically b/c I can’t say no to the Entomatadas, they are just so delicious. We ended up at Habenero Cafe, where I had fajitas, but did split a cheese enchilada b/c they really are the best in the city. I don’t feel bad about it.

    I think Austin may be one of the most difficult cities to be primal/paleo in b/c there are tasty poison filled chips/salsa and tortillas on so many of our wonderful corners.

    Ah well, here’s to fighting the good fight and when you want to, eating those delicious treats for brunch instead of dinner. As an aside, you should totally try the brunch at Takoba if you haven’t. If you’re gonna eat chips, they should be the ones there, they are amazing.

  • Spence says:

    I caved to the salty goodness of the chip basket twice at Chewy’s and once at Guero’s last time I was in Austin. Oooppsie. But delish!

  • SpeakerScott says:

    One word: cheesecake. Hadn’t had it in a year, with it’s overly processed dairy like items, and cracker crust. But it was my birthday so I get some right?

    I tossed. I turned. I did not, actually, sleep. Bleh.

    Till next year birthday cheesecake.


  • I’m the same way with salty chips…ESPECIALLY of the Whole Foods Plantain chip variety. BUT I just found out that the WF in my neighborhood no longer carries them…I think that my life may be over and/or I will be losing 5 pounds now that they’re out of my diet.

  • Mel says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone! It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in my inability to say ‘no’ to those devil triangles!

  • Mary says:

    Oh my goodness! I feel for you. I did a long triathlon on Saturday so spent the entirety of Sunday resting on the couch with a bag of cheddar cheese popcorn. I ate it. All. I cannot believe how awful I felt Monday!

    At least it taught me the importance of eating clean paleo the rest of the week, doing my runs and WODs, and now I feel great. But ick! Carby salty poison is bad news!!

  • Christine says:

    Mel, I’m an old Whole30-er… I broke and ate a slice of pizza from Whole Foods last night. Was absolutely ravished with hunger and the pizza tasted incredible. Went to bed at a decent hour for the first night this week, but woke up at least once an hour. Stomach churning, wild thoughts, sweating. Ugh, not sure why I think these things are worth it. I guess we have to remind ourselves that even though the food tastes good it has negative consequences. Glad to read that I’m not the only one that falters sometimes. Thanks for posting!

    • Mel says:

      Oh! You poor girl. Pizza is the worst, isn’t it? SO lovely on the way in… and then it steals your sleep and brings on the salt sweats. And that thirst! Were you thirsty?

      Sorry you had that experience, but yes, it seems like we have to remind ourselves sometimes.

      Hope you have a restful, healthy food weekend!