The Last of the Breadsticks

Not all thin, healthy people are born that way. Some of us have gone through our own fair share of trail and errors, binges, poor habits.... call them what you will. But after reaching a point where you're actually eating and living like you know you should be, it's good to reminisce about times when you were completely clueless and see just how you've progressed. One habit that I've come to instill in myself, so much so that I'm now unaware of until I'm eating with a new group of people, is how slow I eat. The benefits are obvious: you can enjoy what your eating, you're less likely to stuff yourself and it's easier for your body to break down the food. Now there was a time where I was completely unaware of this need to slow down.  I’ve been wrongly perceived as one who has always been thin and disciplined. This couldn't be more inaccurate. Disciplined in some areas? Maybe, yes. Thin and self-controlled? Not always. Growing up with a sister 2 years younger than me, there was always a fight over who got the better deal: Who got the bigger bowl of cereal, the front seat or who ended up with the pretty Barbie Happy Meal toy. No matter what it was, someone always got the better deal. In a way, it was a means of endless drama and competition between us as sisters. While I like to think my sister, the one who loved randomly pulling my hair, was the one looking for drama, I must admit we shared an equal urge to one up the other. In more cases than not, it involved food. Hence, where the lack of self-control comes in.

 Though we ate at home most nights, every week or so we’d eat at Pizza Hut. Dad was equally motivated to bring us for the new (at the time) stuffed-crust pizza as he was for the “Book It Program;” Pizza that encourages kids to read. This genius concept, bribing kids with food to learn more, was at the brink of a food culture that has truly shaped my generation, in more ways than one. ( No pun intended.)  Before our pizza would arrive,  we would sometimes start with the cheese breadsticks . Being the competitive sisters we were, who got the most cheese breadsticks was of course the objective of the night. As delicious as a stick of cheese was to us at the time, we were more occupied with how many sticks remained.

One particular night, we were down to three cheese sticks and my parents were done. I grabbed one, Kara grabbed the other and we ferociously chowed down. Still eyeing the one remaining, I continued cramming the stick down so quickly that pretty soon I bit off more than I could swallow. I was too busy watching my sister, Kara,  who was halfway done with her’s and just about ready to grab the last stick.

Determined to get it down, sudden I began uncontrollably gagging on globs of cheese. (Apparently this was no unusual scenario for me as a kid. My parents said starting at a young age I would eat any form of cheese and inevitably consume it like candy. They would have to keep an eye on me so I wouldn’t choke myself to death.) At the point where I began gagging all I recall was jumping out of the booth and seeing my Dad’s out-of-control reaction, motioning for me to cough it up. I don't remember much after this but I'm told he then grabbed me by the heels, turned me upside, attempting to shake it out of me, until it came up. I returned for a few moments to catch my breath, sat down and there it was. The cheesey breadstick was there waiting for me. Though this story doesn't fully drive my point home, I think you catch my drift. Chew your food. Enjoy your meal. And if you have kids, for goodness sake don't let them make a contest out of who gets the last of the breadsticks.