Day 150: cheeseburger and my metamorphosis

Today’s menu: cheeseburger, whole wheat buns, baked beans, pear

The patty looks odd, right? I’m puzzled as to how the cheese got pock-marked. It almost looks like it was dribbled on there, but I think that it must have been placed on as a slice and then it melted during the (re)heating process…then the condensation dripped down on it? I don’t know. The baked beans were a little on the gelatinous side, but fine and the pear was great (it was a little wet so I knew it had been washed).

I have to say that the patty didn’t taste *bad* but, as usual, I shrug…who knows what I’m eating. From what I’ve read the quality of this beef is either the same as a fast food patty or worse.

I talked about lunch with a couple kids. I asked one girl, “Did you eat the baked beans?”
“No, I don’t like beans.” (I’m willing to bet this is the attitude of most of my students)

And the other girl piped in, “Did you know that beef is from… a cow?”
Smiling, “Yes, I did.”
(She even paused for dramatic effect!)

Almost exactly two hours after lunch (yes, I looked at my watch), I burped and tasted processed meat. I want this to be on record: I never want that to happen again. After December 17th, I’m done with processed meat for good. Add it to the list of things I don’t want to eat again…(ahem, gluten, dairy)

Take a look at the calendar. Yep, tomorrow is December 1st. Where did the year go? What happened to me?

Looking back, I started this whole thing on a whim, a crazy thought. I was sitting on the couch last December coming up with my goals for the following year (it’s a ritual of mine) and I told my husband, “I should eat school lunch every day next year! The kids eat the weirdest packaged lunches…. I could blog it…” with a laugh.

Then I stopped, “Hmmm.” He laughed too until he realized I was partially serious.

“No, we got enough on our plate.” He was referring mostly to our son, about 15 months old at the time with near constant ear infections, not a good sleeper, our chronic exhaustion….

So I did what every woman would do in that situation, I forgot about it. We went on with our lives and enjoyed the holidays, unfortunately two ER visits with our boy…


I couldn’t shake that thought. It was like December 28th or something and I was driving somewhere, maybe just around our community, running errands. The “school lunch blog” thought entered my head again. My sweet, goofy students. So broke, poor even. But so much to offer the world. Well, damn, “I’m going to attempt to eat school lunch everyday in 2010.”

And here I am. Eleven months later. 150 lunches eaten. I’m oddly sickened but proud…
My relationship to food has changed…forever…there’s no going back.

Then: I didn’t blog opinions. I was scared.
Now: I’m aware and an advocate, stating my thoughts. I’m not…as scared 🙂

Then: My son was ill, an ear infection every two weeks.
During: He got ear tubes, which meant he just got an ear infection once a month, two ER visits this summer, received prescription for daily med and home nebulizer in September.
Now: He is healthy, changed him to goat milk late spring, totally (cow’s milk) dairy-free since September and gluten-free since October. No ear infections, no tantrums, great sleeper. I’m parenting a different child.

Then: So I have chronic IBS, so what? It’s just a cross I have to bear…along with every one of my immediate family members now that I think about it, but I tested negative for Celiac’s Disease so it can’t be gluten…?
During: In June after six months of school lunches, I was diagnosed with mild asthma and got my first prescription for a rescue inhaler.
Now: In October, started the low gluten/low dairy diet outside of school is making life better. Yep, I know. Wow.

Then: I thought it was “just food.”

Now: I have learned that food is personal, food is life, food is health.

Thank you, dear readers, for following along on this wacky journey and putting up with me. If you started from the beginning, you really didn’t know what you were in for, did you? Neither did I. I’m so happy I started this blog and met all you wonderful people. If you ever needed a reminder to listen to that little voice inside you, your gut (literally), here it is!

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31 thoughts on “Day 150: cheeseburger and my metamorphosis

  1. Thanks for taking up the challenge. Your blog has been an eye opener, as I'm betting that my kids schools are serving very similar products. I know our grade school has a fabulous, 9 year old kitchen that is not used to cook in. And while I pack my high schooler's lunch (soup, sandwich which lately is half margarine, half liverwurst, cheese, banana, crackers or chips, water, and sometimes a sweet treat) he wants money on his ID to get a soda or chips or something like that. Sigh.

  2. That's great about your son. I remember how stressful the first two years of parenting were for me (finding out through ER visits about the peanut and tree nut allergies was the worst), and I can't imagine starting something like this blog during such a stressful time. But I've learned a lot from this blog (since my daughter has never eaten school lunches), and I'm happy to have *met* you. I think your students are really lucky to have such an empathetic and committed teacher.

