What "Clean Eating" Means to Me. (It's Not What You Think)

The term "clean eating" didn't exist when I first started conceptualizing my book. When it became a new food fashion I thought it was a good start, but the idea that you could lose weight simply by eating minimally processed food and "portion control" without knowing the calories contained within it is, by vintage diet accounts, suspect. For example, a few handfuls of cashews, a calorie dense food, isn't dainty eating when compared to a healthy-sized bowl of oatmeal and raisins. Both are "clean" but calories have a way of going incognito. 

However, there's something more pressing for me: good housekeeping. I need my kitchen to sparkle (can I get the five second rule up to ten?) and food to be safely handled, and that means I like things to be literally clean. Yes, I do have a bit of a cootie phobia. So when I do go out to eat, I know that my standards of cleanliness need to relax somewhat. (During my college days I worked in food service so I've seen THINGS.) Well, today something really gross happened!

I was running some errands at the mall and decided to have Japanese food court fare for lunch. It was still early so there weren't many people around. A shaggy looking man walked from the men's bathroom and got in line in front of me. At the same time others started lining up behind me.

The lady at the register behind the counter began to fill the clamshell  containers with rice and line the orders up on the counter top. Shaggy and the two people behind me ordered the same thing. Normal protocol is that the chef behind the counter moves the containers down the line where he places the food in with the rice, and then closes the tops. This is an important detail: the tops always come in contact with the food; in fact it helps smoosh it all down.

Shaggy, who was rather boisterous, decided to be "helpful," and with his palm facing down, placed his (fresh from the bathroom) hand flat on the inside of each and every container and in that position pushed them further down the counter.

Wut. Seriously? Yes.

Immediately I tried to do a quiet statistical analysis of the percentage of EWWW on his hands that would come in contact with my food. The verdict? Nope. Not eating that.

I wanted to be discreet and not make a scene, so I waited until he took his and left. I quietly explained that I preferred to have a new order and why. It was clear then that neither of them understood English. Oh what the heck, I thought, and I began to pantomime what just happened, thinking they would get it. Nope. After a few awkward performances they did get that I would go away if they gave me a new everything. Phew!

This eating clean business isn't always easy!


  1. Oh my goshhhhh!!!! Ew, Averyl, so gross!!! I don't normally say alot but I would have said something to Shaggy!! lol. Yuck. And then walked away. But luckily you DID get all *new and clean* food. Goodness, I'll bet you couldn't believe what you were seeing!

    1. I had already paid. If I hadn't I definitely would have immediately walked! I was prepared to eat my money if they didn't produce a clean replacement. : )

    2. I have to laugh because I've been there - you can only laugh, months at least, later. There's no doubt about it - that was soooo gross! What promised to be a tasty meal went wrong. I am glad to hear you asked for another, and didn't give up until you got it. Good for you Averyl!These requests generate change, at some point.

      But at times my weakness, or laziness, prevailed, and I closed my eyes and said what I don't know won't hurt me - and prayed that was true.

      One day your Wonder Woman, the next day a scared kitten. :-)

    3. I'm now a firm believer in: "If you see something, say something!" : ) I did learn the hard way. I, too, was a scarity cat once and kept my mouth shut except to eat the contaminated chow. I later regretted it and vowed to never do that again.


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