Tuesday, September 28

The Cognitive Dissonance of Health Habits

whew. try saying that 3 times fast. Pretty impressive blog title eh? I think living in London has made me smarter and it's only been 4 days, imagine what I'll be like after a year. schwwwing!

I'll let you in on a little secret though, this past summer I worked at Harvard as a new teacher mentor for the Grad program and on my first day of training we had this very Harvard-esque, touchy feely, hold each others hands and explain your deepest innermost smart kid thoughts to one another type discussion. The director of the program posed the question if I ever felt a level of "cognitive dissonance" towards my ideals and my school's philosophy. In my head went something like this: ummmmmm, cognitive what? I KNEW all those beers I drank in college would come back to haunt me eventually. Okay everyone is looking at you. Hurry up. Sound smart. Say something. NOW. Out loud went something like this: Uhhh, yes.

Not my finest moment. However, cognitive dissonance has stuck with me since then (I went home and googled it, that's what google is for right?!) Just an FYI, it means: an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

I feel like London and the US are in a bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to food and health. If you would please bear with me, I am about to go on a rant...

This move to London has made me realize how much I really value and appreciate my eating habits. I am somewhat of a picky eater (I know that all of my friends and families just made a collective snort, sigh, and eye roll at the word somewhat, but lucky for me it's my blog and I get creative license! haha). I've also spent a long time perfecting my food and health habits. After losing 45lbs and falling in love with running, I knew I'd never go back to my college lifestyle again (okay, occasionally the booze part, but definitely NOT the 2am pizza part). However, moving to a new country brings on a whole set of challenges, nevermind the food part of everything. I am in a total state of culture shock, doing my best to come up to speed on money, language, and where the heck to look when crossing the street (left? right? gah!) but to me, food is priority numero uno.

There is such a strange dichotomy happening. On the one hand, I have to say these Londoners are in fabulous shape. I think it has to do with all the walking (this city is H-U-G-E!!!!!!!). The majority of people here are in excellent shape and obesity doesn't seem to be a factor at all. I've been really excited to see the vast number of runners out on the streets. Runners are EVERYWHERE and gyms seem to be on almost every block. However, with that being said, I've also noticed way more people smoking, especially women. There is also an obscene amount of fried chicken places around London...we met a girl out at the bar last weekend and one of the first things she said to us was that we had to try the fried chicken at this one place. I don't get it. It seems like such a contradiction to me.

Being the Finicky Fran that I am, not having a permanent place to say these past few days has been rough on Sean and I. Luckily, we moved in with Sean's friends for the last couple days. They live 2 streets away from us, so we are happy to be in our new neighborhood and getting used to things. We ventured out tonight to what will be our new supermarket and were SO pleasantly surprised by what we found.

That, my friends, is a loaf of Wholegrain, Oat, and Barley bread for 75 pence ($1.15). Ummmm what!? Wholewheat, FRESH bread for that price?! HALLELUJAH! I dare you to find freshly baked multigrain bread in the States for less than that! You can't.

Even cooler? They had a slicing machine where you could slice your own bread!

We ended up with an amazing, healthy, NATURAL meal for the both of us for 11 pounds (that's $17). We bought 2 containers of vegetable soup, loaf of bread, a giant carrot (FOR 10 pence thankyouverymuch), a bag of brussel sprouts (for 1 pound ifreakingloveUKgrocerystores), goat cheese, and a bottle of wine! (Of course. Do you even doubt that I'd have wine?!)
mmmmmmm. Brussel sprouts. Call me crazy but these puppies are delicious with some olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.

So Sean and I like our goat cheese drowing in honey. Don't hate.

vegetables! I love you. I miss you. I'll never leave you for this long again.

Sorry for the blurry-ness of this picture. Let's blame it on my new "mobile" rather than the fact I had 2 glasses of wine before taking it ;)

I cannot express to you the happiness I feel right now, actually, I think the more appropriate word would be content. I hope this first trip to the grocery store signals many more fabulous shopping and food adventures to come here in the UK. Despite the intense smoking habits and unfortunate fried chicken obsessions, London is definitely ahead of the curve. Case in point:

Stylist, a free British magazine given out around the city, has a section called Elsewhere Around the World. Want to know what America was mentioned for? The acheivement of deep frying beer. Really?! Way to go us, we've figured out how to deep fry something else. As if the twinkies, Oreos, turkey, and everything wasn't enough? One time, at a country fair in Georgia, I'm pretty sure I saw a woman deep fry her husband because he talked back to her. Call it what you will, slanted journalism, stereotyping cultures, but the truth is still evident. We are famous for deep frying shit. literally.

In any case, for the first time in about a month, I feel like myself again. I went for a 5 mile run and had a wonderful dinner. I am sooooo looking forward to moving into our flat so my spinach filled protein shakes can resume as usual. Don't you worry though, I'll be sure to work the Cadbury chocolate into my diet regimen.


Linda said...


Ashley said...

Where did you go food shopping? Those are great prices for London!!! Email me if you don't want to put it on the blog. Looks like you are settling in very well...very exciting!!


Anonymous said...

Wonderful. I'm living your grocery store experience with you; thanks for including the photos, even the prices. Very cool. continue to have fun. Mary Jo

Marie said...

Ashley- It was the Sainsbury's on Clapham High Street. I'm hoping that's the norm?

Living on the Spectrum said...

I think part of why so many Londoners choose to walk/run/take public transport is because of the outrageous taxes the crown has imposed on simply owning a vehicle. It's not like our nice "once a year" car tax...let's see...there's a daily £5 "congestion" fee if you use the main motorways, there is "road tax" if you keep the car on a public road when parked...and if you have a driveway, your car must be either "fully taxed" or have a "Statutory Off Road Notification" in force and logged with the Driver and Vehicle Licesnsing Agency. It's just nuts! No wonder people choose to walk.

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