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Friday, June 16, 2006

Failing to plan means planning to fail

My husband and I are getting ready for a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe for his family’s annual summer vacation. Of course, I haven’t really given the trip much thought until today – when we’re supposed to be leaving.

That’s not exactly true. I thought about doing laundry, washing dishes, taking out the trash and packing. I’ve spent all week figuring out what to pack for a weekend of hiking, dancing and lounging on the beach, but I didn’t think of much else. Why is this a problem? Well, as I write this, I realize I haven’t spent any time finding out what we’re eating this weekend.

My husband’s family rents cabins along Camp Richardson, and they plan big group gatherings at mealtimes. I’ve asked repeatedly what we’re eating, and I’ve been told, “Well, you know. A little of this, a little of that.” That’s not helpful. I do know that for Father’s Day, there’s a family barbecue that features grilled steak. Otherwise, I haven’t a clue. I wasn’t overly worried about my lack of knowledge, because I figured there was bound to be something I could eat.

Then I read the monthly rant at last night. Susan Maria Leach, the site administrator and author of the rant, wrote about a recent vacation with her husband to visit family. Having had surgery five years ago, she didn’t pack special food for herself because she knew she could find something to eat just about anywhere. Unfortunately for her, she was wrong. Most of the restaurants the family visited during her trip didn’t offer anything that wasn’t deep-fried or smothered in gravy. And a family cookout only offered maple baked beans, dried-out hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad and birthday cake. She spent most of one day not eating, because she didn’t want to risk getting sick in public, and to make matters worse, she had to deal with relatives noticing her lack of eating and the hurt feelings that seem to arise around food.

Talk about a rude awakening. I quickly thought back to most of my food experiences around my husband’s family. In general, I, too, can find something to eat anywhere, but there are foods that just will not go down no matter how hard I try: hamburger, sausage, any form of dried or overcooked meat, scrambled eggs, pasta, rice and anything made with whole milk or cream. And then there are the foods that I do eat in a pinch but tend to make me ill: bread, sweets, gravy, fried eggs and potatoes.

As I thought about this, I also thought about the meals I’ve heard the family talk about having at past vacations: Spaghetti and garlic bread, barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, breakfast scrambles, tri tip, baked potatoes, etc. And suddenly, it became clear that I needed to pack food for myself to prevent me from being in a situation where my choice was to either not eat or eat food that I knew for a fact would make me sick.

So, I’ll spend some time today before we hit the road at the grocery store. I’ll pick up string cheese, lunchmeat, protein bars, and I’ll take along some of the protein powder samples I have on hand. I may not touch a single thing I pack, but that will be better than the alternative.

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