  3. Mrs. Q,
    I give you tremendous credit for "sticking" with project. It is hard enough to manage a condition such as IBS, let alone take on a project where you have little to no say in what you eat once a day is commendable.
    I realize you may not be ready to share this yet but I have been wondering since the very beginning what ages/ grades you teach. I get the feeling you are in the Special Education field but my gut has been wrong before! LOL
    I just want to say that I admire you for staying with something that has impacted you life in so many ways. I think about your early worries about possibly losing your job, parenting a small child (with ear issues none the less!!), balancing life and work and realize this has been a true journey for you. You could have given in to the "overwhelming-ness" (not a real word, I know!)at any time but you hung in there. Kudos to you and here's to a much less demanding 2011 :~)

  4. Wow, I was wondering when your anniversary was coming up. While our beginning was not so auspicious, I've read with great interest and respect your adventures since. Been great following them.

  5. They might have simply slapped a slice of (cheap processed crappy) cheese on the cooked patty and microwaved them to melt it. That's often how cheese looks when you melt it in the microwave.

    Grossness 😛

  6. The end is so close! Congratulations on getting this far – on days like today, I look at what you've eaten for lunch and wonder how you do it. I can't wait for the "big reveal!" It's not like I think you'll turn out to be someone I know…but I feel like I know so much about you! Good luck in these last few weeks 🙂

  7. I can't believe it's been so long! Only a few more weeks? Crazy. I, too, want to thank you for doing this. You have helped shape MY relationship with food over the last year as well. Will we still be hearing from you in January? Do you have any plans for the blog? Are you going to reveal your project to your school?

  8. What a journey! Thanks Mrs. Q for your dedication and how you've opened a lot of people's eyes on FOOD! 🙂

  9. I will definitely miss checking in to see what the lunch was of the day… but onward and upward to bigger and better things for you, eh?!

    That's the Canadian coming out!!!
    Denise in Saskatchewan

  10. I haven't commented before, but I have been following your blog since the beginning. I just want to say how much I have learned. I went to school in Canada, in a wealthy neighborhood, and there was essentially no cafeteria. I brought a good packed lunch every day. It is only in the past year, from various blogs and books, that I have begun to realize how bad the food situation is in many schools. It has opened my eyes and made me that much more aware of the importance of my insistence on good, healthy, home cooked food. Thank you so much for what you have done here!

  11. Wow, I am so proud of you. There is nothing quite like asking questions and making changes. Your journey has been so significant and I am SO pleased to be able to come along on your journey. I sincerely hope that your efforts make a serious dent in the school lunch effort.

    I love this post.

  12. What a difference a year makes!! So happy that you get to stop eating the lunches soon. Although I'm sure its bittersweet for you because you still have to watch the kids eat them.

    I've said it before, but once again. I really think most people (and unfortunately most doctors as well) have no idea how food affects their bodies. IBS, bloating, ear infections, sickness, are all symptoms of our body reacting to our food choices. (yes I know germs cause sickness, but good diet = healthy immune system which fights those germs)

    Kudos for finding that food-body connection. Sorry that there is no going back-you can't "unlearn" it. Then again, knowledge is power and once you don't have to eat what is offered in the school caf, you have the power to choose your food and thus how you feel.

    ..also I've read many places that the first thing parents of kids with chronic ear infections should do is eliminate dairy. It may be more than just a coincidence that most kids start getting more ear infections as they switch from breast milk and formula and increase consumption of cow's milk. Might as well try a diet change before tube surgery?

  13. Mrs. Q, when I found your blog quite by accident all those months ago, I never imagined where it would lead. I feel fortunate and honored to have been allowed to follow along on your journey. You've come a long way, baby! I'm so excited for you and have the utmost admiration for all you've accomplished. I'm truly in awe! You're a great teacher of adults as well as children and no one could have done it better. Wishing you all the best in these last few days and your big reveal…..Kim

  14. Dear Mrs. Q,
    As someone who has gone through major dietary changes in the past few years, and watched others go through them as well, I have to say that I am so proud of how far you have come! I've been a dedicated reader from the beginning, and I will be a little sad to not have any updates to read… but, to bigger and better things!

  15. To me, it looks like the cheese bubbled, and the bubbles then popped, leaving the "pockmarks."

  16. I think, in many ways, your year-long experiment has changed everyone who frequented this page. I, for one, have developed a severe, serious, and wonderful addiction to greek yogurt! haha. I can't get enough of the stuff, and all because people kept talking it up so much (this coming from someone who couldn't stand yogurt). I learned more about co-ops, I tried ice cream fresh from a local dairy farm, I'm eating more local produce, I've become an amateur gardener, and I'm talking to the kids in my life about what they put into their bodies.

