Dino-Chow Anywhere

Now that I’ve committed with my whole heart and mind to dino-chow – as opposed to using phrases that begin, “I’m trying not to eat X.” – I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to find appropriate food… if I really try to and if I worry less about the flavors I want to enjoy at that exact moment and more about eating food that won’t damage me.

An emergency snack of nuts can be found at most truck stops, and stores like Target and Walmart often have grocery departments with fresh fruit, Larabars or an equivalent, dried fruit, and a deli department for meat. After a long day at Sea World a few months ago, Dave and I found a dino bounty at a gas station in San Antonio: almonds, sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs, apples and oranges, and cups of carrot and celery sticks. In a pinch, I could also have eaten beef jerky, although it was kinda high in sugar.

While it’s probably not delicious and definitely not grass-fed, a fast food burger without a bun, with a Larabar chaser, makes a fine substitute for a meal. It’s not perfect, but it’s edible, the right proportion, and dairy- and grain-free.

Last Saturday, I made what could have been a very critical error: I went shopping at IKEA and neglected to take a snack with me. Dave and I examined, lounged on, compared, and price-checked couches for three hours. In the middle of a debate about brown versus red leather, I got hungry.

This is what I found in the IKEA cafeteria:
You’re looking at poached salmon stuffed with some kind of unidentifiable (but tasty) substance, with butter sauce, potato-broccoli cakes, and boiled carrots on the side. I added a salad with vinaigrette.

What did I do with the plate? I plucked out and discarded the filling in the salmon. I ate one tiny nibble of the potato cake to try it, then pushed it to the edge of my plate and ignored it. I skipped the waterlogged carrots completely and ate around the butter sauce. And I dipped the tines of my fork into the dressing before spearing forkfuls of lettuce.

Was it delicious? Not really. But the fish wasn’t bad.

Did it solve my hunger problem?
You betcha. I felt way better after eating, and I didn’t have the mental trauma of knowing “I went shopping and there was nothing good to eat and I had to eat Swedish meatballs and apple cake.”

Was I tempted by the IDEA Swedish meatballs? Yes. Yes, I was. Dave ordered them, so I got to have a few bites. They were yummy in that totally crappy, “junk food that makes you feel comforted” way, especially with the lingonberry sauce.
Before I revamped my eating habits, I thought every meal was supposed to be a celebration of flavor. Not eating something I wanted made me tense. It was like some part of my brain thought there was a shortage of eating opportunities, despite the fact that I ate often and ate a lot at once. “Wasting” a meal or snack was a source of stress. (Catherine Hart addressed this topic really nicely a few months ago.)

Dino-chow and CrossFit helped me re-wire my noggin to understand that first and foremost, food is fuel… with the happy side effect that when it comes from high-quality sources and is cooked properly, it’s also delicious and satisfying.

I’m not in a big hurry to repeat that IKEA poached salmon meal, but I’m glad it was there. And that night, when we got home, we chowed on some gorgeous grilled chicken thighs and cauliflower fouscous.

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