Love Crunch and Leafy Greens

The day starts with my ancient iPad muttering a creepy sci-fi sound. I hit snooze once, hit the button twice, hit it a third time for five more minutes of sleep. Finally, my feet hit the floor. I have Love Crunch on my mind.  

My first bowl of Love Crunch granola, with its chocolate and strawberry chunks, is the start of something big each day. Six meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. That’s my current food schedule as a teenage boy. 

My parents like to tell me to eat something healthier for breakfast, like eggs, to which I usually counter that my cereal has dried strawberries. They roll their eyes, but I leave for school before they can make me eat something more colorful.  

Once I’m at school, I usually make a pit stop at the cafeteria before going to class in order to satisfy the demands of my growling stomach. Whatever is being served at the cafeteria is usually good, but I always go out of my way to make sure I get grape juice. I’m not sure why but ever since I was young the mystical purple elixir has been my favorite thing to drink. 

JackieGrapic-April2019 - Joisah
Illustration by Jacqueline Martinez

Recently, my mom has been really pressuring me to eat healthier. She likes to ask me when I get home, “What green stuff have you eaten today?” In response to this, I’ve been doing my best to eat a salad for lunch every day in order to be healthier. 

My friends like to laugh at me when I tell them I’m eating a salad to be healthier because after my salad I hit up the school store, where I get my daily dose of chocolate bars and Mentos. But hey, Mom, I did what you wanted, I ate some green food. Besides, my high metabolism isn’t going to last forever so I figure I might as well enjoy it while I can. 

After a long day of school, I can’t wait to get home. But don’t get confused here — I’m not excited to go home to a busy house with three younger siblings and to complete my ever-looming homework. No, I’m excited for my next meal, which I like to call my early dinner. 

I’ve nicknamed this meal the “junk meal.” Not because I eat only junk food, but because it reminds me of going to a junkyard as a kid looking for treasures. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to find but you always leave with some very weird items. For me, the junkyard is my fridge and the discovered treasures are whatever I manage to find in my fridge that day. From olives to pizza to soup to off-brand Cheetos, I’m never quite sure what I’ll end up finding on a given day. 

The purpose of my junk meal is to simply hold me off until dinner. My father often works irregular hours as a result of working for the United States Postal Service. Combine that with the crazy schedule that comes with three younger siblings who all have activities, I’m never really sure when dinner will be. In my family, we can eat dinner as early as 4:30 p.m. and as late as 8 p.m.   

My family’s inconsistent dinner time is part of the reason why I eat my sixth and final meal of the day late in the night, usually after midnight. The other reason for this meal is simply because, like most teens, I stay up too late and because of that I need more energy. What I eat for this meal really just comes down to whatever I feel like. Whether I feel like consuming multiple cans of chicken noodle soup or simply eating massive bowls of ice cream, this final meal of the day is my whatever-I-want meal. 

Of my six meals, my midnight meal is the one my parents despise the most. My father says I use this meal to get around having to eat my mom’s creamy broccoli soup at dinner, while my mom says I’ll get cancer from eating so late.  

Looking back on my daily eating routines, I sometimes think I should start eating healthier or perhaps eat fewer meals in a day. I consume around double the recommended calories a teenage boy should be consuming, and I should try to start forming better habits for when I’m older. I often fall asleep thinking about ways to change my food schedule to be healthier; perhaps I could shrink from six to four meals a day?  

However, when I wake up in the morning, I have only one thing on my mind: Love Crunch. The thought of the dried strawberries mixed with the chocolate chunks that slowly dissolve, giving the whole white milk beautiful chocolate swirls, entices me once again and I think to myself, “Being healthy can wait.”