    I, too, am curious to know what's next for Mrs Q. I have spent nearly 365 days checking the site that is now first on my list of favorites… I'm not sure what I'll do with those those brief moments I spend reading the comments each day… 🙁 I, for one, will definitely miss the project!

  17. I have enjoyied reading your blog. I am 20 years old and have had problems with my stomach and such since I was little. I just recently found out that I am lactose intolerant and I am getting tested for a gluten allergy and celiacs in jan. I never even thought gluten could be a problem until you said something about it. I talked to my doctor and that seemed to fit most of my symptoms.

  18. I have been reading your blog all along now, I didn't catch on a year ago but a few months later but I did catch up on all the old entries. It's my first time posting and how sad is that I am posting because of your burp comment! When I was in school and it was hot dog day I would think to myself "Hmm, do I want to burp hot dogs for the rest of my day and sometimes even into the next day or do I pick the other option." It really was apart of my thought process.

    I will say I enjoy your blog sooo much and I have such a passion for food and just making it better for everyone because we really are clueless to whats been going on. It all started when I turned 18 and moved out on my own and had to start cooking for myself so I got into food network cause my cooking wasn't good and if I had to eat it I wanted it to taste better. Its just driven my passion and with movies like Food Inc and Jamie Olivers show its so great to see these around so more people can become educated.

    We have a Slow Food group here in Ann Arbor MI but I really don't like the fact that they get together to fund raise to send people to Italy for the conference or whatever it is….personally I think the money would go to much better use if it was put back in to the community some how with educating people on what really they are putting into their bodies.

  19. Cheese normally looks like that if it is heated to the point where it is starting to boil. The pock marks come from bubbling.

  20. I have tested negative for Celiac and then went to a gastroenterologist and tested negative for everything else, so I am officially diagnosed with IBS. Frustrating.

    I think I also need to start a low gluten/dairy diet. I hope you continue to discuss your struggles and what helps for you because I definitely need some tips on how to handle my stomach issues (without having to take the medication prescribed by my doctor). It's very disruptive to my work and personal life.

  21. *eye roll* what a bunch of bs. I cannot wait until you and your project go far away. And stop begging your readers to support this and that. I'm really sick of helping this waste of space we call a future. You're like the Sarah Palin of blogging: popular with the soccer moms and so self serving. GO AWAY.

  22. To the "Sarah Palin" commenter, Mrs. Q is trying to get people to become aware of these terrible school lunches. She's trying to change something for the better. Instead of sitting on your arse, spewing negative crap, why don't you go to your local school, and start eating school lunches for 100 days. Stop talking irrelevant bull. *rolls eyes*

  23. anonymous, I would guess it's you who's posted several times over the last few weeks, because prior to your appearance on the blog, there was no hostility in the magnitude to which we've seen it recently.

    I find it amazing that you are so radically against Mrs. Q, but still take the time to read her blog, read our comments, and then write one of your own.

    It's fine to have differing opinions, but an intelligent debate proves a point far more than mindless mud-slinging.

  24. I particularly enjoyed the Then and Now part of this entry- thanks for sharing your journey with us. I have learned a lot about my OWN food choices, and as a result, my family eating habits have changed. Little by little, we are evolving and growing healthier because of our choices for meals and snacks. Inspired by your journey. Thanks for that. 🙂

  25. Thank you for sharing this journey! I started reading your blog after watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and being oddly intrigued by the horrors of processed cafeteria food. I'm excited to see you mention that you are on a low dairy and gluten diet. It is entirely possible to be non Celiac but still gluten intolerant (I'm dairy and gluten free from intolerances stemming after a surgery.) It will be exciting to see how your health improves when you leave behind the cafeteria food and if you can move to a complete gluten-free diet! I actually just got an inhaler myself this week because whenever I accidentally have gluten, I have trouble breathing! You're not alone!!!

  26. Mrs Q, THANKS SO MUCH for what you are doing. I recently visited our school lunch and I am happy to say that we don't serve in the "disposable garbage" that your food is served in. What a "garbage nightmare" if all of our school lunches were served that way (or are they??)I didn't see any whole wheat bread in our lunch and we serve 4:1 chocolate to white milk. I wonder what they would drink if there was no chocolate?? I'm not a big pasturized milk fan though. (SO glad you finally made the ear infection/dairy connection. Now if only DOCTORS could do the same). I would have liked to see filtered water as a drink choice. I came away thinking that we can serve all the healthy choices we want, but they have to EAT them. That has to sart at HOME. Has anyone out there started a community nutrition class? I would love to do that, but don't want to come across too judgemental on what they're feeding their kids. Any suggestions? Keep up the good work Mrs. Q, and I hope all your hard work remains on-line for future reference. What a great resource you've created!!

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