When you have just $150 for food in a city where food is three times more expensive than you’re used to, you figure out pretty quickly that you’ll have to eat whatever’s in the one free meal you get each day.
Yes, that meant I ate carbs. Lots of carbs.
I started out with great intentions. On Tuesday, I dutifully scraped the filling out of the tea sandwiches and nibbled on nuts. Then I had the tiniest sliver of cake. Not low-carb, for sure, but not enough to make me feel derailed.
That night, my conference roommate and I walked around the block looking for somewhere to have dinner. We ended up at Planet Hollywood. I got fajitas, no rice or tortillas with extra lettuce.
So far, so good, right?
Wednesday morning started with an Atkins bar. After roomie texted to warn me to avoid the hotel restaurant with its $6 bagel, I decided that was the way to go.
But with a lack of h2o in my system, I was starving by lunchtime. Lunch was free — chicken over polenta with a small side of spinach.
I was still trying to be good when a group of us headed down the street to John’s Pizzeria. I ordered a side of meatballs and the veggie appetizer plate. The menu described it as a plate of seasonal vegetables. I ask you, in what universe are sweet potatoes and butternut squash “seasonal” in the middle of summer?
Still, I figured it’d be better than other things I could eat.
After dinner, some of us headed to the hotel bar for drinks. Well, they had drinks. I decided a $10 dessert was better than a $16 cocktail.
That, sadly, was the beginning of the end. I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast Thursday morning … quite possibly because I skipped it. (I was nervous to make my first pitch to an editor.) No, wait. I got a faux Frappucino and an egg salad sandwich. (Filing, yes. Bread, no.)
Lunch was another chicken breast, this time over potatoes and asparagus. I ate it because it was free and I was starving. For dinner, I went to Bubba Gump and had a shrimp and fish plate in some kind of lemon-butter sauce, along with a side of broccoli.
Later, we ended up at Junior’s. It’s across from the hotel and is famous for its cheesecake. I was excited to see a “diabetic friendly” (read sugar-free) cheesecake on the menu. I was even happier when it arrived tableside and it was also crust-free.
Friday started off with an omelet from a little deli around the corner from the hotel. Delicious, and only $5.50 for a drink and the eggs. Wish I’d found the deli sooner.
Or maybe not. I went back for lunch — a real Rueben. Mmmm. Then it was downhill. I went for a slice of devil’s food cheesecake, forgetting that Friday’s freebie was the dessert service during the awards ceremony.
After the awards, having eaten nothing but sugar since 3 p.m., I needed real food. And I wasn’t about to get it in the hotel bar, where a burger cost $20.
Back to Junior’s for a cheeseburger with fries and onion rings. Yes, I ate the bun … and the fries and one of the rings.
By the time I got to the airport Saturday morning, I’d given up the low-carb ghost. A coconut-mocha Frappuccino and an egg and sausage bagel later, I dozed through most of the flight.
I guess it could have been worse — much worse.
If nothing else, the experience taught me (again) that I do much better when I’m eating fewer carbs.