Self Improvement

by Judy Schultz

There’s something about New Year’s resolutions that gives me an appetite for all things illegal, immoral or fattening.

Well, most things anyway. I’m just not good at self improvement. Fact: whatever resolutions I make on New Year’s Eve, I’ll blow off within months, if not weeks.

Still, I try. Here are my top ten attempts at better living, desperately generated just before midnight during the last gasp of the old year.

Improve diet by avoiding carbs, fats and empty calories.

Yes, but so many of my best moments involve empty calories or butter. Won’t happen.

Avoid white foods.

Lemme see. That would include most breads, and basmati rice. No more fat homemade noodles with Alfredo sauce, or baked spuds with sour cream. No more lovely runny Brie, or buttered popcorn, or salty pretzels dipped in white chocolate.

In fact, no more white chocolate.

Here’s a thought: how about I give up poached halibut and steamed cauliflower? Well, they’re white.

Go vegetarian.

For so many reasons, I’ve tried. Seriously. I’m an animal lover, and then there’s global warming, so why not?

Vegetarianism lasted a record 18 months, until the limpid June evening when the aromatic sizzle of a barbecued smoky came sneaking across the fence. With hot mustard and a crusty bun, who could resist? Not I.

Lose 10 pounds. (Okay, 20)

Let’s not even go there. Foodlover and obsessive cook that I am, if I added up all the times I’ve already lost 10 pounds (okay, 20), they’d total thousands. This is not a good thing, is it?

Eat oysters anyway.

Even though the very thought of biting into an oyster turns me green, I resolved to try again. I live part-time in oyster country, and they’re so healthy, so sexy, so rich in nutrients.

So I ate one. Turned green, with splotches. Not a great success.

No more maple-walnut ice cream sundaes.

That lasted about six weeks. Maple-walnut sundaes are one of my major food groups, being part of the dairy category, along with grilled cheese sandwiches and Snickers Bars.

Stop eating while watching television.

I admit, I’m a whodunit junkie, and British mysteries are my favourite guilty secret. But Midsomer Murders without Twizzlers? Poirot without popcorn? Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

Stop eating while reading.

See above.

Never eat after 8 o’clock in the evening.

But that would mean no dinners in France, where I hope to go when I die. Forget it.

Stop smoking.

I do consider this to be food-related, because of the cigarillos I once kept in my freezer, in case I ever needed to look Euro-cool after dinner. But smoking is one of the few acquired pleasures I’ve never acquired, so now I’ve stopped. (You mean this one doesn’t count? Dang me.)

That’s it for 2010. I’ll spend New Year’s Eve on friend Jane’s deck, drinking the local bubbly, listening to vintage Pink Floyd, and waiting for the Fire Force to go tearing past, en route to the annual New Year’s Eve false alarms.

Happy New Year from Down Under. May all your resolutions be toothsome.

Judy Schultz is a food and travel writer based in Edmonton and Auckland.