Fear and Self-Loathing in New York City

Rank this among so-called “First-World problems,” but it’s nearly impossible for me to be a skinny foodie. Simply put, I follow my stomach around the planet. To me, the greatest possessions in the world are gastronomic; the greatest investments, digestible.

The only caloric blow-out meal was at The Plaza in Manhattan.
It was worth every calorie. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

As I travel, I’m gripped with the fear that I might never get to eat the unique foods of the region ever again, so I must enjoy them as much as possible in the moment.

Sashimi and free, bottomless sake at Sakura 6–one of the few meals I enjoyed
while in New York. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

The results have not been sexy. While some might say I’ve “battled” a weight problem, the truth is, I haven’t even engaged in the fight. You can’t fight food when you travel the world with a fork in hand. So, instead, I have happily surrendered little by little: snack by snack, meal by meal.

Coffee at Uro in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I don’t know why, but when I turned 40, I realized that the greatest gift I could give myself would be to silence those negative voices in my head, and to do that, meant I had to change my eating habits. I no longer wanted to be a fat foodie. I’ve been successful in approaching weight loss the healthy way, but was required to weigh in by an employer-sponsored health insurance cost management company recently. With less than a month’s notice, I had to drop at least one BMI point before the weigh in, or pay a $420 fat tax, plus an 11% increase in my health insurance premium. I was up for the challenge, yet it fell in an unfortunate time period — when I was visiting one of the great food cities of the world: New York.

For a foodie at heart, it was abject misery. While I allowed myself “sensible” choices from time to time, trading eggs benedict at Pastis for poached eggs, and trading soda water for cocktails, for the most part, I subsisted on cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers. Oh, and coffee.

I otherwise fasted.

One indulgence early in the week: rose and pumpkin French macarons at Charlotte Patisserie
in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

The most painful moments were those spent in Eataly, Mario Batali’s monument to all delicious things Italian. There, I passed legions of people drinking wine, feasting on fresh, delicious meats and cheeses and desserts….like these. For the uninitiated, Eataly is a pilgrimage site for foodies. I went there to go hungry.

Desserts at Eataly in Manhattan. Somehow, I resisted.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

“Find Momofuku Milk Bar,” a fellow foodie implored via text. “Have the crack pie and cereal milk ice cream.”

“Watching waistline,” I lamely responded.

His response implied that I had sinned. And in the foodie world, I had.

In my weakest moment, I sat in a New York bagel shop in Brooklyn, tears running down my face as I gleaned strength from my sister via telephone and tried in vain to convince myself that smelling bagels was as good as eating them. The night before, I’d had raw cauliflower for dinner. My mood bottomed out. I was surrounded by some of the most delicious foods imaginable, I was hungry, and I couldn’t allow myself a bite. (Again, First World problems.)

The view from Cafe Dada in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Others feasted on pastries,
I had coffee and water. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Yet in the BMI world, I had won. Strategically dehydrated, undernourished and exhausted, I weighed in three hours after landing at home. I had dropped what I needed to lose so that by BMI standards I was no longer “obese” but instead, simply “overweight.”

The win was underwhelming, at best.

The new hungrier, thinner and decidedly blonder me.
Photo by Diane Raaum.

I still hope to lose more of my foodie fat, though in truth I have not fully converted to a “food camel.” I can hardly wait to return to New York again someday soon, when I can feast on more than her raw veggies. Maybe I’ll celebrate my new skinnier ways with a 9 course meal and wine pairing at Per Se.

Is that wrong?

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
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Creative Commons License
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at rollerbaggoddess.blogspot.com.
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