Gelato Mama Ponders Her Latest Eating Regimen

Strong to the finish.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Emily Tecklenburg
  • Illustrated by
    Yuiko Sugino

“Are you eating enough protein?”

This is the response I get each time I vent about my belly frustration to various coaches and trainers. “Define ‘enough,’” I say, and then they have the audacity to tell me I should be eating my body weight—or at the very least my “goal” weight—in grams of protein each day.

“Are you sure I can’t just get a syringe or two of Ozempic,” I (sorta) joke. “Just eat your protein,” they answer.

After ignoring this advice for a while, I recently decided to give it a try and have since devoted my life to protein consumption. And yes, you must devote your entire life to it, because have you guys ever tried to eat your body weight in protein each day?

It’s a lot of eating. So much eating.

And I like eating. I understand that that can be a bold confession ’round these parts, but I’m definitely the girl you can feel safe ordering the breadbasket with. I’m just as happy with a grilled salmon salad as I am with a bowl of pasta, and lately I’ve been exploring Vegan Wednesday (yes, I made it up), which includes a lot of beans. So many beans. But even for someone with a hearty appetite such as myself, the road to adequate protein consumption each day is a long one.

While I used to intermittently fast, I now intermittently eat to chase my goal of 140 grams each day. No need to remind me that 140 pounds is neither my weight nor my goal weight, but I was at one time 140 pounds (what up, 1995!), so I feel like it still counts. Also, it basically takes all day of very focused eating just to hit that goal. So I gotta wake and bake in some protein.

Pre-workout yogurt (20 grams). Two eggs plus egg whites breakfast (17 grams). String cheese snack (7 grams). Chicken with veggies lunch (40 grams). Cookie (0 grams). Afternoon protein shake (25 grams, 50 if you’re a masochist who has two scoops). Maybe a bowl of that sweet, sweet cottage cheese and berries (24 grams). Or a cookie (0 grams.) Now what’s for dinner? Oh yeah. Chicken (40 grams). Unless it’s Wednesday. Then more beans.

So is all this protein making a difference? I don’t know. I’m a female, so I actually have no idea what my body looks like as I’ve been programmed to compare myself to unattainable standards and reject any sort of praise. “You look great!” someone says, and my Pavlovian response is “Ew, I’m so gross, but you look so good.” 

I have yet to stumble across the proper source of protein to heal this toxic part of myself, but I’m working on it. It’s definitely not cottage cheese.

But I’m gonna stick with this protein-forward diet. It makes me feel strong, like I’m fueling my body instead of filling it. And no matter what I think I look like, that feels good. But don’t you worry; we can still order that breadbasket.

With a side of chicken.