Tuesday, May 8


Let's talk about Lean Cuisine. You know, the tiny-portioned microwave dinners which serve best as the punch line in jokes about single women with multiple cats? Mmm yes. Even I cannot defend my own fondness for the meals without having to mock them in the same breath. Because as much as I find them delicious, and as much as they don't contain the 650 calories that all other microwave meals do, Lean Cuisine is still pre-packaged preservative-filled pseudo-diet food. Acceptable as a mid-day snack but horribly unsuitable for a whole meal—an entrĂ©e with more negative connotations than actual mouthfuls of food.

And I know I'm not the only one to think this. I happen to work in an office which is unusually concerned with my eating habits (making me feel, more often than not, like the ditzy villain of a Cathy cartoon) and so yesterday I thought it best to sneak a Lean Cuisine into the microwave rather than face a barrage of questions about food choices.

(Side note: soy milk, apparently, symbolizes one's fear of fat and calories in milk. Who knew?)

But as the office kitchen is the ditzy villain of global warming (no recycling system) I held onto the box so I could later safely dispose of it in a Blue Bin. Oops. Before the microwave beeped, I was caught by a co-worker.

"What! Lean Cuisine? For you!? Why do you need to be eating this? You don't! You don't need to worry about that, your figure is fiiiiine."

Please, someone inform me of the proper way to respond to such an inquisition. A casual "I like the taste," is okay, but that's not answering the unspoken, real question at hand. So maybe a better reply would be along the lines of: "Thanks, I already know I am hot and thin, but Nicole Richie just keeps changing the definition of skinny on me!"

I told my sister about the exchange and she responded that only a few days before she too had been made to feel awkward about Lean Cuisine. By a grocery checkout person who stared her up and down as he rang in her five frozen meals. He double bagged them and then asked, "Are you sure you'll be able to carry these out?"

There should be no shame in choosing an alternative to XL Hungry Man Beer Batter Chicken and Cheesy Fries! And hey, at least I'm not that girl who thinks "Well, I did walk the stairs—twice!—and had a bowl of Special K before I took the dog for a walk. I will treat myself to eight pieces of puffed rice crisp!" No way. My sacrifice of a lunch was rewarded with a bulk bag of chocolate covered almonds.